Issue 8 / Poetry

Poetry by Isabel Quintero

corazón (ko.ra.son) (noun) [can refer to] : 1. organ from which blood is pumped through the rest of the body; 2. Mexican colloquialism, term of endearment, i.e pet name for a loved one. ex: Corazón, te amo de la tierra a la luna y de regreso mil veces.; 3. that thing you’ve dug your heel into.


1a)       i am cursed [1] with a great memory (for example, birthdays: in sixth grade, the boy i had a               crush on had a birthday on April 1st. i tried to seduce him by putting a snickers bar in his                        desk–it didn’t work. my best friend in junior high, April 28th; the white boy with blue                   eyes and a mini truck in high school, January 23rd. he liked the beastie boys. when i hear             brass monkey i still think of him.).

b) the heart can empty [2] on command [3].

the heart will empty on command. lub dub lub dub until wrung. there is nothing supernatural about it or even slightly romantic. it is to be expected. organs expire all the time. they must give out. they will give out.

the command can empty the heart.

the empty heart commands it. it is always at the reins. your legs the horse. trot trot little horse. trot trot.

your legs empty hearts. your heart empty legs. your empty legs now stubs. trot. trot.

2a)       for the most part, Corazón, you will be kept whole, save for this last cackling erupting into my palm. my fingers become hammer and sieve forcing the fragments through cupped hands. there is a desperation in that act of salvaging that only scavengers, snout deep in carrion, understand [4].

b) Corazón, I wish you were more of a woman.

Corazón, te amo tanto.

Corazón, corazón de melon.

Con razón, Corazón, estas hasta la chingada.

Corazón, if you had smaller feet these shoes would fit a lot better [5].

Corazón, I’m a cobbler. [6]

Corazón, here’s a cobbler, peach. Peach cobbler.

Corazón, do you want me to take it out? Not the cobbler, but the peach.

Corazón, you’re a peach.

Corazón, corazón, corazón. Three times is better than one. And one is better than none.

Corazón (wink wink)

Corazón *slow claps*

Corazón, yes, I’ll pull your hair.

Corazón, no, that I won’t do.

Corazón, she meant nothing.

Corazón, you mean everything.

Silly, little Corazón.

Bless your corazón, Corazon.

3)  you called me by another name once. whispered it in my ear, hands up my shirt.

it all makes sense [7] now, Corazón. all of it.


[1] My great grandmother sung into the ears of birds, soft low moans, sending them into an ecstasy driven rage. My great grandfather hung from a tree, throat slit. Curses run in my family.

[2] Empty is many things. Mostly, though, it’s dead birds. It can also be birds in a cage. But sometimes it’s having all your feathers plucked and watching someone make a headdress with them.

[3] The Great Command was an established edict recognized in the southern most southern part of southern California. It withstood the test of time until it didn’t. It really didn’t mean anything and after that was henceforth referred to as, “marriage.” Marriage, considered an outdated capitalist and patriarchal institution by some, suffered at the hands of the Great Command. The losses accrued by that edict relied of the forfeiture of All Things Well and Good and Righteous. Those, as they say, were the worst of times.

[4] How can dead things be salvaged? Nothing is dead. Everything is dead. Everything is carrion and everything scavenger. The speaker is suddenly a nihilist. The speaker is nothing. Nothing is nothing.

[5] Better usually is contingent on what you will be using your feet for. How fast, how fast, how fast, how fast, how fast, ad infinitum.

[6] Cobbler can refer to a type of dessert or to someone who makes shoes. Also, more figuratively, someone who cobbles things together. That is to say, someone who puts unlike pieces together to make a whole. Thus, cobbling is to make something whole out of unlike pieces. To piece pieces together. Cobblers cobble. Sometimes, that which is cobbled falls apart soon after because unlike things hastily put together, especially things like love, will undoubtedly become transgressive and inconvenient. Cobbling is done by those who are doing things on the fly. Unless the term is applied to shoe makers. Shoe makers always take their time mending and building.

[7] My great grandfather, on his walk to the river that morning, had a sense of what was happening. The birds, cacophonous harbingers of his death, first blinded him. Their beaks unbridled and unforgiving. He could not, of course, run away. He did not fight the song. Instead, he released his body into the flurried wingspans that enveloped him, and presented him as a sacrifice for a god of their choosing. Birds, have always been free to choose.



clocking in

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art.” – John Keats


the orchard speaks of apple rot and a swollen uterus

where now son of cain son of abel son of a bitch

is buried in a fetal position

suckling suckling that teat that is dry and mounted

antelope oxen teat greyhound standard poodle

that’s how i want them

in that order



widen the brim

its crowning pushing

an oyster a pearl a heavens heart in a locket at the center of your small breast

there the reflective eye

drops rattles and rolls



this is the year of the tides

an arc approaches if it sank here would you notice

the wreck if it wrecked would you notice the tide or the wreck on the rocks

it writ it sang something angelic

like a coughing from Hell–

do you have some Nyquil?

the devil is ill.



the snake!

the tree!

the hatchet!

the fire!

the salt!

the cave of incestuous wonders!




…the walk was long from In The Beginning. The ground was, of course, less stable, and their nakedness sat uncomfortably in the glimmering water where they had stopped to rest. The /w/o/m/a/n/ placed her hand nervously on her partner. The mold recently emptied, the hot breath still sweating the body. The first ache.



the box is bit like dust like [insert simile here like

something something or it’s like a red rose or like an oak tree

or like a stupid cicada outside]

(note to self: look up cicada because I can’t remember if it flies or just sings)

(other note to self: make sure to pronounce cicada with an s not a k)

(last note: don’t use cicada)

here and here is the water folding

over on itself again here and here is the water folding over on itself :segno again: coda



the cock slept in or crowed early or something like that

three times–

can a cock crow three times? in a row?



it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

it is black and it’s a bird

i am sure of it.

i saw it on the branch closest to the ground.

he sat there for three hours unmoving

too afraid to jump.



between toes the moisture building undoing god’s doing

one step at a time crack the clay

chisel from the inside

the knock knock wearing down the casing

a trail of meat and mud



the first time i made love it was off the side of the road in between orange groves. there was probably someone watching from their window in the house up the road while the car creaked as we pushed and pulled like moving waters at their priest like task of pure ablution on our human shores. even the angels liked to watch.



Isabel Quintero is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was born, raised, and resides in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Her poetry has appeared in The Great American Literary Magazine, Huizache, As/Us Journal, The Acentos Review, The Pacific Review, and others. Her first novel, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces (Cinco Puntos Press, 2014) did alright. She likes tacos and cold beer. You can follow her on Twitter @isabelinpieces or visit her website Selected by Kamden Hilliard.

Image copyright Jans Canon via Flickr Creative Commons.