~To my little brother Aaron
Book 1: Spar Wars
still in its Target tag, refracts
my laptop’s light. Jam-sticky
fingers smear the insides
of my blazer. Wanna piece
He—hungry to vanquish me;
for his eyes
to adore me.
Book 2 – The Odyssey [Abridged]
I walk towards him—
each tile a continent.
An aging Aegean sea.
13 years keeps
his six missed phone calls
a day embayed, landlocked
by 4 years in Durham,
to be a first-gen Padawan;
another 2 in Newark,
to be your Jedi Master
in Fine Arts.
Book 3 – Suitors of Self-Doubt
So yes, together, we’ll strike:
The fruit-hanger selva,
where dew-starved succulents
pistol whip their pistil hips. Lotus-eating
flower bombs who hijacked my boyhood
off a unisex school bathroom.
The dishwasher maelstrom: Trial of Ajáx,
rabid soap that’s gnawed at our uncles’ hands,
now raw phalanges stuck
in a 2-wage vortex. All to give
you and me
a fighting chance.
The Pots-and-Pan’s Labyrinth. Teflon death-songs hiss
at their canola oil’d skin; that singe
swarthy arms with second-degree
And soon you’ll meet, the sons of Cerberus.
Blue-nosed watchdogs who’ll sniff
a hint of your last name, “Lopez.” When you sail
to their netherworld nevera, they’ll
feign frostbite. They’ll try to freeze you
in the dead of dreams,
when they smell the “stinky Mexican cheese” that fumes
from papá’s Nissan Sentra and come
for your golden-brown’d flesh.
Book 4: Q & A while Buying Old Spice
Tony, didn’t Hades have a wife?
And, Tony, isn’t that why we have the seasons?
Yes. Aaron. But just gimme
a sec to figure out what shampoo I wa-
Yeah, her name was like Purse Pony. Perseu- Perf- Percocet-
Oooooooo! Yeah. That’s right!
Book 5: Carve a Boat from My Longing
And I return home
by pressing onward
the soft knoll
of your shoulders.
Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Antonio López received a double B.A. in Global Cultural Studies (Literature) and African-American studies from Duke University (Class of 2016). He’s an inaugural John Lewis Fellow, a recipient of Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award, and a finalist for the 2017 Fairy Tale Review Poetry Prize. In 2017, he was awarded the Lucille Clifton Memorial Scholarship to attend the 47th annual Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. He’s a 2018 Tin House Scholar in poetry, and an incoming writer at the 2018 Macondo Writers Workshop. His nonfiction has been featured in PEN/America and his poetry in Cosmonauts Avenue, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Acentos Review, Permafrost, Huizache, HEArt Magazine, and elsewhere. He is currently finishing a Master in Fine Arts (poetry) at Rutgers University-Newark. As a 2018 Marshall Scholar, he will then pursue a Master in Philosophy in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford.