Javier Perez


laughing, my mother recounts when she was young, playing in the fields, she’d find splintered indigenous artifacts secreted in the dirt, the soil spreading its chismes, second-nature-like, my mother toyed the entombed back into childhood, doubling the earth as belly yet playground, crypt yet sandbox, vault yet open fields, death yet

had she only known, she speculates, museums would have paid unimaginable amounts to have the severed relics archived omphalically in Madrid, and i wonder what games she played as a child, if not those involving conquerors and losers who unlatch the ground to submerge their arrowheads and armaments

i long for a toy chest, desperately trying to unsurface the playthings buried in my body, for memories of an alternate past, one that does not involve conquerors, or losing our remains, beneath the doubled land

i am sepulchered, naïve as my mother in her youth


these men offer themselves     that we might measure our sanity        by the inkblots     they bear as faces,   universally met with repulsion;     by way of a joke   my mother makes     the prognosis:

The Sun and the Moon are talking one day / The Sun complains to the Moon how ugly humans’ faces are / The Moon laughs / disagrees / tells how every night She sees so many smiles looking up / one vast garden, She explains / The Sun, confounded, retorts / complains how each face He is greeted with / resembles rather a scrunched up ball of paper…

socrates’ man walked out     in daytime     he knows not of          moon-cycle calendars     so what does it mean to “do time”         is it an enlightened     state of knowing that     the hands of     white clocks         throw up the most     feared gang signs     that odysseus’   sirens         are still seizing men         off the corner         with “reason” as our only     conviction left

Javier Perez is a Salvadoran-American poet, teaching artist and PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town. He is co-founder of Swarthmore College’s spoken-word collective OASIS (Our Art Spoken in Soul); project manager of the Cape Town-based collective, Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement; and co-founder of the CYPHER (Cape Youth Poetry Hub for Expression & Rhythm). Javier’s work appears in Acentos Review, New Contrast Literary Journal, Apricity Press, Puerto del Sol, and more. Javier’s manuscript was selected as a finalist for the Center for the Book Arts’ 2017 Chapbook Program. He is recipient of the Thomas J Watson Fellowship (2013-14), Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (2012-13), and Roosevelt Institute Fellowship (2013).