2018 Poetry

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.

2018 Poetry

Mag Gabbert


Age six I broke
My dad’s girlfriend’s
Snow globe even though
I had begged to hold it

Inside the sphere a fairy sat
With pink wrists and sculpted hair
Of course Neverlands vary or so
I’d been told John lived
In a boat I lived like Wendy
In a house of leaves in a sphere
Of under-grown trees

What was the appeal of that
World those cheap figurines
Encased in glittery overturned
Bowls why was it so satisfying
To see each confetti-light
Snowflake fall on fake leaves

The girlfriend was pregnant
With dad’s baby
Her belly all round and bright
Skin backlit white like the snow
In the globe though it broke
Me to think that inside her
Another pink figure
Was turning

There’s a frozen static to it
The castle always
In the bubble the princess
Kept safe untouchable
Like the tick of a song repeating
White noise the snow
Blankets what it is covering

Then it slipped from my hands
In dad’s kitchen and glass
Scattered nearly invisible
Across the white tile while
Water pooled the kingdom grew
Burstable impossible to hold
Like the Easter Bunny

Or Neverland when
The first baby laughed its laugh
Went skipping but the baby
Wasn’t dad’s anyway not my brother
Like dad had taught me to say
If you just shut your eyes dad had
Lied you may see so I squeezed
Them tight saw a baby hair curly
And blond though I wasn’t
Allowed to hold him I believe
I never

Asked to I only
Watched him waving toward me
His puffy fist opening closing beside
Two blue blurry eyes did I think
They could see the shadow
Hovering the mobile turning
Pale colors coral caves
Suspended reefs trees how each
Leaf seemed to fall from me

Mag Gabbert is currently a PhD candidate in creative writing at Texas Tech University, and she previously received an MFA from The University of California at Riverside. Her essays and poems have been published or are forthcoming in journals including 32 Poems, The Rattling Wall, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Cleaver Magazine, Sugar House Review, and Sonora Review, among other venues. Mag also serves as an associate editor for Iron Horse Literary Review. For more information, please visit