after Aracelis Girmay


                                        for Renee


If we are young & our minds

have quelled within us

let us           rise

& if       we         have raised     our enemies    & worn

          spirits whole by whole & if

          we have stood & mended     our gloves

          & stood again            let us rise,


If we have become numb      & if we

have opened the windows,

assembled our fingers with flowers,

                                            let us rise


If we have spit the seeds & kissed

our tongues & removed our lips to the outside

of the blue concrete sky & peeled up our breath

young as clouds, rivers

let us rise


If we have kept our stories & washed dishes & yanked bedsheets

                                                                  let us rise


          & given our bodies to other bodies

                    let us rise


If we have excited & closed &

closed our mouths, let us           rise         & if

we have drowned in lakes            on the belly of a crow

                   & heard their fists

                   & blew candles

                   & felt the cactus thorn

                   & spit up fruit

let us rise. If we

have smelled sugar & our elbows have numbed the sky

let us rise


If we              have drawn our own hands let us rise

& when our hands have numbed the backs of other hands

let us rise


          & if we are young and far from zig-zagged

          & all our muscles have crawled outside us


& if we have pulled weeds & whispered

through the eyes of needles                                 let us rise


& if we have found our fathers

& called our sisters close        & talked story


& if we have heard the dust from trains

let us rise


& if we have been stilled

for that              & for this

                                    & hummed the melodies


& obeyed             & if we have stayed

& stayed

& stayed

& stayed


let us rise.


Fernando Pérez is Mexican-American poet from Los Angeles, CA. He attended Long Beach City College and received his BA in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach, before moving to Phoenix, AZ, where he received an MFA in Poetry from Arizona State University. Fernando is currently an assistant professor of writing at Bellevue College in Washington State. His work has appeared in several journals, including The Suburban Review, Hinchas de Poesía, Crab Orchard Review, and the Volta. His first collection of poems is forthcoming from The University of New Mexico Press in the fall of 2017.