Bryan Chávez Castro


Bryan Chávez Castro is completing his degree in comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley as a Regents' and Chancellor's Scholar. His narrative poem “Blanco” was featured in the fall 2018 edition of Palabritas, a Latinx literary publication based out of Harvard College. He is currently writing a senior thesis about the intersection of music and literature in the context of the Salvadoran civil war. Born and raised in El Salvador, he now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

They said. I heard, then saw.

Everyday I heard them say a distant war
with filmic escapes from shooting aircrafts. 

Gory-horror visions of pigs pulling guts out of fresh hollow thoraxes,
heads hanging                 off fences, reeled into thought.

The suspense-filled, single-shot discoveries of buried
landmines that exploded and then killed were, indeed, very

Tropical jungle deadly chase scenes in bird’s eye shots,
I imagined the lush green set, heavy breathing and mud. 

They said. I heard, then saw. 

At the graveyard where the dead
can be washed away, I learned from the bullet-hole-plagued,
prop-like headstones 

That the war was not so distant,
and the living can suffer
through half- or double-deaths. 



At home the land is grids and trees and steel
and wire lines that part my things from yours 

and wire lines that part from me to you
like river flows, electric shocks. Displaced tongues 

emerge from the o’s and ones. Un count of
hours, miles away from living in my 

land like squares, made up of squares, made up of light.
Blue sea that talks in waves and gives, and takes, is just 

dead in a square that is squares that is light
that is zeroes and ones in a patr
ón.              Land, 

grid is order and law and I am behind,
over, away, inside the rejas/grid 

of pixels, of barbwire, of steel. A thought
that is biform, runs, follows like lines and circles,  

questions no one, asks for nothing, lowers gaze 
identifies itself with its rejas/grid, 

defends to death: machete death, envenomed
water death, blushed-cheeks death, black machine gun death. 

The light, a line of lines that wanders, turns, re-
turns, becomes mine in the nervous network, 

enters like a wave, like inverted arches,
enters like a thing, manojo of color. 

Home is the air, the light, the lines, the wires, the zeroes and ones.





The Interview

Yes, I am scared of death.
I fear they will comb, gel my flesh, blacken my lungs,
cup their hands around me. 

¿How can you prove it?

The blisters, my
pruney skin. I
swam, I walked. I
ran, I read. I

¿How is that enough? 

am walking up the steps of a
building with ten tall columns.
Behind me is a bridge.
I am a car, perhaps a bud.
I own my two words. A crescent
rises above the pediment. I see
a man standing in front of the arched gate. 

(He smiles, harvests the light that flashes out of my eyes, pores, mouth)

¿Are you scared of death?














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