Published on Academy of American Poets (

Only we make beautiful things just to destroy them

          After the exhibition “La Gravedad de Los Asuntos 
                 (Matters of Gravity)”
The Mexicans and the Russians were always in on it 
This is collaboration in zero gravity democracy 
—blurry violet lights and no clear answer 
This is a nuclear glow in the dark so we can start over 
We board planes to Mars and six engines fire
You spin away. It’s candy guts out here—all our voting machines are breaking 
You tumble and can’t stop, but 
Grab a harness—an adult pigtail
Six plane engines click on and your homie has to 
Push you so you can swing at the exploding star 
A way of thinking, una estructura doblada
Alguien cortó oropel azul en cuadritos 
And stuffed it into the piñata. A yellow paleta 
Big as a chicken, floats to the right hand corner and balances 
Tipping into the comrade’s hands
What’s a layer of confetti and candy compared to DDT 
The kind you sprayed over all our naked bodies 

We’re diamonds: hard, shiny, and we 
Get processed to go through 
We don’t infest, pendejo. We invest 
There goes your friend again, diving toward 
The paleta, which has to be pineapple flavor
We were always in on it together 
Me and my honey watch a video on loop 
We gently hold each other like the beach balls we are 
The light dims and that constellation swings 

Only one Russian cosmonaut will smile at a time 
They watch a compa swim away 

Reach out 
Don’t make someone else do your work for you 
Some of us were grounded 
The whole time 


Copyright © 2018 by Vickie Vértiz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 15, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The video installation that inspired this poem shows engineers from Russia and artists from Mexico floating in the belly of a plane in zero gravity (of course someone brought a piñata). My poem tries to remind us that as our countries are built on shameful acts of violence against the most vulnerable—the unarmed, the queer, children, refugees fleeing violence we fueled—we need to find and activate our allies. People have endured broken voting systems, survived being sprayed with DDT to enter the country, and much more, yet we must celebrate and keep surviving. The poem instructs us to get up, to do our work, and get between speech and harm.”
Vickie Vértiz


Vickie Vértiz

Vickie Vértiz is the author of Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut (University of Arizona Press, 2017), winner of the PEN America Literary Prize in poetry.

Date Published: 2019-01-15

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