Fernando Pérez


Fernando Pérez is Mexican-American poet from Los Angeles, CA. He attended Long Beach City College and received his BA in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach, before moving to Phoenix, AZ, where he received an MFA in Poetry from Arizona State University. Fernando is currently an assistant professor of writing at Bellevue College in Washington State. His work has appeared in several journals, including The Suburban Review, Hinchas de Poesía, Crab Orchard Review, and the Volta. His first collection of poems is forthcoming from The University of New Mexico Press in the fall of 2017. 

The American Dead 

All we need to know about the body:
soft tissue goes first, of course.
Bones degrade based on density.
Femurs break down easily
because of marrow.
The scapula, the pelvis, take longer. 

Before Black men die here
someone will record them
from safe distance. 

Sometimes we climb onto a large pile
of several decomposing carcasses
to measure temperature.
We replicate a crime scene.
The growing list of suspicious deaths.

When a Black man dies here,
people put his body on ice.
He grows up on a dead-end dirt road.
His family raises animals for slaughter.
Freezing broccoli and beans
to last through winter.
His neighbors share their syrup
when the weather gets cold. 

Black body
onto board
into casket or furnace. 

Body-talk is not uncommon at dinner.
Do not translate simple into nothing.
Time the interval instead.
The crosswalk of too soon and tomorrow. 

When Black men die here
the police will
make a phone call
in front of their corpse. 

People in uniforms take Black bodies away.
Say they don’t know why they fear you. 

Black bodies above and below.
Accompany the departed.
No body
decomposes on its own. 

is collective:
Your neighbor gets your person.
You get some
of your person’s neighbor.



Shameless Barrio Opera 

Deaf to the curses he falls onto her skin.
All the freckles, tiny drum heads
casting verbal rain drops. 

Answer: when a father is Mexican
and a mother is hurtful. 

If they were older, orange clouds,
dust withered clouds
or clouds withered down to dust
would restore their hands to photographs,
first iterations expressed using loops.
The sweaty reality of slides
one at a time by a carousel projector. 

When they were young parents in the 80’s
too often rescued by door locks and lullabies.
When god was new and brown.

They stayed fixed to the moon’s bright smile
like it was a standing cure.
A penny slid across hardwood. 

If he doubted water, she would
think of the stationary existence of drowning. 

Say the future is a clear stream.
Say the past is on time—
Numbers they might count. 

Something to play catch with:
A pinecone. A crumbled dollar.
Question: What does hurt have
to do with California?





©The Acentos Review 2017