The Tongue Is In the Eye: The Poetry of Vera Gómez

Claire Bateman

Claire Bateman Weekly Hubris Banner 2017

“The tongue is in the eye./It speaks through glints and blinks,/Mama after the stroke,/speechless./One blink meant ‘yes,’/two a ‘no.’/I wanted to read her mind/when that gaze overtook her./In the whites of those fixed orbs,/I swore I saw her drown.”—By Vera Gómez

Speculative Friction

By Claire Bateman

Vera Gomez. (Photo: DeDe Norungolo)

Vera Gomez. (Photo: DeDe Norungolo)

Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2018—As a first-generation child of immigrants, Vera Gómez considers herself a habitual border-crosser between her American upbringing and Mexican heritage. She is a firm believer in the power of words, a workshop facilitator, performance poet, and a teaching poet. She has a poetry collection, Barrio Voices, and her work has appeared in ARCHIVE; “State of the Heart: Carolina Writers on the Places They Love, Volume II”; “Ties that Bind”; “Quintet”; “Kakalak,” and “Emrys Journal.” She recently placed in the Palmetto Luna 2018 Poetry Contest, and her poem, “Tortilla,” was selected as part of Enough Pie’s Words on Windows poetry in public places display for Free Verse: Charleston Poetry Festival 2018.

By Vera Gómez

The tongue is in the eye.
It speaks through glints and blinks,
Mama after the stroke,
One blink meant “yes,”
two a “no.”

I wanted to read her mind
when that gaze overtook her.
In the whites of those fixed orbs,
I swore I saw her drown.

In the darkness, I see
By Vera Gómez

Metal slat walls let in dots
of sun. Light sparkles on my skin.
Beams form haloes around
the hammers and hacksaws,
screw drivers, electric drills,
mowers, memories of his refuge
in this outdoor room.
The smells of motor oil, gasoline,
metal still live in Dad’s tool shed.
The dirt floor stained from his pacing.
The potter’s bench still home
to packs of faded zucchini, zinnia,
marigold, tomato, chili seeds.
The overhead light is dead.
In this darkness, I see his refuge –
I found him here once, late one night
when Mom was diagnosed with cancer,
frail among his tools,
how to fix these broken things.

At the farmer’s market I hold one to my nose and smell the earth
By Vera Gómez

At sixteen, my sisters and I worked the fields.
We’d ride with the Cavazos boys
in the back of the pickup to Modesto.
We got paid thirty bucks a day
to pull tomatoes—orange, red and green,
even the heirloom ones in all of their deformity.
When my father started his garden,
I’d tend to it. Water, weed then push
past the leaves to grab the fruit.
Once in my palm, I’d yank it from the vine.
By late summer the heavy ones hit the ground.
Their skin split, their seeds spilt.
If the stink bugs had not invaded I’d salvage them.
I took tomatoes to Dad’s hospital room once,
where with his pocket knife cut it open and let it bleed.
Salting the flesh, I brought a slice
to his lips and let him taste the earth.

Published in “State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love,” Volume 2, October 20, 2015.

By Vera Gómez

Let it be said there’s nothing nice about Lamesa.
Here the dirt devils chase you until dust fills your mouth
and tumbleweeds cheer as they prick your thighs and run
you down the road propelled by the winds that always howl.
Even at the start of spring nothing grows but the rust
on the water tower – stoic sentinel of marching bands
and Friday Football before the cotton mill closed.

Let us not forget Lamesa’s dying. The old timers
calcified like the stacked tableau the abandoned town sits
on. Dry and bitter. The first time Edward Moreno kissed me,
his mouth infused with tequila. When I was nine, Perry
showed me love by giving me his favorite dead horned toad
nestled on a bed of cotton balls, housed in a cracked,
plastic Crayola box.

I could not wait to grow up and leave to take to
urban life and fast-paced jobs; to stand alone and gaze upon
a city’s skyline in night haze, longing for what
stars look like against black endless space or dirt dancing
in wind gusts, or boys displaying love in strange, small ways.

To order copies of Claire Bateman’s books Scape or Coronolgy from Amazon, click on the book covers below.

Bateman Scape

Bateman Coronology

Claire Bateman

About Claire Bateman

Claire Bateman’s books include Scape (New Issues Poetry & Prose); Locals (Serving House Books), The Bicycle Slow Race (Wesleyan University Press), Friction (Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize), At The Funeral Of The Ether (Ninety-Six Press, Furman University), Clumsy (New Issues Poetry & Prose), Leap (New Issues), and Coronolgy (Etruscan Press). She has been awarded Individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Surdna Foundation, as well as two Pushcart Prizes and the New Millennium Writings 40th Anniversary Poetry Prize. She has taught at Clemson University, the Greenville Fine Arts Center, and various workshops and conferences such as Bread Loaf and Mount Holyoke. She lives in Greenville, SC. (Please see Bateman's Author's Page for links to all her publications.)
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One Response to The Tongue Is In the Eye: The Poetry of Vera Gómez

  1. Avatar Jean says:

    Claire, you always beat hell out of the online courses. What wonderful, grounded poetry this marvelous woman writes. I can taste the dust, and the tomato, and see the stars. Thank you.

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