Natalie Scenters-Zapico


Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press 2019) and The Verging Cities (Colorado State University 2015). She has won national and international awards including Yale University’s Windham Campbell Prize (2021), a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation (2018), a Lannan Literary Fellowship (2017), and a CantoMundo Fellowship (2015). She was also a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award (2020), and the International Griffin Poetry Prize (2020). Her books have been reviewed and featured widely in periodicals like The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Natalie currently lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, José Ángel Maldonado. They both teach at the University of South Florida in the Department of English. Source

Buen Esqueleto

after Maggie Smith


Life is short, and I tell this to mis hijas.

Life is short, & I show them how to talk

to police without opening the door, how

to leave the social security number blank

on the exam, I tell this to mis hijas.

This world tells them I hate you every day

& I don’t keep this from mis hijas

because of the bus driver who kicks them

to the street for fare evasion. Because I love

mis hijas, I keep them from men who’d knock

their heads together just to hear the chime.

Life is short & the world is terrible. I know

no kind strangers in this country who aren’t

sisters a desert away, & I don’t keep this

from mis hijas. It’s not my job to sell

them the world, but to keep them safe

in case I get deported. Our first

landlord said with a bucket of bleach

the mold would come right off. He shook

mis hijas, said they had good bones

for hard work. Mi’jas, could we make this place

beautiful? I tried to make this place beautiful.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:








Racial Injustice

Strength & Resilience

Literary Devices:

After Poems

A poem where the form, theme, subject, style, or line(s) is inspired by the work another poet.


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times