Three Poems


Photo: Andrés Sanz, Unsplash.

The Ghosts in My Room

The ghosts in my room sit on the dresser,
crouch in my nightstand,
kneel at my bedside begging to be heard –
the story of the first kiss or the last,
the journey of the first crossing
and the digging of the grave.
I tell them every night I’m full up on grief,
that it stiffens my pillow, drools out of me
when I dream of chasing them away,
past the hallway, the front door,
into the low tree in the backyard.
The ghosts in my room look like me
when I was young—their knobby elbows and knees
knock about like dice in a cup—
inelegant and unwise. The ghosts in my room
sometimes grow silent as if in prayer
for the resting souls of whom else I’ve killed,
as if the stillness of the curtains
and the uncertain light sifting through them
has finally lulled them to sleep, lidless and mute.



There's a poem I want to write
about the home in which I was born
back in Mexico, the bed I held
beneath me with faint smells
of birth blood.

The turtles eyeing the light
of the sun overwhelming the cactus,
the goats tethered to trees,
my weathered feet chasing lizards.

But the stories of people still living
have come to me: men with guns
roam the roads, the train tracks,
their morning roar. They brandish and stare.

Arms hurry children indoors,
As they move through
and I imagine come upon
that space I kept, the one
my mother swept and mended,
turning her back to the road
like taking a breath,

the one my father whistled
into joy every time he returned
from tilling the fields.
Everything still dusty. Still frail.

And they keep walking, these men,
to the next house to guard
something they sell, a cocktail
that makes people dream awake
            so they no longer crave.

They never sleep, these men.
And nothing smells the same anymore.


Day’s End

When I turn off the lights,
I see the day’s roads and their dead animals—
the possum in the neighborhood,
the mass of innards on the highway—
and mourn the life interrupted this way,
by an indifferent machine adorned with lamps
that don’t illuminate but blind.

When I turn off the lights, I curse
the cars of this world, the bosses
with their schedules calibrated for greatest efficiency
and the loans that weigh the foot over the pedal
to get there now. Animals searching for sustenance
or company abstracted into nuisance.

When I turn off the lights,
I imagine I am in outer space,
floating weightless and wantless,
free of the scream of metal against flesh
that you tell me is just life.


LALT Number 9
Number 9

Latin American Literature Today begins its third year of publication with an issue that takes in Venezuelan poetry, the writing of indigenous women, and the strange worlds of fiction. We open the journal's second volume with a dossier dedicated to Samanta Schweblin, an Argentine writer whose work tests the limits between the fantastic and the real, and then we shift to the poetry of Venezuelan poet Rafael Cadenas, winner of the 2018 Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana. We also pause over Mapuche poetry, with a special selection of four young women poets who write in Mapuzungun and in Spanish, and we also stay up to date with the present debates surrounding one of the central figures of twentieth-century Latin American literature, Pablo Neruda, with an exclusive interview of his biographer Mark Eisner.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Samanta Schweblin

Dossier: Chicanx Literature

Indigenous Literature






Translation Previews and New Releases

Nota Bene