Poetry by Christina Olivares


I dreamed myself close to a body before I knew I was real.
Here’s an antidote to survival: imagine a closeness where there was only cosmos.

I’d wanted it to be that tightly alone and rootless was what it must be but

then I dreamed of that specific garden at night, and
to make it beautiful, my dream-body imagined it as it is: castigated

by moonlight. Stunted and overgrown same. Smelling funky–that deplasticized green
of night trees exhaling sex sex sex

with sky clouds dripping humid, ever ever. Who’s gonna chastize a tree
for being too much? A garden or not–not a garden. No. Just syringe-speckled dirt

with too many trees, too many roots, crowding in the dark, all dead fuel or
deliverance. Up in the Bronx, the dream says, after burning. I was there with my cousins

in real life, I thought when I woke. Halfbreeds we were, in that city-owned lot
with a trippy, torn up foundation, that almost-field junkyard bordered by buildings,

babies happily siphoning earth from garbage and fingerpainting cradles
for our tender-dropped seeds. Even then I sensed my difference. The earth herself

was the muddy finger on my tongue, curious as I.
I wanted the labor and the fruit, bud and vine. To know and know. Be a girl

rearing her own damn self. This a demanding love. Dirt under nail. The garden: a thing

built, wholly burned and unburned. The un-garden, an undisciplined girl, desiring.
Simultaneous: her body construed as a wild, to be burned by some men who would.

I imagined a body close in the night.

When I opened my eyes, I was afraid to find
she called herself girl, like me. Eventually I was less afraid.




Bronx Antipastoral (#1 – #6)





a homeland that’s constantly shifting into other homelands, or

unpracticed parent
unparalleled lover

her body as grass

shock of a love: discovering there was this growing thing in us both

i mean the burning a body does when it is touched
i mean the burning a building does when it is torched






what             you imagine?

can              do             will

can’t         don’t        won’t 






tell me in how many words do you come from

this is the queerest thing i have made
a love song to a place

a place that is queer

a love song to a place of queerness

a love song to queers

a love song to the queers i love


i speak in unfamiliar languages
none mine                                  ausente como






are you lonely

in america                                  the answer is yes






the city burned–no
we burned

smoke does an eye. smoke in an eye:

curve in the lens


a girl tonguing smoke

   enjoying it

borough that is not an island
only borough that is not an island
full of sea-creatures, island-people,
costenos, land-fastened at last

mythmaking is                           key to self-invention    or the invention
i got handfuls of absent keys


burn the seeds for harvest
necessitate burn my body
the body a beautiful flag in an unpatterned field
the body a seed for harvesting
the harvest a seed of the body
an ember            a wilding:

birthings, harvestings, letting go:

i save all my wishes for
when the light slants in these apartment windows                  over and over

for actual closeness, though, there is no adequate language







parts of my body are big like a whale
others are snappable

still the skin reveals nothing (everything) (unsupple) (here)

diaspora rooted                      in new light / antiparadise

we can grow


when I was small

before we lost all our homes,
we dug in the earth, put seeds, they grew, midborough off the D train


without nostalgia i claim our wildness
our desire to find the astonishing: sprout, needle
stink and cling of earth, satisfaction of sweat


compass point needle iron ironwork etc.

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