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Las Chácharas I Carried (Translated from the Mexican)



This poem was first published in its entirety through the literary magazine Sinking City.

The customs agent switched his nightstick
for a number two pencil and asked at workshop,

“I’m not sure what this word means here.
Does anyone know?”

Las Chácharas I Carried (Translated from the Mexican)

  1. A cutting board to butcher
    my tongue, and hope bleeding’s
    a universal language.
  2. A bilingual dictionary—kept abreast
    like the Khan family’s pocket constitution
  3. The English word for the Aztec adage:
    “It takes 3 seconds to google my shit.”
  4. A book of poems to hand
    my father, the edges smeared
    in molcajete and refried beans.
  5. My tears
    as apá strains
    his chords
    to read
    my hymns
    for him
  6. An ink made of his cook orders.
  7. His baby blue dress shirt to wear
    at my MFA thesis committee.
  8. The declaration,
    “It’ll be in ambos idiomas.”
  9. A voice recorder to replay his voice
    in the hollow walls of my Newark apartment
    until I finish singing the Barrio Beatitudes.
  10. His question, “¿Hijo,
    cuándo vas a regresar?”

Born and raised in the East Palo Alto, CA Antonio López received his B.A. in Global Cultural Studies and African & African-American studies from Duke University. He’s received scholarships to attend the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, the Home School, Tin House Summer Workshop, the Key West Literary Seminar, and the Vermont Studio Center. He is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, a CantoMundo Fellow, and a 2019 Adroit Summer Mentor. His nonfiction has been featured or is forthcoming in PEN/America, The Latino Book Review, and Insider Higher Education, and his poetry in BOAAT, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Adroit Journal, Puerto del Sol, Huizache, Tin House and elsewhere. He was runner up for the inaugural Palette Poetry Spotlight Award of 2019 and the recipient of the 2019 Katherine Bakeless Nelson Award in Poetry for the 2019 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He received his Masters in Fine Arts (poetry) at Rutgers-Newark. As a 2018 Marshall Scholar, he is currently pursuing a Masters in Philosophy in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford, where he is also poetry editor of the Oxford Review of Books. His debut collection, Gentefication, won the 2019 Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry, and is set to be published fall of 2021.