The Acentos Review
Emmy Pérez, originally from Santa Ana, California, is the author of Solstice (2nd edition 2011, Swan Scythe Press).  Her recent work has appeared in Pilgrimage Magazine, The Laurel Review, PALABRA, A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line, and is forthcoming in Mandorla, NewBorder: Contemporary Voices from the Texas/Mexico Border, and Cuadernos de ALDEUU.  She was an inaugural CantoMundo poetry fellow (2010-2012) and is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop.  Currently, she is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas-Pan American in the Rio Grande Valley, where she teaches creative writing and Mexican American Studies courses.  She has lived on the Tejas-Mexico border for over a decade.
5 Poems by Emmy Pérez

She Never Says Hello
-title after Diane Gamboa’s painting

She never says hello.
Always looks pissed.
If not pissed, then as if
you do not exist. Once,
she looked me up and down
when I was wearing a modest-
length skirt, not the minis
I wore in high school,
as we passed in the hall.
I almost felt complimented.
But she’s no whistle
from a lowrider, and I'm
no longer fourteen.
I could’ve been her teenage
pregnancy, her comadre,
her homegirl. I always smile
and say hello when we pass,
but don’t look her in the eye.
I still find myself in chola
mode, too, muttering
wtf you looking at
when people I don’t know
stare without reason.

The Same Kind of Huecos

Hot and cool springs, navels blend into earths – 
there is no exact point in the moving río grande

where we could wade mid-river, step over an imagined
police tape into the dark

bright summer desert
and prompt border patrol

to force re-entry from an official 
crossing hundreds of miles away

through la Sierra del Carmen back
to the Chisos in Big Bend while Marathon, Texas

sleeps and the near-empty town of Boquillas, México, abandoned 
after 9/11, sleeps.  No more canoe taxis in waist-deep river allowed

shuttling a few turistas back and forth to spend
an hour and dollars (vending machine change)

on walking sticks, wire scorpions, cerveza,
bean and cabbage tacos.  What is in a name, 

Río Bravo, Río Grande, when we are the ones certain 
that home is north or south or east or west of you, when

Mexican black bears swim-walk across into the Chisos
and froglets the size of sand flies pop up and down on river mud

when our crossing remains a novelty and others lose
wallets and family escaping patrol lights

in the silk of water springs, all the entry and exit routes 
and navels where skin gathers and you, río, 

are real, in a canyon, not a metaphor, 
and not divided as objects are divided.

What the Arizona SB 1070 copycat bills can’t abolish


5:30 PM		TEX MEX (Jan-Feb-Mar)

				7:30 AM 		SPANISH
				9:00-10:30 AM	ENGLISH
				12:30 PM		TEX-MEX (MARIACHI)
				5:30 PM		TEX MEX

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
Mission, Texas

Something awakened and killed off each time a teacher speaks

As I sat in my parked car at the Río Rico bluffs, 
unwalled beautiful river, border patrol 
youth reached for his gun in his bronco,
his sirens red rolling bleeps behind me

He walked to my car
with two other agents
pointing only with questions
scanning my seats and floor through windows

Can I curse the speaking agent’s smile, 
el jefito de los otros, without cursing him?
Can I curse the anxious one reaching for that gun – 
now hidden – without cursing him – 

I thought of the youth I taught
in juvie responding to bootcamp 
officer insults, newly-shaved heads, orders
to sweep the floor on hands and knees, 
their hands as broom and dust pan – 

How could I curse the anxious one’s anger
I could’ve been his tía, their tía

How did you know about this place? 
- asked the smiling jefito

It’s on the world birding map
but I didn’t bring tourist Tejas
sporting groove-billed anis & green
kingfishers taped to my bedroom wall

He returned my driver’s license,
still smiling

and their tías likely not
like me with time to visit 
the river, not a tía grande
or a gravestone in the summer.

Playa Bagdad~Boca Chica		

People on Playa
None on Boca

Chica beach 
(except us)

To touch 
The river mouth

Washed up 
Choco Lala
Cartons, caguama
Bottles, muddy

Boca Chica
Chica’s Boca
Chiquita Boquita
Boquita es muy chica
Muy chiple
Chica, boca
Boca, chica
Chica chica chica chica
Boca boca boca boca
Bocachica bocachica boca-

Use Carrizo
Reed to measure
How deep el Río Grande~
Bravo sinks before
The confluence

With the Gulf

*	*	*

How deep are we
Before confluence? 

*	*	*

Water has no age

*	*	*

When you said you read poetry like Bible verses
I stopped being suspicious of the world