Leslie Contreras Schwartz

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Leslie Contreras Schwartz

Bone Folder

The bone folder dissects a single sheet
into half of one crisp line.

Is it possible to spare the hands, the fingers,
the body’s own bones and muscles?

But the work requires manipulation
upon hidden or interior lines

the body’s cellular agendas and maps
locked behind glass with the last lady’s skull.

There’s no understanding the parts, the ones in body bags,
the ones stepped over to reach storage and make room for the daily dead, exponentially

Though, there is always one way to split a point—cut it into two.

Now bodies give up in turns, a cough, a heart, a lung—
you must incise the mind’s bloody thumb.

You must pin it
to the cutting board and wait.


Leslie Contreras Schwartz reads “Bone Folder”

Leslie Contreras Schwartz is a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow and the 2019-2021 Houston Poet Laureate. She is the author of four collections of poetry: Black Dove / Paloma Negra (FlowerSong Press, 2020), which was named a finalist for the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for 2020 Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters; Fuego (St. Julian Press, 2016), and Nightbloom & Cenote (SJP, 2018), a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky.

Her work has appeared in Missouri Review, Iowa Review, Verse Daily, Pleiades, among other publications. She is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Collective. She is a proud disabled poet and community activist; her poet laureate community work includes writing a workshop resource book on poetry for healing, storytelling and mental wellness.