They call the mountain Carlos because
it is brown, although its purple slopes
at dusk suggest other names.
-Ray Gonzalez

Papi, grapefruit, anchor—every
week Carlos come with gifts
in his dirty white sedan.

He text from unknown
numbers. Some weeks tall
other weeks not. Carlos

bury mice in the woods
goes careful with their
brittle tails. Carlos dig

holes the size of his fist—
Daddy to the land also.
Brown mud, the rocks the river soften

and the river also. Rock
also. Boot crunch. River
of ice the bridge cross

and the bridge also.
Kind of togetherness
we make w/ desire

to lose our voice
to the river. Hum

to the edge where listening
is no longer possible—
go beyond it.



Oliver Baez Bendorf is a Trans, queer, Latinx writer/educator from Iowa. His first book, The Spectral Wilderness (Kent State U., 2015), won the Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. In 2016, he read his poems at The White House for the Trans Community Briefing. He is the recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo, Lambda Literary, Vermont Studio Center, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his MFA. His work has been translated into Russian and can be found in recent and forthcoming issues of American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Poem-a-Day, Third Coast, West Branch, and elsewhere. He is currently the 2017-2018 Halls Emerging Artist Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Starting in the fall of 2018, he will be teaching poetry at Kalamazoo College in Michigan as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing.