About the Feature

Photo by Gila National Forest

What I call my good intentions get the best of me.
During week two of the semester I have students

place an asterisk each time shame shows up
in the excerpt of a memoir whose author’s take

on affirmative action & bilingualism I take for
internalized whitewashing. Each takes a pen

to the printout; it’s as if they’re journaling
on my skin. How much have I questioned

if this outgrowth of curly hairs can resist its follicles,
or how my nostrils brass widely during lividness,

or how I’ve distorted my maternal matrices.
When I ask my mother if her grandmother was

indigenous, she replies: But she was an elegant
woman too. I head to college to pay for my settler

colonialism, get into more debt to decolonize
my hustle. What is affirmative action? a student

disembarks through shyness. I refuse to rest
my etymological machete perpetually

on the shoulders of everyone beaming to mistake me.
I declare myself mestizo & even I know that’s a movie

without an audience. My good intentions get the best
of me though I let the white twink savior complex

actively clocking in & out of work drive off his
hypocritical hilltops. The act of burning the land can be

invested in what fondles growth. It’s discrete, ancestral.
The glow of an uncontainable approach—like pain.

About the Author

Born in Honduras, Roy G. Guzmán is currently pursuing a PhD in cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. They are a 2019 NEA fellow and a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow. Their debut collection will be published by Graywolf Press. Website: roygguzman.com