3 poems by Shawn Anto

Portrait of Detention Center

for Christian, Bakersfield 2018


the 1% are playing god, GEO Corporation hacks life under a dome

a veil of reconstruction, was pummeling resurrection of freedom

destroying historical venues expanding baby prisons, housing children

away from their mothers, who smothers whom in the womb of the U.S.

land of the freaks, home of the brass knuckles in the face of the weak.


“zero-tolerance” policy shaping a campaign

separating children, profits of blood-money run rampant in the veins

each wall cut heads splatter, beheading a hydra, with each protest, one more sprouts

up out of the blood, emerging in other cities, & Christian’s mother could only follow her son

wherever they moved him, transferred into land of green, a terrain of cacti & hunger

who is hungering for another change at survival, every day, no justice against this plague

cutting us away from colored rooms, what blooms on this canvas but dust and muddy river

on us all, who drowns in our prayers, another curse, another blessing—

se vive se siente

los dreamers están presentes


Blue Waters


That which we embrace of the past

Sneaks into veins & stitches to thoughts

Every idea is good, was good, how good

Do we feel?


I remember my parents saying

“the program is only a year and a half, if you don’t like it

You don’t have to go through with it”

The choice, living with the choice

Moving to St. John’s, Antigua

Sneaking into Blue Waters at night

With Hieu, relaxing under the gazebo

Fishing, simplicity, between what we were

Who we knew we could be, couldn’t be


Each memory likes to thread together, holding

As if they occurred together like the day I shook hands with Vivian Richards at Epicurean or the day I had my first shawarma at Jabberwock beach

Paying memory like that for something I did not want

Carved some form of bliss into me & who I was

Although, I’m still learning myself.


Portrait of Keralite

after 2018 Kerala floods


Depression is typhoon season on our wound

water rising, dissolving foundation like

our familial ties to one another, one drenched & drowned.


How come now the refusal to protect my aunt

is my uncle’s painting petrified, fucked-up discolored remnants

on a canvas now soaked with rat fever & snakes

swarming in water, swallowing houses as it goes.


It took a week for help to come, for no man would step up

to claim their family & loved ones, apparently no longer loved

when disaster shakes its head all these thoughts loose

like fishermen dredging water for survivors


God’s Own Country lends its hand to chaos

me Dad went to Kerala two weeks ago, to build

what little remained between

wet reminders of aunt sleeping with gran

in sunken house, what is a happening

but shoving men like him down into depths

wandering why the fallen are the only ones

exempt from pain & or vows meant to protect


Wife. Love. Promise. Hypocrite. Ripples, Rain.

blue blue blue bruise forever forever forever.


Shawn Anto is 23 years old from Bakersfield, California. He’s originally from Kerala, India. He currently studies at Cal State Bakersfield looking to receive his B.A. in English & Theatre. He was last seen on stage in Dreamers: Aquí y Allá, directed by Mandy Rees.  His writing has been featured or are forthcoming in The Paragon Press, Edify Fiction, Susan/The Journal, Internet Void, Ink & Voices and Mojave Heart Review.

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