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Roxanne Paola Nov 2021
your breath is sweet
an amalgamation of the warmth of your throat
and berry-flavored cigarettes
i don’t know if you know this
but your lips are always curved in a little smile
as if a spectre is murmuring a joke in your ear
and i love that

your eyes crinkle endearingly when i
and your corpse-cold feet caress mine under the covers
thinking you’re leeching off my warmth
but i’m really leeching off yours

how many times have i colocated my head
under your chin
and felt like i was love and life itself
and death and grief and pain
my ear presses against your chest
and whispers to your internal organs
‘take my heart’

give me nothing
but the smell of your slender neck
and the grooves of your round fingertips
Roxanne Paola Nov 2021
i said goodbye to the desert
spit out a few grains of rust and sand
as i sat in the back of my mother's grand marquis
i was bidding farewell to the long plaid skirt i wore to school every day
the school that was mercifully unmarred by bullets
the glitter on the popcorn ceiling of my grandparents' home
the smell of an overwhelming saturday evening
which stank of discarded waste and cigarettes
we were going somewhere special
goodbye nuevo laredo

eight years later
i said goodbye again
to a neat little home
nested tightly amongst the bricks of others
a hilly backyard
bluebonnets sashaying on the side of the highway
mexican restaurants every three blocks
that could never replicate what i once had
stars and stripes holding steady in the shade of a sycamore tree
a glittering city in the distance
i was in love
and i was going somewhere special

i was elated to escape
both of my previous lives
always finding myself awash with uncertainty
adrift as i committed and uncommitted to a series of distractions
from the beastly recesses of my pruned little brain
that snarled about hopelessness
a lack of worth
and motivation
maybe i knew i was meant to run
since the moment of implantation

my new neighborhood is impeccably silent at night
no hollers to strain my ears for
no ominous pop-pop-pops
(was that a firework or could it be...)
no jovial music with thundering basses and large round drums
i eat pork drenched in teriyaki sauce
and drink green tea in the evenings
on the train, i gaze at the empty stares of other passengers
my gaze is also unreadable
i practice the strokes of a kanji
one, two, three...
my husband and i meander through temples
heavy and groaning with the weight of a thousand years
of life
benevolent buddhas and Cheshire-grinned demons
i can't help but think of the message of a western God
that my mother recited to me every night in the black of our room
sometimes i shuffle my feet in the square space of my living room
to the tune of cumbia

i used to think that i didn't have an identity
no confinement to a culture conceived by the likes of men
but i am what i am
and i never actually escaped
Roxanne Paola Jul 2018
I am but a tiny dot
on this gargantuan landscape

As I expel these viscous tears
the Pacific Ocean rages

I used to think I was as invincible
as the unspoiled Mount Kailash

My drive unconquerable
as a small child's deepest desires

But I have lost many battles
and I feel my identity slipping away

Revealing my soul too much
to the dampness of a cave


No direction
just like an unmarked road

I belong to the Earth
I am rooted to its misery

Just like a magnolia tree
shedding in the winter

Born again in the spring
until the cycle repeats
Roxanne Paola Jan 2017
when I was a child
a tremor entered me
and did not leave me for several years
I sat quivering in fear
as I heard a belt striking bare skin
I could almost feel it on my own
'obedece a tu familia'
and I did
this legacy of destructive love
and punishment instilled
by the ancestors of my grandfather
it was in many a scorching summer days
that brought about unadulterated joy
yet so much misery
tempers flared
but we would just keep dancing
obligatory kissing strangers on the cheeks
until it was time to leave
and then I would lay under the cool sheets
my bare feet blackened with the dirt
from outside
hoping that tomorrow I would gain a
little more courage
or become somebody else
Roxanne Paola Jan 2017
upon arrival
my luminescent eyes savour the landscape
I count the little differences
try to find something as unique as each individual
mole and freckle on your body
that I know so well
I gaze at the sea as if I could just reach out
and embrace it
I climb ancient hills and try not to step
on your haunches
this sheer simplicity overwhelms my being
I return flustered and anxious
I drive home past hideous edifices
with tears in my throat
an explorer longs for her spontaneity
until next time
Roxanne Paola Jan 2017
carnations in my head
hands under my bed
you wrapped in my sheets
me begging you please
dances of the dead
funeral bread
this is how I go
with your lips on my

— The End —