Carlos Reyes

De Nuevo

              In 2018 the US State Department issued a Category 4 Do Not Travel Warning


Carlos J. Reyes is a Mexican-Puerto Rican poet and essayist from Chicago, Illinois. He is a current MFA Creative Writing-Poetry candidate at Columbia College Chicago. His writing explores, examines, and interrogates the intersections between Latinx and American culture, immigration, and language.  

              for the Mexican state of Michoacán


I get on the bus with other men at the

pickup spot while the sky is still a dark

purple on both sides of the road. We

board silently, hearing the snore of the

engine and blow of the wind that scraps

against thin tree leaves.


A good day is when the skunk spray fails

to come through the windows. The streets

are barren with only dirt on the edges of the

road until about an hour later.


Eight men, some with ripped-plaid shirts,

other with tank-tops, are spread out between

two gray-rusted Ford F-150 cargo beds

that kiss the edge of the road with rifles

griped in hand. The bus briefly pauses before

slugging past the F-150s. Everyone tries not

to stare out the window, but I do anyway.


A man with a black-thin mustache and black

bandana in a white tank-top makes eye-contact

with me before giving a slight nod of approval.

They never stop the bus or ask questions. The

sides of their trucks are sloppily tagged with

black spray-paint.


                        Autodefensas para nuestra gente y ciudad.


When we are dropped off, we robotically form

a single-file line and stand by for El Jefe to

instruct us. He is yet to emerge out of his

wrinkled-wooden office shack.


We are a dirty line, wearing dirt-stained jeans,

shirts, and caps from yesterday’s pickings. Our

wait for El Jefe is longer than usual—beyond

the row of miniature aguacate trees, and just

behind the dark-orange dirt hill, the sun is

on the cusp of full arousal.


                        ¡Mira, solemente estamos buscando chamba!


Two men in ripped-denim overalls, with thick

disheveled mustaches, and grime-blessed

sombreros emerge from behind. A man on my

left, wearing a ripped knockoff Chivas jersey

askes the two men where they came from—

the men briefly stare at each other before approaching

and mumbling.


                        Pinche narcos, robaron nuestra planta.

After a moment of silence, we all lose focus,

gazing into the sky as a group of black and

orange winged butterflies take flight.




When Mexico sends its People, they’re not sending their Best

                        From Trump's 2015 Presidential Campaign Announcement Speech


Exhibit A:    Three Men in Blazers


                        Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Iñárritu.

                        Three men, with white raspy facial hair, and a combined net

                        worth of $110 million. They have all caressed the androgynous

                        golden figure on Primetime Television—winning Academy

                        Awards for Best Director. They have come via the way of

                        CDMX and Guadalajara.


Exhibit B:    El Journo


                        Jorge Ramos is the physical embodiment of the Mestizos, for his

                        skin is a light-tan that only managed to be slightly pecked by the sun,

                        with a combination of green, unfiltered, eyes. Accolades include eight

                        Emmy Awards, various features on Time Magazine, and being the first

                        Journo to be removed and re-invited from a Presidential nominee’s

                        presser, on the same day, after being told get out of my country. Despite

                        the fame, the Journo’s favorite anxiety-calming meal is a classic Latino

                        Struggle Meal—a toasted slice of bread, smothered with mantequilla,

                        and drizzled with sugar.


Exhibit C:    Every Paletero & Elotero


                        Behind every man wearing a sombrero pushing a bell-jingling carrito,

                        covered in stickers of every paleta imaginable, and every woman

                        wearing a large apron behind a towering cart, slicing elotes into styrofoam

                        cups, can guarantee you that they’ve brought joy to at least one child

                        at the playground. They roam the streets during the hideous springs of April

                        and into the stench of the summer after their eight-hour jobs, creating extra

                        shifts so that their children can be warm and go to college, while still thinking

                        about the ones that were left behind, on the other side of the fence.














Personal Aspirations of an Immigrant: Tío & Apá




For my tío is it to one day

have a job that is more than

just chopping heads of living

shrimps under the moonlight

with a knife’s blade that

sometimes strikes the sides of

his fingers in a place where

pay is unmarked bills tucked

in envelopes every Friday? I

reckon that it is to live in peace

which is to run the fake social

security card that rest in back

part of his wallet through the

shredder dissipating years of

hidden shame and fear.




Sometimes apá believes that

he has already made it for

his most prized possession

after the family photos and

dusted cassette tapes from

back home is a photo of him

in his line cook uniform still

free of canola oil stains with

a knife in hand standing beside

President Bill Clinton. It is the

only photo I’ve seen apá smile

so bright in after years of working

the same line cook job where the

most meaningful pay comes in

the form of fresh meat cuts in

his ragged green backpack.










Immigration Interview with Tucker Carlson

         After Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s “Immigration Interview with Jay Leno”


What would happen if I just strolled into

your country illegally, as if it were my local

grocery store?


Farmers would secretly yearn to their

wives about possessing your smooth,

uncalloused, hands, as students from

the university would whisper que gringo

bandido es ese güey.


Why are illegal invading my country?


Because this America, our America,

is infatuated with cheap labor; why

wait 20 years for Work Authorization

Status while my neighbor gets a job

picking mushrooms in a stale room,

before me, since they’ll be paid less

than minimum wage.


 I don’t get your point. . .


As my padres used to say back

home, hay que ponerse las pilas.


What are you saying, Englissshh, por fav—


Being paid $5 an hour is more than

$5 a day; we send money back to our

families so they can remodel their

kitchen ceilings and not have blue

mold drip into their bowls as they eat—


You’re not answering my questions!

Americans are sick of paying for your

taxes and having to adher—


We pick the tomatoes for your salad

in dirty sweat-drenched overalls; we

change the yellow-crusted bed sheets

that you masturbate upon in silence;

we chop the green grass that would

otherwise consume the delicate picket

fence and the floors of your mansion—


Your premise seems deeply disingenuous;

you don’t deserve to be here picking beans

with those hardened and contaminated



         I did not come here—


I should just call ICE—


to be disrespected.


You’re an illegal alien, period!

No complaints, just deportation.


The Acentos Review 2019