Speaking to both a personal and collective loss, in Brother Bullet Casandra López confronts her relationships with violence, grief, guilt, and ultimately, endurance. Revisiting the memory and lasting consequences of her brother’s murder, López traces the course of the bullet—its trajectory, impact, wreckage—in lyrical narrative poems that are haunting and raw with emotion, yet tender and alive in revelations of light.
Drawing on migratory experiences, López transports the reader to the Inland Empire, Baja California, New Mexico, and Arizona to create a frame for memory, filled with imagery, through the cyclical but changing essence of sorrow. This is paralleled with surrounding environments, our sense of belonging—on her family’s porch, or in her grandfather’s orange grove, or in the darkest desert. López’s landscapes are geographical markers and borders, connecting shared experiences and memories.
Brother Bullet tugs and pulls, drawing us into a consciousness—a story—we all bear.
About the Author
Casandra López is a Chicana, Cahuilla, Luiseño, and Tongva writer raised in Southern California. A CantoMundo Fellow, López is a founding editor of the literary journal, As/Us: A Space for Women of the World and teaches at Northwest Indian College.
“Brother Bullet, Casandra López’s debut, is born from tragedy: a brother’s unsolved murder. Yet the mystery this collection probes is not the how or why of the crime, it is the how and why of life after unspeakable loss. Emblematic of the relentlessness in this collection, the word “brother” appears on almost every page, used as adjective, as proper noun, as mourning chant. In addition to telling a story of personal loss, López, who identifies Brother’s ethnicity as “Cahuilla, Luiseño,” invites the reader to consider the socio-political context in which brown boys are murdered, the ways in which the speaker’s brother’s death indicts our nation.”—RHINO Poetry
“‘After Bullet night / I promised to never turn away from the rib of the left behind, / the long scope of loss.’ These poems are the not-turning-away; they are the courage of the self to speak as witness to the layered traumas of personal, familial, and historical grief. With brave and candid precision, López’s poetry does not just translate the experience of a brother’s murder—an impossible language—into language but scores onto the page trauma’s delicate interior. López’s dexterity with form, line, and rhythm allows the telling of the unspeakable story. For ‘our bodies that are always fumbling / at loss,’ these poems answer with clarity, compassion, and shape—they are poems of this place, the place of survival.”—Jennifer Elise Foerster, author of Bright Raft in the Afterweather
“This collection is riveting. This voice is essential. I highly recommend this vital work to you.”—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels