NEA Literature Fellowships

Jesús Castillo

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(2017 - Poetry)

from "Remains"

If it won’t fit into words, we resort to song. Trying to
finish the cigarette slowly, hoping the bus won’t arrive
on schedule. The trees are ashake with time.
Because the canopy blocks most of the sky, the street
corner feels like a living room. White lamps hang
from the lower branches. The cold of early spring
suddenly occupies our timeline. If it won’t stay,
we claw at it, hoping something will linger. Behind
every stranger’s face is this weary hope. I want to say,
“Look up.” Or for the falling twigs to start emitting
notes upon impact. If things won’t sparkle, retrain the eye.

(first appeared in McSweeny's, 2016)

Jesús Castillo was born in Ciudad Valles, México, in 1986, and moved with his parents and sister to California in 1998. His first book, a long serial poem titled Remains, was published by McSweeney’s in 2016. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from UC San Diego, and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa. He currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Photo by Denise Vermeulen

Author's Statement

I appreciate this fellowship immensely. It means that I’ll be free from the pressures of paid work for a while, and will be able to focus my time and energy more fully on the task of writing.