martes, 7 de marzo de 2017



Christopher Soto (aka Loma), nació en 1991 en Los Ángeles, EE.UU., es poeta punk queer latinx y abolicionista del sistema penitenciario. Nombradx unx de “diez poetas latinxs emergentes que debes conocer” por Remezcla. Poets & Writers rendirá honores a Christopher Soto con la entrega del Premio Barnes & Noble de Escritorxs para Escritorxs 2016. Fundó Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color junto con la Lambda Literary Foundation. Su primer plaquette “Sad Girl Poems” fue publicado por Sibling Rivalry Press en 2016. Originarix del área metropolitana de Los Ángeles; ahora reside en Brooklyn. 

Christopher Soto aka Loma (b. 1991, Los Angeles) is a poet based in Brooklyn, New York. He was named one of “10 Up and Coming Latinx Poets You Need to Know” by Remezcla. He was named one of “30 Poets You Should Be Reading” by The Literary Hub. He was named one of “7 Trans & Gender Non-Conforming Artist Doing the Work” by the Offing. Poets & Writers honored Christopher Soto with the “Barnes & Nobles Writer for Writers Award” in 2016. Christopher Soto’s first chapbook “Sad Girl Poems” was published by Sibling Rivalry Press. His work has been translated into Spanish and Portuguese. He is currently working on a full-length poetry manuscript about police violence and mass incarceration. He founded Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color with the Lambda Literary Foundation and cofounded The Undocupoets Campaign. He is editing Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). He interned at the Poetry Society of America and  received an MFA in poetry from NYU.

Todxs lxs chicxs muertxs se parecen a mí

Por Orlando

La última vez que me vi morir fue cuando la policía mató a Jessie Hernández
Queer morenx de 17 años, que dormía en su carro
Ayer, me vi morir otra vez. Morí cincuenta veces en Orlando. Y
Recuerdo haber leído al Dr. José Esteban Muñoz antes que falleciera
Estudiaba en NYU, donde él daba clases, donde escribió mierda
Que me hizo creer que la supervivencia de lxs queers morenxs era posible. Pero él
no sobrevivió y hoy, en la pista de baile, en los baños públicos, en las noticias, en mi pecho
Hay otrxs cincuenta cuerpxs, que se parecen al mío, y que están
Muertxs. Y he marchado para Black Lives y hablado también sobre la brutalidad policiaca,
Por años ya, en contra de las comunidades indígenas, pero esta mañana
Lo siento, realmente lo siento de nuevo. Cómo podríamos imaginarnos // Siendo negrxs nativxs
Hoy, gente Morena // ¿Cómo podríamos imaginarnos
Cuando Todxs lxs Chicxs Muertxs se parecen a nosotrxs? Una vez, le pregunté a mi sobrino
Dónde quería estudiar la universidad. Qué carrera le gustaría, como si
Todo el mundo fuera suyo para escoger. Por una vez, me respondió sin temer
Lápidas o jaulas o las manos de un padre. Las manos de mi amante
Ayer, adoraron todo mi cuerpx. Creó lxs ángeles con mis labios, Ave María
Llena de Gracia. Me acomodó hacia arriba como el techo de una catedral en NYC
Antes, de abrir las noticias y leer. Y leer sobre gente que piensa que dos queers morenxs
No podrían construir catedrales, sólo cementerios. Y cada vez que nos besamos
Se abre un lote funerario. En la recámara, acepto su beso y pierdo mi reflexión.
Estoy cansadx de escribir este poema, pero quiero decir una última cosa sobre
Ayer, mi padre llamó. Lo escuché llorar por tan solo la segunda vez en mi vida
Se le escuchaba como si me amara. Es algo que rara vez soy capaz de escuchar.
Y espero, si acaso, que sea su sonido lo que mi cuerpo recuerde primero.

Este poema se publicó como All The Dead Boys Look Like Me en Literary Hub:


for Orlando

Last time, I saw myself die is when police killed Jessie Hernandez
                                      A 17 year old brown queer, who was sleeping in their car
Yesterday, I saw myself die again. Fifty times I died in Orlando. And
                        I remember reading, Dr. José Esteban Muñoz before he passed
I was studying at NYU, where he was teaching, where he wrote shit
                        That made me feel like a queer brown survival was possible. But he didn’t
Survive and now, on the dancefloor, in the restroom, on the news, in my chest
                        There are another fifty bodies, that look like mine, and are
Dead. And I have been marching for Black Lives and talking about the police brutality
                        Against Native communities too, for years now, but this morning
I feel it, I really feel it again. How can we imagine ourselves // We being black native
                        Today, Brown people // How can we imagine ourselves
When All the Dead Boys Look Like Us? Once, I asked my nephew where he wanted
                        To go to College. What career he would like, as if
The whole world was his for the choosing. Once, he answered me without fearing
                        Tombstones or cages or the hands from a father. The hands of my lover
Yesterday, praised my whole body. Made the angels from my lips, Ave Maria
                        Full of Grace. He propped me up like the roof of a cathedral, in NYC
Before, we opened the news and read. And read about people who think two brown queers
                        Cannot build cathedrals, only cemeteries. And each time we kiss
A funeral plot opens. In the bedroom, I accept his kiss, and I lose my reflection.
                        I am tired of writing this poem, but I want to say one last word about
Yesterday, my father called. I heard him cry for only the second time in my life
                        He sounded like he loved me. It’s something I am rarely able to hear.
And I hope, if anything, his sound is what my body remembers first.

In Support of Violence

Two hundred Indian women killed their rapist on the courtroom floor of Nagpur in 2004. When Police tried to arrest lead perpetrators // the women responded “arrest us all.”

In this windowless room // where he poured acid & stole money // arrest us all
In this windowless room [shut like the gut of an ox] arrest us all
Gored & gorge are words to describe a wound          Gorgeous // the opening
Of a blade inside his chest       Gorgeous // black galaxies, growing
Across his skin, we threw rocks & chili pepper
Arrest us all
On the railroad tracks // where he murdered our sisters & left their dead bodies
On the railroad tracks // where black ants began // biting crowns into
Calves //                           The world is spinning and we’re // falling from its bed
How could we mourn?      He kept killing // & threatening // & raping us
Arrest us all                           On the red puddle // on the white courthouse floor
Arrest us all                     We sawed his penis off // & tore his house // to rubble

Look // the streets are swarming // in protests                         [welcome home]
The night is neon & buzzing like bumblebees
We never wanted to kill // only to stay alive // &
We waited like virgins // for the gentleness of strangers // to help or empathize.


He smokes // heavily // & smells like // the suicide // of one thousand angels.
Intergalactic ash // spread // over his // bed sheets // & vintage dildo // dreams.
I write // bestial love-letters // & have an affinity // for gothic cemetery // cults.
Mother // used to ask // for my strangeness // to be kept deep // inside Alcatraz.
Bound & bruised // I’ve become the siren & shipwreck // synonyms for lonely.
My sex is // melancholic terrorism // or // witchcraft in // the Catholic Church.
He plugs my nose // my tonsils gape open // & dick is shoved // into my heart.
Lampposts mock fireflies // in their flicker & worry // about seizures in the sky.
Been drunk & practicing // telepathy with friends // everyone has low // libido.
He ejaculates // & lilacs // fill the room // jars of milk & honey // below stucco.
In the morning // I’m awake & lonely // I clip my toenails into crescent moons.
Everything is legal // somewhere.


She walks across my chest—
                                                          dragging her shadow & fraying
                                                                               [All the edges].
My nipples bloom // into cacti—
                                          Fruit & flower.
She eats // then I do.
           —A needle pricks her.

I have only seen this woman // cry once—
                                                                Squeezed // like a raincloud.
She cried because // two white men.
[Two white men]
                                                       Built a detention center—
                                                                            From bone & clay.

[The first bone— my clavicle].         The second— her spine.
She howls
                                                                  [As the fence // surrounds her].
She coughs &
Combs // the floor // my chest
Inside the detention center—
                                                     [She is named] “immigrant” “illegal.”
                                                                          She loses 15 pounds &
Mental health & her feet are—
                                Cracked tiles // dirty dishes.

This border—                         is not a stitch [where nations meet].
This border is a wound //                         where nations part.


How electric // tidal // capitalism // crashes over us.
Neon burial grounds // tumbling // through the border.
That day I left // my ex-nothing // on Apache lands.
He sold my memory // for mule // psychiatric garden.
Yelling my ignorances // each fence erect // splooging!
Surveillance cameras // shaking // skinhead passports.
Border communities // patrolled // petroleum desires.
This sweet & cherry // boy-pussy // is a great machine.
How could I // leave // ethereal night // or etheridge?
Feeling fucked up // no license // in the porn arcade.
Hell is temperate // climate // compared to // this life
Without you.
      Poems were originally published in American Poetry Review

Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention Center, Unit Y2 

Each week
I walk through metal
Detectors // laughing guards
Muffled mothers

A basketball court // a black-
Bird // barbed wire

& More
Barbed wire.

To be here
Where the concrete ends
& Page begins.

I teach poetry to incarcerated
Boys [ages 15-19]. They

Are sons // & fathers // & brothers // & lovers
& thieves

[Just like me]
They want to learn

How to write
How to take the pain & make it beautiful.

When class begins

Televisions are turned
Off. The chessboards are
Put away.

Put Away.
& The boys join me // by the stain-
Less steel lunch table

In the back of this grey
Brick room.

Everyone looks the same

Cotton sweatpants // sweaters sharpied with

Most heads are shaved // some are

I want to ask the boys about their lives
[Outside of the detention center]

But every story ends with
The word prison.

“My mother… prison.”
“My father… prison.”
“My skin tone… prison.”
“My language… prison.”
“My nation… prison.”
“My gender… prison.”
“My ratty cloths…”

[Will be returned upon release].

Part II

Julian calls me Carnal now.

He spent the first couple weeks of
Our poetry class trying to scare me


He would lift up his shirt
Showing me
The name of his gang.

The names of his dead friends
[Etched in ink across his stomach].

I would tell him to
Put his shirt down

[But I would want him to keep his shirt up].

Julian told me // he wasn’t afraid of

All I could think about was his abs.

None of the boys in Unit Y2 know
I’m a faggot.

Before each class // I’d wash
The red paint off my nails

Exchange my black dress
For blue jeans.

Here // each body is disciplined for its difference.
Each person is disciplined for their distance

[To state power].


I was reading a letter, written
By Dee Dee

A trans woman
Sentenced sixty years to life

[In a men’s prison]

For killing
Her abusive boyfriend.

Dee Dee [now]

To be raped & physically assaulted
Behind bars.

She will not fight back

She has been transferred
From prison

To prison to prison
To prison to prison
To prison to prison
To prison to prison
To prison to prison
To prison.

She has been placed in solitary
Confinement [against her will].

For her protection?

She spends twenty-three hours
A day alone.

On hunger strike
She was sent to the hospital.

When each act of resistance
Is labeled as aggression

When you can’t even scream in pain
[Without being pathologized].

Wouldn’t you
Starve yourself too?

Pull each rib
From its ribcage.

[Anything to open the prison doors].

Part III

In Unit Y2
Julian is finally released.

He is let out of
The detention center

On probation // with an
Ankle monitor.

This monitor
Will track his every move.

This monitor was created in the 1960s at
Harvard University by a small group of researchers

R. Kirkland Schwitzgebel
& His twin brother

Robert Schwitzgebel]

As part of
Some project that I don’t really care to
Write about.

Last week
I heard on the news

The Federal Government

Is going to start
Using these
[Ankle monitors] to

Track the movements of
Undocumented Immigrants.


Fleeing poverty & violence
With their children.

Who are awaiting trial
& Sometimes

Like my tios // like my primas

Like Julian’s family

I want to congratulate Julian
On his release

From Unit Y2

But I feel uncomfortable

Proposing the thought

That he is now free

That he is now human
[Or citizen].

I want to tell Julian

Everything has changed
But there is still institutionalized

Against convicts

[In access to housing // education // & employment].

Prison is the new slavery.
Prison is the new Jim Crow.

Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed.

No // Julian. You are not free.

They just rearranged
The boundaries of your cage.

Part IV

How did we end up here?

Licking our claws
Walking in circles

With no water bowl
Of course we look like animals

[Of course we run from poachers].

In 1906
Ota Benga was put on exhibit

In the Bronx Zoo.

In 1896
One hundred Sioux people
Were put on exhibit

[In the Cincinnati Zoo].

There is
A whole

Of African & Native
Bodies being displayed
In human zoos.

The first time
I was arrested
& displayed

[I was only fifteen].

A whole neighborhood watched
As I was stuffed into the backseat
Of a police car.

Wearing nothing
But my underwear

[A cloth which hung like a white flag]
A beckoning to surrender.

I was placed
In handcuffs.

& All of the faces
In that neighborhood

Looked            [like security cameras].

Capturing just one instance
In the scene.

The brown boy
The police car
The tow-truck.

When I was arrested

For stealing my father’s car
[& Running away]
From an abusive household

Nobody saw the fear
Nobody paid attention to

My father’s chaffed hands.

The way his grip tore
Through my clothes.

Nobody wanted to talk about
The circumstances
Which created the “criminal.”

The prison isn’t just a holding cell.
The prison is any place

Where fear is profited on.

Part V

I never wanted to be
A criminal.

This isn’t what I had planned for.

A life of opposition, of resistance.

Where every day, I wake to

[Threats & self-defense].

How badly // I want to leave.
Open all the cellar doors.

Let the brown boys free
Like wedding doves.

Erase the names engraved
In the bullet proof glass.

[Spit the teeth out
Lodged in my esophagus].

The image I see
Is not one of violence but I understand
The trembling.

The image I see is a simple one

Where our fears are let go of
& our empathy is held onto

& Julian is laying down

On a couch in his mother’s living room

Watching cartoons // after eating cereal.

[It’s a lazy Sunday morning]
& Julian’s sister is still asleep.

The blankets are pulled

Over her shoulders.
Sun tilting through cotton

She yawns & stretches. She does
[Whatever she wants to do].

& Nobody wakes her

Not Julian, not the police.


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