A native of Los Angeles and a first-generation Costa Rican American, Ruben Quesada’s debut collection of poetry is titled Next Extinct Mammal (Greenhouse Review Press, 2011). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside and he is a PhD candidate in English at Texas Tech University where he teaches English and creative writing. He also curates Codex Journal, a quarterly journal of poetry & poetics. Quesada’s poetry and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Rattle, Stand Magazine, Southern California Review, and Third Coast. His awards include residencies from the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Lambda Literary Foundation Retreat, Vermont Studio Center, Santa Fe Art Institute, and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.


Three poems from Next Extinct Mammal:

My First Sight of St. Louis

Hyperbolic cosine, a sickle rising
up against the Mississippi River,
its widening reflection exposes pods
of fiery clouds: dolphins sinking past
the alpenglow of tomorrow and tomorrow.
An overflow of arable plains, turbid skies,
backwash of homes, ebbing sea grass
meadows of river birch rising en masse;
tangerine leaves among stained-glass
throngs of silver leaves in waves, winged-bean
green epiphany of skyline behind polished steel.



From my bedroom window, driving
through town, everywhere I sit,
the blue like Picasso’s player
swells overhead, blue behind strings
of clouds which lengthen
like loose ligaments into the horizon.
Every day,
                  you should breathe in deeply
for the fireflies and the crickets; watch
the constellations of moths choke
on the glowing street lamps and the yawning
cockroaches before the sun flushes away.



Too much time has passed,
and I’ve almost lost this freight
of memories, that dawning
of light over bluestem grass
prairies, the large-flowered
beardtongue and skeleton weed, or failed
to preserve the slow sea-roar
in my lungs expanding against my breast
bone, my nose numbing from the cold, my lashes
freezing in clusters of snowflakes. Here,
alone on the westbound train
in Des Moines, rescued from the wind
chill of the Raccoon River, homes rise
like icebergs along East Locust Street, the patina
of my black hair moving past snow
flurried storefronts might be mistaken
for the next extinct mammal in America.


Ruben Quesada

2011 Ruben Quesada


  MOONDAY HOME PAGE (Current Features)  
MOONDAY (Previous Features)  
                             MOONDAY (Upcoming Features)