As the Fog Starts Burning Away

Brent Ameneyro Wins a 2023 Zócalo Poetry Prize Honorable Mention Award

Brent Ameneyro, whose poem won a 2023 Zócalo Poetry Prize honorable mention award. Photo by Kent Ameneyro.

Every year, we award the annual Zócalo Poetry Prize to the poem that best evokes a connection to place. Zócalo is pleased to recognize four honorable mention submissions this year, which we will publish over four Fridays in celebration of U.S. National Poetry Month.



Three things: I’ve never been to
a funeral, a man is his own
prophet in the morning, a door

floats above an endless horizon.
But I have walked through hospice halls,
I have stood at the edge of a cliff.

I clear my mind with coffee
and the gentle caress of a breeze.
At the ocean a seagull

and a helicopter disappear.
Everything is in harmony
or there is no such thing as harmony.

At the ocean and there’s a hole
in the sky. I don’t want to think
about the people I love

dying. The best time of day
is just as the fog starts
burning away. A door

floats above an endless horizon.
I don’t ever want to go
to a funeral. At the ocean

we all turn to children.
A group of migrants
sewed their mouths shut

at the border because their voices
fell through a hole
in the sky. It’s been said

we know less about the ocean
than all the cosmos; the shoreline
is a border, the moon

a dictator, and I don’t want to think
about the creatures lurking
thousands of meters below the surface.

We laughed in the living room
while Mayté patiently
died in her room. We took turns

talking to her alone because she had
one foot over the border and we thought
maybe God could hear us through her:

take care of her, let her have peace,
don’t take her, not yet,
I love you.
Come to think of it,

I’ve been to several funerals
but the memories went through
a door that floats above an endless

darkness. Staring at the coffee
grounds at the bottom of my mug,
pretending to understand

tasseography, I see my face,
two countries, and a bright
emptiness surrounding everything.

Brent Ameneyro is the 2022–2023 Letras Latinas Poetry Coalition Fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies. He currently serves as the poetry editor at the Los Angeles Review
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