We’ve been isolated from the girls
to learn our bodies. Our desks harder
than our hairless asses. They shudder
beneath us when Mr. Griffey fingers
the 16mm reel. He mumbles directions
to himself, orders Danny S. to pull
down the white screen. We swell
into concentration as grainy scenes
flicker past our heads. The projector’s
clatter surrounds us like criminals:
narrated cross-section of the testicles,
the animated penis a cruel reminder
of our fathers. Strange men we’ve seen
through cracked doors. Their nude
bodies a revelation, a portrait of manhood
larger than anything we could imagine.
Me & Z walking the block when a cop shoots
his spotlight in our eyes when 2 more police roll
up with guns & fear & get on the fuckin ground
I do but Z moves too slow & the sidewalk don’t budge
when they drive his face into it a cop fumbles
his cuffs lowers his gun says wait that’s not the guy
sorry amigo & they flee.
Elegy for Winter
All night the plows pummeled the streets
with salt and sidewalks disappeared
under snow. Folding chairs & milk crates
mark the exhumation sites of unburied
cars. Each block is a struggle. Bungalows
eclipsed by huddled three-flats. Trendy
lofts rise from hyperbolic potholes
large enough to swallow the entire city.
We will forget all this by spring
when the snow has returned to the sky
and the streets are bound with nothing
but tar. Now the gray
ice hangs like murder from the trees.
This looming we nearly mistake for beauty.
than a war amputee.
His limb not as fleshy ruin
but as fresh bouquet
of soft tissue, blasted with love
through desert air.
than a deserted semi-trailer
loaded with dead Mexicans.
How their mouths fall
open like little brown orchids
thirsty for a breath
of hot air.
than a Chi-town cop
who pummels a bartender
one-third his size.
See his fists not as mallets
but as opportunity, knocking
her body again, again.
than a white politician
who plays the erase card
when a black man speaks.
Like the weather,
gives us something
to look forward to.
than a poet who resists
on paper. Admire his nerve
to condemn from a safe
distance, where he can
keep his shoes
and his conscience
Poems from My Kill Adore Him, University of Notre Dame Press, 2009, Copyright by Paul Martinez Pompa.
This is an important book if we care about the lives of men, day-laborers, immigrants, factory workers, and those on the urban fringe who don’t get a fair shake. And this is an important book if we don’t. Paul Martínez Pompa knows how to write; these poems vividly evoke people and lives that urge us toward awareness and honesty and compassion. Poetry can do no better than this.” —Valerie Martinez, author of Each and Her and Absence, Luminescent
“Paul Martínez Pompa deconstructs with a deft sword. Straddling literary strategies, no supposition nor paradigm is safe. He slays the stereotypic dragons within as well as without, putting popular culture, elegy, nightmare, personal narrative, identity and gender politics in the same hat, and drawing from the source, Martínez Pompa plays a poetic hand for keeps. Every turn of trope is more delightful than the last—a breakaway collection from an exciting new writer.” —Lorna Dee Cervantes, author of Drive: The First Quartet
Pepper Spray: Momotombo Press, 2006
“Paul Martínez Pompa’s poems sizzle like Chicago on a sticky August night […] Paul’s longer poems are walking stories—some have wheels on them. His shorter ones are the quick punches of a young and talented boxer whose ring is the white blank page […] In Pepper Spray images conspire to wreck havoc on the brain. A lyrical train ride. Palabras mañosas y peligrosas. You can go through hundreds of contemporary poems written today and not find any crawling this terrain […] I’m talking about poems that are scarred, bloody, horny, hungry, and pissed. Don’t just read them once. Visit them several times. Some come at you sideways. When you least expect it. Sucker punching their way to existence. Can someone get beaten up by poems? I think I just have.” —Luis J. Rodríguez, author of Always Running and The Concrete River
“Paul Martinez Pompa’s Pepper Spray illustrates how overtly political poetry can be written without any reliance on stereotypical language or placard-isms; rather, Pompa precisely defines the world we far too often turn away from with satiric humor mixed with a polite but firm slap in the face.” —Robert Vasquez, author of At the Rainbow
The Wind Shifts, New Latino Poetry: edited by Francisco Aragon, The University of Arizona Press, 2007
“This is one of the most outstanding anthologies of recent American poetry I’ve read in a long time. Not a single weak voice in the book.” —Lorna Dee Cervantes, author of Drive: The First Quartet
“In the hour of extremes, long live theses brave wordsmiths of American letters. Hallowed be the poets when the news is diffused in the name of susto. Viva the citizens of truth. Hallelujah the devotees of language, the languished souls enamored of the syllable.” —Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
“As bombs fly across once-nations, once-human figures, once-sustained ecologies and stable polities, once-respected demarcations, whether in the Middle East, London airports, or on the Latin@ Page of Verse, all borders and once-bordered figures are now, by all means and purposes, ‘unidentifiable.’ Here, in Aragon’s diamond-eyed ‘expanded’ selections, in these opened-Americas, all we have to hold on to, if at all, the 25 poets seem to say, is a ‘singing’ in the vortex. Here, then, listen to its bolero, its velvet howl.” —Juan Felipe Herrera, author of Half of the World in Light
Telling Tongues, A Latino Anthology on Language Experience: edited by Louis Gerard Mendoza & Toni Nelson Herrera, Calaca Press/Red Salmon Press, 2007
In this book about language experiences the contributors express their sentiments about language usage among U.S. Latino/as. Language gets straight to the heart of how they see themselves and interact with the world; the writings are highly personal and political at the same time. With the seemingly cyclical waves of anti-immigrant bashing, including direct efforts to block the usage of languages other than English, Latin@s are regularly targeted and labeled as outsiders. The writers in Telling Tongues speak against the simplistic notions upon which these public debates rely, and demonstrate the complexities of life as manifested in language usage by Latino/as. These authors also make tangible the effects of efforts to impose monolingualism and make clear that language practices are not just political but really at the core of identity. Readers will appreciate the diversity of voices speaking from different geographies and cultural heritages that make up the mosaic of being U.S. Latino/as. —Luis G. Mendoza and Toni Nelson Herrera, editors of Telling Tongues
Steve Halle for Poets and Artists:
“[…] Martinez Pompa’s book is divided into four sections of poems with congruent themes: masculinity, Chicago, the experience of being a Mexican-American poet, and the exploitative politics of late capitalism. At the core of Martinez Pompa’s, My Kill Adore Him, however, is a hard-to-pinpoint poetic trait that undergirds all the above topics: ferocity. It is by way of this ferociousness that Martinez Pompa attempts to speak what other poets cannot or will not.” Read full review.
Barbara Jane Reyes for the Poetry Foundation:
“Chicago poet Paul Martínez Pompa kind of frightens me. […] My Kill Adore Him is an exciting and tough collection of very well-composed and accessible poems. It’s been a while since I tore through a book of poetry and really enjoyed the read, for all of its Hell yeah! and WTF and Oh no he didn’t! moments. Pretty dope.” Read full review.
Micah Ling for SUSS, another literary journal:
“These poems are careful and tight. Martinez Pompa gives entire worlds in 16 lines or less. He gets in and out just that fast. He makes you feel chest-heavy sadness, nostalgia, arousal, and fear. He takes your hand and shows you characters: some you know and some you don’t want to know; some are you. These poems are beautiful and raking all at once. […] But these poems are rebellious and sarcastic, too. They’re funny the way John Stewart is funny: because you know he’s right.” Read full review.
CJ Laity for ChicagoPoetry.com:
“[…] This poet does not dick around. Don’t be surprised when he confesses some dark secret with the subtlety of describing what he ate for breakfast; and don’t be surprised when you have to admit to yourself that, perhaps, you have that secret too. […] While reading My Kill Adore Him it is wise to be alert and be on guard because the author’s wit is as quick as a bullet.” Read full review.
Paul Martínez Pompa began his formal education at the College of Lake County, a community college in suburban Chicago. He then transferred to the University of Chicago, where he earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature. He was awarded a Dean’s Minority Fellowship at Indiana University, where he earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and served as a poetry editor for Indiana Review. His chapbook, Pepper Spray, was published by Momotombo Press in 2006. In 2007, his poetry and prose appeared in two anthologies: The Wind Shifts, New Latino Poetry and Telling Tongues, A Latin@ Anthology on Language Experience. His first, full-length collection of poetry, My Kill Adore Him, was selected by Martín Espada as winner of the 2008 Andres Montoya Poetry Prize and was published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2009. He now lives in Chicago and teaches composition, poetry and creative writing at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois.
Contact: to contact Paul Martínez Pompa, please email firstname.lastname@example.org