Willy Palomo


Definition: a form of outercourse practiced by devout Mormons in a failed attempt to keep the law of chastity

The name suggests a singles’ ward dance move, an awkward pivot
without pirouette or pudenda, where white girls wobble a quadruple

combo’s distance from stiff, left-footed elders to Ludacris songs
edited into oblivion. Everyone’s voices shrill and plastic as a bug-eyed

Gidget, the late primadonna Chihuahua, who lost her life to a stroke—
Rest in Peace—but not before intoxicating Americans

with déclassé Mexican delicacies, teaching missionaries how to trill
like they got a mouthful of jalapeños, practicing Spanish like the long-lost

language of the Lamanites while they brag about mission calls to Peru.
Or perhaps the name suggests the leg-split legacy of motherhood, the hours

heaving and huffing, fathers and midwives chanting in unison
as red-nosed child after red-nosed child pops out between knees

like small clowns OD’d on gospel and ecstasy. But no, no child
will come of this pull and push of pelvis, this delicate prayer

you and I sob hot between our thighs, unanswered. If Christ
comes tomorrow morning to answer our prayers, holding a can

of oil and a single match to set the flame, we could look Him
in the eye and be grateful we didn’t commit, we did nothing

we couldn’t admit in front of a halo of angels as we burned,
baptized in fire, celestial and white. 




Give me ten more years and enough lungs to swallow all the smoke
in California. With a pocketknife and an old shirt, I can cut us a flag,

Christopher Columbus a sandcastle and tell the world to BYOB. Call me
18-years-of-hookie-and-yo-mama’s-drugs. I’m not afraid to crash

at your crib. I’m still singing along to my mobile, blasting Drake
and watching airplanes rattle like firecrackers across the sky.

I still like to shake anything I can get my hands on.
You can call them withdrawals. I’m so anxious to burn

and hit the sky body-rocking like a bottle rocket.
I have memories of asses so soft your hands would melt

into them like butter, a woman whose brown fingers
could keep an icicle hard in heat. I still feel her breath

all over me like sand and sunburn. If you put your ear against
one of her breasts, you would hear the Pacific Ocean moan.

No amount of PBR could wash these days away.
A friend who asked me how I could down a pack a night

couldn’t understand the adrenaline of almost drowning.
Have you ever swallowed mouthfuls of the Pacific Ocean?

I don’t have any other name for it but home.

Willy Palomo learned poetry from the worlds of hip-hop and slam. In 2016, he was named the runner-up Latin@ Scholar at the Frost Place Conference on Poetry. He is currently working on his MFA in poetry and MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Indiana University, where he teaches Intro to Creative Writing and the Poetics of Rap. He runs the Bloomington Poetry Slam and writes books reviews for Muzzle Magazine. His work can be found online on Vinyl, Acentos Review, HeArt Online, and elsewhere.

Mark Cugini