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3822527016_1a5a2b779f_mof the rolling pin

hitting the counter

as Grandma made tortillas.

Every day.

A Mexican alarm clock.


I would find myself getting up

to go for a walk, and before

I would leave she would say,


“Juanito, cálmala y trucha este dia.”

Juan be careful and

calm today.

But it did not ever stick.

I did what I did and never split.


I had to sell that tecato his last fix.

That’s what keeps the light meter from getting stuck.

And the gabachititos from getting hit.


My home boys would tell me, “Estás loco.”

But I really did not care because before I did anything—

This is what I would say,

“Perdóname, Señor Jesus.”

And then go about

my day.


From the WIC anthology Words Across the Wire (2013)

Photo courtesy of Stacy Spensley

family monkeyMy monkey to be,

He talks to me, by

Kicking and punching

And taking jabs at me.

We communicate daily

With simple motions,

Knowing he’s okay in

Mommy’s little ocean,

Me, trying to sleep while

He’s awake, I know

Inside he’s trying to


All day he sleeps, but

For an hour or two

My little monkey

Just wants to meet

Me too.


From the WIC anthology A Wondering Mind (2015)

Photo courtesy of Eric Kilby

StainI wouldn’t mind being my couch.

All green, lumpy, soft, warm,

And you could drown in me if you felt like it.

I have little lines all over me,

They are essential,

Like the hair on a girl or fingers on an artist.

People have tried to cover me,

To change me,

From green to blue

Or from blue to white.

But they always fail

Because I will remain green.

I’m what helps people relax

And not worry

Or stand around,

Unsure of what to do next.

A place where people can crowd together,

Not caring about personal space,

Drinks spilled,

Food dropped.

But it’s okay

Because these stains are memories

Memories of a little girl

Who tried to cover up spilled nail polish

With a cheap cotton blanket.

Tears clouded her eyes

Making them shine

Like soft diamonds made of water.

She couldn’t bear to let her mom see,

Couldn’t bear to see anger or disappointment in

her eyes.

But she couldn’t bear to let her mother find out by herself.

So she told her,

Her voice thick while she chokes on tears.


Her mom doesn’t get angry

Or disappointed.

She looks sad.

As if she is sad that her daughter was scared of her.

She got up and embraced her daughter.

Told her that she could tell her anything,

That it’s just a couch.

And kissed her on the forehead.

Every time I look at that smeared nail polish,

Or that cheap blanket,

I can’t help but smile


From the WIC anthology The Moon Towards Me (2012)

Photo courtesy of Vavva_92

Heart shoeLove has such a big meaning

for only a four letter word.

Love is like hot cocoa.

You can feel the warmth of it,

when it’s just right,

consume your whole body.

Sweet warm love.

Love is cinnamon—it lingers

in your nose, but it’s nice

to know it’s there.


From the WIC anthology behind the clean, blue sky (2008)

Photo courtesy of Meghan Dougherty

clock 2Losing time because

time is melting away.


It feels like time is melting away.


It seem like everything

is melting. It feels like

I am torn by clocks.


It feels like time stops.


Time does not make sense.

Rocks and clocks are the same—

It feels like clocks are falling from the sky.


From the WIC anthology Night and Memory (2013)

Photo courtesy of ~Pawsitive~Candle_N

owlafter Joy Hario’s poem, “She Had Some Horses”

She had some owls who were specks of blood.

She had some owls who knew too much.

She had some owls who saw it all.

She had some owls who smelled your soul.

She had some owls who talked to themselves.

She had some owls with no tongues at all.


She had some owls.


She had some owls with broken wings.

She had some owls who talked in their sleep.

She had some owls who cried in despair.

She had some owls that would tear your hair.


She had some owls.


She had some owls with mighty strength.

She had some owls who held their breath.

She had some owls who prayed for help.

She had some owls who helped themselves.


She had some owls.


From the WIC anthology Like a Phoenix (2008)

Photo courtesy of Ralta Futo

These are amazing. This is from Vocab’s session with Martinez St. last week. Grateful for the partnership!

16 At Martinez St2

16 At Martinez St 16 At Martinez St3 16 At Martinez St4