Book Excerpt: Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins’ Raw New Memoir “Let The Buzzards Eat Me Whole”

“Let The Buzzards Eat Me Whole” delves into immigrant Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins’ history of abuse, the Salvadorian civil war, American resettlement, and her journey into womanhood. 

Author Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins is an immigrant from El Salvador whose poetry & prose have been featured in Thimble Literary Magazine, Rabid Oak, Punch Drunk Press, Mojave He[art] Review, and FIVE:2:ONE, amid others. She hosts a monthly poetry reading series called “They’re Just Words” that provides a platform for poets from all over L.A. County and beyond. Ingrid is also the author of six volumes of poetry. 

Her latest book, the raw memoir Let The Buzzards Eat Me Whole, finds Ingrid reliving past sexual traumas, the Salvadoran civil war, American resettlement, and her own flowering to adulthood. Publisher Another New Calligraphy has agreed to donate $1 from every book purchased towards GirlForward, a Chicago nonprofit that provides educational support and safe spaces for teenage girls displaced by conflict and persecution.

Let The Buzzards Eat Me Whole releases on February 2nd.

Here is an excerpt below:

I’m 40.

I have saggy tits, white pubes and a story to tell…

If you’ve spoken to me on the phone, you probably thought I was born and raised in Southern California.

You’d be right. 

Sort of. 

If you’ve seen me in the flesh, you probably thought how the fuck is her name Ingrid?

It’s magick, my dear loves. 

Fucking magick.

I have been mastering this magick from the tender age of six. 

I have been successful in my undertakings and consider myself a master in this assimilation magick. 

I have lied my way through life not only to others, but also mostly to myself.

I lied about my abuse, watering it down, laughing at it even, pretending I was healed, when I most certainly was not. 

I lied about being legal in this country, embarrassed of my brown skin, indigenous features, the food I ate, the music I listened to, the religion I was baptized into. 

I lied about how I’d learned English.

I lied about how old my parents were.

I lied about why my father was gone, the year he’d gotten deported.

I lied about where I had been when I had gotten deported. 

It’s all a vicious cycle. 

It is sloughing. 

It is dying. 

It is victimhood.

It is extinction.

It is understanding that the more you know, the stupider you are.

It is knowing that we are born dying.

It is living while we die.

“It is acting well the part that is given to you.” — Epictetus

During this last Full Moon, I took it upon myself to undo all of that decrepit old magick and replaced it with a revised new magick.

A magick that bled, a magick that ached, a magick that loved me back…

It is a constant thing.

“I kill the lies I’ve told myself about myself.

“I kill the lies I’ve told myself about myself.

“I kill the lies I’ve told myself about myself.”

There was a visceral about-face after this ritual. 

I lingered in my bath soaking lovingly in my filth, thinking…

“How long will it last?

How long until I need another dose of magick?

Another bath?

Will this stay, this feeling?

Will I go to sleep night after night and still feel this mutation in me?

Will I take notice of my patterns and change them? 

Will I take control?

Will I recognize what’s necessary?

Will I kill what’s already dead?

Will I trust myself instead?”

I watched that dirty bath water go down the drain. 

Making sure to watch it until the end.

I stepped out, dried my hair, my body. 

Rolled frankincense, Russian roses and cedarwood extract on my wrists and let the buzzards eat me whole again…

1984/Lamatepec

Cracked hands scratch 

the softness 

of her thighs—

he is gentle, a giant,

his age shows on his brow

smile—sinister,

bruised eyes, 

condensed,

unable to dilate.

a somber tincture on her cheeks 

lives and grins

when caught between 

the chafe,

compelled 

to swell and ebb…

1986/Lamatepec

While the war  

on the outside

raged—

my war 

lived 

in dark houses—

patched walls—

cold showers—

baths warmed by the sun—

half-eaten fruit—

on dirty tables—

bombed, 

left for dead—

shrapnel stings

from tongues on skin—

plucked feathers,

stuffed in wombs

to rest migraines on/

memories 

from war-torn countries

come from people

who saw the dead—

come from people

who saw the living

become the dead—

a body amongst trash

decomposing—

balm mingling/

a ring of volcanic recitals

activating

lighthouse fires/

stay awake/

fill the empty spots/

replace it with 

fire skin…

and threats of never feeling good enough again—

take me, 

with limbs missing,

heart-broken

scars opened,

smile swollen|

severed 

from fragments,

of busted omens…

Take me,

to the jungle

where women and children

write poems when night comes,

where men

scrape pencils sharp,

their brains splattered on walls.

Take me over Angeleno lights

on a Boeing  737—

where bones scrape on bone, 

the pen follows close 

because family lines on palms

are destined.

***

Purchase a copy of Let The Buzzards Eat Me Whole here.

Follow Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins: websiteInstagram

“…triumph of the soul over its battlefield with the body, with those who would oppress it in its most vulnerable childlike form. Calderón-Collins honors her own body and those of many victims of childhood sexual abuse with this testament that is equal parts candor and craft.”—Kristin Garth, Puritan U & Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir

“…an epic in vacillating prose and verse…origin, trauma, vision, and sensuality. [This] ‘song before language,’ is vicious and earnest; an excruciating journey through literal rotting bodies, gnashing lecherous mouths, incestuous hypocrites, racists, and lovers. [An] ambitious and fearless testament.”—Jeremy Gaulke, Apep Publications

“…the Tower of the Tarot rendered into verse. Calderón-Collins’ language is as potent as it is expertly crafted. Let this poetry haunt you.”—Thursday Simpson, Three Gothic Stories

“…crashes and boils from start to finish, not unlike the volcanic bedrock of [her] native El Salvador. This gift of self-sacrificial bloodletting will forever haunt and inspire all those lucky enough to feel their pulse upon its pages.”—John Collins, artist

“…ugly and beauty converge, and in this Calderón-Collins finds redemption, resurrection and the stepping-stones to begin moving beyond stasis of her past. This is a gorgeous and brutal read—an open-veined confessional about finding healing in the crevices of trauma, and not letting the past continue to define the present.”—Jen Hitchcock, owner of Book Show

“…from El Salvador to the suburbs of Los Angeles, this “vicious cycle” follows the author everywhere she goes. We see the harsh times and tender moments. It exposes what the strength found inside any of us—combined with love—can help us overcome.”—Nikolai Garcia, Nuclear Shadows of Palm Trees

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