Four poems of remembrance and loss by Lupita Velasco
A note from the author: These poems were written after my father, Antonio, took his own life—losing his battle with depression and alcoholism.
No Me Quieren Escuchar I run around with my insides in my hands taking them to you, to him, to them. No one knows what to do, so you all watch as I stuff them back in and conceal them with a cloth. All is well even though the blood drips out. You can ignore it, just mop it up y ya se esconde. Todo está bien, no mal, just bien. Hay que seguir aguantando the pain. Porque él se fue sin tí, sin mí corriendo del dolor de aquí.
They Move On
I want him remembered, not forgotten. But, I’m not allowed to grieve. Obscurity, sadness, pain is what everyone sees. Uncomfortable, intolerable, so they don’t speak. As if erasing him erases the pain. Now that he is gone the pain is gone. Life goes on. All is well. Package it up with a neat little bow, and away it goes. Away from you. He lives in me. It’s hard for you to understand. So, we pretend that you don’t see, the sadness living in me. See, you walked away from him long before he walked away from me.
Lo Que Dejo
Will I ever feel safe again? Did I ever feel safe before? No yo creo que no, el alcohol siempre tuvo el control. Querían descansar de él, y no saber más.
Pero ya se fue, ya no está, y en el vacío no podrán descansar. O alomejor sí, pero yo no. Yo siempre lo espere ver mejor. Que algún día ya no iba tomar y ya nomás sería buen papá.
El, todos, yo, nomás ocupábamos amor, pero nos dejamos llevar por el dolor. Se nos olvidó, que para sanar el dolor nomás ocupamos demostrar más amor. Es fácil tenerles compasión a las personas buenas, pero la compasión también es para las personas enfermas.
Never Coming Back
A little girl looks to her dad for strength, the rock that keeps things in their place. I never knew how safe I felt until I went one day without the strongest man I ever knew the funniest one too. But he is gone, and this I know: I have never felt this much alone.
Lupita Velasco was born in Calvillo, Aguascalientes, Mexico; but grew up as an undocumented immigrant in Oklahoma. As a sheltered immigrant, Lupita found comfort, adventure, and refuge in literature from a very young age. Reading is Lupita’s favorite escape and writing her favorite form of expression. Lupita graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2011 with a bachelor’s in International Studies and a minor in Criminology. Lupita currently lives in Bethany, Oklahoma with her neurodivergent husband, two daughters, and four chickens.
Rinconcito is a special little corner in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
A Letter A Mis Amigos “Patriotas” by Raymond A. Benitez
Today I take back my birth right
without fear or hesitation.
You, who believe you have as much right to deny me my heritage like conquistadores in foreign ships.
Yo soy Boricua! Aunque no lo sepas!
Yo soy Boricua! Aunque tu me niegas!
I know how it drives you insane, that my Spanish sounds like heresy.
Do you not recognize your own brother?
I am the product of our mother’s violation, the bastard son of history, the crumbs that the mainland left behind! I am the echo of our past!
And I see you. I see throughyou. You foam at the mouth, ready to spit rejection into my face.
As I speak, I see your lips curling like bows taking aim at my chest. Your tongues are pitchforks starving for blood. Your words are salt encrusted and stink of vinegar left to dry.
Your fingers slowly creep, crawl, and wrap themselves around stones. Accusing me of adultery, pharisees of my flag.
Me acusan de traición!
Me han dicho que abandone mi patria!
Por no estar sufriendo con ella! Luchando por ella!
Accuse me of poverty instead!
Accuse me of loving a family I could not provide for! As if being Puerto Rican eight thousand miles away from home was not suffering enough.
As if representing our pride and defending our honor to those who believe we have none left isn’t enough of a fight!
But I see that your eyes still speak silence and rejection.
Sin embargo, I know who I am and where I am from.
Yo soy el jíbaro triste, migrando a la cuidad de Nueva York.
I am the sleepless nights in the heartless jungles of concrete and traffic.
I am the desperation of the immigrant.
I am the weeping eyes of mothers praying for their sons.
I am all of their “Hail Mary’s” and “Padre Nuestro”.
I am the uncertainty of choice. To leave or to stay?
And pack your whole life inside a bag of luggage…
I am the isolation of our single star.
Quiet seed of the Caribbean.
It wants to scream out from beneath the earth, to be acknowledged by the world.
We are taught that injustice is our daily bread. To be thankful that we are not like other Latin countries, “republicas hambrientas”
Justice is too much to thirst for, because “no estamos listos para la soberanía.”
As if freedom is something we must learn, as if it wasn’t already seared into the very skin of our souls when we are born! As if it wasn’t already carved into our bones and written in verse within our hearts!
Tell me, do you think we felt loved when the President threw paper towels at us when there was more blood running in the island than water?
Neither did I.
I am Judas, who betrayed himself and sold his flesh for thirty pieces of silver and a loaf of bread to give to his mother.
You would have me crucified for being born into the same skin as you.
The sound of my rolling r’s is flat and deformed, my skin is a shade of American to you, but I will never be what you want me to be.
I will not confess to crimes I did not commit.
Because you cannot abandon a home,
that has never left your heart…
Y confieso con mi cantico triste,
Yo soy Boricua, aunque no lo sepas.
Yo soy Boricua, aunque tu me niegas.
Raymond A. Benitez was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico and spent his childhood growing up mostly in the United States. He moved back to the island with his mother and younger brother at 12 years old and stayed there for nine years until Hurricane Maria required him to migrate from the island to support his family in 2017. He is currently finishing a Bachelors in Journalism while serving in the United States Army with the dream of returning to Puerto Rico which he considers to be his home. This is his first time being published individually, but he was previously published in a poetic anthology titled Vuelos del Vertigo from the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao.
Abuelita tells me that I was born in the month of Tlaloc: Part jaguar, part thunder and rain—grown like corn, in a smoggy valley downstream from the Iztaccihuatl.
There, we knew how to cook for the dead: tamales sweet as suffering. With molcajetes, we mashed hearts stuffed with the blood of truths omitted while loving.
I don’t remember the bullet that split Julio’s skull. But, imagine Mother hypervigilant for the sky falling. Death threats, caseloads of Bacardi, comida cold.
Joy coagulates, like cars on the periférico. Finally, we see corruption’s fangs taller than any volcanos. Negrita is left at the pound. All night, camote carts cry.
Then came the trunks, the take-only-what-you-need, leave the snow on the Ajusco, take Juanita Perez. Feel the bloody slice of the interim between indigena and immigrant.
Here, my estadounidense classmates pretend I don’t exist. Abuelita dies. Even Tlaloc forgets me in this blurry desert: Santa Anas in our eyes, on the stingy side of survival.
Somedays, we even let ourselves feel the grinding of the stone, identity sifting, the flattening of the rolling pin. Next time, consider keeping all the husks when you peel me.
Fear runs like a headless chicken flapping into you at the market, when you least expect it to— wings tossing up dirt long after the machete has been wiped clean of blood.
The blade is our phone. It swings at safety every time the calls arrive: “Los vamos a fusilar!”
Meanwhile, Mami draws lines in the rugs pacing—she squawks, her feathers awry.
Some will grab the rosary, others the gun. There is no time to wait for pricy milagros in the Plaza de la Conchita.
But I was with Juanita making maza and, I swear, she left the virgencita on her gold throne, and summoned the pumas, monkeys and nāhuallis down from her verdant Oaxacan hills instead, right into our kitchen in the big city. She wove protective spells into my black braids, combed out my anxiety with her whispery Náhuatl, took me straight to the moon of her smiling face.
Some will burn copal, others learn about battle from the zing-zing of hummingbirds.
It’s no wonder Mami, to this day, though safely tucked into a California suburb, refuses to answer her phone: She didn’t have a nursemaid like my Juanita.
The Body Remembers
My Abuelita nearly died in the fire that ate her songbirds,
in the city Dad came from-- where he played the violin.
Maybe it was cigarettes, maybe spontaneous combustion.
We don’t talk about those things that happened in Juarez,
where youth was bought and sold, like trinkets at the border.
But ask my mother and she’ll tell you how Alzheimer’s brought it all back.
How the body resurrects wounds before it dies: harkens back to terror
through touch. After the brain falters, after fighting, escaping, crossing,
sweating, surviving. You still die under a conquistador’s swinging sword.
I prefer fire.
Katarina Xóchitl Vargas was raised in Mexico City. She and her family moved to San Diego when she was 13, where she began composing poems to process alienation. A dual citizen of the United States and Mexico, today she lives on the east coast where—prompted by her father’s death—she’s begun to write poetry again and is working on her first chapbook. Somos en escrito is delighted to be the first to publish her writings.