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Read an Excerpt from Christopher Soto’s Debut Collection ‘Sad Girl Poems’

Read an Excerpt from Christopher Soto’s Debut Collection ‘Sad Girl Poems’

Author: William Johnson

January 26, 2016

This month, Sibling Rivalry Press is releasing Sad Girl Poems, the debut chapbook from Nepantla editor Christopher Soto (aka Loma). Infused with rage, humanity, humor, and yes sadness, the collection is a lyrical testament to the resilience and struggle of young queer people of color.

From the Preface:

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the contextualization of POC sadness. My sadness is viewed in terms of everything surrounding it. My sadness is about domestic violence, homelessness, gender dysphoria, intergenerational trauma passed down from the Salvadorean Civil War, etc., ETC. My sadness is something to observe, consume, sympathize with BUT NOT EMPATHIZE WITH (not to mobilize for). Most people do not know how to interact with my sadness. My sadness is so multifaceted, it speaks twenty languages… I want people to act, I want people to mobilize around POC sadness. Don’t just feel bad about our stories, consume us, and spit us out… I don’t care if my stories make you feel bad about queer youth homelessness. I don’t care if you read my work and talk about it with your friends at brunch. That doesn’t matter. I want you to give your money to the Ali Forney Center and financially support queer homeless youth. I want you to donate your money to Black & Pink to support queer folks in prisons [….]




Say my body // isn’t a sequin dress—

_________________Isn’t a raw fish, being stripped of scales.

Say I’m not // a drunken disco ball

_________________In a lonely skating rink.

Or the deep wishing-well // the starfish fell


Say I’m the seagull // before its bad reputation.

_________________Say I’m the pigeon //

But not the pigeon-shit.

Say I’m the cassette tape

_________________Whose hair unwound // underwater—

Whose hair // you swim through.


The record player whose vinyl

Will never scratch.


_______________________________________________Call me by my birth name—

_______________________________________________Frida Kahlo.

_______________________________________________Call me by my birth name—

_______________________________________________Tuira Kayapó.

Remind me // how the sky was created.


_________________I split the sun, like yolk

__________________& let the day fall into me.


If our love is a trash bag

Please // don’t let it tear.


_______________________________________________You’re the reason I live.

_______________________________________________You pour my coffee black.

_______________________________________________You critique the dim glow, the mint-

_______________________________________________Blue hue of television screens.

_______________________________________________You stumbled into me

_______________________________________________[Again & again]


Like a child, discovering the word



_______________________________________________How dumb // we must have been—


_______________________________________________To hold each other so frailly.

_______________________________________________To hold anything at all—


The blue landscape of January days.

The taste of pan dulce—


The gummy smile of a teething child.

The pearl in an oysters’ mouth, round


__________________Like //


_______________________________________________My semen on your tongue.






A dove falls from the clouds, I name it Rory.

I wring its neck like a washcloth // then wipe

My face.


I want everything to have purpose—

The beak, the bones, the baby blue

Vodka veins.


_______________________________________________This is such a useless fucking poem.

_______________________________________________[He’s not coming back].


I grind his wings into glitter

& throw him into the air // like a child.


I grind his wings into ash

& throw him into the earth // like a casket.


_______________________________________________Part Two: Stop it. Stop writing about him


_______________________________________________Already. Fuck.


None of this is about Rory.

It’s all about me.


__________________The ocean cut its sky two sets of blue.

__________________A horizon bleeds at sunset.


_________________I’ve always wanted to put those lines in a poem

_________________Somewhere. They sound so tragic & beautiful.

_________________But they mean nothing to me— Rory.




                                                                A Villanelle


Waves taped to my face, I’m crying

_________________Then sucking dick for rent. When the

Police lights drift across me like rose petals.


Rory, I’m not sure how we got here.

_________________Two punk faggots, sleeping in the

Parking lot outside of Casino Morango. I’m crying


_________________Every time he plays the sad song in my

Mouth. [Smack these teeth like piano keys]. Watch

The Police lights drift across my windshield.


Rory, do you think we can outlive this?

[The sound of conch shells cracking].

_________________Waves taped to my face. I have


Five dollars left— if we go to the gas station

_________________How far away can you drive drunk?

Lights spinning across the pavement


& I piss on the great saguaro; with my

_________________Lips split open & wide owl eyes.

________________________[I’m broken like a wishbone].

Police lights call me “criminal.”


Myself When I’m Real,” “Ars Poetica,” and “Home” are from Sad Girl Poems, by Christopher Soto © 2016. All rights are controlled by the Christopher Soto. Used by permission.
William Johnson photo

About: William Johnson

William Johnson is the former Deputy Director of Lambda Literary.

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