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José B. González

José B. González was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, and emigrated to the United States at the age of eight. He received a BS from Bryant University, an MA from Brown University, and a PhD from the University of Rhode Island. González is the author of When Love Was Reels (Arte Público Press, 2017) and Toys Made of Rock (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2015). The recipient of a 2012 Fulbright Scholarship, he teaches at the United States Coast Guard Academy and lives in Quaker Hill, Connecticut.

By This Poet


Lines Breaking

red pen in hand,
he tells me lines should
in order to empha-
certain words
like the ones in my family’s history:

that words are like the earth
back and
                forth during an
& that verse has more meaning
when words can teeter-

but as much as I try to
break the lines in their proper
there are words
that I cannot separate,
like father, mother and child,

words that I cannot break again
like father and leaving, mother and deserting,
child and hurting,

words that stay together all by themselves,

like immigration, isolation, desolation.

breaking away to the u.s.

a day so perfect that
this morning’s awakening bombs
are overtaken by a woman’s wind chimes
of “tamales, tamales.”

on the way to the airport
iguanas hang upside down,
even they smile.

along farms and fields
rotten bullet seeds
are overtaken by flowering weeds.

on the side of the highway
a tall Maquilishuat tree gives
birth to premature pink petals
inside a plane headed north,
yani & i fly so high
that we can’t tell
cornfields from fences;
it’s such a perfect
final day.

mami's days

She sews to sew sleeves all day,
adding arms to shirts,
& leaves in the morning
before the first chocolate melts, returns
with stretched arms that hang
as if they’ve been pulled by their joints,
& even when it seems that the rest
of her body will not catch up to her will,
she still sews to sew so that
in the end we can join papi in the u.s.
& be whole again.