Generations: La Familia


he watched his father weaken the land of his mother over bowls of arroz y gandules.

he slapped her face she slapped sazón, both tenderizing alimento para los niños.

my father only did what he was taught, open palm against my mother

giving her money to cook a pernil.


she watched her mother as she spoke to the cops stopping by on Atlantic Avenue.

él es un hijo de puta trampa y voy a cortarle.

knives narrowly missing pops head as she watched saturday morning cartoons,

waiting for afternoon where mr. softee granted credit for a tribe of eight.

she'll visit him in the land of coqui and scorpions years later, remembering how he narrowly missed a knife.

she will not ask him to rescue her from creatures as she stands her ground, shaking with the kitchen knife.

her mother knew in San Juan, the cowards will keep on crawling.


she was scared to scribe all the tragedy, kept it locked in her head.

she watched him beat her both eyes swollen shut after she sent chairs swinging in curses.

her pen is her path to their histories they foolishly put in a child of ten.

they did not teach her spanish, so she snuck it in as a ghost at kitchen tables.

grandmothers with tongues of swords swiftly retold tragedies in an alphabet she struggled to master,

thinking la nena would never learn patterns if she was a little more gringa instead of boriqua,

never realizing that she squeezed herself between the muñecas and rocking chair

soaking in flailing hands and broken hearts to skipping needles of Hector Lavoe and Celia Cruz.

years later her late night feelings boiled down to everything she learned from home sweet home,

the only prayer she can roll off her tongue as she shook with the possibility of history repeating:

dame la fuerza para encontrar un beso en este mundo. _ Originally published in A Thing Of Beauty Painted By Words, 2013 and reprinted in She Will Speak Series: Gender Based Violence Anthology, 2019