Elizabeth Acevedo

One Poem

20th Anniversary Reflections

Elizabeth Acevedo first appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly in Fall 2015, when she was featured in Volume 16:4, a portfolio issue called Nine Women Poets. She was subsequently asked to co-edit the Slam Poetry Issue with Gowri Koneswaran in Fall 2016. That issue, Volume 17:4, featured adult and youth slam team members representing Washington DC from 1993 through the present.

Acevedo writes, “I thoroughly enjoyed editing the Slam Issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly with Gowri Koneswaran. The District of Columbia has a rich history of performance poetry and poetry competitions and as a transplant to the city it was an honor to lift up the voices, new and not-so-new, that have represented the poetry scene in this city.”



And although I am a poet, I am not the bullet;
I will not heat-search the soft points.

I am not the coroner who will graze her hand
over naked knees. Who will swish her fingers

in the mouth. Who will flip the body over, her eye a hook
fishing for government-issued lead.

I am not the sidewalk, which is unsurprised
as another cheek scrapes harsh against it.

Although I too enjoy soft palms on me;
enjoy when he rests on my body with a hard breath;
I have clasped
this man inside me and released him again and again,
listening to him die thousands of little deaths.

What is a good metaphor for a woman who loves in a time like this?

I am no scalpel or high thread count sheet. Not a gavel, or hand-painted teacup.
I am neither nor romanced by the streetlamp nor candlelight;
my hands are not an iron, but look, they’re hot, look
how I place them in love on his skin
and am still able to unwrinkle his spine.


“Iron” previously appeared in Poetry Magazine. Reprinted with permission of the author.



Elizabeth Acevedo is the author of With The Fire on High (HarperCollins, 2019), The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018), and a chapbook, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (Yes Yes Books, 2016). Acevedo is the winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the CLILIP Carnegie Medal, the Boston Globe Hornbook Award, and the 2019 Pure Belpre Author Award for Latinx Culture. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion as well as a Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer's Workshop.