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.

The Script

Mónica de la Torre
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. 
You did your job well, 
you killed them as one kills Easter 
baby chickens. 

II.
Rasputin was on the lookout.
Magdalene had multipurpose hair:
Kumernis had it in stocks 
where and when she needed it,
on her beard especially. Anything 
to keep the Barbarians away
will do. Chopped noses, 
rotten chicken stuffed in corsets. 
We were told that the demons 
would come out in Maine. 
They hate recollections and certainty. 
Their favorite verb is sabotage. 

III.
Rasputin helps one to recognize inspiration; but, oh, what 
   could imagination be?

To retrieve, to plunder, to forge.

To be bored. 

To rip kites so they may stay on the ground.

To forget jokes and misunderstand common sense. 

To sit for four hours without getting up. 

To count words and people and only remember their 
   numbers. 

To listen closely to what loons could be trying to say.

To permutate dots so that lines are never identical to 
   each other.

To return to known places and act always the same, 
   thus the slightest change might become apparent. 

To force things to happen.  

To pretend there's meaning when all that comes out is a 
   "My dog loves me and he's no showboat."

To think there's nothing to say. 

To leap from canopy to can openers to can open her.

You've begun, now use your props.

Reprinted from American Poet, Fall 2002. Copyright © 2002 by Mónica de la Torre. Reprinted by permission of the poet. All rights reserved.

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
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
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