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Published: Mon Mar 11 2024
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Online 2024 On Fiction Violence Publishing
American Dirt

The very first bullet continues.
Vente, into the blood. Need not
be clinched like a tortoise’s shell
to its body. Wriggle out
that closed door
to scrutiny. Return
to Fact, squatting
under a gash
of light. You smear
their voices—
& yellow
like watercolors.
Mouths a sad flood:
It was just a dream.
This casual murder. This impasse.
A mother’s clamp of neck.
Enough light falling through
as a camp shower. I instruct
you to stay here, in your long
white dress. Wet and mortified:
today is tomorrow & you can’t throat help.


Jeanine Cummins’s novel American Dirt was published in 2020, with a colossal initial print run of 500,000 copies. It received considerable attention and criticism, largely for its misrepresentation of Mexico. This poem is an erasure of the book’s first chapter.

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Isaac Salazar’s work has appeared in Scavengers Literary Magazine, orangepeel, Cathexis Northwest, AGNI, and The Acentos Review. The recipient of fellowships from Brooklyn Poets and In Surreal Life, he was born in Austin, Texas, and lives in Houston, where he’s a graduate student at Rice University. (updated 4/2024)

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