You are in the diode archives diode v7n2




Oz mothers warn their children
about gathering pennies
or seashells.  The island’s brujas
cast spells on such things, trapping
their green-skinned miseries in those
copper disks, in the grooves
of  Apple Blossom shells, which are painted
pink like the dawn and are so hard
to pass up.  Oz mothers say, “Rattle a sand dollar
and what do you hear? The shimmy of a dozen
ills and heartbreaks, mal de ojo, curses.
Keep away from such small beauties.”

Oz mothers pass the brujas by on their way
to work.  They cross themselves, make
rough t’s on their childrens’ foreheads, mutter
curses of their own:  May a house fall on you

Mainly, the brujas smoke cigars
like men. Tourists snap pictures of them,
colorful as they are.  For a few Euros
tossed into a reed basket they puff. They grow sick. 
Yet through the spicy tobacco haze, the brujas
can see their mothers, grandmothers, great
greats and all the way down the line,
across the Atlantic to that other coast,
where Yoruban chanters taught the first
brujas to capture sadness in ragged
whispers, stowing agony in the kinds of small
vessels that little hands love to touch.


Avian Exile

The spill of men’s hearts, poppy red,
had been televised, and she had watched
the way she once watched tropical lightning
—astonished and awed by its ripping violence.

She once cupped her hands around the sun,
holding its rays like yarn between her fingers
casting on those burning beams, the new world
long and furled out in her vision.

Her lips, metallic from too much kissing,
formed familiar words, no longer fresh words.
So many crushed campaigns, so many others spat
off the island. Dearest plovers, dry beaked people

with little wet wings. They descended somewhere north,
woke in that place knowing their last day
would dawn under a strange firmament,
their eulogies spoken in foreign mouths.

Now, men on green thrones trade hot contention
for black SAABS and ancient rhetoric.
She gets it now, in the last second, heavy,
hanging between death, dead.

Drowned in a bucket of water.
She takes rain and rusts out, reduced to minerals.
Her skull turns to glass. Winged things pluck at her
As her tongue curls into curses.  


Chantel Acevedo’s first novel, Love and Ghost Letters won the Latino International Book Award and was a finalist for the Connecticut Book of the Year. Her most recent novel, A Falling Star, won the Doris Bakwin Prize in 2013, and is available from Carolina Wren Press. The Distant Marvels, a third novel, is forthcoming from Europa Editions in 2015.  Acevedo’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review, North American Review, and Chattahoochee Review, among others.  Acevedo was named a Literature Fellow by the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 2013.  She is currently an Associate Professor of English and Alumni Writer-in-Residence at Auburn University, where she founded the Auburn Writers Conference and is the editor of the Southern Humanities Review.