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from The Book I Made with a Counselor My First Week of School

By Javier Zamora

His grandma made the best pupusas, the counselor wrote next to Stick-Figure Abuelita
                                                                              (I’d colored her puffy hair black with a pen).

Earlier, Dad in his truck: “always look gringos in the eyes.”
                                                  Mom: “never tell them everything, but smile, always smile.”

A handful of times I’ve opened the book to see running past cacti,
                                                                      from helicopters, running inside detention cells.

Next to what might be yucca plants or a dried creek:
                                 Javier saw a dead coyote animal, which stank and had flies over it.

I keep this book in an old shoebox underneath the bed. She asked in Spanish,
                                                     I just smiled, didn’t tell her, no animal, I knew that man.

Added: Monday, November 20, 2017  /  Previously published in "Washington Square Review." Used with permission.
Javier Zamora
Photo by Ana Ruth Zamora.

Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador, in 1990. He is the author of Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon, 2017). He holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied and taught in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program. Zamora earned an MFA from New York University and is currently a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He is the recipient of scholarships to the Bread Loaf, Frost Place, Napa Valley, Squaw Valley, and VONA writers’ conferences and fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University (Olive B. O’Connor), MacDowell Colony, Macondo Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Saltonstall Foundation, and Yaddo. In 2016, Barnes & Noble granted him the Writer for Writers Award for his work with the Undocupoets Campaign. He was also the winner of the Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Fellowship and is a member of the Our Parents’ Bones Campaign, whose goal is to bring justice to the families of the ten thousand disappeared during El Salvador’s civil war.

Javier Zamora is a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2018.

Other poems by this author