Nick Cruz

Through torsion of discourse and form, poems can operate as sites for bearing witness to different crises of language [in these three pieces, moments of failed interpellation and their forceful impact on bodies] to contest and subvert oppressive structures. 

I’m eager to continue learning what this form of art demands: how to best break and transform a police/d line, sieve walls of silence/noise to facilitate the ability of self/others to survive through the interstices of the settler-colonial carceral state and move towards more possibilities for opening. This fall I participated in a workshop taught by Evie Shockley that was incredibly healing and clarifying for me.

Especially as boricua, I am committed to working towards the true realization of free association and freedom of speech – to develop a poetics that is a form of organizing together with, through, and beyond the communities I become made part of on and off the page. 

I stand in solidarity with the J20 defendants, wholeheartedly resounding Fred Hampton Jr. and the Prisoners of Conscience Committee’s assertion that all prisoners are political prisoners.


                                                                                                                        self-portrait in two 

            self portrait as an island
            self portrait as erasure
            self portrait as cliché

            no        man     is         an         island 






            no        man     s                            land 






            some context might be helpful for understanding suicide
            was always a common motif in narratives of puerto rico
            especially after the very polarizing essay by rené marqués
            in 1967 traced the phenomenon to what he argued was 
            the docility of the puerto rican male caused a storm of
            outrage on the island
                                                            [the midwestern woman grins casually
                                                             spilling fluorescent light everywhere]

                                                                                                                                     in flagrante

when storefront glass smashed      is not violence
tear gas mace flash bang grenades      is violence

violence is   broken windows policing   breaking 
starbucks mcdonalds bank of america   windows 

is not violence   when the policeman’s baton struck
& i curled like steam   brushing strands of wet hair 

from the back of my head is    


the soles of our feet      scorched earth     [what limousine]  
smudged bundles of sage      to make calm      the burning
feeling in our lungs      we were what escaped      kettling 


evening impasse street theatre troupes uniformed bright 
man opposite us in antifaz his plastic visage all in bronze
skin of streetlight glistening i desiring chance to facialize
see whites of his eyes remove concealment enough to kiss
then spit on him like end of riot/porn & leave his body
covered love marks everywhere on the body desiring 

                                                                                    him   sore as hell next day yes
                                                                                    him   unable to walk straight


            a silent cop is a crooked cop
               a silent cop is a crooked cop
        a silent cop is a crooked cop
            a silent cop is a crooked cop
                 a silent cop is a crooked cop

                                                                                    [they (all) remain silent]

                                                                     broken english sonnet: last call at latin night

if you're alive raise your hand                               calls a man  

a man came                                          ringing violent melody

floor humming                                     llamadas sin respuesta    

first attempts                                               to identify victims 

triage soundscape names mangled                        as bodies    

pronounced /wrong/ at the scene                       angelicized     
accent being to inflect speech                          through song  

first response disquiet                              that doesn't sound 

like my loved one                                 the desperate chorus

echoing // the visceral                                    calls for blood  

language to bear what                                   corporeal cant 

first bullets mistaken as                                        our music

sung through soma, semaphore to refrain:

american killer, dead brown bodies


Nick Cruz is pictured. Nick has tall, dark hair, and looks straight ahead with raised eyebrows. Nick wears a blue shirt buttoned to the top, on which is printed red and white flowers and green foliage. Thereover, Nick wears a light grey or beige v-necked cardigan or sweater. Behind Nick, the wall and ceiling of a room are illuminated to a warm mauve color, and leftmost is visible a dark print, painting, photograph, or other image, with a dark frame, and rightmost, a wooden doorway perhaps, of which the door is light wood, the frame darker finished. Nick's shadow is visibly cast upon the wall.

Nick Cruz is a queer latinx poet of Puerto Rican and Colombian descent living in New Jersey. They keep tropical plants in south-facing windows.