FEATURED POEM: “This Is How I Fight” by Saúl Hernández

Saúl Hernández

This Is How I Fight

I learned how to kiss a man easy
      when he held a gun to my neck. I pulled a thread off my shirt & 
            watched the end become a beginning—

At school I was taught how to hide from a storm, 
            never how to stop one.

When I was a child, I collected fireflies every night.
      For years I ate them, hoping one day my insides could hold light.

            My therapist asked me today: Have you forgiven?

To survive sometimes means to incinerate history,
      like when Abuelo died, Abuela gathered every single photo from her home, 
            casted all the pictures in a metallic tambo & set it on fire.

Another man once forbade me to leave the hotel room: YOU CAN'T GO!
      I’ve wondered more than once how lonely you’d have to feel to become violent—

      All through the night he cried, Why am I not enough? & 
                          I bandaged him up with my body.

Afterwards, I let water run over me.
      All I heard was static, until

I screamed. I still don’t know what hunger
                                      is capable of doing.

I keep having a dream of waking up naked
                          in my abuelo’s Mexican fields,

lightning has struck everything around me,	      a fire is sprouting.

Saúl Hernández is a queer writer from San Antonio, TX who was raised by undocumented parents. Saúl has an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso. His debut poetry collection, How to Kill a Goat & Other Monsters, is forthcoming in the spring of 2024 from University of Wisconsin Press. Saúl is the winner of the 2022 Pleiades Prufer Poetry Prize judged by Joy Priest and the winner of the 2021 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize judged by Victoria Chang. His poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net. Saúl’s work is forthcoming/featured in Split This RockColumbia JournalFrontier PoetryPoet Lore, Foglifter JournalOyster River PagesCherry Tree, and elsewhere. 

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