Penelope Alegria

I Don’t Want Anyone to Think I’m Broke


Penelope Alegria is the 2019 Chicago Youth Poet Laureate and the author of Milagro, her debut chapbook. She is a three-time member of Young Chicago Authors’ artistic apprenticeship. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in La Nueva Semana, El Beisman, Muse/A Journal, The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT, as well as BBC Radio 4 and WBEZ Radio Archives. She is a Brain Mill Press Editor’s Pick, and she was awarded the 2018 Literary Award by Julian Randall and both the 2019 and 2020 Poetry Award by the Niles West English Department. She has performed spoken word at the Obama Foundation Summit, Pitchfork Music Festival, and other venues in the Chicagoland area. She is currently attending Harvard College.

So when the wind whistles into the kitchen,
ready to mince all skin it grazes,
I beg my dad for GUESS?,
the brand questioning its own name,
the jacket grabbed out of Alyssa’s locker for recess.
But my father doesn’t care about
how it’s pretty enough for the popular girls,
only about how GUESS?
isn’t warm enough to brace the empty fridge freeze.
My father has the resoluteness of a period
but still, GUESS?
curves my dad’s shoulders over the sewing machine
like a question mark.
While I sleep, my dad stitches
the brand’s triangle logo onto the arm of last winter’s jacket.
He doesn’t straighten the question from his body
until breakfast, when he offers last night’s seams. 

And no one thinks I’m broke
until Monday,
when the triangle logo flakes to the playground snow,
and Alyssa laughs
as I run home.


Fragments of My Notes App, After You 

in a terrible city i am weeping

like the young are prone to do

how many cornfields do i run through to get to you?

thicketed thick husks

whirring like a deck of cards

i know i was loved in the daytime


undo the stars

color in the moon

just so you know

i told the clouds about us

the sun saw you melt into my chest

even blue skies ask when we’ll lay under them again

when will i get to that someday morning?

when will i get bored of your memory’s hum?

when will i wake up and skip onto the next song?


© The Acentos Review 2021