May 2011 Poem of the Month – Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

Ghazal of the Traffic

The sky blues yellow like smokers’ teeth tar in the city.
Smokers are made to take notice outside bars in the city.

The clutch, brake, gas, repeat rhythm numbs my skull.
Headaches move slow, jammed, like cars in the city.

I want to dip my toes in sand and lay on the water.
It’s hard to stay focused when temperatures soar in the city.

On a corner a child sells ripe mangos, yellow and green.
She looks familiar, but I have traveled too far in the city.

A hipster girl draped in vintage wails down Hollywood Blvd.
Countless are the broken dreams and scars in the city.

Radio gossip: coke-filled-photos, anorexia, Anna Nicole.
We keep our famous in air-punched-holed jars in the city.

The day turns to night’s sky like deep waters turn secrets,
and sometimes I ask, What if we saw stars above the city?

Speakers spill with Mariachi crooning a flowery Xochinero.
Tonight, home is a tear-dropped Mexican guitar in the city.

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is a poet, essayist, and native Angelino. She is a literary curator for Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center, was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Award, and is co-founding editor of The Splinter Generation. Her work has been published in The Los Angeles Review, PALABRA, and The Umbrella Journal. You can check out her blog on immigration at

You can download this poem in pdf version at


3 thoughts on “May 2011 Poem of the Month – Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

  1. In the City

    In the city, hills go over and under people’s view,
    People stand and watch the bus, car, limitless excursions.

    In the city, roundness rolls over the concrete,
    People move with the motions of the vehicles.

    In the city, children wander and lose their clutch,
    On what it was they were thinking before.

    In the city, we live in and out of each others lives,
    Sometimes catching up years later with questions.

    In the city, we subsume each others notions,
    And cultural information, conjunctions and intersections.

    In the city, we sometimes dream of the absent exterior,
    And wonder for a minute what others are doing there.

    We exist in the muffled traffic, helicopters, sirens;
    Internally surrounded by the relentless heat of the sun.

    Cynthia Stewart

  2. In response to “Ghazal of the Traffic”:

    Of Eagles

    You are the African Crowned eagle,
    myself the Harpy eagle,
    in the next cage,
    in the zoo, here,
    in the city.
    In the hills
    we soared.
    In this city,
    flashes of decency are
    never-hatched eggs, in too soft shells;
    like in traffic, either you’re the “windows up”
    or “windows down” set.
    Both bus and Beemer have air conditioning.
    Both will take you all the way out
    to that beach, in the city.

    Even May Sarton had to drive,
    though not in the city.
    She used her heater more often
    than the AC,
    up there in N.H.,
    with the real stars,
    herself an eagle unbound,
    free of chimp chatter,
    of the blacktop lanes,
    whose graceless stories are offered
    from between yellowed beaks.

    –Kevin Stack

  3. Pingback: A Q&A with Visual Artist Jeremy Ehling | Splinter Generation

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