Samuel Arizpe


In the Arizona desert, one immigrant tells another, “Aquí por poquito se ahoga ella,” “Esta es la superficie de retal de postes,” “Aquí nos reunimos al anochecer.”

A thousand miles away, a woman who loves autumn dies in autumn.

In Chicago, a man who lost control of his car accidentally hits three women sitting on a stoop.

A mob drags him out of his car and bludgeons him to death under a sparkling twilight sky.

A dying whale slaps the water with his tail over and over.

In Peru, the American woman accused of assisting the Rebels of the Shining Path sits in a prison in the high Andes, listening to the ringing of bells.

When the sister of a boy gang-raped by men in Afghanistan is herself raped, his family avenges her rape, ignoring his. Later he dies alone of grief in a cave.

A monk measuring the path of light and a blue heron standing on one leg both look up at the very moment of death.

In Machu Picchu a man digging finds robins’ eggs. “Are these shells floating in light,” he asks.

You know que when somebody que nunca te dice algo tells you something, there’s nothing left, pero you like it porque it disappears, como que it comes straight from the world. Pero ese, check it out. Es como en winter, en la noche the air cambia y cuando los trains y los cars pasan, parece que están far away y se oye todo bien crisp and clean. Como que I never heard it before. Like when the colors of the sky—azul y negro—se sienten deep y suave, como una mano que va por toda mi espalda and the fingers of my lover on my neck y su boca caliente y fría porque we’re kissing and drinking Coronas and crunching hielos in our mouth. I like the coolness of his tongue. Me gusta que we’re in the back of my troca holding hands, cobijados looking at the stars y que me dice, “Papayito que bueno que somos cholos all wrapped up in each other, far from everybody en este silencio, en el amor. Pero check it out. Como chingan mis camaradas cuando quieren sus drogas. Hasta siento ganas to run away with you to west Texas, to Marfa, donde dicen que you can see lights en el horizonte at night, and you can hear when somebody fifty miles away prende el carro. Pero no me voy porque tú eres el único pari mí forever, ese.”  Luego nos hacemos el amor toda la noche, estamos abrazados and I whisper, llorando, “Me vale madres eso de tus camaradas. I just want to disappear contigo caliente, ese.”

Your drinking buddies found you early one morning floating in a pool,

Where you’d been gazing up at the stars when you fell asleep.

Your last thought before going under was of us in Junior High going to

A football game and then afterwards, bored, milling about

The grounds, searching for lost change under the bleachers. We walked over

To the locker room to get a glimpse of the football players,

And fell silent to what we saw: naked gringo high school boys celebrating their

Victory snapping each other on the bare ass with wet towels.

I wanted to tell you, Jacinto, but I couldn’t, that I was suddenly dizzy, nervous, 

Trembling from watching you watch them.  You were so

Enthralled, you didn’t feel me reach out and touch your neck. We screamed

And took off laughing when the coach shooed us away.

Jacinto, I was thinking the other night. I lay in bed on my back, looking up,

As you had looked up at the sky that dawn. I floated away.

I sank into a great abyss. I saw Love, my notion of love—and I let go.


Samuel is often surprised by where a poem takes him and believes that poetry--reading, writing, and sharing it--is at its roots the raising of consciousness, the practice of compassionate awareness. His poems result from a personal struggle with the great issues of life and death--including impermanence, and suffering. Viewed in context of conscientización in relation to the world and to others, the argument could be made that this in itself makes his poems Latino or religious, and he would not disagree. Samuel lives in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, which comprises four counties in proximity to the Mexican border.

Synchronicity / Sincronía

Code-switch cholo love poem