Octavio Quintanilla (USA)
Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of San Antonio, TX. His poetry, fiction, translations, and photography have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as Salamander, RHINO, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pilgrimage, Green Mountains Review, Southwestern American Literature, The Texas Observer, Existere: A Journal of Art & Literature, and elsewhere. Reviews of his work can be found at CutBank Literary Journal, Concho River Review, San Antonio Express-News, American Microreviews & Interviews, Southwestern American Literature, Pleiades, and others. You can check out his visual poems in Gold Wake Live, Newfound, Chachalaca Review and Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. His visual work has been featured in the AllState Almaguer Art Gallery in Mission, TX and exhibits are forthcoming at The Weslaco Museum and at Platform 204 Gallery & Studios in Harlingen, TX. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas and is the regional editor for Texas Books in Review. He teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the M.A./M.F.A. program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. Find him on Instagram @writeroctavioquintanilla & Twitter @OctQuintanilla
There was a time
I had no word for darkness,
and so I said, darkness.
I had no word to say devotion,
and so I said, Two sons
grieving one mother.
A time came when our parents
sat under a tree
and cried for us, their sons
on their way
to a new country.
When I try to return to my boyhood,
sometimes I end
with my head
on my mother’s lap.
Yesterday, I wanted to buy myself a new god, one
who never tires of forgiving me,
one who rejoices at seeing me turn
my back on him.
In bed, I imagine I am crossing the ocean
you want to cross to be with me.
We meet right underneath the North Star,
and I tell you I want to buy a new god,
one who would give me the courage to break
open my fate in two,
one who would guide my hand to your heart
so I can listen to the history of all your loves.
Yesterday, as I invented a new god to buy,
I contemplated all the goodness I have lost
and all the years I would surrender
just to be here.