American Dream

7 Feb

I want to climb big mountains

with my brown bare feet gripping the dry earth


propelling forward at lightspeed.

But I live surrounded by hills that end in city dumps.

I want to consume large quantities of


so I read and read and read

but I don’t know if I’m reading the right thing when I’m stuck in my

ghetto library.

I walk aisle by aisle, reading methodically every book

in every library my two dusty feet can take me to.

But I’m not sure if I’m walking in the right direction,

am I a fish swimming round and round in a fishbowl

confusing it for a the great big ocean?

I want to roar


like an animal

who don’t give a fuck,

but I open my mouth and it chokes on all of the hands pressing against me.

I want to feel, I want to dance, I want to be beautiful,

but my neighbors are watching,

the nuns say it’s indecent,

the book,

which my parents have never read,

must surely have a rule against it.

I want to strut,

like the Big Bad Bitch I am,

look down on the dirty, cracked concrete that the city never fixes,

but a 40 year old Veterano throws a penny inside my shirt,

pulling me down to the same gritty, grimy, tired, hood that we both live in.

I want to be a Queen and Rule

but, but,

who is rooting for me?

I want to be a King

but who will by my subjects?

I want to stomp and devour,

I want to scream.

But who is listening?

I want to be written about in books,

not, I think for vanity,

but to be read about

by girls like me.

I want to inspire.

I want to experience.

I want to make it count.

I want to help a people, all people

but those people don’t want to help me.

I want to take

I want to give

I want to make you remember

I want to make you see

I want to

I want to

I want to achieve the American Dream

but so many don’t see me as American.

I want to

I want to

I will.


Sunny Mountain

7 Feb

We’re laughing,

quick hehehe’s and hahaha’s and silent cackles exploding inside

Our front brown stoop steps are crowded

Five Year olds shushing their baby sisters, rocking them in their arms.

Lla, Lla,



Mami and Papis nowhere to be seen.

The older girls resting their elbows on their knees,


looking cool.

Raising their head and eyebrow, mouth pulled to the side

every time a chump walked by

Under the microscope, flat on a slide,

dissecting with the precision of a surgeon’s knife until they kept walking.

Yeahhh, you best keep walking.

Walk away.

“There’s a fair across the street and over the hill.”

“That hill?” I don’t like going there unless I’m feeling brave.

“Yeah, just over and around the abandoned building.”

We’ve poked around there many times, Michael and I. We look for good sticks to use for our canes. Hobble and wobble along the broken concrete and shake it at each other. Sometimes we wake up the bums who sleep under cardboard boxes pushed against the crumbling earth. Not on purpose.

Sometimes we wake up the skinny women but they always go back to sleep when they see it’s just us.

“I’ll take you,” Chico offers.

I want to go to a fair. I can’t remember going, ever.

Except last year, around Christmas. The firemen took us to Knotts Berry Farm. We rode on a Ferris Wheel and petted animals and ate cotton candy that melted so fast in your mouth, I kept grabbing more. My warm, thirsty tongue could melt a giant, pink, fluffy ball in a second. The cops gave us baseball cards. We ran to their cars, crowding them, pushing against the metal, “More Dodger cards!” More Dodger cards!” we chanted and danced, our skinny arms pumping in the air, our street worn feet running in place. They high fived and laughed and they were so happy with us they came back with real, wrapped, Christmas presents. That, that, was a great Christmas.

“Let me go get Lili, she’s right inside, esperame.”

“NO. Hmmm. No, I only have enough money for two tickets,” Chico explains, holding up two chubby fingers.

“Why are you taking me then for?!” I want to yell. But I just stare at his stubby fingers. A fair, a fair, I want to go shoot at a clown and get a big fluffy Teddy Bear, so, so, big he can’t fit inside my door. I want to feel a pillow of pink inside my mouth turn into a tiny pebble. Not cotton balls, I tried those dipped in sugar but they just tasted dry and it took my mom for-eeeeever to get it out of my mouth.

I take Chico’s warm, sweaty hand and look up at him, making sure he’s not playing another mean joke.

We cross the street, he lets go my hand. I have to keep holding on to the long strands of dead grass every time my shoes slip. He’s ahead of me and I see him walk towards tall shadows. Not soft and clumsy like him. Tall lines with more lines poking out, no roundness.

I look up to the sky, so baby blue. There’s a bird, he’s telling me to forget. To sleep.

And I never remember the fair. I never remember what happens next. So don’t ask.

So soft

2 Feb

My Eyore among wolves. I wanted to kiss your cheekbones to see if their sharpness would cut me. How many time did I ask you to pull your ponytail off so I could admire your long silky hair?

Psst. Mariiii. Psst.

I heard you the first time but your soft voice was music to my ears. I liked your attention, Our friendship. I turned around and you were holding up a Winnie the Pooh drawing.

What do you think?

Did you trace that?!

Ouch. Really?

No, I mean, it’s really good. It looks just like him. That’s crazy, you just drew that?

Your cheeks are a high red now, and you pull at your stretched sleeves, trying to hide behind your hands.

Yeah..It’s for you. If you want it.

Thank you! That’s so beautiful, thank you.

I put the pencil drawing inside my folder, careful not to place it against another paper that has writing on it and around to look at Ms. Rosen again.

Hey, did you guys hear? Vicky comes over and puts her arm around my shoulder. I take her hand and push it off.

Hear what?

About Apenimon, he’s dead.

I feel light-headed, like someone yanked my brain, heart and stomach in three different directions. I want to throw up.

What are you talking about?! I ask impatiently, with attitude, placing my hands on my waist. No time for this nonsense.

Yeah, he was playing Russian roulette last night and shot himself. His moms found him in his room. Crazy… Hey did you guys do the math homework?

Yeah, but I don’t get number 7.

I keep walking, dragging my legs with me.

One, click. Two, click. How many times does it take to get to the middle of the –


See Me Please

29 Jan

I’m wearing a cream chiffon dress.

I look lovely.

Should I dart in front of that truck?

My tanned skin glistens in the sun, screaming Southern California health.



The windows were open on our 15th floor lunchroom.

They beckoned,


I averted my eyes, blocking the windows out, the LA sunshine.

Pretending everything was okay, eating my lunch.

I run to catch the bus to pick up my daughters and I remember.

I remember.

I can’t leave.

I can’t leave them.

This conversation, and many iterations, airbrushed versions, quiet cries, fake smiles, masked feelings, shuffling raw sewage of hurt dripping away to make it blend. Blending. Existing, surviving, smiling, living.

Walking through life wanting to not only survive but to find MEANING.

So many times, so many days. I wanted to stop it. Just stop.

And it was always them that kept me present. That saved me from myself, from my brain that was hurting from the frantic energy buzzing inside, from the inability to neatly file shit away in a folder. No folder could hold it.

Like The Nightmare Before Christmas. Sewn together, coping. Hoping to hide the seams that were bursting, screams pushing outward to free the energy that I have for life.

When you want so much but you are given a 1 square meter space to fit into. The space given only gets smaller as time progresses. People tune out. They sign off on your failure.

Not knowing what is inside.

Bubbling out. Leavening. Like rising bread.

I take a bite and I enjoy the taste. So I keep kneading and baking.

I hate baking.

It makes me uncomfortable.

But I keep pushing.

And today, now.

I am a balloon filled with so many voices, so many stories, so many paths.

And I am asked, “Who Are You?”

Expected to answer in 2 sentences.

And I always take longer and I fight the feeling that I am taking up too much space.

I want to shrink onto myself.

Not speak.

Because when I let it out, when I roar,

it fucking hurts.

And when I hear that roar from others,

that low growl before the end

it fucking hurts.

Why does it have to hurt so much for so many?

I am okay. I am fine.

I am even.

I can say this with honesty now.

I can say this with confidence.

In the face of the questioning looks, of the wonder, of the hostile unwelcomes.

This place can be so unwelcoming.


Almost a joke.

How cold, how faceless, how irritatingly alike so many people choose to be.

See me please.

See me.

Because I strive to see you.

Because how hard is it?

To See with Kind Eyes?


Bursting at the seams

8 Nov

I have many hands

To Hold Me in

Pull my corazon inside

I have many faces

portray only the goods ones

only the logic and indisputable

they will see

But it keeps pouring out

Like a boiling pot hissing steam

So many hands

To hold me In

Cover my mouth

Close my heart

So many Hands

I hope they burn

when I let it out

So many hands

and None of them are mine

An Old Man

24 Oct

I saw an old man and I wanted to cry.

I see him everywhere, always surprising me.

In the shade, hunched over, under a tree by the courtyard, looking small.

Selling cookies at the Farmer’s Market. Quiet, drawn into himself, no customers.

So I buy in abundance.

Nothing I need with money I don’t have.

I see him everywhere.

His weathered face, mustache hiding his quiet lips.

Never moving, always leaving me wanting to hear more.

And when they do, sometimes I can’t run away fast enough.

Into myself, bracing myself.

Against what I want so badly.

Memories of a Daughter of Immigrants

2 Oct

My father is an immigrant. He crossed the Mexico/US border as teenager, on his own, to find another life. My father is from a small, rural, town in Mexico. We live in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country. The Second Largest City in the Country. His town’s population hovers around 1,000 people. Los Angeles’ population hovers around 3.5million.

Can you even imagine the difference? My high school had a population of 5,500 students. My freshman class, at 1,500 students, was larger than his town’s population. But don’t worry. My senior graduating class magically pared down to half of his town’s population to 500.

I could tell you about MY memories from the first time I visited Mexico, the first time we traveled to his town. But I’d rather not. I’d rather focus on my dad.

Can you imagine being 18 and leaving your town, your state, your country, your mother, your brothers, your sisters, your father, your mother tongue, your culture, your identity, your pride…All behind?

Can you imagine jumping on trains, finding  a way across the desert, finding a way across. Across. A hostile crossing.

Can you imagine –


so Painful that it cuts into your being,

cuts you down.

Every rejection, every categorization, every generalization,

Every Migra Threat.


Fear so cold that it freezes your blood on its tracks.

Fear like an ice pick piercing your heart.

Fight or flight.

Can you imagine ignoring both and choosing instead to


Keeping your head down. Smiling. Paying taxes. Ignoring condescension.

So that one day you would have children, your own family, and hope to –


To believe that they could break the chains of fear because they Did Not Belong to

Anyone but America.

America the Free.

Be Free.

And they came, and they came, and they came, and they

Will Continue to Come

whether you care for it or not.

Whether you care for it or not.

They will come. As you did.

And they will borne others like Me.



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