Marcos Villatoro

The cutters of the world cannot explain
what set it off this time. It just makes sense,
a ritual born

of tedious Abuse. The Mayans cut themselves
then ran into the crops, where they danced and whirled;
a thousand men

with obsidian knives, slit their arms
and thighs and spun and coated corn
for the gods to lick

and bless with sacred spit. I have a soul,
an impacted tooth, from head to toe.
If I don't cut,

it will. If it erupts and shreds this skin
from the inside, the Tedium will win.
A steak knife's

serrated edge; rototiller blades
through a crop of sweat glands. I am Christ
in Gethsemane,

without the nobility. I notch skin
when the season needs a good, clean bleed,
and suck

the earth's foul air and glory in the stench.
I praise Pain Almighty and its rush
of clarity,

of sincerity, such a living thing
in this hull that's crammed with the mischief of kin.
I can explain.

Marcos Villatoro is the author of several novels, two collections of poetry and a memoir. His Romilia Chacón crime fiction series has been translated into Japanese, German, Portuguese and Russian. He has written and performed essays on PBS and NPR. His latest work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. After living several years in Central America, Marcos moved to Los Angeles, where he teaches literature at Mount St. Mary's University.

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