man hooded masquerade
a museum erected out of paper-mâché stone,
blue cotton candied walls hung thick and long 
with rooms full of master’s Egos

copied Cats
cut and paste
plantation’s hegemony
onto trace paper canvas

young guns born too brown for they britches
pen-in to kindergarten’s cage
where boys are convinced, this calculus

—how one body
relates to another—

that disturbs all the peace

is the same as learning
their one two threes

evidence contrary to belief
our boys learn fast
science must be, I guess?

a hyper masculine story
washed brains don’t rinse so simple
in and out of class
the curriculum writes itself

soft boys die hard
hot head & class clown grow contagious;
broad shoulders & differential equations
caliber inches into glocks

every where we look
Our highest dimensions
Learn their limits
Without degrees

Copyright © 2024 by Brad Walrond. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 2, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

I just felt like he was fighting us with his machine.
             —Nellie Jo David

In Guadalajara to see where Motorola took the line
            my grandmother worked on, I can’t find the site
but spend the days in naves of a deconsecrated church

looking up at frescoes by Orozco. Here is a horse:
            a tow chain for tail, train piston for hock & hoof.
Over murdered Mexica, Cortez stands: lug nut hips

& kneecaps, gauntleted hand at the sword hilt, silver
            as a knot of solder. Opposite him: the Franciscan
& his Latin cross—miter-sawed angles hewn down

to dagger point—& an angel in assembly-line armor
            lifting a bloodied banner with the stenciled letters
of an alphabet, the one I must have started learning,

sing-song in the pitch & timbre of milk teeth, at 48th
            & Willetta, a one-bedroom duplex west of Papago’s
greasewood & buttes of sandstone & a block down

from the Motorola where my grandmother punched
            in nights to look after a conveyor of semiconductors—
those nascent ancient rotaries strung up to starlight

& empire (gaslighting like that Gast painting of progress
            & whiteness wrapped in telegraph wire, lithe & looping
as cake shop box string). No wall on O’odham land,

I hear the woman today protest from the bucket
            of a front-end loader—a Caterpillar, by her presence,
dumbstruck on tread wheels tall as vault doors, its maw

metal hollow, a confessional or old Mountain Bell
            phone booth she stepped into amid the felled saguaro
& ribs of organ pipe. Her body where dirt goes says

her body is the land the wall wants to eat. I stream this—
            download by data plan, by bandwidth, from the cloud
servers deep in their grid deserts to the crystalline

& rare earth minerals making my cell phone
            black box theater, making her code, making her
algorithm—both soprano & Mario Savio—the solder

seemingly quantum leap from soldada & solidarity.
            Still, I remember the ram’s horn baritone in my nana’s
King James, imagine her driving those years with riders

to shepherd the sound through solid state & know
            the harder truth: the defiant mic this woman makes,
resonates with her body beneath the digger’s teeth.

Copyright © 2022 by Brandon Som. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

View with a cathedral in it,
sooty. Fountain with the face of a merman
about to spit water through
chipped lower lip but
holding it in.
Another postcard rack.
Another stall at the market
displaying African waxprints
on tote bags, dresses, broad skirts
sold by a white man. I copy a list
of French colonies and their dates
into a blank white notebook.
On a bed of ice
haphazard piles of silver-grey fish. “The eye
should be clear,” said my mother.
I don’t want to look
at the eye. What’s visible
from inside a Brutalist building.
Institutional green
linoleum tiles c. 1961, of a sturdy kind
the year my mother emigrates.
What’s visible alongside
a nearly motionless canal.
Alongside a river
brownish-green, predictable,
romantic, like a few-weeks fling
that soon splits in two directions.
Irrepressible bodies of water
surrounded by buildings from centuries prior
whose filigrees gather soot
as excess definition.
Wreathed in trash
something classical
and repulsive endures.
The exterior of the famous museum
once a fortress
is powerwashed
behind large scaffolds fitted with tarps
screenprinted to mimic
the exterior of the famous museum.
One vertical band of newly-washed portion
bare and ridiculous beside the
car-crammed thoroughfare. Piss
against trees and walls and the seams where walls meet
trickles and stinks like a moat.
In a concavity where the likeness
of another wealthy person once stood
pigeons sit.
The oxidized face
of a statue of some goddess
streaked in it.
In the gay club the dancer showers in front of us live
behind glass coyly
not revealing his dick
while screens project him digitized
in slight distortion on either side of him.
He snaps a small white towel
in front of himself and keeps it up
against the glass with his own weight.
Under this dancefloor
across from the bathrooms
a red room cordoned off.
It doesn’t have to be there to be there.
At the market’s end
bruised tomatoes, nectarines
so soft they’re left for free.

“Cirriculum” Copyright © 2019 by Ari Banias. Originally published in Poetry Society of America. Used with the permission of the poet.

One for tree, two for woods,        
                                                            I-Goo wrote the characters           
                             Character  Character
                                               out for me. Dehiscent & reminiscent:
what wood made
                                               Ng Ng’s hope-chest

that she immigrated with
                                                                     —cargo from Guangzho

to Phoenix? In Spanish, Nana tells me

                                                           hope & waiting are one word.


In her own hand, she keeps
                                         a list of dichos—for your poems, she says.

Estan mas cerca los dientes
                      que los parentes, she recites her mother

& mother’s mother. It rhymes, she says.
                                   Dee-say—the verb with its sound turned
down looks like dice
                                              to throw & dice, to cut. Shift after shift,


she inspected the die of integrated circuits
                                       beneath an assembly line of microscopes—            

the connections over time
                                                        getting smaller & smaller.

                                                To enter words in order to see
                                                                             —Cecilia Vicuña

In the classroom, we learn iambic words
                                          that leaf on the board with diacritics—

about, aloft, aggrieved. What over years

          accrues within one’s words? What immanent
                                                                        sprung with what rhythm?

Agave—a lie in the lion, the maenad made mad

by Dionysus awoke to find her son
                                    dead by her hand. The figure is gaslit

even if anachronistic. Data & river banks—
           memory’s figure is often riparian.  I hear Llorona’s agony

echo in the succulent. What’s the circuit in cerca to short

          or rewire the far & close—to map
                                                   Ng Ng & I-Goo to Nana’s carpool?


I read a sprig of evergreen, a symbol
                                               of everlasting, is sometimes packed

with a new bride’s trousseau. It was thirteen years
before Yeh Yeh could bring
                                                Ng Ng & I-Goo over. Evergreen
& Empire were names of corner-stores
where they first worked—
                                             stores on corners of Nana’s barrio.

Chinito, Chinito! Toca la malaca
                                                             she might have sung in ’49

after hearing Don Tosti’s  
                                    recording—an l where the r would be

in the Spanish rattle filled with beans or seed or as
                                                                         the song suggests

change in the laundryman’s till.


I have read diviners
                       use stems of yarrow when consulting
                                                                                    the I-Ching.

What happens to the woods in a maiden name?

Two hyphens make a dash—
                                                the long signal in the binary code.
Attentive antennae: a monocot

—seed to single leaf—the agave store years
                                             for the stalk. My two grandmothers:
one’s name keeps a pasture,
                       the other a forest. If they spoke to one another,
it was with short, forced words
                                    like first strokes when sawing—
                                              trying to set the teeth into the grain.

Copyright © 2019 by Brandon Som. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.