Christopher “Rooster” Martinez


Christopher “Rooster” Martinez is a writer and spoken word poet from San Antonio, Texas. He earned a MA/MFA in Creative Writing, Literature & Social Justice at Our Lady of the Lake University. His work appeared in such publications as The Huffington Post Latino Voices, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and Pilgrimage Press. @ayoroost on Twitter & Instagram. 

I use chopsticks very well

And on this day, the men talk about their dogs.

The dogs sound cute.

They speak about their lives,

And their lives sound cute like


Mega Churches in the middle of nowhere.

And I eat sesame chicken with my father

And brother, and our lives

Are not umbrellas.


And on this day, the two men speak casually—

In a way I can’t seem to inhale;

Perhaps, unallowed. My breath stops

Short of every doorway, pauses at any invitation

To enter, hopes inside there are others

Holding their breaths like me.


And on this day, the men, sitting

At the table next to us, discuss flipping houses

Like season tickets to the Opera. O’ how their voices

Touch the topography of a neighborhood, it is not unlike

Mal de ojo. And I use chopsticks, the way father

Taught me, like a careful stranger.


The chicken is as Chinese as a hot dog, and I

Am as Mexican as this country permits. The soda fizz

Fireworks above the ice and Coca-Cola like Fourth of

July weekends. And in most parts of this country,

I am always a careful stranger.

Does everything invented in America feel this way?

Like soda fizz on the surface

And so much darkness underneath?



The Rites of Home


the clock is enemy to all immigrants.

When stuck in-between honey and milk,

seconds are


my grandfather’s hands bleeding

for this country

more than Christ.


My family’s backs broke in America before Batman.

We held these territories in our laps before anyone came looking,


before a saber drew a dividing line.

When did salt grow into a fence?


Did this all begin by making children pledge to it?

Say: here is ours.


a ritual of home.

And in all the screaming banners,

all the streaming bombs,

no apologies.


Make no pleas for interrupting the rain?

When I pledge, I say nothing, cover my heart,


shield its bloom from the violence,

calm the dirt in my chest before someone

walks its terrain and buries a flag.


I look up most nights and wonder,

who drew the constellations?


Who looked up into all that space

and said: There, there is the line.

Now swear by it.


Ten-Years-Young (1728)

                     & if I were to walk in the direction of a breeze, would I
                     become the wind? Would I connect with wherever the
                     wind would go and wherever it has been, or do I remain
                     like a second hand stuck in a swelling river?

                     I ask because I’d like to know the places I come from?
                     Or are we all simply places for others to be?

                     Ten-years-young and they’ve erected missions on my
                     skin. Yanaguana became a county. They clothed me in
                     barbed wire and bullets, blood and fences; a cross on
                     my naked flesh. Hot winds still blow through what the
                     Spanish named Balcones, and they sweat like I sweat. I
                     am an old land, but they tell me I’m a young city. The
                     people who would talk to me are becoming
                     fewer and fewer. Buildings and people spring forth from me like
                     baby teeth and fall away just as quickly.

                     They want to redirect my river towards new gods.
                     My tongue is being bent like cacti / too thorny for my
                     own mouth to remember.
                     The people who would talk to me are becoming fewer
                     and fewer. I don’t know who would listen to my song
                     anymore, or to which Gods I should cry out to? 

                     I was here before ten-years- ago—before 300 years,
                     before gold, before galleons, before the men and their
                     armored war dogs, and the ends of blades. You found
                     your blessings at the mouth of my song then, and after,
                     and forever. I bury my magic deep so that I might recall
                     what made me. At night, my shadows move in places
                     people refuse to see as graves. Some nights, they dance. 
                     You cannot carbon date my skin against pitiful
                     calendars. I know what lives here / below the missions
                     and crosses, the buildings and boulevards; I am settled.
                     I am the dirt. I am what you continue to build upon but
                     can never crush. I am whatever comes before Alpha
                     and after Omega.

                     Yo soy las ramas y raices—the branches and the roots.
                     Ten-years-young and the wind tells me, I will wake up
                     when I’m ready to sing again. Perhaps, I never stopped
                     and the city is only now noticing.Ten-years, 300, or a
                     million, and I am still the river that will wash out the
                     blood. I am still the river that never forgets. And
                     everyone before, and everyone now will never die in my memory.





© The Acentos Review 2019