American Quasar

  Poetry by David Campos, Art by Maceo Montoya

Red Hen Press 2021

American Quasar is a visual-textual collaboration between poet David Campos and artist Maceo Montoya. What began as an exploration of the precipice of violence evolved into an excavation of self, a deep meditation on how country, family, and trauma affect the ability to love. The images and words build a poetic space where the body is understood in both physical and celestial terms, giving a spiritual dimension to the collection's larger claim that the political is personal.

"David Campos' American Quasar is a true force of collaboration that implores a new vision of exegesis with the renowned artist, Maceo Montoya... How fortunate we are for the gifts of poet and artist at the height of their powers."


- Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of Centzontle

"Montoya's subtle but searing images frame human thought as embodied activity. Both text and image remind us that we exist vibrantly in those states of ambivalence, grief, and anger that we most fear..."


- Katie Peterson, author of A Piece of Good News

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"I emphatically declare: the vitality of the poetic-arts is Latinx hybrid modal co-creations. David Campos and Maceo Montoya are powerful testament to this fact. In American Quasar, they co-create to intervene, agitate, and make new our perception, thought, and feeling concerning Latinx experiences and lives. Together, they explode prejudices and assumptions about what it means to be Latinx in the U.S..."


- Frederick Luis Aldama, American Book Review


American House Fire


In a house fire, you don’t die

from the flames, so don’t mind the broken

windows. I’m trying to let the smoke out.


I have been for a long time running

from room to room looking for an exit.

What I would give for the chill of starlight,

to believe in a just god who brings rain


to temper the blaze ravaging my house,

to feel, for once, what it’s like to win;

in victory, instinct orders our arms to rise


toward the heavens. Some say

this is what we’re left with to remind us of god,

to remind us to surrender.

But the smoke has stolen


too many of our fathers; it’s after our sons.

And every door leads to another dead dream’s room.

Still, they watch my house burn,


smoke lifting its arms over the city.

Only if they didn’t cook with fire, they say.

Only if their house had followed code.

How many more doors will have to burn


until it’s yours? I’m running out of windows,

and my arms are losing their strength.

The sky darkens with victory,


surrender? It’s hard to tell

anymore. But what’s certain is

in a house fire, you die

when you cry your child’s name.


- David Campos