Jesús I. Valles


Jesús I. Valles is a queer Mexican immigrant, educator, storyteller, and performer based in Austin, Texas, originally from Cd. Juarez, México. Jesús is a recipient of the 2018 Undocupoets Fellowship, a 2018 Tin House Scholar, a fellow of The 2018 Poetry Incubator, the runner-up in the 2017 Button Poetry Chapbook Contest, and a finalist of the 2016 Write Bloody Poetry Contest. Their work has been published in The Shade Journal, The Texas Review, The New Republic, Harvard Palabritas, and Quarterly West (forthcoming). As an actor and theatremaker, Jesús is also the recipient of four B. Iden Payne awards, including Outstanding Original Script and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama for their autobiographical solo show, (Un)Documents. Jesús currently teaches social and emotional learning to high school students, focusing on those recently arrived to the U.S. 

Instagram: @TheJesucia 

“I’d Like To Keep It On, Please”

“I hope Trump deports Valentina” – a comments section in 2017.


“Hello, it’s me, Valentina.”
You. You are all red, and Maria,
And Dolores, and Katy, and
Lupe, and none of them are dead
Here, in the work room and you are
Mariachi Plaza y bailes antes de la peda,
And my tia Ana with too much make up
My tio Chon with too much memory and beer
And every sweet, young summer
I dressed churritos con limon
Y rivers of Valentina and
Watched my mother do her eyeliner -


“You’re perfect, you’re beautiful,
You look like Linda Evangelista,
You’re a model,”
Aja harps, births
A moment before the mask, a bitch track
Exalts your name, Vale, your falsehoods,
All your Itatí Cantoral stunts still ahead,
Brink of your fan favorite face, your Echo Park
Santee Alley fake shit, holiest of places
For Mexicans making beautiful
From every scrap the world has fed
Us under the table to thank us
For how clean we keep it. 


“I’d like to keep it on, please.”
You refuse a mother who has never birthed
You, a mogul, a monarch, but never ‘ama,
You refuse in a mask of rubies, scarlet lace,
Blood velour, claws the color of one third a flag
For a country I cannot so easily run to, but
I recall, you refuse this moment, then remove
The mask, then refuse the words, the way my
Tongue forgets all the things English hurts on
My skin, y ya valio verga – asi nomas, you, home-girl


I call home the day after the election.
My mother, who has lived through too many versions of the world,
Tells me, “No pos, de mejores fiestas me han corrido”
I laugh, wondering what worse party there could be
Than the death-cult running shit, and imagine my mother
Boarding the Sun Metro 63 bus, hobbled walk, banana clip,
And always a pearl, a stone, or gold dangling on from her ears,
Always something beautiful, y a quién le importa lo que digan,
Si sigo viva, y sonriendo, que bello es mi rechazo
A todo lo que no me quiere. 


I live in an age of refusal.
When denied, I refuse.
When praise is backhanded, I bask anyway,
Bathe in every “fake” I am called.
When asked to shrink, I fatten and gorge.
I no longer learn the words to any song I don’t like.
I don’t lip-synch in any language that evicts me.
Don’t you know? I’ve remixed derision into glory?
Soil my name and I cover it in aurora borealis crystals
*TING* *TING**TING**TING*  bitch!
Look at the marvelous execution of my artifice,
Touch this skin, honey. Touch all of it! 


Glory to every masterpiece we’ve built
With cunning and grace in a country that hates us!
Glory to all jotas who make chunty look sexy!
Glory to Guadalupe, madre de las jotas,
Mother of the house of locas y embusteras!
Don’t you know? She’s Tonantzin
Don’t you know? She’s Coatlicue,
Don’t you know? she’s Tlazolteotl
Santísima virgen de la bella perpetua,
Patrona de todas las vestidas y jacarandosas,
ruega por nosotras. 


Mi Vale, just like you,
I cite my mother often, so
This place won’t make her disappear.
I cite her womb as my country
I cite her love for Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon,
I cite every way she’s ever loved me -
If she’d had a wedding dress, I’d wear it.
Like you, like us, I survive
when they say our fate should be death. 


Valentinidad – Mexican artifice constructed in pre-Trump times for Trump era
survival; the audacity of Mexican bravado and delusion as a means of finding oxygen,
derived from palenque drag and putting towels on your head while lip-synching too
fiercely to Isabel Pantoja when you should’ve been cleaning your damn room, but
who’s gonna stop you, loca?

Here’s to all Mexicans who dream cosas bellisimas and fail every day.
May we keep making bright, glittering things from every fuck up.

© The Acentos Review 2019