Poetry Suite by Karla Cordero

Editor Carrie Ivy, Poetry, January 19th, 2015

...rub bobby pins like twigs. make fire. smoke signals.

karla cordero poetry nailed magazine

 Bean Mythology


The women in my family hold an ocean of Aztec
blood tamed between vein & flesh. In the kitchen
they know how to witchcraft a single bean to culture.
Turn a silent room to dance full of spice & ancestor.
Where the ghosts of our grandmothers salsa from
the grave. Whistle to the moon waiting for frijoles
before the teeth of wolves strike like matches.

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Zoo of Eden


A fence lives beside my house
made of rod iron soldiers
the size of Goliaths, securing.
Daddy says it keeps the bad people out.
Glimpsing through bars heated by sun & dust
they look human; two legs, two arms, two eyes
& heavy cries for hunger press boulder
against their ribcages. Their naked blistered
feet belong to the same soil as my sneakers.
I wonder if god knew some selfish
beast would come to his garden,
make zoo out of everything
colored & different & foreign.

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A Spanish to English Translation on Sweet Things Gone Sour


Fresa: strawberry. sweet fruit. edible red. jam. sugar blood. blood drip. bleeds on street. mike brown. hands up. cop & gun make strawberry jam on mike brown. ferguson bleeds tears. mother’s heart bleeds out. racism runs savage. history repeats. too many brands of jelly. oscar grant. hands up. shoot. jam. trayvon martin. abner louimas. sean bells. jam. eric garner jelly. blood. red. too many boys be bruised fruit. jar the jam. ripe now. too many emmitt till’s to harvet. keep picking fresh fruit all the time.

Leche: milk. cream. skim milk. buttermilk. pasteurized. sour cream. half and half. half white. half privilege. privilege speaks power. colonization makes power. columbus found power. milked the land. took their cows. took their women. native american’s be thirsty. manifest destiny galloned all the milk. took the cookies. fed throats english. this history a drought on native tongue. everybody’s still thirsty. america an empty swimming pool.

Chicle: gum. tree. skin. bubble breath. elastic sap. bat breathe killer. teeth. chew. gum before first kiss. swallow gum. first kiss. he aggressive. say no. continue to say no. if he doesn’t listen rip his right ear. turn knuckles into machetes. fight with your teeth. scream fire not rape. rip his left ear. whisper his mothers name slow. turn legs into pitchforks. if all else fails rub bobby pins like twigs. make fire. smoke signals. light his body on fire. cremation is survival. save ashes. you were never victim.

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A Lesson in Sewing

For my (un)documented mother
Today Petra shows me how to sew,
how to hoop thread between needle.
It’s an art, she says
to be patient for something so small.
I watch her patch my father’s denim pants
as she watches me make a shirt for my
stuffed bear. I study how her fingers braid
through needle, thread, cloth.
My attention to her delicate ritual pricks
my thumb. Blood stains the bear’s belly.
Petra laughs, es una flor, it looks like a flower
from her village, a mirage now lost in Mexico.

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Karla Cordero poetry nailed magazineKarla Cordero is a Loft Literary Fellow and Editor of Spit Journal. Her poetry is published and forthcoming in Word Riot, Words Dance PublishingThe Acentos Review, Gutters and Alleyways Anthology and elsewhere. Her first chapbook, Grasshoppers Before Gods, is to be published in 2015 by Dancing Girl Press. You can follow her passion for performance poetry on Spit Journal.


Carrie Ivy

Carrie Ivy (formerly Carrie Seitzinger) is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Ivy is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.