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Published: Sun Oct 15 2017
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
AGNI 86 Mysteries Nature Spirituality
Saturn’s Country

S for salt, for
spoiling crops. S
for worse or
no choice other
than exodus or
a territorial discourse.
S for stretched out
in a morgue, plastic
bags like garbage
you discard. S
for stinking hog,
onions, frenetic
maggots laying
their baggage. S
for still you’re flesh,
meat butchered, bootlegged
in the marketplace. S
some might say
you’re gas sloshed
from a tank. Others
that first blue
God doused
on a tarp, hated it
and left it to rot, or
you’re that sound
he loved so much,
smaller than a
cricket song.
S for scalp, for the soiled
search of your god. S
for complete
utter darkness. S
for success
out of the carcass.
S for sloth, for
sickle, for a solar system
beyond sable
incarceration. S
for ES which is S
which is señor of a
thousand choruses.
S for savior, for
scavengers and sculptors
you throw out
of the temple. S
for so much white-
noise pressure
even the cardinal
won’t canonize you.
No, not that bird, not
that pontiff, nor your
arsenal. S for still
to this day in your
belly, in the dive
of your mouth.

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William Archila is the author of three poetry collections: The Art of Exile (Bilingual Review Press, 2009), winner of the International Latino Book Award; The Gravedigger’s Archaeology (Red Hen Press, 2015), winner of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize; and S is For (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming 2025), winner of the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. His work has appeared in Poetry, AGNI, The American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, and other journals, as well as in anthologies such as The BreakBeat Poets, Vol. 4: LatiNext (Haymarket Books, 2020) and Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry (Kalina, 2014). He lives in Los Angeles, on Tongva land. (updated 04/2024)

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