cover image To the Boy Who Was Night

To the Boy Who Was Night

Rigoberto González. Four Way, $17.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-954245-52-5

This dazzling collection features selections from Gonzalez’s poetry over the past quarter century alongside new work that expands on his themes of sex and masculinity, death and the afterlife, and the experiences of migrants. Early poems underscore Gonzalez’s fascination with processes used to dehumanize others. In “Perla at the Mexican Border Assembly Line of Dolls,” Gonzalez imagines a factory worker facing products of mechanized cruelty: “she was appalled by how strands of hair/ are jabbed in with pink hooks, how noses and ears/ are pinched out, and with what brute force/ the mouth hole is ice-picked through.” Later poems catalog artifacts from the lives of migrants, as in the poem “The Bordercrosser’s Pillowbook,” which inventories “things that shine in the night” including “the stones in my kidneys/ an earring/ a tear on the cheek/ the forked paths of a zipper/ the blade of the pocketknife triggering open.” Gonzalez’s relationship to his sexuality evolves over these poems, past early struggles—“Our first night together I watched him sleep so peacefully I could have slit his throat”—to coming to terms with the memory of an abusive father and growing old without children. The result is a moving and complex vision that captures the beauty of a life emerging from violence. (Apr.)