The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Beast Meridian by Vanessa Angelica Villarreal


GULF PINES, or FINAL ASSIMILATION ROOM
after Frida Kahlo’s Wounded Deer

patient states: honeysuckle wraps its heated
bruise of bad news— a daughter bound by
trouble is a wilder grief manifested bodily
oilthick stars pour down their vines to
overwhelm the moldsprung house stormwater
sags the walls as the ghost spine blossoms
berries of rot in her daughter’s daughter’s brains
the girl doubledbled shares a heart with the
pines pulls the vein from the blade antlered
illness made creature punished into
deformity suspended mid-run an animal
body’s instinct is to survive pain and flee its
hunter the girl attached to the thrashing
creature is calm, nearly smiling another
another another of us in a hospital room^6

6 “When you talk to the parents of these juvenile offenders, you get the same old story: “Johnny stayed out late, he was moody, he skipped school … but, we figured he’d grow out of it.” They don’t. Recently, I found out about a family-oriented adolescent treatment program that’s getting through to these kids—and it’s often covered by health insurance. If you have a troubled teenager, don’t wait until he gets here, get help now.” Television commercial for HCA Gulf Pines Psychiatric Hospital. The speaker is an older white male judge putting on his robe in his quarters, surrounded by leather bound books.


This selection comes from the collection Beast Meridian, available from Noemi Press. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Jessica Rae Bergamino.

Vanessa Angélica Villarreal was born in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in PBS Newshour, Poor Claudia, Apogee, Waxwing, The Wanderer, Sporklet, DIAGRAM, The Feminist Wire, The Poetry Foundation Harriet Blog, and elsewhere. She has served as an editor for the Bettering American Poetry project and is a CantoMundo Fellow. Her book, Beast Meridian, is forthcoming from Noemi Press in 2017. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Poetry and Digital Media Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she eats tacos with her family, but her forever hometown is Houston, Texas.

Jessica Rae Bergamino is the author of UNMANNED, forthcoming from Noemi Press, as well as the chapbooks The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them (Sundress Publications), The Mermaid Singing (dancing girl press), and Blue in All Things: a Ghost Story (dancing girl press). Individual poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Third Coast, Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, and Southern Humanities Review. She is a doctoral student in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where she serves as Reviews Editor for Quarterly West.

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