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Book Review :: A Ten Peso Burial for Which Truth I Sign by Gabriel Palacios

Guest Post by Susan Kay Anderson

Wow, what AM I READING?

A Ten Peso Burial for Which Truth I Sign, debut poetry by Gabriel Palacios, is a book in four parts. The poems in part three, titled “Television Theater,” are “Spanish Trail Motel” encounters, hard-hitting and jagged, as they weave tales in and out of a journey. I find myself traveling along by horseback to stations on that fantastic journey across American desert country into a past/present that takes prisoners into its own chambers of cactus and canyons.

The vibe is Hotel California, but Palacios delves into an obsession with the Spanish Trail, the dignified name for what it really was and is: a trail of slaughter in the name of colonialism and conquest. Take “The Spanish Trail Motel /The Friar’s Daughter’s Mother”:

“My child’s eyeball strobic in the wide-brimmed hatted
death’s head given placard”


“In exterminating
thinking I feel eyeless toward the proof
I trust computer ghosts to translate”

Palacios describes this world from inside the people who live and die in desolate circumstances. These are depictions of life in the contemporary Southwest few have written about. From “The Spanish Trail Motel”:

“If I’m to live here as a pit bull smiling out of its
Impound yard
If I have to I will”

A Ten Peso Burial for Which Truth I Sign by Gabriel Palacios. Fonograf Editions, March 2024.

Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson lives in southwestern Oregon’s Umpqua River Basin. Her long poem “Man’s West Once” was selected for Barrow Street Journal’s “4 X 2 Project” and is included in Mezzanine (2019). Anderson also published Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast (2021).