Sunday Jul 14

JacquelineBalderrama Jacqueline Balderrama recently completed her MFA degree in poetry at Arizona State University where she taught and served as a poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. She will be continuing her education at the University of Utah for a Ph.D. in creative writing and serves as poetry editor for Iron City Magazine, creative expressions by and for the incarcerated. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and been published in Miramar, Cream City Review, Blackbird, and others.

This Name

The hum of hundreds of years holds this name
in the thumbed peel of an orange—my name
traced back to northern Chihuahua.

Once wealthy ancestors, they’re now
a caricature of large heads and long legs.
Even on their horses, their feet dragged on the ground.

After the Revolution, this name has belonged
to fruit-pickers,grocers, motel owners.
Now there’s a judge, a professor, less Chihuahua.

We have forgotten how to speak with those dead.
I am told half of this name means bucket (balde),
the other means branch (rama): water for grafted trees.

I call you little name—you turn invisible
in new mouths. Balderrama, spoken so long
until a name can’t be heard.

Little name, as this woman, I’ve always been ready
to send you away like a nutshell boat
weighed down by a pebble into dry streambeds.

I’m ready not because I have to.
My new name waits for me up there
in storm clouds.

Azul for Water

Their homes melted in the crossfire,
so children take water. As much as they can carry

from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico.
That same week over a thousand children crossed.

Their coyotes said to turn themselves over to border patrol,
which is how they are found by relatives, given court dates.

For the detained: untreated colds, curses, cement
floors on which to sleep. For some the desert took all but bones.

If found, they’re treated with an interview of checked
pockets. They’re held at the morgue for questioning.

They had found the blue-capped water by a creosote bush—
promised colored caps of full gallons, azul for water, rojo for juice—

sticking up from beneath the desert floor.
But someone stabbed the plastic.

For miles, the children continue to cover their heads with jackets,
take buses, trailers, rafts across uneven stream of the Río Grande.

The Dead Dream Us

Ghosts pass
between homes
between cuts of earth
between hills, rivers—impressions
from the heavy
gait of a giantess.

Those who look for her
climb into her pressed palms.
Inhale roses.
Listen to stars chime,
church bells.
From there, all the world
could fit in this hand.