Roberto F. Santiago

roberto f santiago


Roberto F. Santiago is a poet, translator, and lead singer in a solo act who produces his own music, and dances rips into his pants. Roberto received an MFA from Rutgers University, BA from Sarah Lawrence College, and is the recipient of the 2011 Alfred C. Carey Prize for Poetry. Currently, he works as College and Career Coordinator at a high school in San Francisco. Be it pedaling past the canals in Amsterdam or the smell of rain in rural Québec, he has begun to rewrite his own passport. Roberto also writes and produces his own music, and has been known to dance until he rips his pants. His frst full-length collection of poems, Angel Park, will be released April 2015 by Lethe Press. His poetry has been published in such anthologies/journals as Assaracus - Sibling Rivalry (2014), CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art & Action(2014), Hypothetical: A Review of Everything Imaginable(2014), and Te Waiting Room Reader: Stories to Keep you Company - CavanKerry (2013).

Canela and Cream

Her fingerprints left cinnamon on everything she touched
especially in the morning. The cabinets, their door pulls
the faucet, the counter, the white face of the boy on the box of Farina. 

On his cardboard pedestal, his porcelain and rose covered in cinnamon
mocked me. He looked like a pastry of a boy. He glowed the color of fresh-cut
azaleas, heavy with self-import. Heavy as white-cake and buttermilk. 

I was more like the Farina he silver-spooned into his peony of a mouth 
after she added the cinnamon and sugar. She would to tell me I was blonde
when I was a baby. Blonde as dandelion seeds blowing in the wind.

Two Old Ladies at the Met Staring at a Mural

After Romare Bearden’s The Block (1971), October 29, 2011


This is art?

       You don’t think so?

I’m asking you.

       This is what the Met calls art.

Is it a painting?

         I think it’s a collage. Magazine clippings and—


The building dressed as neon
paint&lights. The shout of the liquor store
marquee sings jazz to the kids without
parents smashing like atoms against the pavement.


It’s really colorful.

Yeah, but the kids are smaller than the mousetrap

Isn’t the tablecloth pretty?

and why is the mousetrap in color, but not the kids?

The green&white polka dots—

But that’s where they eat, why put a trap on the table?

the building’s lovely.



Glassless windows, rust for a mattress  
and a table of splintered knots
all sit together in the room
where a mousetrap babysits the kids.


Where are the parents?

    There seems to be a mother and father on the corner.

They're dressed very nicely. Maybe for church?


What kind of church wouldn’t allow children? Baptist?

I would never leave my children home alone, even on a Sunday.


The women on the corner are wrapped in white ermine,
and the men in freshly steamed & feathered hats.


Why are all the colored people so sad?

The sky is the color of a sky
interrupted by the shapes of clouds.


 I don’t think you should say colored.


The Empire scrapes the uptown sunset
as the black&tan jalopies panhandle the edge
where Lenox bends into 132nd


Why not? They are colored. You remarked on the colors—

     …of the buildings in the picture.

Not the people.

Why is what you said ok, but what I said isn’t?

© The Acentos Review 2014