Yesenia Montilla



The dead are    everywhere
The mouse rotting away inside my walls
The rat in the basement trap
& just yesterday, my Dominican cab driver
ran over a pigeon on the corner of 145
th and St. Nick 

I am use to that
It’s the dead people I can’t      handle
So many          & I fear we all have our hands
in it 

How dishonest love has become
How devastatingly unlovely
That it is no wonder hate seems
the better option 

& can I mention circles?
How the universe is made up of them
Yet we behave so linear, as if life weren’t
a round mouth full of reverie, as if stirring
the pot or our morning bustelo wasn’t a
circular action 

Everything is a spiral, as improbable as a galaxy
as destructive as a hurricane 

& this is just to say that there are more solar systems
than there are us
and we still haven’t learned to live
as stars 

Couldn’t they teach us about going out
in a dazzling light? 

Couldn’t they teach us about the mystery
of it all? 

We seem to be so concerned with good & evil
When isn’t the daily grind the struggle between
joy & sorrow?

& while we are on the subject of living
Is this all there is too it?

To be born
To become enraged
To break ourselves against an indestructible
To lose sight of desire
To let desire become only theory
To think theory is being
But what about being a
blinding beautiful and incorruptible thing? 

& speaking of corruption
have I mentioned                     Colonization?
Being imposed a foster parent without
arms to hold you         only     teeth & spit 

& did I mention Africa
Or does that require another poem? 

I once had a lover that told me:
You’re sooooooo                    black
I took it as a compliment
He meant it as

Every Sunday I call my abuela
& we go over all the week’s tragedies
She is brown & woman
Trauma is the only way she stays tethered
to the earth. 

She tells me ponte las pilas
& for hours I search my body for slots
where batteries might fit
Because I imagine the only way to save humanity
is to be a little less                              human



There is no greater love than the love a wolf feels
for the lamb it doesn’t eat – Helene Cisoux

They say when the Spanish came we thought them
Gods. They came with sincere eyes, but insincere
mouths and cocks they knew something about the
universe & we only knew about the earth, not
about the stars unless being guided by them is
a kind of knowing, but no, in those days the stars
knew us more than we them. & that might be the
difference between the wolf & the lamb, our
relationship to the universe and its bounty. I think
what I want to say here is that to the wolf go
the spoils & yet there is something about being a lamb
the danger, the never knowing when the wolf will be
hungry enough. How do you not love yourself when you
constantly survive your undoing just by being precious?
I don’t like coyness, if I love you I will take your mouth
first because that is where the breathe lives, does that
make me a wolf, or does this: when I am near you
I shackle my intentions & feasts with my eyes, I won’t
dare eat of your flesh. How could I? It would be like
the snake that eats itself from the tail, eventually it
chokes on everything, it’s rough scales, it’s heart all
colonized & tender, the whole world becomes its
body half eaten & dragging in the dirt—


© The Acentos Review 2020