Meet Griselda Castillo!

Photo credit: Lucia Palmarini

Griselda J. Castillo is a bilingual poet and creative nonfiction writer from Laredo, Texas. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, a first-generation American and explores her bicultural identity through poems and stories. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Ocotillo Review, Sparkle + Blink, and Chachalaca Review. She also performs her poetry as part of Five Voices One Brush, an improvisational art and jazz collective. Griselda lives and works in Austin. This year, she received the 2018 NACCS Tejas Foco Premio Best Poetry Book award for her book, Blood & Piloncillo. 
Contraband Virgen
put your lentes on
so you can see me better

your monita de oro
little golden doll
of your dreams

sacame del shop
and hide me
in your black bolsa palanquin

carry me across
the empty botellas lining
riverbanks like shiny cascaras

mira como los glass husks
reflect paloma/doves
courting one another

grip your hand
around my dark body
y no te asustes

it is spring
and as long as
I am with you
no estas sola

siente mi energia
as we make it through
Customs

y luego comprame
rosas de ofrenda
and i’ll hold vigil
from the cama

little golden doll
of your dreams
Vampiros
we were itching
thirsting for blood
for that sweet red nectar
served in a martini glass
with a chile pequin dusted rim

a warm sunset spread
over the Rio Grande
as we drove toward the bridge

we gave shiny
american quarters to
children at low streetlights
paid the toll for the magic
of those sweet and spicy drinks

and sped past Paseo Cristobal
past maquiladoras and quadras
that went on for miles
six foot cinder block fences
metal storefronts and neon signs
until we reached the bar
and ordered 2 drinks each
in martini glasses with
chile dusted rims

we savored those vampiros
slinking down our throats
how they lubricated
every dark star we encountered
our pulses drowned
out the music as we raised
our glasses to the night
for giving us blood

blood-drunk we latched
on to people fighting over debts
and when the rent was due
smacked mosquitoes
into our necks realizing
that even in Mexico we felt
the pricks of life’s tiny teeth

saw how we are all
vampires turning into
adults paling at the responsibilities
that come with the dawn

it was clear
as we drove back across
the bridge to Laredo
that soon the english necessary
to get us over the border
would not be enough
to slake our growing
blood lust

we’d have to look beyond
the river for remedies
and hook onto heartbeats
for answers

back home cool bed sheets
waited for my neck
and collar bones to rest
for my eyes to sleep
provided a temporary cure
for the itch
but i know now
what i always knew then

I will
always be
itchy

I will
always be
thirsty
On the train from Seattle
pines and rivers outline
your granite insides
like a map

we cut through
cold mountains
and streams of emerald seas

until you yawn
and they drain
into a mouth cave

waters recede
for herons to hunt
crustaceans along
the coastline of your
muddy heart

will they find
limbs in the evergreens
or extract old bones
from moss and mushrooms
will i ever smell
the rich black earth
you have for blood

the osprey of the mind
bring details as morsels
but only fill me with

the mystery of a blue spruce
dripping beneath muted lighting
in august as you say

don’t leave any matches
out here
it will probably rain
again
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