Aubade at the City of Change

Aldo Amparán

In this city,each door I crossin search of your roomgrows darkerthan the sky, this silverdome of morning spreadacross the urban smog.Country dark washes the citylight off the outskirts& beyondwhere you sleep in hiding,where your facewrapped in gauzeshines like sequinin the lingering moon-drizzle.I reach for youat the corners of the clubs,inside motel rooms,where rent boys tumbleperspired bedsheets,doubling you, your malenessdischarged,your hip bones stickingto my thighs, hardstubble of your legsscratching. The night I followeda strange road, lookingto forget all this, starlightspooled the gravel ribbonleading back to the citybehind me, backto the hospital roomwhere I last saw you—tonight, I'll reston this road. I'll look backto the city of changewhere one yeartwo skyscrapers lifted, a parkshed treesfor new thoroughfares,& an old cinemaerupted to rebuild itselfin its place. I'll stayon the pavement,suspended in timelike the broken sign announcingYou are entering ___ , (a namechanged two years ago),& I'll wonderif the hot breezeblowing the napeof my neckis your unchangedbreath rising like candlesmoke from the city.

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Headshot of Aldo Amparán

Aldo Amparán is a poet, writer, & translator born & raised in the border cities of El Paso, TX, USA, & Ciudad Juárez, CH, MX. They are the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts & CantoMundo. Their work has been widely published in anthologies and literary journals including AGNI, Best New Poets, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review Online, Ploughshares, Poetry Magazine, & elsewhere. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso.

"This book is a beautiful haunting. Formally inventive and alive, Aldo Amparán’s first collection Brother Sleep is essential reading for anyone who’s ever made it through night. The poems again and again seek definition for what can never be defined, living in the liminal space between the poet and memory. Amparán gifts us with a clear and important voice in this queer reckoning with landscape, desire, illness, and touch.”
—sam sax

Brother Sleep declares war on the people, places, and words that stand against the powers of reconnection and re-creation by calling out the truth of their love for family, of their queer identity, and of the terror and violence against the bodies and minds of gay men. In their arsenal, Amparán wields memory, pain, and love, but not from the ubiquitous emotional landscape. Instead, they draw upon the ancient tradition of mourning loss through oratory, by sharing in poems that separate us from each other and bind us together.”
—Mikal Wix, West Trade Review

"The poems in Brother Sleep, Aldo Amparán’s debut collection, slink and stagger across the page as they explore homoeroticism and the speaker’s painful estrangement from a deceased brother... [Amparán manages] moments of gentler sensuality by combining exquisite imagery, expertly crafted consonance, and subtle syllabics."
—Diego Baéz, Harriet Books

“Aldo Amparán’s Brother Sleep is a deep meditation on the loss of a brother, queer love, and surviving violent homophobia on the U.S.-Mexico border. Set in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and El Paso, Texas the two cities hold the people that populate these poems like a bedroom where all you can do is sleep. Here people are stuck in the nonlinear world of dreams, pain, and mourning. Here people long for and find affection amidst unspeakable violence. Amparán’s vision of the border is stunning, beautifully crafted, and gut-wrenching. One of the most exciting young voices in fronterizx literature writing today.”
—Natalie Scenters-Zapico

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