"Hyphenate American" and "Names are Boulders"

Hyphenate American

i am a            —man’s hand skipping
on a miguel’s cocina bussboy’s back
                   his question, like light from a star
riding the present ‘till future-past-fuse,
in the galaxy of my mouth
                                  an answer manifests

                                   “no, son”
on he went,

            “your      real                        n a m e

not what you’ve been given
                        by a Mexican



those who thunk to
          propagand our presence,
times said: the immigrant is cause
            of our world’s wrong.          —America haunts.
                        and i, divided, compelled to mimic
            what’s made of him:

“it’s funny/that’s funny                   because         i don’t/YOU don’t

look Mexican.
                      the mind      (i)   trapped          

                         a brown man




Names are Boulders

there is a voyage you brave braving the river-sirens of a name
you dare not drink, a delirious remedy to the delirium.

a barista shouts, a name, Her name veers in the air
strikes the wind out your chest, flings you onto a stool,

sitting because in this hipster-crowded coffee-shop names are boulders,
they teach you to sip on buckets full of letters like hooks,

their cut like the milk of steel in the fibers of citrus-filaments making homes
between teeth, we loosen them through tongues sucking on the air we lose—

here travels back to where here was then, there where time rotates
a rolodex of images like the meat-spitted spit before savoring i seek Her

name, patient, slowly, bending down prone to peek beneath cars
just in time to watch the smog chase away the syllables of Her name

flittering at the party we met at, yo who is that? Her name
unfurls through Spanish, inside, the body groans like hinges.

i isn’t me anymore, just a letter in a name in a time that flattens
for 25 cents a tourist penny-birthmark on Her left thigh my fingers trace

still in the mind writing poems about the day we met, the day she left
this coffee-shop call marks the finale of the magic you spend

summoning decay, ask it to save you from not asking why—
language bridles you, ties your tongue around a name



Carlos Kelly is a poet pursuing a doctorate in Digital Humanities at the Ohio State University. His studies focus on digital representations of the self and the liminal spaces created by technology. After completing his MA and MFA at San Diego State University he taught composition at local community colleges in San Diego, California. Inspired to continue his education by the low numbers of Latinx within the humanities, Carlos continues to progress in his academic pursuits, while concurrently honing his craft and love for poetry. His biggest concern for 2018 involves publishing work from his book and eventually publishing his full-length collection of poetry.

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