Karla Cordero


spoiled   child   of   root.   green  leaf.  &
fruitful.    child    of    mouthful-harvest.
mouth full  of cherry  tomato blistering
by  the  day’s  shower  of   light.  full  on
lemon   juice   made   to    pucker.   then
sliced   into  kindness   by  sugar  cubes.
here vines run feral. the green-sheened
jalapeno trick an army of teeth to burn.
the   birds  tower  the   city   on   tops  of
sunflower  faces.  here the  carrots offer
their  silent  bodies   &   resurrect  when
mouths   go   hungry.   here  i  savor  the
wild   blueberry.   swirl   the   sweetness
after  each  navy  pebble  pops  between
teeth. i remember  i  was once  the child
of   broken  earth.  mouth  full  on  wind
flavored   by    a     mother’s   immigrant
dream.    coated        in       lifeless    rock.
i  crayoned the  seeds  & stems of things
i  had  yet  to  savor . i was fed what was


the vast summer harvest blessed our
mouths. wild onion—their green leaves

like claws bathing in the breath of the world.
tomato stems beasting a tallness no one

foresaw would bare such sweet
balloons of red sugar. & nothing here

floats on their own. the branches knew this
& felt purposeful. dusk made itself known.

& snails hovered taking the lives
grounded by root. peeled the sweet onion without

mercy. then took its neighbor & the children.
swallowed the cherry tomatoes—a broken

string of lights on a christmas tree & no glow
remain. & the branches lost purpose.

overcame by the smallest violence
i plucked each shell-holding-body.

rubber beings clinging to leaf & i plucked
with even more given strength. retreating into

the only home given to them by birth—a prison-weight
on their backs. still i felt nothing. lined one-by-one

across the faded wooden edge of the garden box.
a green village surrounding the guilty. both judge &

executioner i was. raised a brick & let go. their
brittle shells cracking was how my ears understood

the dead. their bodies taken by an evaporating
sky. the ruins of homes remain. but to hold life

then remove it from soil is to costume myself
a deity—a skin not my own & still i acted with an itch—

how often i hear of war & the world itching in someone else’s
skin—feeling nothing but a raised brick at their hands.

Karla Cordero is a descendant of the Chichimeca tribe from northern Mexico, a Chicana poet, educator, and activist, raised along the borderlands of Calexico, CA. She is the recipient of the Loft Literary Center Spoken Word Immersion fellowship (Minneapolis, MN). Cordero’s chapbook, Grasshoppers Before Gods (2016) was published by Dancing Girl Press. Her work has appeared and forthcoming in Tinderbox, Word Riot, Poetry International, The Acentos Review, Toe Good Poetry, among other publications.