Pulling the Moon

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

I’ve never made love to a man.
I’ve never made love to a man but I imagine.


          I imagine pulling the moon.
          I imagine pulling the moon out of his brow.


Pulling the moon out of his brow and eating it again.


          Eating and pulling his hair in silence.
A kind of silence when the moon goes out.


When the moon goes back and forth between us.


A kind of silence lit for only a moment.
Seeing for a moment through the eyes of the horse.


          Through the eyes of the dead horse
          that burns slower than my hair.


My hair that burns the moon off.
My hair with a hand inside it.

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Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist, translator and Canto Mundo Fellow born in Tepechitlan Zacatecas, México. He studied at Sacramento State University as an AB 540 student and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. He is the winner of the 6th annual Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize from Northwestern University Press, and his memoir is forthcoming from HarperCollins Publishers. He cofounded the Undocupoets campaign, which successfully eliminated citizenship requirements from all major first book poetry prizes in the country, and was recognized with the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers award from Poets & Writers. He has been featured in the New York Times, BuzzFeed, Fusion TV, PBS NewsHour, and his poems have appeared in New England Review, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, and Southern Humanities Review, among others. He lives in California.

In this highly lyrical, imagistic debut, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo creates a nuanced narrative of life before, during, and after crossing the US/Mexico border. These poems explore the emotional fallout of immigration, the illusion of the American dream via the fallacy of the nuclear family, the latent anxieties of living in a queer brown undocumented body within a heteronormative marriage, and the ongoing search for belonging. Finding solace in the resignation to sheer possibility, these poems challenge us to question the potential ways in which two people can interact, love, give birth, and mourn—sometimes all at once.

“Castillo resists resignation to silence; his poems embody a belief in art’s transformative ability. Lush musicality renders agricultural labor, corporeal punishment, and romantic difficulties beautiful. Forged in Keatsian negative capability, Castillo’s poetics often involve finding the description that will lift the painful or unjust into music.”
— Publishers Weekly

“I know this book changed me. The book itself knows change, how to change itself, knows so well how transformation—vast essential change which would seem to oppose a self—brings a person ever closer to their truth.”
— Brenda Shaughnessy, from the Foreword

“In the spirit of Whitman, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo slips in silently to lie down between the bridegroom and the bride, to inhabit many bodies and many souls, between rapture and grief. These are poems that open borders both personal and political, a map of silences and celebrations. ‘You called it cutting apart / I called it song.’”
— D. A. Powell

“In this exquisite debut collection, longing twins with inheritance to consider the interiority of nationhood and the legacy of masculinity and exile. Castillo’s finely-honed poems celebrate and reveal the contours of physical and historical intimacies, a feast for the eyes and heart.”
— Carmen Giménez Smith

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