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paper • 280 pages • 17.95
ISBN: 978-1-954245-52-5
eISBN: 978-1-954245-53-2
March 2023 • Poetry

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To the Boy Who Was Night

Poems: Selected and New

Rigoberto González

The capstone of a quarter-century career in poetry, To the Boy Who Was Night collects the poetry published by Rigoberto González since 1999, including selections from five previous books as well as new work. Mirroring González’s personal trajectory, the arc of this work articulates the course of a life: these poems recall leaving a beloved homeland, confront masculinity and sexuality in new adulthood, imagine the earth devoid of human inhabitants, descend into the realm of ghosts, and return to arrive at Dispatches from the Broken World. This latest section ventures into foreign terrain — an autobiographical confrontation with isolation and the aging body. His lyrical exploration, like the weather reports scrawled on ancient temple walls, will preserve this age-old message: “likely a poem, surely an epitaph.” To the Boy Who Was Night bears the fruit of 25 years of poetry, González’s boldest and most comprehensive volume yet.

From “Tostón”

The floor collects the cells of your skin and no one
else’s. You’re breathing in only yourself in the dust.
Again, this doesn’t sadden you one bit. Perhaps
you used up the last drops of grief after you lost

your children. When you die, you’re the last piece
of evidence that your parents ever lived. And you?
What proof that you were once loved? Slowly
you rise and walk from one room to another

and both rooms scarcely notice the difference.
You are, dear friend, officially a tostón that 50¢
Mexican coin, half a peso, relic of the past, purveyor
of the simple pleasures of your childhood—paletita

de dulce sabor mango, canica ojo de dragón,
galletita de mantequilla, cacahuate japonés.
Moctezuma’s profile is engraved on this silver
moon, he always facing away from the sea,

looking back at the ruins of Tenochtitlán, not
with anguish or disdain, but with a dignified gaze
that says, What is done is done. No use crying
over what can never change. Or what is gone.


About the Author

  • Rigoberto González writes a richly detailed poetry, with strangely evocative landscapes, insightful appraisals of body and soul, and unpredictable narratives, sometimes set in Mexico, sometimes in California, sometimes places in his heart. His sense of wonder is magical and his personality evident — this is him, a poet who can claim a cadence like no other. A true and wildly engaging master.
  • How to deal with irreplaceable loss? Can poetry resurrect a lost culture? Can it be equal in force to the violence from which it arises? Rigoberto González has great compassion for the downtrodden, for those who do the terrible but necessary jobs. His genius is to bring alive the sensory experience that some paintings give us by a kind of synesthesia, so that we feel the poems in our skin and bones. In this stunning collection, a brilliant mind shapes a magical landscape from the ruins.