Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Christina Olivares





The Lot

            lit        small grasses waving:


                                               backdrop of burn
                             the Bronx burned

                                                           echoes: ancestral/astral


                                                           this tiny
                                                                                 garden we


build the raised beds                                       lean out this apt window



                        milky murder                of dirt bleaked on sky



                                   before the city



                                                           made new


                                                                             take it back


Understanding as an Imaginative Act in the Americas

Touch your finger long enough and steadily
enough you will forget touch: your body won’t
register it. Walk into a field of violets and your sense
of smell will shut off: a field of violence,
unrecorded. Found in a poem, this is a syntactical
saturation. Lose a limb and the limb remains
as a river in memory, and often as a felt thing, a haunting

What do we trade off so we can live psychically intact?

None of us have ever died                              a narrative redress
None of us can die here                                  to haunting: embodied earth of me
None of us are allowed to die                        meets embodied earth of you

History is also: a particular fear or a set
of particular fears embedded in
us, like shrapnel, meshing with with the body
and resisting excavation.

The dead are never silent. Our bodies are
lodged with the dead,

                        diaspora rooted                      in new light/antiparadise


            we can grow



            a plant seeds and grows, will be recognizeable

as itself in other than where
it remembers itself, a diaspora                     of people are not
plant seed, we do not automatically resemble
one another, community a sustenance built of
bridged absences (burned, I first wrote, by
accident, burned absences), we tamper, are tampered with,
changed, forced to adapt to the new, we are
the new; the new becomes us, or doesn’t: the remedy of displacement
is that we can root almost anywhere, we can make it work
out of almost anything

Christina Olivares is the author of No Map of the Earth Includes Stars, winner of the 2014 Marsh Hawk Press Book Prize, and of the chaplet Interrupt (2015), published by Belladonna* Collaborative. Her second full-length book of poetry is forthcoming in 2019 from YesYes Books, a result of having won YesYes's 2014 Vinyl 45s contest. She is the recipient of two Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grants (2014 and 2010), is a CantoMundo, VONA, and Frost Place Fellow, is a recipient of a 2015-2016 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency, and is the winner of a 2018 BRIO Award in Nonfiction Literature. Olivares is a queer Cuban-American poet and educator from the Bronx in New York City. More from this author →