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Benjamin Garcia: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Garcia_1025 _R web




















Le Daría Mis Pulmones


Toward the end, she could only

lift a cup of coffee. Closer still,

even that became too much for her,

my mother. A sponge, then,

I’d dip in coffee, or dip pan dulce,

and put that to her lips to suck. That

was all the cancer let her manage.


The IV was her sugar water, and she

the hummingbirds she loved to watch,

busy at the red and yellow feeder.

Those plastic flowers welded on

were poor excuses, but they worked. Whatever


worked, I guess, my mother thought,

lived. On the bed in the living room,

her body of sleeping birds, her dream

of a thousand green wings shimmering like

shreds of aluminum, that could, at any moment,

unloose on the wind. Toward


the end, the sponge and the coffee, the cancer.

She couldn’t smoke anymore either, of course,

because even drawing her own drag: impossible.

So she had me smoke for her—nine years old—

I was her lungs. I blew the smoke right in her face, right

in her face. Just like that, over and over:


Benjamin Garcia’s first collection, Thrown in the Throat, won the National Poetry Series and the Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize, in addition to being a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He works as a sexual health and harm reduction educator in New York’s Finger Lakes region, where he received the Jill Gonzalez Health Educator Award recognizing contributions to HIV treatment and prevention. A CantoMundo and Lambda Literary fellow, he serves as core faculty at Alma College’s low-residency MFA program. His poems and essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in: AGNI, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, and New England Review. His video poem “Ode to the Peacock” is available for viewing at the Broad Museum’s website as part of El Poder de la Poesia: Latinx Voices in Response to HIV/AIDS.


Frida Kahlo  Henry Ford Hospital (la camo volando)  1932. Collection of Dolores Olmedo Mexico City  Mexico.

      Frida Kahlo, Henry Ford Hospital (la camo volando), 1932. Collection of Dolores Olmedo Mexico City, Mexico.

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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