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Thrown in the Throat

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Selected by Kazim Ali as a winner of the 2019 National Poetry Series, Thrown in the Throat “gloriously stakes new territory in queerness.”

A Boston Globe Best Book of 2020
A Lambda Literary “Most Anticipated LGBTQ Book” of August 2020
Named a “Must-Read Poetry Collection” of August 2020 by The Millions

“Tongues make mistakes / and mistakes / make languages.” And Benjamin Garcia makes a stunning debut with Thrown in the Throat. In a sex-positive incantation that retextures what it is to write a queer life amidst troubled times, Garcia writes boldly of citizenship, family, and Adam Rippon’s butt. Detailing a childhood spent undocumented, one speaker recalls nights when “because we cannot sleep / we dream with open eyes.” Garcia delves with both English and Spanish into how one survives a country’s long love affair with anti-immigrant cruelty. Rendering a family working to the very end to hold each other, he writes the kind of family you both survive and survive with.

With language that arrives equal parts regal and raucous, Thrown in the Throat shines brilliant with sweat and an iridescent voice. “Sometimes even a diamond was once alive” writes Garcia in a collection that National Poetry Series judge Kazim Ali says “has deadly superpowers.” And indeed these poems arrive to our hands through touch-me-nots and the slight cruelty of mothers, through closets both real and metaphorical. These are poems complex, unabashed, and needed as survival. Garcia’s debut is nothing less than exactly the ode our history and present and our future call for: brash and unmistakably alive.

ISBN-13: 9781571315212

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Milkweed Editions

Publication Date: 08-11-2020

Pages: 80

Product Dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)

Series: National Poetry Series

Benjamin Garcia’s first collection of poems, Thrown in the Throat, was selected for the 2019 National Poetry Series by Kazim Ali. He is a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow, was the 2017 Latinx Scholar at the Frost Place, and was a 2018 CantoMundo Fellow at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2018, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, and New England Review. Garcia received his MFA from Cornell University and currently works as a sexual health and harm reduction educator in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Read an Excerpt

The Language in Question

The language in question is criminal // like a shark it ate a license plate // and it ate the shark //
well the fins it poached anyway // it gorges like a gorge // the river flowing like a scarf someone kept pulling // it ate away the deposits of clay // like a sink hole the language in question // ate a chateau and the family inside // it pickpockets the stranger with gusto // it barters with bards //
pays in counterfeit // money is no object // the tongue desires // the language acquires // the language in question likes conquest // moves west because it hungers like locust // like the larvae of the caddisfly // this tongue makes a shell of what it pilfered // it’s the apex predator in the food pyramid // it ransacked the pyramids // tours the spoils of theft to the country of origin // but only on loan // a paper wasp that makes its home from what it chewed and spat back out of your own
// and it stings you if you get too close // too close // stung // I told you the language in question is the S-shaped tongue of the anteater // the so-called worm tongue // it warms itself at the fire it made from other people’s scrolls // codices // tomes // it entombs and embalms and lights bombs
// the language in question thinks its Billy the Kid // the language in question is shooting up the saloon // the language in question is shooting up meth // dope // coke // whatever’s on hand is the drug of choice // the language in question is corrupt // it’s poison and salve // savage and sage //
it’s honey suckle and bitter oleander // only a lawyer could make sense of it // and sell it to the highest bidder// like a snake that ate a parrot whole // spits out the bright feathers // without a bird to hold them together // that’s what it’s like when the accent doesn’t even come close // the language gets twisted // the tongue gets tired // I’d bet it’s kinky and likes to be tied // likes every bit of itself bit // this tongue bids adieu // holed in the mouth // ah-dee-ose // ah-mee-goes

Ode to the Corpse Flower

In the language of flowers // I am the one who says // fuck you
I won’t be anyone’s nosegay // this Mary is her own // talking bouquet

never let a man speak for you or call you // what he wants // I learned that the hard way // amorphophallus titanum // it sure sounds pretty in a dead tongue

except it’s Latin for big ugly dick // I mean I am // but what an asshole scientist
I prefer to think of myself // & this may sound vain // as a goddess

cadaver dressed in drag // my stage name // Versace Medusa part Lilith part calla lily // keep your heteronormative birds & bees // give me

the necrophiliacs // the freaks the meat eating // beetle & flesh fly there I go again allies // getting all hot & bothered // being vulgar

vulgar meaning common // as when something is below you // like a girl forbidden to say fuck // it makes a woman sound so common // oh come on

that’s all you expect from a flower // to be likeable // but to keep it raw & 100
is to be abhorred // fine but even the haters will pay // to hold their nose

at a halftime show // they’ll claim they are beyond Beyoncé // sick of Selena yet they can’t look away from the Live Cam // no one wants to miss // the showgirl

as she breaks through the cake // unhooks her lingerie // La Virgen de Guadalupe with a twist of Santa Muerte // what in the hell is she wearing // glad you ask

death is the new Christian Dior // the latest Chanel is corpse smell // I am the week old ham hock whore of horticulture // I bring the hothouse haute couture // & I always come

in last place // dressed to the nines I get what I want // which is to be The Tenth Muse
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz // little Evita de Buenos Aires // screwing & screwing over

los descamisados on my Rainbow Tour // fuck Whitman fuck Pound // give me Emily D
speaking of which have I ever told you daddy // sun gods get me hard // you want it

I got it // let me show you how a chola really leans // mother nature may wear floral but I ain’t your mama // I thirst like Betty Boop at peek coquette // Marylyn Monroe

blowing in an air vent // say Malinche say Truvadawhore // give me more I thrive in shade // my throat is my throne so // queen me bitch