The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Now in Color by Jacqueline Balderrama

This selection, chosen by guest curator Sarah Clark, is from Now in Color by Jacqueline Balderrama, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 

Mexico as Mexico, 1914

Mexican soldiers of the Revolución play their shades
through Hollywood cameras—gray, charcoal, ash, slate—

for The Life of General Villa, except the bullets are real
and there’s nothing special about effects.

Battles set during daylight mean you can see
when a man falls, the orchestra moves on without him.

In one recovered reel, a rag threads through
the shrapnel hole in someone’s leg.

In others, the backstory filmed in California
where a young Villa rears a trick horse

spinning the way it will in Birth of a Nation.
The rest melts to silver drops.

But you’re asking for one quarter of my blood,
and for a footfall on the southern border—

before my father was born and my grandfather too,
before his father worked in the shipyards and in the orchards—

and for someone who looks like me but isn’t.
You must rewind to this place to know

it was post The Outlaw’s Revenge,
post the raid on Columbus, New Mexico, 1916

when the original footage was recast
as hero-turned-bandit.

And somewhere between here and Satevó,
my ancestors escape the way steam rises from fire.

Jacqueline Balderrama is the author of Now in Color (Perugia Press, 2020) and the chapbook Nectar and Small (Finishing Line Press, 2019). She serves as a poetry editor for Iron City Magazine and has been involved in the Letras Latinas literary initiative, the ASU Prison Education Program, and the Wasatch Writers in the Schools. Currently, she’s a Virginia G. Piper Fellow-in-Residence and Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Sarah Clark is a disabled non-binary Native (Nanticoke) editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief of beestung, Editor-in-Chief at ANMLY, Co-Editor at Bettering American Poetry, a Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology, and a member of Sundress Press’s Board of Directors.


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