Marcelo Hernandez Castillo 

First God 

His head is a large copper drum with a snake’s tongue. 
Everything dances against his body 
                                          because everything wants to plant something inside him. 
He removes what they plant with a knife. 
They are like slivers of shrapnel 
                            that rise to the surface or travel beneath his skin toward his head. 
He is sitting on the curb outside a Seven-Eleven 
drinking a soda. He is scratching off the word money tattooed 
                                                        beneath the skin of a ticket 
until his fingers turn blue. Women are walking up 
                to the curb and jamming 
                seeds and candles into his back because they don’t know 
that it will rain in two days. 
                                                                The women’s faces are all shadows and strings. 
                          This is how they end themselves. 
It is 110 outside, he takes another drink from his Styrofoam cup. 
                He’s overweight and hasn’t gotten laid in months. 
The women leave their candles in his back 
and walk away through the gasoline 
lots of believing they made something 
                                                          happen. He takes another drink and begins to pick 
shoots of corn that have already sprouted 
from his chest with his knife. 
Some have traveled near his heart 
                                                and will have to be left there. A man once lived 
                                                for twenty years with a bullet an inch from his brain. 
                                                It took that bullet twenty years to reach its target. 
The store clerk yells at him to leave 
                and points to the sign on the window that’s big, red, and to the point. 
As he stands up to leave he sees that you are staring. 
The fuck you looking at? He says. The gold and bones hanging on his neck 
rattle against his body as you pass him. 
You don’t turn to look 
but hear him mumbling as he takes one step 
over the canyon 
 and lies down on the horizon 
                                with his back to you which is bare and hazy. 
You look and he has turned into a field riddled with corn in the distance 
and there are pounds of rotting lavender wrapped in bundles 
                                near what could only be his head that were never burned. 

Short History of X 

It isn’t a song or a fist 
or the hummingbird 
inside this fist 
with its song already 
outside its body, 
or its wings crushed 
in its chest or the fist letting go 
and the abrupt pause 
as if unsure—as 
if the world were glassy 
and the slow retreat 
back into the palm 
unzipping its grooves 
and completely 
disappearing in its bones 
that are now flushed 
in a cool electric drizzle. 

God of Fertility 

Fanning her feathers in the sun 
she learns that she is pregnant. 
There are thousands of eggs inside her 
and she knows that most of them will die 

which is why she never bothers naming them. 
She needs to hurry otherwise they’ll 
eat their way out of her. If they do 
she will first feel them make their way 

through her lungs. She won’t know what to listen for 
but she’ll hear their rumbling like teeth grinding on gravel. 
She lives in east LA and listens to music 
on weekend mornings when she cleans. 

She knows that some of them might eat each other. 
She needs to hurry. She doesn’t know 
that one of them will hatch and grow up to be 
a mechanic. If you could follow him, 

you could see him getting fired; 
you could see him tossing dice on the curb 
seventeen years from now. He’s the one 
who ate his brothers, he’s the one with greasy 

hair slicked back. He rolls a gum in his mouth 
when he wants to make thunder. 
He flicks his tongue to make small kicks 
of lightning when his head is heaved between 

a woman’s thighs as he tries to lick her tattoo 
off with his tongue. He gambles and loses. 
At night he sleeps in his clothes on a mattress 
on the floor of his moist studio. Even the birds 

that are attached to his hands harpoon themselves 
towards the window because they are tired. 
He wakes up in the yoke colored morning light 
and is covered in flowers. Toothless women 

are chanting around him because someone 
can’t have a child in their village. He wishes he knew 
what they were saying, he doesn’t know their language. 
He doesn’t mind them anymore, they’ve grown 

custom to his groans, when they approach him 
with a rope tied at their ankles for dragging. 
they think he understands them. 
Sometimes he is paralyzed, other times, 

he just closes his eyes, bites his lip and counts backwards 
until they have finished and leave. They are old and 
religious and he knows they’ll be back because they’re 
always in need of miracles. Things keep trying 
to give birth inside him as soon as they leave, it feels 
like a prayer with teeth. Things keep leaving 

their eggs in his rivers of hair 
hoping to spawn but he tears them off like a price tag 
from a pair of jeans he bought on sale at the Army. 
You could see his tongue littered with eggs where the women 

came to give birth at the river. 
The women have left a calf on his bed. 
He is tired and you know this. 
He puts on his coat and walks out of his room 

and burns the house down with diesel. 
He says he’s going over to your place.[1] 

[1] the last line is from Larry Levi’s poem, “the poem you asked for” in The Wrecking Crew  

author photo

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
came to the United States undocumented and is currently a “Dreamer.” He is a Canto Mundo fellow and an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan. He has held residencies from the Squaw Writer’s Workshop, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Recent work can be found or is forthcoming from Jubilat, The Journal, and Devil’s Lake.

© The Acentos Review 2013