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About this poet

Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador, in 1990, and he migrated to the United States in 1999. He received a BA from the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA from New York University. Zamora is the author of Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). He has received fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, among others. A 2016­–2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, he lives in San Rafael, California.

Let Me Try Again

I could bore you with the sunset, the way water tasted
     after so many days without it, 
                                                     the trees,
the breed of dogs, but I can’t say 
                                                    there were forty people
when we found the ranch with the thin white man, 
           his dogs, 
                          and his shotgun. 

Until this 5 a.m. I couldn’t remember
                           there were only five, 
or seven people—

We’d separated by the paloverdes.
      We, meaning: 
                             four people. Not forty. 
The rest. . . 
     I don’t know. 
                            They weren’t there 
when the thin white man 
                                         let us drink from a hose
while pointing his shotgun. 
                                             In pocho Spanish he told us
si correr perros atacar.
                                      If run dogs trained attack.

When La Migra arrived, an officer 
     who probably called himself Hispanic at best,

not Mejicano like we called him, said 
                                                      buenas noches
     and gave us pan dulce y chocolate. 

Procedure says he should’ve taken us 
     back to the station, 

checked our fingerprints, 
                                             etcétera. 

He must’ve remembered his family 
      over the border, 

or the border coming over them, 
     because he drove us to the border 

and told us 
     next time, rest at least five days, 

don’t trust anyone calling themselves coyotes, 
      bring more tortillas, sardines, Alhambra. 

He knew we would try again 
      and again,
                       like everyone does.  

Copyright © 2016, 2017 by Javier Zamora. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Copyright © 2016, 2017 by Javier Zamora. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Javier Zamora

Javier Zamora

Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador. He is the author of Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press, 2017).

by this poet

poem
it was clear they were hungry
with their carts empty the clothes inside their empty hands

they were hungry because their hands 
were empty their hands in trashcans

the trashcans on the street
the asphalt street on the red dirt the dirt taxpayers pay for

up to that invisible line visible thick white paint
poem
                      for my cousin Julia Zetino

The words Notice to Appear flap like a monarch trapped in a puddle.
Translation: ten years in a cell cold enough to be named Hielera.
If not that, a plane with chains