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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Jonathan Amezquita

El Viaje / The Long Journey

In vast mexican desert and city

I imagine a home land where

Nopales hang out window sills

and dogs beg for flesh–

yet we receive only bones.


The family name is cemented

between clay houses and cemetery.

Our only offering condensed to a kernel

and only then do the familiar ghosts inhabit

this kitchen, now, my own

held in ancient hands as I turn

over the coal and straw– the passing on

of heated tortillas on the stove.


My abuela smiles a flint corn smile.


The house looks over the mountains,

of entire lime fields and livestock.

If I look back far enough,

I can still see my father, a dark spot

and his desire to run over the hillside, to follow behind

the footprints of wild horses.


It doesn’t matter where he gallops, he’s told

when all he’s ever known is the earth he holds,

and the feel of resistance

when pulling on roots.


I know because I feel that too.


Out there in the field, a roaming stallion

falls and becomes a carcass. There’s a little boy inside,

whose hands hide behind a ribcage,

and now he’s a wishbone and a set of wings away

from the future that awaits him in the distance.


There is a difficulty in identifying

exactly which species of fruit

are called lime.


A puzzle piece, a missing slice

is the fruit too acidic to most tongues but,

it’s a subtle language.


Though my genes may be lost in translation,

the answer lies here.

In this botanical complexity


I trace my phylogeny back through a citrus tree

and find myself at the foothills looking up

where the seed of resistance from the first pip sprouted

in the early Neogene epoch in Asia. We are the megaannum

of genetic divergence, an emergence. Still


I learn

all immigrants have a shared history.

We all come from that same seed. Now

witness yet another form of hybridizing. These genes

provide only certain insights on this taxonomy, on what ranks

above species and below family. Of what it means

to be latino. The majority cultivated

into subspecies:


oranges, grapefruit, pomelos, lemons and limes.


Can you taste the difference?


Our citrus is from monsoon-grown roots, no trouble sprouting

from the bottom of the barrel, much like my family grew

from the limited light in wooden narrows.

The past to us has been uprooted. Dispersal

is the letting go, a diaspore

from the parent plant. So we’ve placed migration

at the forefront. I come from the fates of smugglers.


My family aflock.

We ruby-throated


so red and ready

to stain, to slay and a disdain

for the unjust, just

beginning to crave

the blood-orange.


I pity the presidents and kings

who never dreamed, who never stopped to think

of the wild gorge grown before them.

I am a particular variety of lime,


I demand the truth.


Jonathan Amezquita graduated from Macalester College in 2018 (Biology Major/English Minor). He then enrolled in a post-baccalaureate research program at the University of California, Davis. He has since joined the graduate research program at Scripps Research Institute in Florida where he is working towards a PhD in Neuroscience.

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