poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Carmen Calatayud



For those who cross the border to survive,
and for those who stand up to racist laws

The marrow I suck spills out of my
mouth and into a dark room where
the floor is covered with black grass
and dying trees that have a story to tell.

This is the sorrow I couldn’t share before:
The wounds of this world
stick inside of me
and I am just a vehicle
for the United States of Pain.

But please don’t be afraid, Nogales.
Dear Phoenix, make a river with your tears.
Ciudad Juarez, cup your hands.
I am with you 24/7.

My heart is the news cycle that never sleeps.
My palms beat the drums that support your bones.
My throat sings the chants that blaze your prayers.

Mariposas raise the roofs of the suffering ones
who long for freedom and love.

The transformation tastes like ether but the
anesthesia fades, and the hour of breaking open
appears as clearly as a milky moon
on an early November night.

The ancestors have arrived and they say
drink to the soul in the sky.
Your time is now. Your rights asserted.
Your voice is pure and deserving.
You are one in a long line of spirits
with blood that blesses us all.

Carmen Calatayud's first book of poems, Cave Walk, is forthcoming from Press 53 in September 2012. Her poetry has appeared in the journals Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, Red River Review and Palabra: A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art. Calatayud lived in Tucson in the 1990s, where she worked as a literacy advocate. She is a poet moderator for Poets Responding to SB 1070, a Facebook group that focuses on Arizona’s law that legalizes racial profiling. Born to a Spanish father and Irish mother in the US, Calatayud works as a psychotherapist in Washington, DC.


Published in Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 2012.