poem index

About this poet

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico, Mónica de la Torre came to the United States in 1993 on a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Columbia University in New York City.

Her first book of original poetry in English, Talk Shows, was published in 2007 by Switchback Books, followed by Public Domain (Roof Books) in 2008.

She coedited, with Michael Wiegers, the collection Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon Press, 2002) and is also the coauthor of the book Appendices, Illustrations, & Notes (Smart Art Press, 2000) with artist Terence Gower. She edited and translated the volume Poems by Gerardo Deniz, and has translated numerous other Spanish-language poets.

About her work, the poet Mary Jo Bang has written: "Rather than relying on false certainties and pat recollections, de la Torre offers up a fine-tuned sense of the ridiculous, a world of tomfool capers with a hint of the macabre."

She has served as the poetry editor of The Brooklyn Rail and lives in New York City, where she works as a senior editor of BOMB magazine.

Driven by a Strange Desire

Mónica de la Torre
I. Before Breakfast


When the sun turns gray and I become tired
of looking at your many-colored shoes


I will give you balloons for all the holes
we speak too much to fill. Who believes


in air, nowadays? Or do you prefer tea
with the dried fruit I will have to throw out


the window of your room? Because I want
this to stop I want this to stop I want this


II. Towards Moorish Spain


To kill the dragons is a different thing
in my family there are only lizards.


In Sevilla--never famous for its lamps--
a dissected crocodile hangs from a roof.


The reptile, the Crown’s Byzantine gift. Its teeth
suspended in the air of the cathedral.


I stole a pair of shoes; but didn’t run far
from the orchard where water had women’s scent.


Thirst is not fear, thirst is not green, but has wings
like dragons, or airplanes. As oranges


in Sevilla, driven by a strange desire
to stay where they are. Floating. Suspended.


III. Towards Virgo

The Milky Way is not only expanding;
the Bang is not only a Bang. It is drifting


and being pulled away from, let’s say, something.
Because dark matter is ninety nine of what


there is and visible matter is so small
it clusters together and forms a Great Wall.


China and Spain and my eyes reading the paper.
We are still together, are we not, wondering if.

Poem previously published in Fence magazine. Reprinted by permission.

Mónica de la Torre

Mónica de la Torre

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mónica de la Torre is co-editor, with Michael Wiegers, of the collection Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry

by this poet

poem
                  Sonya's so good that all the guys 
pick on her, so the evening's narrative goes. I've heard she wears 
yellow t-shirts each time to match her hair. Last time her tennis 
shoes got so dusty that she had to throw them out because there 
was no way on earth that they could be white again
poem
Victor got a real sense of power
from making his own raisins. He’d buy
pounds and pounds of grapes
and leave them to dry 
on the kitchen table.


Theresa didn’t want to hear about 
her ex-husband’s cancer. Not on Father’s Day.
She took a train all night 
to have breakfast with her cousin. 
All Sunday she rode
poem
I.
You thought this would be 
a dance lesson,
things were easier then.
No marimbas, no clarinets;
only a longing for the fun
to begin.
Rain came down.
Nothing seems as remote
as the days you didn't 
have to think about it:
always already there,
gushing out. Control
was required to stop ideas 
from overflowing.