Leslie Marie Aguilar


There’s a five-lettered word we don’t say, won’t mention

in this house that sometimes reminds me of Missouri

& the sun-bleached cabinets that prevented our viewing

of the polls that night I blamed you for the cages

riddling the border of our favorite state—our home. There

aren’t enough women here to warrant an execution,

but you want to stay. & so I play governor on this island

that turns the color depression makes us every winter.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, but we’ve planted

our evergreen in sand for the third year in a row.

I’d rather be depressed on a beach than on this couch,

but the rough material is close enough to the horizon.

We’re dissolving into chemicals that smell like sulfur,

or chlorine, or another element man-made & impure.

I’m relieved when the algae in our shower turns green

instead of pink, & here’s another color on the spectrum—

wheel of fortune. I keep enough change in my pockets

to call a train away from the plains, or an imagined engine

that will take me far enough to blame your absence

on distance instead of the alcohol that carries you away.

Nothing flies now like it used to when we were younger,

& I wonder if it ever did, how we ever thought it could.

Leslie Marie Aguilar originally hails from the heartland of Texas. She received her MFA from Indiana University, where she served as the Poetry Editor of Indiana Review. Her work has been supported by the National Society of Arts and Letters and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Callaloo, Hobart, Ninth Letter, Rattle, Sonora Review, and Washington Square Review among others. She is the author of Mesquite Manual (New Delta Review, 2015), and currently works as the Managing Editor for SEL Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, at Rice University.