poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poets.org on October 2, 2018.

About this poet

Raquel Salas Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and grew up there and in the United States. Rivera is the author of x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation), which won the 2018 Ambroggio Prize and is forthcoming from Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe in 2019. Rivera is also the author of lo terciario/the tertiary (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018), which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, as well as tierra intermitente (Ediciones Alayubia, 2017) and Caneca de anhelos turbios (Editora Educación Emergente, 2011), both of which were published in Puerto Rico. Rivera is co-editor of Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rican poets. They currently serve as the 2018–2019 poet laureate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they live.

when you tie rope and ribbon

for oscar lópez rivera

you make two knots
so that years and names
can climb up or down

uniting thick and thin threads
simplicities and opacities
tense and resolved dialectics

your eyes are closed fists
that guide your hands
so the ribbon may last centuries
or until we have no need
to unleash forces
or unarm states


cuando amarras soga y cinta

para oscar lópez rivera

creas dos nudos
para que puedan subir o bajar
años y nombres

uniendo hebras gruesas y finas
simplicidades y opacidades
dialécticas tensas y resueltas

tus ojos son puños cerrados
que guían tus manos
para que la cinta dure siglos
o hasta que no haya necesidad
de desatar fuerzas
y desarmar estados

From x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation). Copyright © 2018 by Raquel Salas Rivera. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press.

From x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation). Copyright © 2018 by Raquel Salas Rivera. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press.

Raquel Salas Rivers

Raquel Salas Rivera

Raquel Salas Rivera is the author of x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation), which won the 2018 Ambroggio Prize.

by this poet

poem

pitorro is what cows use at night to remember day.
god's wine hangs from balconies to signal it's safe.
tourists buy towels with parrots,
on their way to my town.
if they even pass through my town.

my town, which is my mother's town.

we stop by añasco's post office.
we have a

poem

in spanish, we don’t naturally occur. the seasons differentiate us from natural people. when there are no seasons, let’s say, when we are a caribbean country, better yet, when we are a territory, we aren’t allowed to use the x, except for the word xylophone, because who uses a xylophone? and who

poem

maldita sea we fight them and what did you give us

under the church in mayagüez there are taíno bones
the father knows it
all the fathers

he said take this ribbon and measure the church dimensions
tell me if it's worth
destroying faith for some bones

what i saw when i

2