To Juan Doe #234

By Eduardo C. Corral
I only recognized your hair: short,
neatly combed. Our mother

would’ve been proud.
                            In the Sonoran desert
your body became a slaughter-

house where faith and want were stunned,
hung upside down, gutted. We

                                           were taught

to bring roses, to aim for the bush. Remember?
You tried to pork

a girl’s armpit. In Border Patrol
                                          jargon, the word

for border crossers is the same whether
                            they’re alive or dead.
When I read his flesh fell

off the bones, my stomach rumbled,
                                                      my mouth

watered. Yesterday, our mother said,
                           “My high heels are killing me.
Let’s go back to the funeral.”

                                           You were always

her favorite. Slow cooking a roast
melts the tough tissue between the muscle fibers;

tender meat remains.

                   Remember the time
I caught you pissing
                              on a dog? You turned

away from me. In the small of your back
I thought I saw a face.
                                         Split lip,

broken nose. It was a mask.
                            I yanked it from your flesh.
              I wear it often.

Source: Poetry (March 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2014
 Eduardo C. Corral


Eduardo C. Corral earned degrees from Arizona State University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut collection of poetry, Slow Lightning (2012), won the Yale Younger Poets Prize, making him the first Latino recipient of the award. Praised for his seamless blending of English and Spanish, tender treatment of history, and careful exploration of sexuality, Corral has received numerous honors and awards, including . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, The Body, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Ode

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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