August 4, 2017
Right out of the gate, Vickie Vértiz’s Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut is getting big attention, just this week landing a spot in Library Journal‘s fall poetry feature Poetry Beyond the Basics: Twelve New Collections Offer Fresh Perspective on the Human Experience.
“Come closer, chula / There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.” These beckoning lines, ending a poem set on a city bus, capture the intimacy and disturbing undercurrent that typify Vértiz’s fine second collection (after Swallows). Vértiz portrays her Los Angeles neighborhood with verve and what might be described as fond anger. We see poverty (“the death stench in our water in our jobs”) and fractured families. In one poem, “Dad’s paychecks couldn’t feed two houses,” which explains why the pet rabbits end up as soup, and elsewhere a postcard from pops says, “I wish you were here, mija / Come on, don’t get all feelings on me / I may be drunk / But at least I’m home.” The uncle delivering an unexpected kiss, teenagers in tight black jeans, the “pleyboy” boyfriend who proved “a hard climb / A home to mispronounce” (“Fuck that, said my brother, There’s other fools to love”), a mother and brother signifying “ten thousand truck miles (“Why won’t / their coughs go away?”)—these make up a chamber opera that Vértiz vivifies with jangle and sparkle.
Read the full feature on Library Journal.