Pigeons

Sopa de paloma.
Does mama pluck them?
From the fence?
From the street?

Before she chucks them,
not from the sky,
but brethren
with feet upright
into the pot.

Does she fetch a price for their beaks?

Do the eyes get so hot,
they burst?
Not chicken,
the birds?

Do they come from allá?

The pigeons in the soup
perched on roof ridges,
not pollo,
but bludgeoned herds,
not frozen,
but all bones and sofrito.

No lo entiendo.

Mama looks to mommy being told
Deja la niña,” as she cooks.

Tell me quick!
With haste!
Do they know what I sip?
La paloma, not poultry.
Will I ever be forgiven?

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, ?/?/2014

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My mother once teased me as a kid that “mama”, an elderly woman who I loved as my grandmother even though she wasn’t, was actually feeding me pigeon soup and not chicken soup. Of course, this was a lie, but I might’ve believed it a little at the time. This poem was inspired by that tall tale. Thanks, mom. 🙂

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A Country

Somewhere in me,
a country rises,
of cobble-stoned roads,
street lamps like raised eyes,
3 panel windows on brick,
of blown glass, wind chimes, and freshly baked bread.

Somewhere where it’s winter.
Somewhere I only find
when I’m taken from everything else.

A man I don’t know,
but is the type only I could ever truly know
on the other side of a barely cracked door split to show
heavy wooden furniture, sofas and curtains,
answers in a defeated tone to his cynical father,
“She’ll probably go back when the winter’s over anyway.”

I know he means me,
but I’m not sure where it is I’ve come from to return to.

He has dark hair that whips in the front the way beaters fold cake batter,
glasses, a long sleeve sweater on his long arms –
red.
I push the door open with my breath not being the only thing I leave behind.

Dusting a layer of snow from my red coat,
I tell him it’s cold outside
before inviting myself to his flank.
If he was surprised,
he only let it slip for a moment before he secures me against him with one arm.
Warm.

Does he know I heard?
A shop owner,
a woman I apparently know who knows us,
but only him individually,
asks him a favor to which
he answers with a grumble.

He looks at me look at him
and changes his mind.

“Let’s go.”

The kiss is as quick as the dot of an exclamation.
I’m not sure it happened,
But my face senses the intrusion and bares teeth.

She gives me that look.
The, “I know you’re staying whether or not it’s winter forever,” look.
Out in the winter,
my coat and his red scarf,
he reaches for my cold fingers
before country sinks again.

I open my eyes to the
winter that hasn’t gone,
but I’ve left against my will.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez ?/?/2014

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Laptop

A book without binding; without pages. It is made to reduce paper-cuts, but to increase lap burns. Why do they call it a laptop? Do our laps need lids on them? Will we spoil if we’re not covered?

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 4/6/2010

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Dead Silence

Pastel halls sound like hinging basketball courts
Beneath tapping feet on rhombus patterns
Accordions hiss up and down measuring cups
Roller coaster beads tie together lie detectors
Next to the man with the white squared collar
Who likes to recite a sutra mantra
Tempo machines beep with ticking tocks
That pump with pulsing hearts under flickering fluorescent
The busboys squeak restaurant carts
By the neon jukeboxes
After you pass the Hallmark next to Times Square
Where stocks scroll over lottery tickets
Attached to a crowd of waiters
Who never win

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 4/9/2008

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Wurzelbrot

I like me a man with a bit o’ boyish charm
who smiles from his cheek
has Andes chocolate mints on his huff
and a scolding as hot as firebrand
arms that can gently swing a heavy jackhammer
a name with rolling R’s and lulling L’s
who’s baritone can ace the Richter scale
a hide like the ha’s on frostbitten mittens
a bull dog mug
who shows culinary care in getting the rise
out of hissing yeses and the grease from fatty hips
coat hangers for shoulders
because they carry my burdens
and a preference to sleep in Wurzelbrot knots.

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 2/15/2010

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Circus Act

Tightrope flashing
Footwear swaying
Below
The Banners start waving
On comes the theatrics
Clowns run doing acrobatics with popcorn snappin’
Knick knacks blastin’
The audience
Turn their backs
Past fireworks flarin’
Blue and red blaring’
To the spatter and racket
Like confettied ketchup packets
Glass flickers
Footsteps crackle
The batten is broken
Simmering pyros
The ringmaster leaves the stage
Scraps and echoes
The act has made the front page
But the trainers have lost their animals

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 3/6/2008

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School Bus

I
hinggge and hissss
at every red
where all that is smaller
than I
come to screeching halts
before bumping nose to ass
And those that are smallest
are the only
smalls I stop for

I bend every corner
like I’m trying to stretch it
Break it
Make a hole in it
Rip it
Make myself a cringe-worthy memory
They dread my visits

And I spin
like a stalling toy top
about to lay furiously
but passively
lazily
to its side

ready to die
I squeak and rust
with every movement
because every mile
is a protest

my face
a
bright
yellow
warning
morning

my mouth
open wide
as I eat your children
frappe
and
crush
with every
bump

before I spit them out
just a tad
influenced by
exteriors you have
no
control
over

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 2/7/2010

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PS: I hate school buses with a passion. Rode them as a kid and I think they’re terrible…