We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
Written in the sorcerer’s house mis palabras
are a mutilated palace
spread across a lake.
Elliptical pyramid. Oval. Oral.
My words are manzanilla crying
tea, storming the road yellow.
Mis palabras are heavy coated coati trundling home to the jungle.
My words are great ant hills scarring the limbs of mangroves,
My words stalk black hummocks.
I sleep by the yucca so my words can taste licorice all night.
Mis palabras are mistletoe tangling chechem trees,
they fill the wood collector’s bicycle cart.
Mis palabras are electrified seashells torching the dirt path
to the village smelling of dinner fire.
They are crisp leaves of poison underfoot.
My words are plants
blooming only on moonless nights. They say
let the land stay
and the ruin stay ruined.
Let the vines come
and reptiles make their slow way across the dry earth.
Let great birds of hallucination return, and jaguars
take back the forest.
Let us, the ruthlessly
Read other poems from What Nature here.
Desirée Alvarez is a poet and painter born in New York City. Her first book, Devil’s Paintbrush, won the 2015 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Award from Bauhan Publishing. She has a video poem currently featured at Luna Luna Magazine and has published in Poetry and The Iowa Review. Alvarez has received numerous awards for her written and visual work, including the Willard L. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner. Her poetry is anthologized in The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, forthcoming in Fall 2016 from Red Hen Press. She has received fellowships as both a visual artist and writer from Yaddo, Poets House, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program. Alvarez exhibits widely and teaches at New York City College of Technology, CUNY, and The Juilliard School. She also teaches poetry to New York City public school teens as part of an Artists Space initiative. “Trading Post” is from a manuscript in progress.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.
“I was my father’s son. My father was Nai Nai’s least favorite.” A Taiwanese American man, driven from home by a secret, reevaluates his childhood memories of his grandmother.