Karla Cordero’s Grasshoppers Before Gods (dancing girl press & studio, 2016) burns in the Southern California heat. It is a mouth dry with desert dust. It is a powerful lament (My country/ licks the cheeks of a boy/ they shot/ & another boy they shot/ & when they shot a third boy/ My country/ like a lost dog/ slept*); it is a testament to heritage and the female self (There are wounded sparrows between my lips,/ a choir in shackles, broken beaks & rusted tongues,/ new scars behind feathered backs, caged-throats/ screaming for privilege,/ turns parrot color mocking a white kid’s tune.**)
Karla Cordero’s Grasshoppers Before Gods is beautiful, rapt with imagery so specific it sticks with you long after you’ve put the book away. My favorite poem, “Mikey Comes Home”, has haunted me on a personal level:
“I buried my first body underneath
a lemon tree with a beach shovel.
I hosed down the rest of the carcass
& watched a piece of intestine slide down
a single blade of grass. Dad came outside
with a mouth full of fear. Smiled
& said what kind of animal runs away
from a home that gives you everything?”
Those final two lines are a gut punch to anyone who has left a place of security, who has put themselves at risk.
Overall, Grasshoppers Before Gods is a glimpse into the roots of a woman’s origins, the traditions that define her and shape her, the political landscape of today’s society, and grasshoppers, gasping for breath in a killing jar, dying so that others can understand them better.
Karla is a skilled poet, and I look forward to reading more of her works in the future. This world needs her voice. This is a brilliant collection.
*My Country is Panting
**A Brown Girl’s Blues