Through the voices of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents, and scorned lovers, award-winning poet Eduardo C. Corral writes portraits of contradiction and survival. These poems traverse desert landscapes cut through by migrants, the grief of loss, betrayal’s lingering scars, and the border itself—great distances in which violence and yearning find roots.
An excellent second collection ... No matter what his subject, Corral is a gifted storyteller, precise and dizzying with his imagery ... I can’t help but linger over his finely-wrought phrases that anchor each poem ... Corral can capture a world in a poem’s single scene ... An accomplished book in both style and sense.
A striking long poem is one of the anchors of this book. In 'Testaments Scratched Into a Water Station Barrel,' Corral gives voice, in Spanish and English, to migrants as well as to a few racists. The poem asks us to imagine each page as one of the fifty-five-gallon water stations set up by a nonprofit to help migrants survive in the desert. Corral’s texts are 'scratched' onto the surface of the tank, each inscription effacing the last. Every new poem feels like an arena for survival; we imagine a person either desperate to live or eager to kill. Reduced to its bluntest purpose, all writing is a form of graffiti, an assertion that we exist in this time and place. These 'found' poems of Corral’s arrive damaged, their syntax sometimes broken into mismatched columns, the type smudged or overwritten, but their strange beauty remains intact ... you find, everywhere, poems about the periodicity of desire, its alternating flights and crashes, in both private and political spaces ... In an extraordinary poem, 'Córdoba,' Corral reaches out toward his reflection in a mirror, but stops just before his fingertips meet.
The devastating and electrifying second book from Corral...features an imagined multivoiced narrative at the U.S.-Mexican border and its surrounding deserts. The speakers are desperate, thirsty, bleeding, their plights depicted with urgent, stream-of-consciousness fragments blending English and Spanish. Bleak circumstances are rendered hauntingly melodic ... Shot through with the dark realities of human tragedy, Corral’s latest is a virtuosic compendium of grief.