POEMS

Azaleos,”Glass: A Journal of Poetry, January 2017

Feminine Weakness,” Rust + Moth, Autumn 2016

Photography of Frida Kahlo Sin Aderezos, 1946, By Antonio Kahlo,” “Come and Take It,” and “A Lovesong to an Ovarian Cyst,” Split Lip Magazine, November 2016

After Her Death, We Find Hundreds of Dollars in My Grandmother’s Curtains,” Tap Literary Magazine, Winter 2016 (Nominated for a Pushcart Prize)

Late Night,” The Collagist, October 2016

Lullaby for My Son After the Orlando Massacre,” Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Pulsamos: LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, August 2016

Tender, Tinderbox Literary Journal

Cosmology, Storyscape Literary Journal

Inheritance, Hermeneutic Chaos

A Poem In the Words of Donald Trump, Huffington Post, (Blog)

Feminine Weakness, Rust + Moth

(The following poems were published in Fuego, by Saint Julian Press).

LABOR PANTOUM

We climb, all legs and hands
clutching for each other’s
eyes that we cannot see.
Before I see you, I have met you.

Clutching for each other’s eyes
& faces, your moon-shape up to my swollen one.
There is Green’s Bayou meeting thick vines,
plastic bags scuttling across the water.

Where I rode up and down the shore, swelling
with solid loneliness, clay and sand repeating.
Click and hum from houselights, grasshoppers rasping on water
the evening when my father was on his way
home, the twitch of his fingers a solid loneliness repeating
as he played piano on top of my fingers.
He picked up my mother’s hand on his way to some place
in the backseat of his car. She climbed out of her house for good.
She watches her shows, I hold onto her fingers
when she says to the television I always wanted to do that,
to a woman climbing out of sequins
dancing across the stage, face drowned out by light.
I always wanted to do this,
to ride my bike beside the wildness, the surge
& the bayou where drowning is so close to surviving
& my mother’s face as she washes the dishes by hand.
Baby, now you are born into this surge, a wild
search of dirt paths and bayous. You are a signal
sent back to the world, the hand
I held in the air, the shadow it made in the dusk
as I held onto the handlebar, a signal to myself
that I can conjure something out of barely.
Shadows and dusk.
Climbing, all my legs, your hands.

(“Labour Pantoum” appeared in the Saturday Poetry Series in As It Ought to Be.)

POSTPARTUM
The sinkhole grows quietly under
the bed. The baby cries weakly from fatigue,
and her cry blooms radiant into shadow
on the bedroom wall. How we watch each other
throughout the night over the dormant city. The city &
the baby rise and fall as they sleep, breathing in pockets
of air. I have seen how the kitchen knife’s edge
reflects the rooms spinning into each other, my body
in the center. How the grocery bag on the counter
trembles with the thought of holding a body’s breath.
The sinkhole craters into the chair of my body, knocking
legs into seat & back. Dear sinkhole, I say, save your glowing
edge, the thriving of your blossoming dark.
The electric swing lets out a single note
of song in the living room. It turns & turns in the bed.

SWING

After the photograph “Swing, 1992” by Amy Blakemore

Praise the boy on the swing,
who has never stopped stopping,
his blond head inched sideways toward the slice of sky.
Praise the fragment of sky above his head,
casting a blinding light of possibility.

Praise even the other body, perhaps his brother,
who hangs in the foreground, all dark-jeaned legs,
feet facing the camera, no torso or head.

Across from each other, swinging, hatred of death &
its embodiment.

To praise them is to remember our own childhoods,
cast in grays, drowned in black where there is no memory,
fixed forever in the promise of a child’s swinging body.

Praise children, the rise and fall of their bodies
cutting a swath of light in the dark.

Praise their fall.
Everything, even the light, seeking to cover them.

(“Swing” appeared in Improbable Worlds: An Anthology of Texas and Louisiana Poets from Mutabilis Press)

DOPPELGÄNGER

A strange woman lies down in my
unmade bed, stretching out her limbs

in the shape of a torn mouth. But my mouth
hangs from her leg, her tendon exposed in a wound

on her shin. Reddened patches rise up on her skin
mouthing numbers that correspond to nothing

except that her body can speak. She means nothing
to me except that she is me, magnified

like a fingernail under a microscope, torn
from its owner in haste.

There are mouths everywhere
in this room: the biggest one is God’s

swallowing bodies whole like so many
lungs are paper, so many hearts, confetti.

THE SWIM TO ANTARCTICA

(also published in Verse Daily 2016)

After Lynne Cox

Before the swim, in twenty-two degree waters,
the crew practices her death, then a revival.

She picks out landmarks butting out of the water that look
molten,
remembers how the kelp and barnacles held her body in south
Argentine waters.

Then she is submerged in the Arctic, head under against her will.
Her body gasps for air, a tight pocket to hold in her body, a
single draw—

Thirty years of swimming to fight for a single breath now.
She paddles, she argues with her body as it says No, not ever—

and goes faster, harder, plainer. Single strokes make their way
past icebergs
as they scrape her body like glass shards, and in her mind she
places these shards

in the core of herself, breaks them down into heat & suggestion
& sound,
in the pitch of her own voice breaking through to say what she
always
wanted to say to the body:

you are owned, not owner. Her mind fights the sensations
of deep cold & wet & ice, her fingers and toes blooming.

She remembers the story of the leopard seal skinning a penguin
and the rising memory of survival, nodding like the brash ice
around her.

(“The Swim to Antarctica” appeared in Ping Pong Literary Journal.)

FUEGO by Leslie Contreras Schwartz © 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9965231-5-8

SAINT JULIAN PRESS

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