Volume Five, Issue 3

Julieta Corpus


After Langston Hughes' poem, "A Negro Speaks of Rivers"

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers that heal and rivers guarding secrets nestled within calcified rib cages.
And the dead are howling from their water graves ...

Mother waded into a river for a ritualist cleansing.
Dad swam El Río Bravo at twelve years old, seeking adventure and fortune on foreign soil.
And the dead are howling from their water graves ...

As a child, I crossed that same river flowing under a bridge, on foot, whispering my name three
times to keep the river's spirit from stealing my own.
And the dead are howling from their water graves ...

I've known rivers:
Rivers that heal and rivers guarding secrets.
And the dead are howling from their water graves, but no one is listening.

Born in Silence

No one saw the Salvadoran woman
Walk out the backdoor, holding a small
Bundle wrapped inside her husband's shirt.

No one saw the woman crouch in the
Dark alley, digging a hole with her nails.

No one saw the blood.
No one heard her pain, muffled into
The pillow so as not to wake him up.

A waning June moon witnessed her hands
Gently caressing the tiny mound of dirt.

“We dress up in women's clothes and parade around mouthing the words to other people's songs.”
—Felicia from Priscilla Queen of the Desert


Wielding the eyeliner pencil like a surgical instrument,
Ariel delineates almond-shaped eyes with enviable precision
to achieve the necessary gender illusion.
Aided by Botox on lips, blond hair extensions, false eyelashes,
and a pair of burgeoning, silicon D Cups.
A curve-hugging gown, and a pair of impossibly high Jimmy Choos
transform her into an exotic being amongst riff raff.
Tonight, every one of them will pay homage to the reigning queen
of drag.

Man, woman, or wingless butterfly? Not important.
All that matters is their hunger—savage beasts who corner
her with throaty requests, try to fly away with her from
possessive girlfriends and suspicious, nagging wives.
The adoring crowd begins to chant:
Ariel! Ariel! Ariel!

Under a burning magnifying lens, and on permanent
display, she is the queen of drag whose heart is filled
with nocturnes.

Julieta Corpus: “I am a bilingual poet from Mexico, and my work has been included in The Thing Itself, and the Texas Poetry Calendar. My latest literary contribution is a collaboration with poet Katie Hoerth and visual artist Corinne Whittenmore: Borderland Mujeres, published by Texas A&M Press. It will be available in the Fall 2021. Proud to announce that my first poetry collection, Of Love And Departures published in June 2021 by EM Editoriales is now available through Amazon.”

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