Limpieza pa’ la Tristeza



Estoy triste
so I’ll light my candles
one by one
and when all the candles are on
and all the lights are off,
i’ll draw the blinds open
so the neighbors can’t see
and the moon can trickle in
to heal the wounds
the daylight sun rays left behind,
i’ll open the window
to change the air in my room
the way doctors change
the blood in a dead body for preservation chemicals,
the way a snake sheds its skin to grow a new one,
and then I’ll light the incense
while I turn on the shower

I’ll take a hot shower, with the bathroom door open, so the steam will fill up my bathroom, and then flood my room, empañando el vidrio, fogging the glass, and with the heat, my pores will open, like cactus flowers in the morning sun, and to remind myself I’m in my body, and it’s all I’ll ever own, I’ll clean it like a cat licking its fur, slowly, to heal, to enjoy it, to move on, to pass the time, to feel, and when I’m still in the shower I’ll scrub my hair with apple vinegar and water to take out the bad luck, spirits and oil like abuela and Reema said, the water will trickle down my face, flooding my wide pores, and I’ll wash off the salty remains with my face looking up at the sky and then I’ll rinse it all off, I treat my showers the way characters in books do, a shower or a bath is rebirth in my high school English class, now naked and still dripping, I’ll step out to the sink, look in the mirror and think how odd my body looks when the steam fogs the mirror, it makes all the colors blur, shapes get confused and I can’t tell where my hips end and where the toilet seat begins, I’ll dry my face to tone it with rose water and lavender extract and then I’ll spray it with the aloe I blended with hand-picked rose petals, I’ll dig up the coffee I don’t drink to exfoliate rub my face my butt my stretch marks, my bloated belly and swollen feet and then I’ll lay on my floor to rest until my thoughts start slipping away into a light dream, that’s how I’ll know it’s time to get up and shower again, a final cleaning to wash off the salt, I’ll rinse with cold water and think about the candles, they have been burning for too long, and I’ll realize my aloe also needs a shower, my journal needs ink, my head needs my pillow, the book on my window sill needs to be read, and my dried flowers need to be hung so I’ll rinse and step out again,I’ll feel a bit better, clearer, more fresh, but before crawling in bed I have one last step, a thick Aztec clay mask, I’ll spread it evenly on my skin, with a brush I’ll pretend my face is a canvas and the clay the paint, I’ll spread it until my face turns grey like the moon on my looking glass, and then comes the music, a fifteen minute salsa freestyle dance between my bed and my desk with a broom sweeping the floor and my hair tucked tight behind my ears and when the last beat sounds, I’ll wash my face with cold water again and then add a drop of maqui berry oil, I picked maqui in Santiago when the days got warmer and my skin got darker, I’ll spray one more time, moisturize in a circular motion with the tip of my fingers and I’ll be fresh, I’ll blow out the candles, read, sleep and I’ll be ready to wake up again.


Image by William Eggleston


No Time For Talking

Cheap vodka slosh and greedy hands
A glass ship bottle with a label
In a language I can’t read.

My feet step light over questionable
Spills and slips of the tongue in cheek
And slits in her skirt.

An alpha bassline
Vibrating all of those loud cloudings
Right out of my head through one ear and splat

It liquid springs out of the cup jostled by an elbow
A new stickiness on the floor poor host
But dancing and the heavy blanket on my head

They make a nice pair for forgetting.
And she’s whispering to me
That this won’t make me feel better

But what I want is for him to see me
A deer standing staring at the barrel of his gun, loaded.

Sneakers twisting and eyes flashing to
Anyone who wants to make friends or
Make a mess of me

I’m here and don’t you know me?
Doesn’t anyone here know me?


Artwork by Hope Gangloff



saw a woman once pushing
an empty stroller. the lack
was the color of a trampled
sandcastle, the woman
floating driftwood slipping
off unforgiving pavement.  i
could not know where she
came from or must go (a
spring waltzing down the
stairs fifty paces, nothing in
between) though i can recall
her leather pumps sailing
through puddles
and the absence robbing the
wheel’s squeak. i tally the
crows with each muted turn,
enough     to     keep
her warm.



often see myself in dreams,
passively in the midst of
things, sitting in the hallway
of my old house braiding
matches into my hair so that
i might stay afloat in the hall
of mirrors. (If i moved beads fell
with each blink, on me and
not me) recycled figures’ toes
stretched      over            with
someplace to be. follow the
sound of a rolling dice
before its dots spill all over
the rug again, hair unfolds
on itself, i find myself
seeking     something      mine.
perhaps   i   have   stolen   my
own                eyes.



caught the tune of a backed-
up, rusted handgun. the man
over there has got that
rubber face on, looking like
the ladder stopped halfway.
now she looks as if she’d
rather catch him with three
hands than with none at all,
hair parted by the corner of a
coffee        table,       plucking
eyelashes to have something
to say. the glass pipes that
curl around a copper
headlight tell me that it’s
great to be here, perhaps
greater than to stay. i’m
washed out with no dinner or
a show, but the call left on
hold and the plastic bag doing a
sombre            pirouette.



reeled in the line and out came
the sun, filling the whole pier,
sounding like a memory as it
spun around in my palms. i
peered into it like peering
into     a    bottomless    bowl,
holding back a yawn. the light
like the stem of a dandelion,
the seeds disturbed by the
ocean’s applause. i carried it
and it carried the scent of a
flashing    green    exit    sign.   it
reminded me that there was a
time when i was put down and
never picked back up. i told
everyone i had tossed it back
in, had to, but what did it do
to deserve that.



Artwork by Rene Magritte “Portrait of Stephy Langui” 1961

The Man is Gone

So, the man is gone
She stacks her spine
Like Legos
A precarious tower.
Imaginary dragons
Slithering at the base.
A little princess

So, the man is gone
I prop my chin up high
With toothpicks.
So, he never
loved me, so?
I grow a craving
Like a spiky cactus
In my liver for love.

So, the man is gone
She gathers children
Like firewood in her
Soft arms.
Whittles them down
Into clubs to beat him
Or beat her
Loneliness with.

So, the man is gone
It happened
Like the tide coming
For a sandcastle that
I loved with all my heart
And then
Tried to live my life in,

So, the man is gone
She collapses;
A butterfly wing,
A heap on a
Bathroom floor. Her
Lips emit a cry for him
Like a dog whistle.

So, the man is gone
I vow to never be a bridge
That bends.
Kiss his fingertips goodbye
Without crumbling
The desert in me roaring
And a little cactus

So, the man is gone
I prayed so many nights
He’d go. And stay away.
But he’s threaded himself
Into her DNA
Coded himself
In her fabric.
I hear his footsteps return.

So, the man is gone
He left me too
I know the
Rattle of his door slam
Goodbye and how it shakes
Your frame.
I share your same



Artwork by Chantal Joffe

When Love is Not Enough

Be careful; your skeleton
Might jumble those nights when
Your skin feels so loose without
Someone to
Hold            you                together.

So in bed you will hold a body or
Hold an extra pillow
To stop yourself from turning
Too quickly in your sleep
You could lose a rib
Or a femur in that nest of blankets.

Hold a hot water bottle to your burning chest and
Imagine                 a heartbeat
Imagine                 a fever.
Find a person who is like a fever to burn love out
Through your sweaty forehead.
Tell yourself that the fever is love too.
Let the jungle creep over you.

Take an icy shower. Wash weeds away.
Let cold close its fist.
Smirk when someone soft approaches.
Settle like snow
Over a city and feel the boots trudging through you
Chew on              ice shattering in
The glaciers of your mouth and erase the blue from the sky
With a big pink rubber eraser.
Swipe that niggling eraser dust from the page.

Just when you think warmth has seeped away
Those underground springs will rise again
The grass will unfurl
You’ll grow into your bones and

The soft creature in the den will open its eyes
To feel the hunger of springtime.


Artwork by Marina Gonzales

The New House

On cringing joints
The New House creaked
Heaving in the night to feet unsteady.
He weaved through lampposts;
Tottered towards the lightless path.

The family slept
While marbles rolled in rocking drawers.
While the keys jangled
About to fall from their new perch;
The hook near the front door.

Inside and unknowing (ignoring)
The family lurched towards
The Wild- clipped carefully with fences.
And their imagined coyotes crumbled and howled
Beneath the house’s blundering feet.

Mountains flowed just out of reach.
So one by one each child slid
On ropes of hair
Or racecar tracks
Or a powdered galaxy footpath.

They left through their windows
Hair mussed and feet half-socked.
Heels hit the dirt with
Sleep still in their eyes,
Hopes pinned to curtains left behind.

The New House waited
Until one by one each child’s fingertips
Got caught on the breeze
Like sticky paper, and

They were tugged gently
To softer places,



Artwork by Icinori “salle des machines”

Cité Universitaire

Feathered, vibrating, gargling
A song stuck in their throats
Mimicking, skipping gasps of assured flight.
A hop and airborne.
A sound like a stick dragged along
An iron fence—but quicker, lighter
Shaking out, crying out.

She follows two steps behind
As he weaves her through wildflowers
Human food fought over and insects kissed
Snapped up, shaken
A spider lands on a bare knee
Creeping up to her hemline as her eyes widen.

A honeybee lands on a flower
Gracelessly drawn on a bottle of iced tea
It snorts its disappointment
Meanwhile trees whisper, quiet—quiet
I imagine they were nest-born
Those two flapping and scolding in the grass

His deep voice reaches out to cradle her
And her hunger keeps them tethered

Feathered, vibrating, gargling
That two-part melody
Honey sweet and sticky



Artwork by Ilona Szalay “Smoke and Mirrors”