Joaquín Zihuatanejo


After “Every Hard Rapper’s Father Ever: Father Of The Year” by Douglas Kearney
and the Argument Between My Abuelo and My Father at My Naming Ceremony



because it rhymes with walking
stalking brown women
all that idle Faulkner talk
she, wet seed wild
he, hot blind sun
we must be



because it rhymes with mocking
new world ball-hawking
shucking our gods—I mean crops
locking your doors
keep on knockin’
but you can’t



because it rhymes with fucking
a tousled Puebla dress
a cowboy belt unbuckling
an infant’s lips suckling
a father’s fist knuckling
it all evaporates when you lean on it


A home or a place of decay

                                                What you hear
                                                Dried cochineal beetles
                                                Crushed in molcajete
                                                What you feel
                                                Florid warmth rivers
                                                Onto maguey fiber
                                                Much too common for cotton


                                                A framed seascape shatters against hard wood floors


                                                What you hear
                                                Canon fire
                                                What you feel
                                                A rapier
                                                Slicing through tongue
                                                Leaving you
                                                Silent as shorn flesh


                                                The slamming of a door





Tortillas blacken on comal,


The smell of cornfields ablaze,
charred husks blister then rise like murmurations.


Hinges groan as bed folds back into couch;


Our people gave the world the concept of zero.


Key turning ignites engine;
a boy’s hand becomes diving bird outside truck window
in the cab a corrido is sung;


strangled sobbing;


candles on altar in sala glow;
pine forest bisected by asphalt;


carcass rots in the sun;


overhead, shell made of black feathers;


key turning opens cell;
when do visiting hours begin?



I lay on the hood of a 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo,
a plastic bag dances within wind,
you shatter the reflection of constellations
with stone a boy’s need for destruction.

Tonight the smell of rain lingers;
tomorrow morning, we will wake sore
in the neck from seats that will not lean back;
you whisper to me in the darkness,
something about la llorona and death,
Is that the best you got, I ask?
Somewhere in the black
a frog or toad hops into the water.
You join me on the hood as I gaze at night sky,
silent, so I ask again, Is that the best you got?

They’re all dead you know, the stars we gaze at.

Joaquín Zihuatanejo was awarded the 2017 Anhinga Press-Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. His new collection, Arsonist, will be published by Anhinga Press in September of 2018. His work has been featured in Prairie Schooner, Sonora Review, Huizache, and Southwestern American Literature among other journals and anthologies. Joaquín received his MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Joaquín has two passions in his life, his wife Aída and poetry, always in that order.