Juan Morales

Dream of the ladybugs

I speak to someone on a borrowed cell phone, in a meadow with tall grass. None of their words make sense and my voice vanishes on invisible lines to reach into the ear of the other person. I have a flash of remembering an apple tree with dozens of ladybugs crawling out from under the bark. The meadow wakes up with a storm of ladybugs, flying off blades of grass and gliding toward me like flower blossoms bursting. They enter my mouth, crawl along my clothes, and prickle all over my skin. Someone used to always tell me they ate aphids, tiny destructions almost invisible to the naked eye. A garden is always very lucky with ladybugs, so I am afraid to destroy them. I don’t take any steps and make sure not to swallow the ones in my mouth. With measured breaths, I inhale tenderly and then exhale to push them out like bubbles of orange fire. They circle me and return to the meadow, leaving me to wonder where I dropped the cell phone and if I am still connected to the other person on the line.

Dream of hungry crabs

The old man stares at the sandbox in my yard, reminiscing about the crabs he caught as a coastal child. Except he calls them cangrejos. He pops the bananas open and lays the fruit out on the sand. I wonder how crabs could live so far from the sea, and he tells me to have a little faith. I am excited to capture cangrejos, to break them open, and to suck the meat from their shells. When the crabs emerge, they are brown and wet with clicking joints. Their armored bodies and ravenous hunger terrifies me. I feel their claws and legs, like they’re scraping pink abrasions onto my skin. They finish the feast and scamper downward into the folds of sand. I ask the old man, “How can we eat when we didn’t catch any crabs?” He laughs like the sea spitting out a whale. He lips one of the tiny holes with his big toe and asks, “How can you still be hungry after that?”


Juan J. Morales is the son of an Ecuadorian mother and Puerto Rican father. He is the author of three poetry collections, including The Handyman’s Guide to End Times, winner of the 2019 International Latino Book Award. Recent poems have appeared in The Laurel Review, Breakbeats Vol. 4 LatiNEXT, Dear America, Pank, Verse Daily, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. He is a CantoMundo Fellow, a Macondo Fellow, the Editor/Publisher of Pilgrimage Press, and Professor and Department Chair of English & World Languages at Colorado State University-Pueblo.




© The Acentos Review 2020