Derrick Ortega

As my work is inspired by individuals who are attempting to reenter society after experiencing big T-trauma, I wanted to provide some of them with a time and place through writing; however, having grown up in a working class geography as well as experiencing trauma myself, there is a lot of difficulty in translating such moods and moments with plainspoken diction. Sometimes, the only way to communicate these experiences is to take off in a direction without knowing where the language is actually headed and strongly hope that it'll either return to where it started or productively arrive in a new place. I feel these works do so in some capacity. Maybe the language represents a kind of growth in each speaker. Or maybe it's necessary to render a situation complex to achieve respect--to earn the reader's ear through its music without any expectation of return.

It began as a joke. // He lathered his beard with shaving cream / fixed bayonet to barrel / and presented the rife it stood tall / honest / no more than a fist from his chest // he dipped it back / slow danced even: jaw to jaw / his unshaven / along the serrated / flirting with his hair trigger / necking away weeks of his beard-- / it was a new identity, they said / his identity, they said / hushed and Haji, they said fit in / with the natives, they said tighten your grip, they said your wife's at home, they said her new friend's / at home, they said your M4 is here, they said the bayonet's only a last resort it's your rifle / that'll maintain a safe distance, they said in every direction, they said finger on the / trigger, they said lock it up, they said don't pull, they said squeeze, they said click // chamberless // he begs for the round click // smokeless // it begs for the round click




 

 

 

 

 

Derrick Ortega

Derrick Ortega's upcoming chapbook, Habits (formerly known as Jigsaw Limbs), explores re-entrance sociality after experiencing trauma and touches on performative normalcy. It will be published with selva oscura press in 2018 with poems anthologized in Snorted the Moon and Doused the Sun: An Addiction Anthology and pieces published in Letter [r] Press, Fact-Simile Editions, and elsewhere. Ortega is currently Poet-in-Residence at the Idyllwild Arts Academy and a poetry instructor for Orange County School of the Arts. He received an MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside and resides in southern California.

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