* David Campos & Maceo Montoya *

everything kept inside writhes and piles




A Temporary Blindness


Beyond your city and love, out here
in the unfathomable cold
the brightest stars burn with frostbite.

Zoom in and you’ll find your rapture,
your exile in a dilapidated solar system
where the planetary bodies that didn’t fit

your expectations float and twirl
in their own menace.

Here, you’ll grow ill
if you don’t uncover your eyes
because this is still part of your city,
the love that has always been yours
to unsee through the hands
you’ve carried and worn,
tattered and now full of holes
from so much unseeing.

There is no kindness in not witnessing
the approach of your own death––

a line of men in uniform with rifles
aimed at the earth before passionately
rising in unison as if to salute God,

or slowly eating more and more
until parts of your body start disappearing.
Still, you’re here with chilled skin

looking beyond the empty branches
of a tangerine tree to the warm glow
a street lamp gives you.

You’ve been bitter for too long
about your own hunger

and now and only just now
do you walk underneath the lamp’s umbrella

to embrace sight and relish in the end
of your blindness. Dig with your irises.

The archeology of yourself has only just begun.
Already, you’ve found ancient tools–
sharpened bones and stones

dug out for drinking the blood
from the sky heart. Everything you find in mirrors
becomes as bright and as beautiful as the city
and love where your tangerines grow,

a hardened bark armoring the trunk
and branches full of green to drink the sun

until the stars of orange bulb out from their misery
in drought–bitter, sweet, or anything in between
you’ll savor but forget the expected,
the required ingredients for licking your lips,
and accept all the planets
toxic and furious, solid or gas,
unbearable and welcoming
like your first slice of tangerine.

And you’ll wonder why, oh why
you had hidden for so long. 


your expectations float and twirl in their own menace




The Archaeology


It’s all about the tool

oooooo you choose to dig

ooooooooooooooooooo  with. The spade,

oooooo the pick o oooo your hands

oooooo have already done this

before you think

oooooooooooooo in a previous life

oooooooooooooo on a plain like this

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooo where the earth was hard

oooooo and as unforgiving oooooooooooo as your father

and when you dig

oooooo you can feel the belt

ooooooooooooooooooo  of his stones

ooooooooooooooooooo  pummel you

ooooooooooooooooooo  into the pieces

ooooooooooooooooooo  of shame

you’ve inherited

oooooooooooooo  sometimes violence

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooo  is necessary

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooo  for it to vanish

but first it must pass

oooooooooooooo  through your body

ooooooooooooooooooo  and so you heal

ooooooooooooooooooo  your father

with your disobedience

ooooooooooooooooooo  and your acceptance

ooooooooooooooooooo  of his dying embers

in your palms

and this is how you discover

ooooooooooooooooooo  how perfect your hands are

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo for digging

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo beyond him

and yourself

oooooo to find all the buried stars

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooinside the earth

and when you’re almost nothing

oooooooooooooo  but spirit and love

ooooooooooooooooooo  you’ll set them free

ooooooooooooooooooo  like fireflies twinkling

their sighs of relief.

the was no rapture






After Yusef Komunyakaa

As a kid, I searched for matchbooks,
the ones my father had
anywhere he would smoke:
his work truck, the back yard-–
the bench he built from scrap wood,
and the kitchen where Mom shooed
him away, though the smoke lingered.
The smoke always lingers and stains.

I found and lit them one by one
stared into them before I tested
the distance between palm and
burning myself. This, of course, led to
fireworks in Mexico. I held
bean sparklers between my fingers.
They spewed into the street as I ran;
a human comet on its way to the sun.

Last week, the smoke from the Rough Fire
stampeded into Fresno and stayed too long.
It rained ash and weakened the sun
long enough to stare into its red heart;
My father has become frail. He still believes
I will become the star to rest his last wishes on;
all of them collapse under their own weight.
The mountains burn and protest with ash
everything we’ve done to them.
In a forest fire, trees explode in the heat
sending out splinters of bark
embers of their flesh in all directions.
You can not quench a forest fire,
you can only contain it, dig trenches
and clear ground, fight it off before it turns.

I’ve been preparing for the departure
for the Enola Gay to rise into the sky
and fly directly over my chest;
the little boy inside loves fireworks too.
Perhaps this is why we gather on Independence Day,
why we’ll sit silently in our folding chairs
waiting for dusk to disappear
for the long coat of stars to drape themselves
over the land, for the thunder of something leaving
the earth to shake us, beat us like a drum
Kadoom. Kadoom. Kadoom. Kadoom.
And watch the darkened sky
light to make us whole again.


Maceo Montoya’s paintings, drawings, and prints have been featured in exhibitions and publications throughout the country as well as internationally. He has published three works of fiction, The Scoundrel and the Optimist (2010), The Deportation of Wopper Barraza (2014) and You Must Fight Them: A Novella and Stories (2015), as well as Letters to the Poet from His Brother (2014), a hybrid book combining images, prose poems, and essays. 


camposDavid Campos, a CantoMundo fellow, is the author of Furious Dusk (Notre Dame Press 2015), winner of the Andres Monotya Poetry Prize.  His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Luna Luna, Boxcar, and among many others. He teaches English at Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias. 

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