Paul Hlava Ceballos
Kingdom of the Americas Sonnets:
Atahualpa, the Last King
We do not use the Western way of calculating time.
—from Atahualpa’s last words
When I was killed, I faced my birth.
Dark queen, scarlet blush and gem-sweat,
cradles in arms a newborn king-
dom, which quakes and crumbles in half.
Thanks to my mother’s help telling
my beginnings, my life has seen
thirty-one harvests and a crow
stitch itself in a speckled egg.
The past like spirit thrives ahead.
Flames retreat to spark, soldiers march
back to boats, warships are saplings.
Neighbors plant gold to grow a town.
As rope twists tight around my neck,
I lift my brothers from their graves.
from banana [ ], winner of the 2021 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry