~To my little brother Aaron


Book 1: Spar Wars

A lightsaber,
             still in its Target tag, refracts
             my laptop’s light. Jam-sticky
             fingers smear the insides
             of my blazer. Wanna piece
             of me?

He—hungry to vanquish me;
             I hungry
             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?
             Yes Aaron.
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 ReviewPermafrostHuizacheHEArt 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.

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