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POETRY
What the Breeze Ushered
Roy Guzmán
Writer of the Month

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                                                   a loose cento-sestina

                                                   for my grandmother

The distant night opens     like a pearl / fan, a skirt,     a heart,
a drop of salt.     The peasants who picked the beans
are / sleeping—     they will turn into a billion sunflower
seeds     in Shanties – by the sides of Roads – not the confetti
/ a tank can make of a building—     folds as easy over smirch
as fallen soldier.

                                       The girl     aged three
taken off by a soldier.     He lifts her white cotton    skirt.
     This tank is nothing.    As they lean over
the beans:     needle-tipped shanties,     the wooly
closed-down buds     of the sunflower,

     sunflower seeds and juju.     She wanted to soldier
a gulf    of anyone—     the last generation's shanties
hovering on narrow stilts     more than any mortal / could
gather beneath the skirt of the sky.
                                                 Return us to our tribe that grew dark
beans!     Tanks and guns always turn     soil into brown.

     Think
                  tank.     Sit down / in the flames     of   his sunflower.
     When coffee beans filled the morning,     a soldier, /full
of strange oaths,     a skirt shimmering     with sequins and lies.
     The same hill,     the same shanty town,     the same
lean-to.

             That pink and green / shanty-fled
shotgun section / along the tracks.     Why did you choose that tank?
     Reach under my skirt to feel
                                                   where the sunflower curled
its giant.     Motioning the soldier
overhill to town,
                              go down to pick // beans—

     beans, flour tortillas, cebollas
encurtidas and atole.
                                        Laborers / who live in shanties and those
who live as rigid as a toy soldier     in tank’s bladder:
     Dipping // yr whole arm into the bin of sunflower seeds,

                                                            cut the skirt up.

In the tank,
                   some grew big as sunflower stalks, others
tall like bonfire flames

                        on the unfinished skirt / of glass eyes

***

Lines taken from:

1.    Jessica Hagedorn’s “Filipino Boogie.”
2.    Sun Yung Shin’s “(Demilitarized Zone).”
3.    Ocean Vuong’s “A Little Closer to the Edge.”
4.    Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Confluence.”
5.    Tracy K. Smith’s “Duende.”
6.    Brenda Shaughnessy’s “McQueen Is Dead. Long Live McQueen.”
7.    Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “Quinceañera.”
8.    Gwendolyn Brooks’s “The Bean Eaters.”
9.    Tishani Doshi’s “The Immigrant’s Song.”
10.  Jay Wright’s “Boleros 14.”
11.  Sina Queyras’s “Endless Inter-States.”
12.  Rane Arroyo’s “My Heart.”
13.  Urayoán Noel’s “ode to coffee / oda al café.”
14.  Wang Ping’s “The Last Son of China.”
15.  Ross Gay’s “Wedding Poem.”
16.  Liu Xia’s “Empty Chairs.”
17.  Robert Hass’s “Interrupted Meditation.”
18.  Tommy Pico’s Junk.
19.  Jill Alexander Essbaum’s “She Spent A Year Hallucinating Birds.”
20.  Bruce Smith’s “Devotion: Baseball.”
21.  Marilyn Chin’s “Millennium, Six Songs.”
22.  Natasha Trethewey’s “White Lies.”
23.  Barbara Jane Reyes’s “[the siren’s story].”
24.  Nicole Pekarske’s “Carolina Journal.”
25.  Margarita Engle’s “Counting.”
26.  Emily Dickinson’s “I like to see it lap the Miles.”
27.  Ha Jin’s “Again, These Days I Have Been Thinking of You.”
28.  Jamaal May’s “There Are Birds Here.”
29.  John Logan’s “Lines on Locks (or Jail and the Erie Canal).”
30.  Tom Sleigh’s “Beirut Tank.”
31.  Michael S. Harper’s “Debridement.”
32.  Robert Fisk’s article, “On the front line it seems as if Syria’s war against Islamists is far from over,” found here: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-isis-al-nusra-islamists-front-line-far-from-over-a8177181.html.
33.  Mabel Velástegui’s article, “A Think Tank to Combat Violence and Poverty in Honduras,” found here: https://panampost.com/mabel-velastegui/2013/09/26/a-think-tank-to-combat-violence-and-poverty-in-honduras/.
34.  Anne Waldman’s “History Will Decide.”
35.  Janet Charman’s “13 bystanders.”
36.  Karl Shapiro’s “Conscription Camp.”
37.  Gregory Pardlo’s “For Which it Stands.”
38.  William Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
39.  Spencer Reece’s “The Road to Emmaus.”.


Roy G. Guzmán was born in Honduras and raised in Miami, Florida. They are currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, where they also received an MFA in creative writing. Roy is a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow. Their debut collection will be published by Graywolf Press in 2020. Website: roygguzman.com. Twitter: @dreamingauze.