For National Poetry Month: "Live Rust," "Peel Off the Scabs"

Live Rust

In the clearing I stand,
a boxer! Putting all your shit
in boxes, dragging the boxes
to this stupid clearing.

A man walks into his forties.
Says, You lost me at “hello.”
I’m tying balloon animals.
Here you go. That’s a rooster.

To burn out or to fade away?
I’m keeping my options open.
I’m looking for option C.
I’m boning up on Coptic.

I’m scrolling past the Dead Sea,
talking to Christ on the road
from Kiss My Ass to Damascus.
I kick my prick. I refute it thus.

Be tawdry for me, thou.
Be like unto Sierra Mist
when it opens in the first
cold of spring. Be a Chippewa.

According to the oral history,
outside the Tastee Freez
you sucked on a chili dog
with your head between your knees.

The United States of Fuck You Too
is what you’re about to receive.
You can shoot all the kids you like,
but you can never leave.

The mind is a terrible thing.
That outboard motor.
The tedium is the message.
The chimp signs hugs in his enclosure.

Is this Mick Jagger which I see before me?
Come, let me clutch thee.
I consider the lilies beneath me.
I tell the Magdalene not to touch me.

I tell the miniature schnauzer not to swarm.
I tell my willy it’s getting warm.
I tell the content to fuck the form. 


Peel Off the Scabs

Peel off the scabs! Unscrew
the daughters themselves from their jambs!
God became a man,
surely I can do the same.

I don’t know wrong from light.
I can’t tell my bright from left.
I really must be going.
I must be going soft.

I and I am I because I know
I wanna be your little dog.
Don’t spit me out. Just swallow me.
I’ll be your burning synagogue.

O Captain! my Tennille! the Eagles
will come and pull out his eyes.
Jesus coming back, they say,
and we’ll all shout Surprise!

Is it any wonder I’ve got
too much blood on my hands? The calls
are coming from inside the house.
I’m sick of my insane demands. 


Michael Robbins is the author of Alien vs. Predator (Penguin, 2012) and The Second Sex (Penguin, 2014). His poems have appeared in The New YorkerPoetryHarper’sBoston Review, and elsewhere.



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Open to any author writing in English about the Chicanx/Latinx experience, the Rivera Book Prize is committed to the discovery and fostering of extraordinary writing by a first-time or early career author whose work examines the long and varied contributions of Chicanx/Latinx in the US. The Rivera Book Prize aims to provide a platform that showcases the emerging literary talent of the Chicanx/Latinx community, to cultivate the next generation of Chicanx/Latinx writers, and to continue the rich literary memory of Tomás Rivera, Chicano author, poet, activist, and educator.

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Eligibility: All previously unpublished works in prose written primarily in English focused on the Chicanx/Latinx experience in the United States.