Author Archives: Jessica Helen Lopez

About Jessica Helen Lopez

Author Bio - Jessica Helen Lopez is the City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate, Emeritus and the Poet-In-Residence for the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History from 2014 - 2016. She has also been a featured writer for 30 Poets in their 30’s by MUZZLE and named one of the “10 Up and Coming Lantinx Poets You Need to Know” by international digital publisher and agency, Remezcla. Lopez is a nationally recognized award-winning slam poet, and holds the title of 2012 and 2014 Women of the World City of ABQ Champion. She is a member of the Macondo Foundation. Founded by Sandra Cisneros, it is an association of socially engaged writers united to advance creativity, foster generosity, and honor community. Her first collection of poetry, Always Messing with Them Boys (West End Press, 2011) made the Southwest Book of the Year reading list and was also awarded the Zia Book Award presented by NM Women Press. Her second collection of radical feminist poetry, Cunt. Bomb. is published by Swimming with Elephants Publication (2014). Her third collection, The Language of Bleeding: Poems for the International Poetry Festival, Nicaragua (SWEP) is a limited release in honor of her ambassadorial visit to Granada, Nicaragua. A Puschcart Prize nominee, she is the founder of La Palabra – The Word is a Woman collective created for and by women and gender-identified women. Lopez is a Ted Talk speaker alumni and her talk is titled, Spoken Word Poetry that Tells HERstory. A featured poet on PBS Colores!, you may find some of Lopez’s work at these sites – thebakerypoetry.com, newmexicomercury.com, and asusjournal.org, drunkinamidnightchoir.org., Suspect Press, Somos Enscriot Latino Literary Journal, Casita Grande Press, etc. Her work has been anthologized in A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Slam Scene (UNM Press), Earth Ships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection (NM Book Award Finalist she was also a co-editor), Tandem Lit Slam (San Francisco), Adobe Walls, Malpais Review, SLAB Literary Magazine, Courage Anthology: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls (Write Bloody Press) and Learn then Burn: A Modern Poetry Anthology for the Classroom, second ed. (Write Bloody Press). Lopez was the Volunteer Coordinator and planning member for the Poetry Slam Incorporated (PSi) 2015 Women of the World National Poetry Slam Tournament hosted in Albuquerque. An Adjunct Instructor for UNM Chican@ Studies Department and Institute of American Indian Arts, she is also a book reviewer for World Literature Today Magazine. Additionally, Lopez is a Chautauqua Scholar with the New Mexico Humanities Council.

Or Flight

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Remove your shoes and leave them by the door to his home. You will not be allowed to stay long. Tread paper thin as ghost. Watch as muscles stretch into smile. Remember not to take this act as truth. Eat only what he gives and nothing more. His food is brittle. It is Autumn’s dead leaves – beautiful but startlingly empty of life. He will offer you a chair, a grackle, a shot of vodka. Together you will reminisce about the womb you once shared, your penchant for the drink, that one time you both rode in a limo as sleek and black as bottom feeder. The city lights had bounced and shimmered their reflection from all that tinted glass. The mirror image of your smiles almost too good to be a lie. Keep one eye on the clock, the other on the ashtray. The smoke will soon choke the room. The smoke will soon wrap clinging fingers

about your neck and rattle your carriage. The smoke will soon have its way with you. Do not forget about your shoes at the doorway. An impending getaway is close. His teeth are sloppy. His eyes too shiny. He spits more than he speaks. It is a cruelty you still marvel at to this day.

It is your father’s favorite knife handed down as heirloom. A dangerous and glittering bloodletting in your back. You are solitary witness to this disassembling. The music is banging again. It clangs its way into your ears and down your throat. A garbled elixir. He rambles on about his own desires and sycophantic Continue reading

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Four Poems – Jessica Helen Lopez

Ruíz, Antonio. El sueño de la Malinche (1939)

Ruíz, Antonio. El sueño de la Malinche (1939)

When Depression and Marriage Happen

blame it on the sad summer air & the pale yellow
light of late afternoon when the bees swath the
lavender bush & the buzzing drives me mad

i have nothing left to prepare in the kitchen or clean
in the mud room & so I busy myself with the hatred of
you & me & the undeserved life we share

we exchange paltry kisses upon your arrival
our lips feign the ooh & ahh of our reunion
there is real kindness there but i never let it in

	in 1978 i was born a wild ram
	zodiac symbol for aggression
	& stubborn to a damned fault

	a squall of amniotic fluid & clenched
	limbs grey-skinned like the dead
i was cut lengthwise from my mother’s gut 

you know now i was never born at all

blame it on the stillborn air of today’s fever
the mid-June monsoon that flirts but never delivers
the rusted branches of the Chinese Pistache that do not bud

our front yard looks like our first year of marriage
pristine & proper in all the right places
a cozy patch of dirt

	in 1983 i entered school a tamed dove
	pigtails wound in yarn & cheap plastic
	shoes adorned my long eager feet

	i let him touch me between the legs
	at least five times and told no one
	not even the soft-hearted teacher whom I loved

	i remember laughing & swatting his hand
	playing keep away across the heat of the black
	tarred playground & my legs melted mid-run 

you know now i was wicked but didn’t mean to be
you know now i never knew the language of no
 Continue reading