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 

 ‘apa, lo quiero mucho

I have told my father I loved
Him a handful of times.
He has never said it back.
My father has never told me he loves me.  

Perhaps, the working sun baked his muscles stiff,
His mouth went first, then his hands.
Maybe, my grandfather made a casket
For the word in his throat, buried       with him. 

My old man       me,
But he has never said it.
Lately, I see him less and try it more often;
On the phone, le digo, “‘apa, lo quiero mucho.” 

He hangs up or passes the phone to my ‘ama at this point.
¿Es cosa de machos, no?
No dicerle a tu mi’jo, el joto,
Que lo quieres.  

I know he does. 

Mi ‘apa, con su mirada de piloncillo.
Con su piel de cemento y piedra.
Como lo quiero, a mi viejo.
Como me quiere, mi ‘apa. 

I’ve learned to read the tiny fractures
That make machos so fragile.
He might never read this. 
‘apa, lo quiero mucho. 




a few years back, at the age of 58, my father became a U.S. citizen. for a moment, he and i, now
made present on paper, understood each other as two people tethered to a graveyard we'd never feel
comfortable calling home.

he has a tiny american flag hidden in his sock drawer now, just like me. where does one keep the
thing given to you by the very agency that took away your sons, or your brothers? his. mine.

i ask what he'll do now that he's a gringo. he laughs the way we  laugh with each other, like misery
loves compadres, like stepping in dog shit or slipping in mud, like every silent truck ride will geyser
every word we’ve never said

"pos nada. seguir trabajando." nothing, he says, keep working.
¿que mas nos queda, verda', 'apa? Y seguir

© The Acentos Review 2019