Three Poems

Leslie Contreras Schwartz



After surgery, her body weighted against 
a wooden chair, eyes mid-blink, her face
curtained by a dark mass of hair, Frida lets
out curls of smoke from the left hand's cigarette.


Her body shrinking back into its black pajamas,
her hair not bound up by braids or 
Diego. There is no room
for anything else but Pain, which carries 

inside it other pain and those pain's

brothers, sisters, their spouses,
lovers, and children, on their 
knees crawling to the church

of her body, its long 

calzada. The steelbar
through the hip and uterus of it, 
the streetcar sitting 

on the column of the spine of it. 

Pain is different
people, sitting by the bedside
but wringing its hands just the same,

figuring out what to take of the body

this time, what language
it can speak. Polio to steal a bit of leg,
the abortion, a toe and the body's

fetus. A hand to infect, a leg

to gangrene and fell.
Behind her, inside the house
are dahlias, bougainvillaea,

gardenias, which she will paint

so they will not die, those 
blooms waiting to be laureled
on the head, held up by its long

brown braid, tightly laced.

In this, she will hold up
cielito lindo, its 
smuggled ribbons 
of little sky, 


folded up
in canta, no llores,     
pin them 
to her crown.



           From a slogan on a flag that started the Texas Revolution


Come and take it,
this suit of a body 
its machine and wheels of 
pain and knotted joy, running
down this runway of break
and sores and cysts and
infections and hurt
and hurt. Suit
of twists and  branches jutting 
into treebody, treehair, tree
hands of bark and moss, always
planted and reaching its scratchy
limbs away from itself, this body-not-
body. Try it on, put it in 
your death-grip, this coming-and-going-away 

               its white flag of hair 
               that hangs and hangs.


I am not afraid of you 
on my doorstep,
rubbing against my front door
like a stray cat, pretending
you are Elijah. I'm leaving
my door open because I know
you will not pass over, no
blood on the doorpost will 
send you away. You came 
because you smelled


is melting into 
milk that I feed you 
and you lap me up with a greedy
unsatiated tongue, the kind
of hunger I know that laps
and laps. I have fed
myself to others before,


laid out like plate of feast. I will do it
again. Come,
take this broken wrist healed back
into stiff, motion-restrained bone, these swollen knees,  
see how this tastes to you,
this hunger for what’s torn. It looks
the same, no matter
what plate on which 
its served: naked, its cornucopia
of flesh-plump fruit, that ripened peach bursting
out of its skin, that bright hurt.
Isn’t that what you came for, Death,
to taste my life with a longing 
that never stops.




Potential held
still in my womb, 
that quiet fist-of-hearts


its dark & infernal glow.


Quis hic locus?, Quae regio?, Quae mundi plaga? 


Where you clutch onto me,
growing hair,
skin, and teeth.


When you bleed,
I remember days
of turning away from 


barely able to walk
through the school 
doors, sore 


and sorrow between
my legs. You remember


this for me,
that bleeding
that has never stopped


that song you remember
held caught in the throat:


to be something else,
anything but this orb
of captivity, of possibility


held in a body's tight

 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Leslie Contreras Schwartz is a poet and essayist from Houston, Texas. She is the author of the poetry collection Fuego (Saint Julian Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in recently in The Collagist, Tap Literary Journal, Storyscape Literary Journal, Hermeneutic Chaos, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Her personal essays have appeared in the Huffington Post, 

Houston Chronicle, The Toast, Ozy, and Dame Magazine. She holds an MFA in poetry from The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and a BA in English from Rice University.