I am cosmically outrageous, a tragic orchestra. Mother dressed him in guava- colored lace crinolines and the silence of the orchid. His head, a smashed piñata of bone and blood, a country with 180,000 orphans, the irony of barbed wire.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture, outrageous flowers as big as human / heads. The truth is you can be orphaned again and again and again. Where my mother once peddled guavas, she sat a small Dora piñata in her lap and read a piece about Freud’s Dora case study of hysteria, putting the two Doras in dialogue with one another, concealed among orchids of subtle idiosyncrasy.
In the orchid garden, winter like a barbed-wire sash on a white gown for piñatas to line themselves up in the snow. The outrageous Pentecostal rush: a flesh-pink guava growing inside you. Pewter seedlings became moonlight orphans,
orphans are the only ones who get to choose their fathers— the ghastly orchid. I say guava and mean childhood stuck in a barb wire snare. Outrageous when I’m on the scene so he’d get the first whack at the piñata.
Well, what’s in the piñata? they asked. This orphan, this foundling, this outcast. Outrageous when I’m at a party, my hot mouth for an orchid. No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books— the guava of independence.
Pyramids of onion, guava, melon—all defy. Flare like a shocked piñata crisscrossed the sky like barbed wire. The Baudelaire orphans climbed aboard, wide- mouthed orchids. Bibliography is outrageous.
Poor little orphan boy of five: The haunches of dead lovers gleam as clear in skulls as in the orchid’s velvet crust. Outrageous / when I move my body—.
*** Lines taken from:
Vicente Huidobro’s Altazor.
William H. Dickey’s “The Egoist.”
Billy Collins’s “Silence.”
Judy Brown’s “The Piñata.”
“Las Chavas,” a prose piece by Spencer Reece, in Poetry Magazine: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/articles/detail/70185.
Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Envoy to Palestine.”
James Wright’s “A Blessing.”
Jane Kenyon’s “Peonies at Dusk.”
Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, Survivor.
Richard Blanco’s “The Island Within.”
An interview with Jennifer Tamayo: http://depauliaonline.com/2015/02/09/artist-jennifer-tamayo-talks-dora-the-explorer-and-dreamers/.
Pablo Neruda’s “The Men.”
Teow Lim Goh’s “Black Orchid.”
Rick Barot’s “On Gardens.”
Roberto Harrison’s “[4, 2].”
Norman Cameron’s “Naked Among the Trees.”
Sandra M. Castillo’s “Letter to Yeni on Peering into Her Life.”
Eavan Boland’s “Domestic Violence.”
Adam Johnson’s novel, The Orphan Master’s Son.
Sylvia Plath’s “Fever 103°.”
Chris Abani’s “Sanctificum.”
Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.”
Britney Spears’s song, “Outrageous.”
Dean Young’s “Sean Penn Anti-Ode.”
Natalie Diaz’s “No More Cake Here.”
Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Safiya Sinclair’s “How to be an Interesting Woman: A Polite Guide for the Poetess.”
Czeslaw Milosz’s “Incantation.”
Victor Hernández Cruz’s “Airoplain.”
Maurya Simon’s “Russell Market.”
Lee Herrick’s “How to Spend a Birthday.”
Bruce Weigl’s “Song of Napalm.”
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Claude McKay’s “After the Winter.”
An interview with C. Dale Young on Divedapper.com: https://www.divedapper.com/interview/c-dale-young/.
Edgar Albert Guest’s “The Little Orphan.”
Anne Higgins’s “Georgia O’Keeffe Looks Over Her Shoulder.”
a loose cento-sestina
I’ve seen a virgin on her knees feeling around in the mud, / as if for a child. All bleach burns down the hard hardwood of middle-America’s free will in a shroud of tortilla the maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of /bread.
The poem as hotel maid. Virgin married to the welfare and the tribe of tortilla chips -and-salsa lovers. If our mothers are mud where else in all America are we so symbolized in bleach cream / creamy spin.
A spiritual home, this bleach taste in the waterglass. You got maids that have longevity beyond what you ever conceived of in your wildest dreams. The pure products of America / go crazy-- ¡ay, virgen, yo no sé hablar! My ungainly body stumping over the mud flats with a look of transformation porque hay pocas cosas en el mundo que unas tortillas de harina no puedan curar.
To the west, crossers lift the tortilla one hairpin, a bottle of / bleach, a switchblade and a jar of Vaseline. Over the mud floor of a barrio Saturday night where they manufacture old maids blood on the Virgin, behind the veils, America never was America to me.
We are not hostages, America— face of the tortilla of coins for the ferryman & La Virgen burning. Bleach disguised the glistening corpus. To play a maid, she must put on an accent her family lost a generation ago. Walls shiver, the old house caulked with mud.
All around me was black mud and the people all looked as if they had been made up out of the black mud. It wasn’t our American terrorists. The maid was in the garden stacking a freshly made batch of tortillas into a neat pile. Only the sun will bleach his bones quicker little virgin, fitted out in white / behind the glass.
Virgin of naming and renaming places in between: I’ll bleach them and hang them in the sun as we tear the tortilla and wipe the plate clean.
*** Lines taken from:
Tato Laviera’s “my graduation speech.”
Jennifer Givhan’s “Sin Vergüenza (Como los Pájaros).”
Barbara Jane Reyes’s “[galleon prayer].”
Amy Clampitt’s “Athena.”
Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Blood on the Wheel.”
Emilia Phillips’s “Dream of the Phone Booth.”
Josephine Jacobsen’s “Virgin in Glass.”
Lenelle Moïse’s “mud mothers.”
James Tate’s “Fuck the Astronauts.”
Anne Carson’s “The Glass Essay.”
Jamaica Kincaid’s short story, “What I Have Been Doing Lately.”
Jay Wright’s “Boleros 14”
Louise Erdrich’s “Family Reunion.”
Khadijah Queen’s “__________ my loved blacknesses & some blacknesses I knew.”
Karen Solie’s “Bitumen.”
Kevin Young’s “Negative.”
Jane Kenyon’s “Not Here.”
Audre Lorde’s “Power.”
Warsan Shire’s “The House.”
C. Dale Young’s “Corpus Medicum.”
Saadi Youssef’s “America, America.”
Langston Hughes’s “Let America Be America Again.”
Amy Lowell’s “The Congressional Library.”
Ada Limón’s “Roadside Attractions with the Dogs of America.”
Amiri Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America.”
William Carlos Williams’s “To Elsie.”
Ray Gonzalez’s “Praise the Tortilla, Praise Menudo, Praise Chorizo.”
Emmy Pérez’s “The River on Our Face.”
Amit Majmudar’s “Twin Gluttons.”
Gary Soto’s “Ode to La Tortilla.”
Article titled, “Rising price of tortillas piles pressure on Mexico,” written by Jude Webber, published here: https://www.ft.com/content/d2b73384-d7c1-11e6-944b-e7eb37a6aa8e
Sherman Alexie’s novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Catalina Aguilar Mastretta’s novel, Todos los días son nuestros.
Constance Urdang’s “The Old Maid Factory.”
Two interviews with actress Lupe Ontiveros:
Mireya Navarro’s “Trying to Get Beyond the Role of the Maid; Hispanic Actors Are Seen as Underrepresented, With the Exception of One Part.”
Alison Bryce’s “Latina Actress Aims to Break Maid Stereotype.”
Carolyn Forché’s “The Colonel.”
Mother Goose’s “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”
Lisa Alvarado’s “Anthem.”
-- Roy G. Guzmán is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Minnesota. His work has appeared or will appear in Poetry, Winter Tangerine, Juked, and Superstition Review, and anthologized in IMANIMAN: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands (Aunt Lute Books) and The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States (Tia Chucha Press). Roy is the recipient of a 2017 Minnesota State Arts Board grant and the 2016 Gesell Award for Excellence in Poetry. After the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, his poem “Restored Mural for Orlando” was turned into a chapbook to raise funds for the victims. Website: roygguzman.com; Twitter: @dreamingauze.