by José Angel Araguz

To hear my aunt tell it:
a flash of lightning struck
and stuck firm on the highway,
somewhere between Matamoros
and Corpus Christi, and before
she could know to stop,
she drove past Our Lady
of Guadalupe as she
would’ve any hitchhiker,
signpost, or mesquite.
This is the gist of it.
What I never get right
when I set myself down
to fix the lightning
by which she saw what
she’d never call a vision,
is how she speaks of it
as if it were a robbery,
with the suspicious
and lamentful tone
of one convinced
something is missing
from her life.

by José Angel Araguz

Asked the word
in English, I spoke,
and the other boys
didn’t like the sound

and I agreed,
not knowing why,
and see now
this other word
had more in it

of the glass clack
and clatter of
those afternoons
where questions
and laughter rose

from the dirt
we kneeled on
into the sky
where any bird
might have

looked down
mid-flight and seen
a formation of boys
shoot beads of light
between them.

by José Angel Araguz

As his eyes follow each beat across each heart monitor,

            each flinch on the face of a man

                         going eighty on the freeway

            when his cigarette drops,

Death—gentleman who dog-eared the eyes of my father

            as he died in prison

                         and stuffed what he would have said to me

            down into dark pockets—

slips blank pages throughout the stories I write,

            and leaves black spots where I would remember,
                         where I falter after

            what the rude word might be

                         that leaves the night done,

            makes the birds fall.


José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and winner of Rhino
’s 2015 Editor’s Prize.  His poems have recently appeared in
Prairie Schooner, Borderlands, and The Laurel Review.  He is
pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University
of Cincinnati and is the author of
Reasons (not) to Dance, a
chapbook of microcuento-style short prose.

On “Our Lady”:
The vision in this poem really happened; I remember my aunt
coming home from a trip to Mexico visibly shaken.  I was raised
by only my mother and aunt, with my aunt being the hard-nosed
disciplinarian.  To see her shook up was something new.  One
detail that lives around the poem but didn’t make it in is that
she quit heavy drinking for a while after this incident.

On “Canicas”:
I fear being one of the last generations to play with marbles.  
This isn’t a statement of nostalgia or one bemoaning how times
change.  I mean simply in terms of the reference of the game
and the scene.  These days, birds fly over our cell phone screens
without us noticing.

On “Gentleman”:
My father’s death and absence from my life keeps coming up on
the page.  It is both a talisman that makes me grateful for each
day I live as well as a source of wonder and perseverance.  Since
poems, via white space whether stanza breaks or paragraphs,
engage and subsist on the unspoken, it is only natural for this
conversation between us to continue.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 10, Number 2
(Fall 2015)

Copyright © 2015
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.