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Poems by Adrian Quintanar


Before the sun blushes

they pack pick-ups, snail the road.

Earthworms jerk loose leftover

moon from mud under walnut hulls.

In this valley's nooks,

aldrin settles. Where gold-dark farmers

sieve through leaves and sticks,

their metacarpals clotted with the ache

of many daybreaks washing

eyebrows & moth-bitten collar flaps.

They breathe dust of stone-fruit,

inhale vapor from blue enameled mugs

tinged with the blackest coffee,

bitter as the lady bugs are red, grazing

bark aphids. All morning long,

shells clicking in burlap sacks, the kind

of percussion that makes blow flies

whirl, boll weevils stutter awake.

All morning long, braceros,

nut-brown to the touch & shimmying

pesticide and damp earth,

the hymn of sweat and spasm, of thirst.

All morning long, glory

to the bitter star draped across

their straw hats drenched

in toil, smelling of the long road home.


You clap night's torso with igneous stone

heaped at the feet of hesper palms

whisked teal beneath a moon wedge.

On your face, octagonal glim

harvested from the street corner,

dinning vehicles gurgle through your diastema.

Poppies brim the I-10 onramp,

Santa Ana wind unlaces wirescape,

plucking roof shingles into the city's outskirts.

Men in hard hats torque jackhammers,

cleaving this basin of cement slabs;

CAT tractors corralled in diamond mesh.

Oncoming flare reflects off traffic vests

white like the hushed exchange

of foaming sea water on rock.

Verbiage shifts skyward from your tongue,

cursing spackle and mortar, mirroring a tilde

that floats above mañana.

I spot Hyrda's yellow squiggled

on your cornea, as you recall cornfields

in a faraway pueblo razed by drought;

agaveros who displanted varietal crops,

and overtook roads to the marketplace.

A lavender morph kingsnake scrunches

the final breath of a field mouse: its ribcage made useless.

We are overcome by the sense of redaction,

the impression of our soleslifted from the sand.


ADRIAN T. QUINTANAR is from Pomona, California and received an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and a BA from Hampshire College, and also serves as the managing editor of Chapter House Journal. Adrian’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Santa Ana River Review, Hinchas de Poesia, Kweli Journal, Peripheries: a journal of word and image and Denver Quarterly.

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