I didn’t intend to break in to the bird sanctuary to set fire to the border patrol truck but I didn’t not intend to break in to the bird sanctuary to set fire to the border patrol truck

Is a thing you might say and your attorneys might advise you not

When the judge, in an uncharacteristic moment of candor, looks at you and says “What the hell were you thinking?” which will make him Twitter Famous and will also remind you of the time

You reached over the fence into the neighbor’s wisteria, your soft child hand swallowed to the wrist, trying to feel for what you could not see only to know pain, so sudden and present that you snatched your hand back in shock and resignation, a fist full of hornets, fell to your knees and over your shoulder is

Your father, chuckling and shaking his head, looking at you as if you were a dog with a belly full of rancid trash, and though he sees the look on your face, unmistakable, that says “I didn’t expect to get hurt” he doesn’t stop himself from saying “Bet your fool ass won’t do that again”

Except he was wrong, you never stopped reaching for beautiful things or occasionally putting your hand where it did not belong

Like the penny candy jar on the counter at Dom’s Market, no pennies in your pocket, Dom turning his head at the register just long enough as if to say “Take”

Luis Delgado’s thigh underneath your hand, underneath the desk, in Algebra II, his eyes wide, cheeks flushed, heartbeat pulsing

Like a hand dancing over the Judicial Bible, back in the courtroom, where you swear to tell the truth so help you God, you don’t know who set fire to the patrol truck, yes you were there, yes you left food and water, yes unpermitted, yes for people in the desert who might need it, as is, your attorneys will successfully argue, a sincere exercise of your most profound religious belief

But the truth is, what the hell you are thinking, is that you wish you had, so help you God, you wish you had lit the match, dropped it through the cracked window, into the empty cab, the orange flames glowing into the night, separating the dark from the light, you fallen to your knees again, sleepy chachalacas in the mesquite trees behind you whispering “It is good, it is good, it is good.”


  1. Al Kratz

    This is really great Kristin. I love the structure here and the flowing grammar from paragraph to paragraph and then the movement from the court to the past and back to the court all is right on, hitting every note and key just like a great song.

  2. Jonathan Cardew


    Gosh, I love that almost palindromic, circular opening, plunging us right into this character–great route into the story:

    “I didn’t intend to break in to the bird sanctuary to set fire to the border patrol truck but I didn’t not intend to break in to the bird sanctuary to set fire to the border patrol truck.”

    I also think the title is fabulous, fiat lux, let there be light! Love that phrase, fiat lux, and it obviously ties in with the arson.

    Overall, this was a pleasure to read and I especially loved the enjambement from paragraph to paragraph. What was the inspiration behind this story? Was it a news story?


    1. Enjambe more? I love those lines running off into the next paragraphs, but maybe more can be drastic, like cutting off at a verb or preposition.

    2. Been saying it a lot: why not try cutting it in half (or reducing by 50%). May add. May subtract.

    3. Start the story at “Like a hand dancing over the Judicial Bible” and see where that takes you.

    I love that you played around with form today–inspired me to consider unusual sentence styles in the next piece I write.


  3. Georgiana Nelsen

    love this, the natural progression of a handful of hornets to breaking into a sanctuary for birds where a border patrol truck waits for its blazing end… love the form and the cadence!

  4. David O'Connor

    Kristin, from that burning first line, I feel the build and build, total crescendo, like Pandora meets Icarus, with genius phrasing, I love this piece!

  5. Len Kuntz

    Hi Kristin,

    The format of this, and the lyrical quality is remarkable when combined with, all of the human pathos of sins rendered and not rendered, that you’ve put forth here. It’s a really stunning piece. So many wonderful turns and prashings, like this bit–“a fist full of hornets.” I loved it.

  6. Jennifer Todhunter

    i looooove this, wow – i was totally in for the ride the whole time, i love the movement and unexpectedness of where you take us and how you weave in the backstory and turns on the line “Except he was wrong, you never stopped reaching for beautiful things or occasionally putting your hand where it did not belong” and then it’s like you put the accelerator to the floor and it’s full speed ahead right down to that perfect last image. beauty work, well done.

    • Kristin Bonilla

      Thank you so much, Jen! I wasn’t sure if the pacing worked here but I love that accelerator comment!

  7. Benjamin Niespodziany

    Hell of a final line, wow! Also loved “looking at you as if you were a dog with a belly full of rancid trash”.

    I’m interested in the line breaks and enjambments here, as if they’re omitted, or the trail runs dry, or the thought is to be continued into the next line. It almost reads like a rough translation or something (in a good way!). Really cool

    • Kristin Bonilla

      Thank you, Benjamin! I didn’t have much time to think about where to break the lines here and I like to play around with those kinds of things, so they may change. Loved reading your work here!

  8. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Kristin, Mind BLOWN once again by this highly creative work, somewhere between reportage, poetry, fiction, and story. The layers here, and pacing, and enjambments, twists, surprises, and stakes. This is remarkably unique. My mind IS blown, so thanks for that.

    • Kristin Bonilla

      Robert! I’m going to print out this comment and frame it. I so appreciate you and admire your work! Thank you so much!

  9. Todd Clay Stuart

    Kristin, I love this! It has energy. It has spark. It has bite. There is poetry here. The structure and lack of punctuation is a little odd, a little gimmicky maybe. I don’t think this needs gimmicks. It’s power shines through. Great work!

  10. Francine Witte

    The structure of this is so fun and original. I love it. I also love the beginning leading into that second paragraph “is a thing etc.”

    Really good

  11. Wilson Koewing


    Wonderful movement in this piece. Razor sharp opening line. This was an enjoyable trip to go on. I loved the part about Louis Delgado in algebra. I did wonder if the lack of punctuation and the style might be a little much.


  12. John Steines

    Hello Kristin. I love that opening, like a doubling back…’what am I to believe now’ alert. Lots to pay attention to. Also lets me know I need to learn more about these forms. I love the in and out of the narratives. Best.

  13. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Kristin, Fabulous! I want to take this piece and pin it on my heart, so I have it every day, every time I think about immigration and the way we force people into the desert, and every day I think of the mysterious ways some of us are drawn to do something about it, and the ways it is dangerous, the way it stings, and the way it doesn’t sting, and the ways we hold back too just enough, or not. And where does it all come front–– the child’s hands in the soft petals or the candy jar, to obey and not to. Thank you thank you.

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