Self has a subscription to Gulf Coast. (What, you didn’t know that self has a subscription to at least a score of lit mags? Well, now you do!)
Anyhoo, as self was thumbing through the pages of the thick, fat Summer/Fall 2011 issue, she stumbled across a familiar name: Sasha Pimentel Chacon!
It’s really wonderful: the issue has at least three of her poems. Since self has this idiosyncratic habit of beginning each journal from the back, the first of Sasha’s poems that she read was “In Their Dark Habits.” It begins with this epigraph:
There have been hundreds of complaints in Juarez to the official state . . . of the military murdering people, kidnapping people, torturing people, raping people, robbing people.
— Charles Bowden, April 2010
The poem begins:
In Their Dark Habits
of skin, the soldiers watch
a girl, their machine guns propped
on cars every four feet, trained
The poem literally grabs the reader by the throat — the image of the girl, the soldiers, the anxiety, the terror, the everything, all come together in the poem’s anguished expression.
Self flipped the pages, encountered the second of Sasha’s poems, “Safely Watching a Solar Eclipse.” This one is in shapely two-line stanzas. Self loves to read poetry but she herself is no poet so she can’t immediately identify the form. She thinks Eugene Gloria had a book that was all poetry in this form. Or is the book self is thinking of really D. A. Powell’s Cocktail? (Perhaps — here self has to dredge deep in her memory — this is a ghazal?)
The last of Sasha’s poems (which is actually the first, if you read Gulf Coast the way normal people do — that is, from the beginning) is “On a Business Meeting in Bulacan with the Uncle You’ve Heard Beats His Wife.”
Here’s part of it:
Because you haven’t seen him
for more than twenty years, you take his hand
and press it to your forehead as custom,
God’s voice speaking through
the clasp of his hand and your skin, your skin
sweating to find the mosquitos wading
over his knuckles and your lashes, and his wife, beside you, suddenly
quiet before this man who looks like your father
Sasha, your words are shattering. Thanks much, Gulf Coast, for publishing this wonderfully gifted young poet!
Come to think of it, self seems to recall getting an e-mail notice about Sasha having a collection out this year. Aaargh, what with all the travelling she’s been doing, she can’t recall the title. (Never fear: Google is here!)
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.