Two poems published in the most recent issue of Malpais Review


From the painting “Matriarchal v. Patriarchal” and other art of Alfonso Valenzuela


A white angel eviscerates a woman the color of terracotta, an indigenous woman sterilized by a blue-eyed doctor, who forgot his oath to do no harm.

The politics of sterilization of los Indigenas, Latinas, Black Americans, and poor White women, raged well into the 1980’s, when almost 70% of Puerto Riqueñas in New Jersey had been sterilized.  In the South, poor Black and White women faced the loss of food stamps if they did not agree to surgical excision of their ability to give birth.  And in the Southwest, Indian Health Service doctors sterilized women without notice, much less informed, uncompelled consent.

There is a forgotten arm of the movement for reproductive rights, the right to choose to not give birth mirrored by the right to choose to do so, to expand a culture through flesh and blood rather than conquest, giving birth a direct rebuke to eugenics.

The artist captures all this history in a single canvas, its telling title, “Matriarchal v. Patriarchal,” a silent scream for the mutilation of a dark woman’s body beneath the chubby white cheeks and wings of a Rococo angel with blood on his hands.


Let the banners be raised.  Coatlicue’s skirt of serpents sways on her heavy hips.  Rigoberta Menchu’s face rises above a goddess body, a Pre-Columbian sphinx who saw the massacre of her people.  When will the quetzal wings bring back the fair one, he who tricked the heavens to give the people word and song?  When will the Jaguar’s roar unleash the trees to dance to drum and flute?


Today a dog chained to a fence died in San Elizario.  Let us pray for our sins. Let us pray that Tlaloc hears our sorrow and brings down the rains once more.  Let all creatures eat and drink and move freely about creation.

All people together.

Not one above the other.

All people free to choose.

The Ollin Marks the Spot                                   

from the art of Alfonso Valenzuela, with many thanks


From Tlaloc to hydroponics
What’s new is old
What’s old is cutting edge
Feed the masses
even with all the earth paved
The rainforest guardians killed by rubber barons
The Turkish park turned into a parking lot
Paradise lost to concrete and poisoned air

But Tlaloc knows the secret to survival,
food stuff grown from water-fed roots
And Ehecatl whispers secrets into the future’s ear,
harness the wind and his power shall set us free
No more need for non-renewable resources
Hehecatl will never die
And Tonatiuh atones for blood sacrifices,
his rays converted to solar power to light our way
The ancient secrets an old map painted over
Three heads emerge from a giant cake
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
The beauty of the Earth’s potential captured in icons
The workers’ hands
once, now, and forever
the source of all bounty
despite their lives of strife
The ollin[1] marks the spot
Two arms like a cross or an X
A day for movement
A day for the purified heart
When humans can see what they are becoming
A good day for change that “arrives like an earthquake”
Leaving behind “the ruins of rationality, order,
and preconceived” thought

[1] Ollin is one of the twenty days comprising each of the eighteen months of the Aztec year, as detailed in the great Sun Stone or Aztec Calendar.  Roughly in the shape of an X, Ollin represents movement, “an auspicious day for the active principle. . . .  A good day for transmutation, which arrives like an earthquake that leaves in its wake the ruins of rationality, order and the preconceived.”  Aztec Calendar Day Sign Ollin

Malpais Review

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5 thoughts on “Two poems published in the most recent issue of Malpais Review

  1. Oh keep on, keep on … both these poems are so … oops, losing language here … they’re just so right-on, apt, timely, words fail me again … so I repeat, keep on, keep on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Sadly timely again: Two poems previously published in the Malpais Review | poetry from the frontera

  3. Pingback: Collecting Uteruses—the American Way

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