Barbarian at the Gate by Xavier Cavazos

Winner of the 2013 PSA Chapbook Fellowship

Barbarian at the Gate
, by Xavier Cavazos, selected and introduced by Thomas Sayers Ellis.

Edition: 500 Copies of the winning books were printed by Westcan Printing Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson, with art by Julianna Goodman.


In Barbarian at the Gate, Xavier Cavazos reads American culture and current American history like a Speak Written Walter Cronkite minus the CIA affiliation. Each poem is anchored in a sharp awareness that finds worth is real (not imagined) lives and real (not imagined) loss...

—Thomas Sayers Ellis

Anaphora, chiasmus, diacope, polyptoton


Crossing the border

My brothers and sisters are dying in train cars. Overcome
from the temperatures of one-hundred-degree days, my brothers

and sisters die. My brothers and sisters, carried like cargo
along Interstate 8 in the trunks of automobiles

as American as piñatas in the aisles of Wal-Mart in rural towns
across the Midwest. My brothers and sisters are carrying

the weight of being sent back to Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala,
Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador. My brothers and sisters

need us to care. My brothers and sisters are being shot at
in Mexico while thinking of crossing the border in San Ysidro,

named for the patron saint of farmers near San Diego.
My brothers and sisters are bleeding to death

from gunshot wounds by American border patrol agents
in El Paso, Texas. My brothers and sisters have bled

from chest wounds, from shoulder wounds, from leg wounds,
from wounds left open, my brothers and sisters bleed.

On June 8th, 2010, a fifteen-year-old Mexican citizen
was shot to death on the Mexican side of the border near El Paso.

Passport stampless! Bullets, bullets! Passport stampless!

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