Leaving as a second language

the wisteria washed out weeks

ago, but I still want to talk

about it, and oh what a privilege this is

                  in this landscape, these points

                  on the map, people cross

                  deserts cities-wide to feed

                  the lives they’ve created      these

                                                      should be the acts of creation

                                                      I praise     my grandfather rode a bus

                                                      every morning to pave a road the whites

                                                      in this city didn’t want

                                                      him to drive on years later

                            in the black 1930 Model A Ford truck

                            he converted from a chicken coop

                            in his neighbor’s backyard     the only man

                            who’d rent to him for miles, called him

                            by his real name

                                                                                    now, in my backyard,

                                                                                    the paper wasps, too,

                                                                                    have abandoned their nests


on a map of various shades
of blue, a continent

named Nostalgia      Grandma
always told me Nostalgia was

                    a phantom that found
               you, so what is this
                                        cart I’ve been wheeling
                                                       around                I never signed

                                       adoption papers                    and if
                                        Nostalgia is all grit

                                                          and earth cradled by bodies
                                                               of deepening blue, why

must it be so far
from here     even then, what

privilege to touch it
                                        on this wall, to feel

                                        its raised letters under my
                                   fingertips      Nostalgia is

          a place           I’m closer to the clouds
                                   than I think     we are bodies

                                   of water                                   everywhere we go,

the smell of fire, the sound

of singe

Crying, a Myth

What is noise to men is water
to women. So women garden, they tend, yes,

they mother the earth, and they populate the atmosphere
with their sounds. They thank the men

for going inside to think. The women toss all their dirty
dishes into the corner of the kitchen. This is how

they make mountains. And look, there
are their ribs in the riverbeds. Follow their path. This is where

the women’s cries go to settle, and why even now
their grief can be heard.

Marriage as clothes dryer

Things I’ve found in the washing machine
after laundering my husband’s work clothes: a red
felt pom-pom the size of a penny. A penny. A plastic tip
sliced from a tube of caulk I first mistook
for a tooth. A sunflower seed. Another penny. A quarter.
A drill bit. A nail. Three screws. A pink
ponytail holder. (I have short hair.) (He said it’s my
mom’s.) (She has short hair.) Another nail. Another penny. A tube
of chapstick. A valet ticket
number 708, absent of any other identifying text. The pocket
knife my grandfather gave him. A paperclip. A dried
nectarine pit.

Sex is the routine movement of heavy, wet
clothes from washer to dryer.

Temp: If, in my wet house dress, I turn into a bird, does that make me a cliché? If I do
not turn into a bird, does that make me
a cliché?

Dryness: How many lives must I live
before I get to one
I both want and don’t want?


Why is leaving so hard?

Yesterday, someone threw their crutch into the
                 river. I watched
        this new trout glimmer and breathe

                                 fog paints itself across the waterways, a carpet
     of clouds

all the passengers on the plane are lined up in their seats,
          mouths open, eyes closed as if waiting

                                                                           to receive communion

                 my eyes are open, I’m returning
to the things I don’t want                 anymore. A carpet

                     of clouds, and just like that, a city

                                                                           I try to read
the hieroglyphics of the buildings below
                                            but, they’re a language
          I don’t yet know.

                                        The only ones I can make out: I S
then, landing—an affirmation:
                              Y Y

Election Coverage 2016 [Public Broadcast]

Thursday: the three pomegranates my mother gave me
this Sunday are rotten. And then there’s the business of buying
bots. Who knew! I can’t even buy a neighbor
who will share their prickly pears. They’d rather they rot
on the sidewalk because there’s been a different car at my place
almost every week. But it’s been months. Maybe a bot lover would be good
for this depression. It would repeat everything I say even if it’s not
what I want to hear. But at least this lover would be talking to me, no sex required:
          [I love you.] I love you. [No you
          don’t.] No you don’t. [What is love?] What
          is love. [What is?] What is. [How much
          is a bot worth in this desert this desert that desert and there
          where words are as scarce as water and La-La doesn’t mean
          I love you anymore?] You’ve exceeded
          your character limit. [I’m a willing participant
          in this game.] I’m a willing participant
          in this game. [I bought you.] I
          bought you. Even a bird can
be a bot. It helped me to cross
a street in a busy city once, but these birds, too, are dying
out. Is there a god bot I should pray to? I’ve already prayed to the one
who was supposed to be free, but that god won’t even retweet me.

The Linguistic Structure of Faith

God—the word
comes down
like an ax. Such
finality. Doom. It elevates
nothing, deadens my
tongue. Someone wants me
to sing, but how can I when mouthing
this created name? I need to learn
a new language. I may not
                    believe in God, but I believe
                    in Dios. The way the word rolls off the tongue and lifts
into the air thick with molecules—atoms—
I can’t see
but science tells me are there.

a loss of balance if a housefly doesn’t clean its wings

and one is dying

                                        in the corner

of my window                  must everything

seek                  light                  I hear

         its body                                  vibrate

against the jamb                  I can

                  listen to the fly

die or kill it                  with a rolled magazine                  does god

      ever weigh such

                                       household things

Andrea Blancas Beltran

Andrea Blancas Beltran is from El Paso, Texas. Her work has recently been selected for publication in H_NGM_N, Entropy, RHINO Poetry, Radar, Pilgrimage, and Cargo. She's the associate editor for MIEL. (un)learning, a collaborative haibun project with Melissa Matthewson, is now out from Artifact Press. You can find her @drebelle.

Cover image by Sarah Meadows


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