Three Poems by Adrian T. Quintanar

Adrian T. Quintanar

Adrian T. Quintanar

Adrian T. Quintanar is a poet and editor from Pomona, California who received an MFA in Poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Adrian's work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Quarterly West, Denver Quarterly, Red Noise Collective, and others.



I can still see black garbage bags
fat with denim and threadbare t-shirts,
gray as the ‘89 Escort’s bumper.
3:32 AM on the clock, pixels blurry red.
Tear ducts caked in slumber. We load
the car, dreamhounds lumbering,
before he comes back from weekend
clockwork: shots of tequila, telephone
mute with the promise of a call, crimped
pilsner cans, vanilla and ethanol aroma
whiffed on sticky clavicles, the purple
rusting his neck. Elsewhere, the bones
and gristle of this man is grooved in
barstools. Left side mattress: a rind he
molts come Friday. When I careen to bed
you joke I learned to dance this way. Like him.





Somewhere, there is a town with its throat palmed
by agave reaching skyward, before ribbons
of roads bounded people, where water is scant
and jobs are few, so too the homes;
held mostly by the sons of dead gold seekers.
There, in fields where braceros harvest walnuts
& oranges, dreaming of sweat cooled by the grace
of black oak trees, and thrashers haloing above.
The endless sun dusts up a mirage, a gift of water
spilled from the moon’s rim haunting the tides.
There, honey mesquite spread their crowns low
quenching the hunger of peccary and squirrel.
Perhaps in some other world ships never crossed
and their horses never trotted over hills into villages,
or the marauders never took to the arts of ambush.
Still, they took to the earth with machine and beasts.
Onward, a puma crosses into town peckish for the raw
mineral pilfered from dirt. Gold blacker than a dead star.





As for the slight shadow, golden on your mouth
in a way that creases your eyes deep in thought,
keeping your focus on the table as you ponder
the scrambled eggs and black beans, having cooled
and been poked at, on your plate. The garlic taste
with pork fat tethered to tongue like the shake
of maracas to the cumbia beat waking roosters.
You recount a tale of downpour and those who
lord storms, a folktale to some, but the land’s truth
spoken from the village. Its progeny bred from maize
scorched by sol. Of the clay-earth, of the mountain,
ongoing sky and cloud, of the rain whenever it does
come falling earthward. So too the brood of feeding
hummingbirds, in wait for first flight. You chase passing
details in the translucence of chamomile tea steeped
in a glass mug reflecting the room. Mostly longing
set in your gaze. A near death itself. The disrepair
of soil and chayote, corn stalks. Not drought
nor season, but pesticide and monocrop. You offer
fresh cut pápalo, epazote from the garden. A gift,
you say, for listening. I press them to my nose
and heed the scent of wet pueblo. Perfume the likes
of cloudburst. A smell many journeys beyond my own.