Two Poems




These poems will appear in the upcoming Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal: Weather, No. 24

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¤

 

OUR CUSTODY

This year was serious
in a dumb way,
and hilarious
like a grave cut
into a smile.
Dreams constantly
died without names.
We listened to the earth
say nothing, and knew
everything.
The earth a grave
we throw words into.
Seeds in a dark
arctic closet
wait for the new garden
tended by machines.
One whose name
will become dust said
in the shadow
under an umbrella
in our custody
only two died,
so it was a good year.
What can we say?
They were children
and will always be.

¤

TUNNEL PARK

eighty years ago
during those 
famous dark times 

when the government
paid men to build
bridges and dams

they carved this park
my son loves
out of a hill

the men needed
to keep working
to get paid

so they made
a long dangerous concrete
slide kids scream

down their parents
watching with
their hands

over their mouths
then dug 
this unnecessary

cool aperture 
full of obscure
shadows through

the hillside 
to the garden 
of famous roses 

I don’t care about
and finally some
secret stairs

no matter how many
times we have found
always seem

like they were
forever waiting
only for us

my son and I
went upward 
his red shirt 

kept disappearing
into the shadows
I became tired 

from pointless worry
so we sat on
one stone step 

and shared
some blue water
through the leaves

we could see
a giant crumbling
pastel house

it once was grand
its dark windows
still look down

on everything
it was so quiet
I could hear

the message
everyone knows
worse times

are coming
who isn’t afraid
only the dead

we went further
the stairs never ended
we had to turn

back to our lives
knowing there is
mystery even

in the new world

¤

Matthew Zapruder is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Father’s Day, from Copper Canyon in Fall 2019, as well as Why Poetry, a book of prose. He is editor at large at Wave Books, and teaches in the MFA and English Department at Saint Mary’s College of California.

 

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Open to any author writing in English about the Chicanx/Latinx experience, the Rivera Book Prize is committed to the discovery and fostering of extraordinary writing by a first-time or early career author whose work examines the long and varied contributions of Chicanx/Latinx in the US. The Rivera Book Prize aims to provide a platform that showcases the emerging literary talent of the Chicanx/Latinx community, to cultivate the next generation of Chicanx/Latinx writers, and to continue the rich literary memory of Tomás Rivera, Chicano author, poet, activist, and educator.

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