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Paul Hlava Ceballos

Kingdom of the Americas Sonnets:
Túpac Huallpa

I was taken from family 
warfare, weaned in a stranger’s crib. 
Raised by toil and forge, I simmered

gold with copper to grow harder
though less pure—this undeserved crown. 
Am I noble enough to save 
an empire? Strangers eye me and 
ask what I am; I am half child 
of royal lust, half unmarked grave,
skin scorched by our spiraling stars.

Mice devoured this toppled nest. Mouse,
live on as a bird. I must learn
to split my own hard shell to find 
the small god inside it, like you.

from banana [ ], winner of the 2021 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry

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