poems in the march sadness tradition: vickie Vértiz

lover's letter

for Morrissey fans

(From Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut, by Vickie Vértiz .
© 2017 by Vickie Vértiz. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.


Because we craved permission to be despondent in English
     Desperate for words to hide erections for other boys
     Behind Trapper Keepers,
     To document Kotex leaks in our journals

We needed
     To be maudlin, to be untranslatable
     To do this in private, in the company
     Of someone with rank

We hunted for you in crates, battled mold and being broke
     Scraped pennies from grandparents who collected
     Cans to feed us
     We needed to hear your '50s guitar in the key of sorrow

Mexican and not, born here or not, our duplexes
     South of the 60 freeway
     No Movement murals cushion our daily gray sky
     Our 99 cent interchanges

To your voice, we work our lives away in UPS trucks, as perfect
     Receptionists, in community college forever

This is how you hate the queen
     I seethed at the church for making me dirty
     So we were instant friends

You made me want a public transit death, so we
     Could be together

We saved you from the has-been dollar bin
     We’re your American Manchester Day Dream, empty tire factories, soot-
     Covered eyelids, cracked front
     Teeth and bleeding lips

We fondled your open shirts and built a country around you
     Of sidelong glances and glum gladiolus

When you first saw our tight black jeans and creepers,
     You could taste our penchant for racing Chevys down
     Slauson with no headlights

We're your wistful twins, that boy you won’t share
     You watched us make love in cemeteries
     Made us trim our sideburns, Las Vegas Elvis beats made
     Us jump like beans

We are fatalists by nations on all sides
     Death happy because it constantly raps at our door
     In the carcinogenic heart of this Manchester
     Our black lungs sing with you

Because every time we listen
     It’s our last day, too

Vickie Vértiz is a writer from Bell Gardens, the rust belt of Los Angeles. Her work can be found in Huizache, the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Nepantla, among other publications. Her collection of poetry, Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut, was selected by the University of Arizona Press, Camino del Sol series for publication in September 2017. Vickie is also a VONA and Macondo Fellow who teaches writing and has read her work in Mexico City, France, Japan, and throughout the United States.

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