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Deborah Paredez

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Deborah Paredez received a PhD from Northwestern University. She is the author of the poetry collection This Side of Skin (Wings Press, 2002). Paredez is a cofounder and codirector of CantoMundo, a national organization supporting Latinx poets and poetry. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

by this poet


for Deborah Johnson (Akua Njeri)

—Composed on the 45th anniversary of Fred Hampton's murder, Chicago IL—

you didn’t look

down or back, spent

the fractured minutes

studying each crease

and curve of the law-

men’s faces

so later you could tell


Rate your pain the physical
therapist instructs and I am trying
not to do what they say
women do lowballing the number
trying hard not to try so hard
to be the good patient scattered
assurances lining the aisles like
dead petals and me left
holding nothing but what’s been


Again the sea-machines creep from the east,
their Cronus jaws unlatched and pups expelled.
The scene the same. Again. Again. The sand
now boot-lace muck, the rutted shore resigned.
No words will do. Laments will not withstand
this thrashing tide. It's time for snarling beast-