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could ask the stars, Those flickers that visit nightly, They would tell you it wasn’t them Who carved us from mud To marvel at our opposable thumbs. It wasn’t them who forfeited God For a watch that didn’t work anyway. It wasn’t them who sometimes denied Us the living mirror we named love. And still you look to them For stories, for riddles, for answers That they never possessed. I’m not saying I’m better than you, Far from it, if you find me here Erecting the same elements With these meager tools, Wanting even now to give them life, That they may look upon me with mercy. I’ve been a prophet. I’ve been a fool.
“I wrote ‘Mercy’ in the summer of 2021 while thinking
about some of the common tropes in poetry, including references to celestial
objects, and thinking of my early childhood in a rural, almost-no-electricity
village in Mexico with its jaw-droppingly gorgeous night sky. I was intrigued
by the interplay between the self-aware speaker and the beguiling beauty and
metaphorical power of these distant, unreachable sources of light.”—José
José Antonio Rodríguez is a queer, Chicano writer and the
author of This American Autopsy: Poems (University of Oklahoma
Press, 2019), among other collections. An associate professor, he lives in