Poem “Portrait of a Wetback” in Copper Nickel

Portrait of a Wetback

You cross the viridian scum
of river—
                wispy-tongued. The sun

whisking your deepest marrow.

A walk to the horizon
                    with the bleakness
                on your shoulders:

                    place of the fleshless,
electric-wired fences.

            Helicopters circle and circle
above you like buzzards.

            The desert thirst?
                    A lit branch
in your throat.

                Jaguar, devourer
                of the sun.

You want to preserve this

in a jar of vinegar: the bright skull
                of the moon,

            the cloud white as a mistake.

When the guttural
                    desert song begins,

when the bats descend,

                Xolotl, dog-headed man, god
of fire,

                drags you through the ragged

hole of a wire fence.

Look, the gods wait for you

                on their haunches.

The lights flash white
                    and the sirens begin

as your brittle gaze
                            still skins the beauty

from this paradise.

Copper Nickel, No. 18, 2012


Poetry Reading at Marymount University

I’m very excited to be reading my poetry at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. It will take place November 1st at 7:00 pm in the Marymount University Library Boardroom.

Appearance on the Jack Gravely Radio Show

Last week I was invited to speak on the Jack Gravely Radio Show. Mr. Gravely wanted to talk about my recent article on NBC Latino about interracial dating and my recent article on the Huffington Post about immigration. He also asked thought-provoking questions about what it means to be an American Latina/o and I answered questions from callers. I had a great time participating and look forward to more radio and (possibly) TV appearances. 

Guild Complex Palabra Pura Reading with Richard Blanco


« Back to Events

Palabra Pura: “Cross-Cultural Latino/a”
07/18/2012 7:30 PM
07/18/2012 9:00 PM
La Bruquena restaurant (upstairs)
Google Map
2726 W. Division, Chicago, IL, United States

This evening will showcase two poets with a passion for cross-cultural experiences – poetry that travels.


Francisco Aragón is Director of Letras Latinas, the national literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, and has been a member of the Institute since 2003. He has published, edited or contributed to numerous poetry books and journals and his poems and translations have appeared in various print and web publications. He is a member of Macondo Writing Workshop and serves on the board of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP). He holds degrees in Spanish from the University of California at Berkeley and New York University, and an MA in English and an MFA in creative writing from the University of California at Davis and the University of Notre Dame, respectively.

Featured Poets

Erika L. Sánchez graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Illinois at Chicago, was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to Madrid, Spain, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico. She is currently a reader for Another Chicago Magazine, a freelance bilingual book reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, and a contributor for The Huffington Post and Mamiverse. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Drunken Boat, Witness, Anti-, Rhino, Hunger Mountain, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Copper Nickel, and others. Her nonfiction has appeared in Jezebel, Ms. Magazine, and American Public Media. She is currently working on a memoir and poetry manuscript. erikalsanchez.com

Richard Blanco was made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the United States — meaning his mother, seven months pregnant, and the rest of the family arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid where he was born. Forty-five days later, the family emigrated once more, eventually settling in Miami where he was raised and educated. His acclaimed first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires, which explores the negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban-American, won the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press (1998). Since 1999, Blanco has traveled extensively and lived in Guatemala, Brazil, Connecticut, where he was Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Latino Literature, and Washington DC, where he taught at Georgetown and American University. His second book, Directions to the Beach of the Dead continues to explore themes of home, place, and identity (University of Arizona Press, Camino Del Sol Series, 2005). His poems have appeared in major literary journals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 2000, Great American Prose Poems, The Breadloaf Anthology of New American Poets, and he has been featured on National Public Radio. Blanco received the John Ciardi Fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Florida Artist Fellowship, and a Residency Fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. A builder of bridges and poems, Blanco earned both a bachelors of science degree in Civil Engineering (1991) and a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (1997) from Florida International University, where he studied with Campbell McGrath. http://www.richard-blanco.com/