Emily Pérez


Emily Pérez is the author of House of Sugar, House of Stone and Backyard Migration Route. She earned an MFA at the University of Houston, where she served as a poetry editor for Gulf Coast and taught with Writers in the Schools. A Canto Mundo fellow, her poems have appeared in journals including POETRY, Diode, Bennington Review, Borderlands, and DIAGRAM. She teaches English and Gender Studies in Denver where she lives with her husband and sons. 




On the roof, with static on repeat,
I watch as raccoons scour the yard. 

The news like a minor chord
in an empty church, hanging. 

Today when my students learn
of the shooting, they won’t look 

up from their books. “In a school?”
one will ask. The world they’ve grown in. 

The night does not feel like December
or respite. More like wet wool 

wound tight round my throat. A crash,
and the alley’s a riot of garbage. 

I envy the scavengers, their trash
into treasure. Their unflinching gaze.

Lockdown, 1st grade 

Mom, we had to hide
Mom, it was a game 

It wasn’t like a normal game
The man outside was hunting 

The man outside was seeking
The teacher turned out all the lights 

and we did hugs and bubbles
Hugs around ourselves, and bubbles in our mouths 

We could not let them pop
We did not make a peep  We curled up 

just like this in balls beside the cubbies
We were chickens in a nest, no we were babies 

in their eggs We watched the crack
under the door to see his feet We listened 

for his legs to walk  And when we heard we held
our breath  We held it for a long time 

It wasn’t like the last time
The teacher told us if we won

we’d get a prize, we’d celebrate
But she forgot and we just got to breathe



When he comes 

And he will come.
He will be one of ours
hardened in the forge 

of dinner tables
and bedtime stories.
He’ll have shot up 

like a sapling
grown drunk under
his personal sun and purified 

water, a boy in man’s armor
arms and hands grasping
at what’s his to master 

his to grope and to finger
like soft bills in a fold.
To hunt and to have and to hold 

in a headlock.
His to plunder.
His to shiver and shake. 

He will quiver
his arrow into the fray.
He will come for us 

from us. For our own.
Wrung from our own useless
worshipful hands.

© The Acentos Review 2018