Read an Excerpt from Christopher Soto’s Debut Collection ‘Sad Girl Poems’
Author: William Johnson
January 26, 2016
This month, Sibling Rivalry Press is releasing Sad Girl Poems, the debut chapbook from Nepantla editor Christopher Soto (aka Loma). Infused with rage, humanity, humor, and yes sadness, the collection is a lyrical testament to the resilience and struggle of young queer people of color.
From the Preface:
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the contextualization of POC sadness. My sadness is viewed in terms of everything surrounding it. My sadness is about domestic violence, homelessness, gender dysphoria, intergenerational trauma passed down from the Salvadorean Civil War, etc., ETC. My sadness is something to observe, consume, sympathize with BUT NOT EMPATHIZE WITH (not to mobilize for). Most people do not know how to interact with my sadness. My sadness is so multifaceted, it speaks twenty languages… I want people to act, I want people to mobilize around POC sadness. Don’t just feel bad about our stories, consume us, and spit us out… I don’t care if my stories make you feel bad about queer youth homelessness. I don’t care if you read my work and talk about it with your friends at brunch. That doesn’t matter. I want you to give your money to the Ali Forney Center and financially support queer homeless youth. I want you to donate your money to Black & Pink to support queer folks in prisons [….]
MYSELF WHEN I’M REAL
Say my body // isn’t a sequin dress—
Isn’t a raw fish, being stripped of scales.
Say I’m not // a drunken disco ball
In a lonely skating rink.
Or the deep wishing-well // the starfish fell
Say I’m the seagull // before its bad reputation.
Say I’m the pigeon //
But not the pigeon-shit.
Say I’m the cassette tape
Whose hair unwound // underwater—
Whose hair // you swim through.
The record player whose vinyl
Will never scratch.
Call me by my birth name—
Call me by my birth name—
Remind me // how the sky was created.
I split the sun, like yolk
& let the day fall into me.
If our love is a trash bag
Please // don’t let it tear.
You’re the reason I live.
You pour my coffee black.
You critique the dim glow, the mint-
Blue hue of television screens.
You stumbled into me
[Again & again]
Like a child, discovering the word
How dumb // we must have been—
To hold each other so frailly.
To hold anything at all—
The blue landscape of January days.
The taste of pan dulce—
The gummy smile of a teething child.
The pearl in an oysters’ mouth, round
My semen on your tongue.
A dove falls from the clouds, I name it Rory.
I wring its neck like a washcloth // then wipe
I want everything to have purpose—
The beak, the bones, the baby blue
This is such a useless fucking poem.
[He’s not coming back].
I grind his wings into glitter
& throw him into the air // like a child.
I grind his wings into ash
& throw him into the earth // like a casket.
Part Two: Stop it. Stop writing about him
None of this is about Rory.
It’s all about me.
The ocean cut its sky two sets of blue.
A horizon bleeds at sunset.
I’ve always wanted to put those lines in a poem
Somewhere. They sound so tragic & beautiful.
But they mean nothing to me— Rory.
Waves taped to my face, I’m crying
Then sucking dick for rent. When the
Police lights drift across me like rose petals.
Rory, I’m not sure how we got here.
Two punk faggots, sleeping in the
Parking lot outside of Casino Morango. I’m crying
Every time he plays the sad song in my
Mouth. [Smack these teeth like piano keys]. Watch
The Police lights drift across my windshield.
Rory, do you think we can outlive this?
[The sound of conch shells cracking].
Waves taped to my face. I have
Five dollars left— if we go to the gas station
How far away can you drive drunk?
Lights spinning across the pavement
& I piss on the great saguaro; with my
Lips split open & wide owl eyes.
[I’m broken like a wishbone].
Police lights call me “criminal.”