Poetry: Vickie Vértiz


For Dolores Dorantes and Boyle Heights

Then we remembered
We are in a drought

And if people don’t like it
Que se vayan mucho a la
Fábrica del interior
A procesar
Papeles, submit requests in writing for hearings
Where you won’t show up

Because you don’t have to
You go wherever the fuck you want
You’re a good friend who comes when she’s needed, but
Like water
You move where you must and sometimes
That’s not at her side

Finally your dreams don’t bite
Finally, you tire of following directions
Finally you break the rules to win
But it didn’t matter
It was a project, not a game, girl

A factory imagines your dreams
Otra fábrica
The lover materializes on a monitor
The coming horizon of satellites and wood
Pricey coffee and stupid speakers

There’s a plush pink monster sitting next to me at the table
He means well, the macaroni elbow. Codo? Yes
With no thumbs how much harm will he do             can he do          has he done
He wants to bring art where none exists, philanthropic condos

His square head is soft and he’s smiling. I know he won’t eat me
How many more times will he tangle my understanding
How does it feel, you myopic spectacle
Flouting your throbbing fluorescence

That monitor is a dying sparkler, its smoke means war, that I’m not gone
But boy do I stink up the place
Here, these colors I have ready
Crushed eggshells confetti yellow, pink-purpled
Que chiquigüite ni que ocho cuartos

Someone take out the trash
Not me. You!
Another factory-making insides
Another rendering


Every bird I see is you
If they stayed, they could fit in my hand

Feathers smudged electric yellow
On their backs, not backs, but down
How’s that for sabotage—too eager to light

A fire and you put out your only flame
My lip blisters. I can’t bring down this condition

Nothing to be ashamed of
With enough money, someone will paint your skeleton on the outside

You can be an Aztec Princess for a day
Every bird I see is you

A fire and you put out your only flame
And when you steal ideas, keep every page
If not, the theft is incomplete

Be on a swift bird flame
Be medicine, a freeze of feathers

The Speed Above

For Oscar and all survivors of solitary housing

And when I face a window of mountains
Trees I cannot name, I watch anyway
I’m looking for your shadow

Your common light plucked
Makes rich confinements. Bald hope wills
Dollars from tooth blood blooms

Watch your son grow up
In photos, first the mole like yours
Above the lip, then the glare into the lens

Pacing tiger, you are long to your tin cell, write
to life never lasted so alone

This is a game to keep the hawk hunting
A wait of you
Armed and tedious

They civic you first and lose you alone
A picture boy inside wrists
Re-sold, he won’t letter in your place

In silence you made a heart sweet
Watched the wall speed close in
Above solitary, you much the list
The into away, survived and still

When a hawk flies overhead, I pin a wish to his talons
This should be your heels in the silt
Your toes cake with orange earth

You wash them with
Azure, slide up the oval rocks
Launch a bolder into the lake

Sink the dirty jails of business

Portrait as a Couple [México, Distrito Federal]

I love you like you are the only one. Between smog-soaked trees, city of vaseline side-steps, you tower over. A clean-shaved head, as close to tough as you will ever be. Behind me, the Mexican flag: colossal. Beneath: full metros shake, pyramids settle. I am no virgin.

I’m the Aztec God of War. Relentless ash, the devil at my elbow. I consume lick-flames hotter than your vieja. But I hold your hand. Love you like you are the only one. The last piece of steak in chile verde. The last slice of chocolate flan. That’s how you left me, gordo.

En el zócalo y sola. A creature that can do anything.

The works seen here are part of Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut, my first full collection of poetry forthcoming in 2016. The collection is largely ekphrastic and explores what it means to leave, to be left, and finally, what remains.

author photo 2 VertizA graduate of Williams College, U.T. Austin, and U.C. Riverside, Vickie Vértiz was born and raised in southeast Los Angeles. Her writing can be found in Huizache, The Offing, and Nepantla. She lives in Los Angeles.