Christian Rivera Nolan


Christian Rivera Nolan grew up in his grandparents home in Santa Clara to a working-class Mexican-American household, raised by his mother and disabled brother. He is currently studying Latinx Studies and Biology-Physiology. An aspiring physician, poet, and community organizer. He is a child of alcoholics, of divorce, and the son of a Navy veteran battling Post Traumatic Stress and Mental Illness. He enjoys backpacking, spoken word poetry, and salsa dancing. He believes in growth through conflict and in the accumulation of knowledge through the service to others.

Instagram @aSequoiaTalks


To live in the Borderlands means you

Crecer como un contradicción andando,

Hablando mentiras y media verdades,

Tu eres de aqui, but not really.

In their eyes nor your own you will always be a stranger,

But you are so much more than this middle ground.


To live in the Borderlands means knowing that you carry

The weight of ancestors in your chest,

Bones hanging like low hanging fruit,

Cracking and grinding like graveyard.


Cuando vives en la Frontera,

You are caught working, loving & dying in the middle.

Donde cultura, guerra, oro y paz cross paths.

When the crashing of tequila bottles

Like bombshells, shake your family down to the foundation,

Lo mismo que ha estado sucediendo por generaciones.


Para sobrevivir por la Frontera,

You had to kill your voice, your culture, your customs

The dreams of parents, lost to deserts

Like heart sick; cracked, dried out

Hollow whispers of dust, nightmare, flesh & blood

Scattered to the borderlands.

This fate not set in stone


To bloom in the Borderlands

You will need to pick up the pieces,

Sharpen your thorns,

Water your own garden.

Carve out a space,

Stand tall and take things

One day at a time.




My father is screaming,
He can not control it.
Frustration pouring out of him like a fire hydrant,
he a mountain of a man ,
And I feel so very very small,
And afraid,
I do not understand
The sun of my life is bursting
His Temper paints nightmares along my bedroom walls
Our apartment become a battlefield,
- I left with This purple heart I never asked for,
When the storm subsides
He gets on one knee looks me in the eyes; and swears he will never lay a hand on me,
- And I believe him,

He tells me when he clung to life by a shoestring,
I saved his life,
Long hopeless months in the hospital,
When the doctors told him he would never walk again,
I gave him something worth fighting for

They take me away from him,
They say I can not see him anymore.
I cry every night ,
I do not understand
So many questions
And pokings
And prodding
Their questions make me feel dirty,
Like I did something wrong,?
But nothing ever happened

My father at 54 years old tells me
That if he died tomorrow
That would be okay,
Living off borrowed time-
He's had plenty of life he says,
He says he wasnt a kind man,
That he did bad things
He hurt people
But father,
I tell him, life is not black and white
And You are a good man,
in my eyes
The kindest soul I've ever known
He tells me we will talk about it more when I'm older

Grandma passes away, he has no family left
Only me,

I choose to live at my moms house

15; my dad moves away

15; things felt so much easier that way

Father is homeless now,
Weathered face,
And sullen shoulders
He's always sick
He hates the shelter,

He tells me he almost shot himself in Reno
About broken marriages
And his daughter he doesn't speak to anymore
He tells me about selling cocaine
And how to survive in this world

His hands are shaking
He speaks of
Soldiers killing children,
American GI's beheaded in front of him in jungles half way around the world
He saw it all,
Late night conversations
He sounds raspy
Like he is a thousand miles away,

He breaks down,
And I never knew how to help him
But I am here
And father I will always be here for you.

Today; i am 21
A stranger to this family name,
My father teaches me how to be a man,
To look you in the eyes when I shake your hand, that my word is my bond and you never
Ever hit a woman,
He teaches me patience,
About mental health
& unconditional love
And my need for balance.

My entire life i've grappled with the pushing and pulling of our tides,
Needing to know the man,
The side that raised me,
Loving me unconditional
On my worst days,
When I least deserved it
I pushed him away
Bent on not duplicating his same Mistakes

But what if,
What if the more things changed the more they stayed the same,
I am just left here picking up his pieces.

© The Acentos Review 2018