jo reyes-boitel

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jo reyes-boitel : writer, motivator, mother, daughter to oya and obatala, rabid music listener, percussionist and lover. texas transplant, by way of minnesota | florida | mexico | cuba.


Cheo had beauty - hair in waves
pulled from a pocket comb,
brillante giving him some shine. 

His hazel eyes could get him a plate of food and a smile,
ended up making him one of a handful of Marielitos
invited by Castro to leave his prison cell,
leave his home, for American freedom. 

He traveled by night on an unlit boat
cramped with dozens of others. Compass mimicking
a star’s trajectory. The waves below
easing into their own course. 

Once on sand and soil his feet continued their drift.
When we found him, the cousin of a dear friend,
we claimed him our Tío. 

He spent his weekends with us,
the newspaper's daily crossword always in hand,
marveling as the children spoke perfect English
while teaching himself a word daily.
One across or one down. 

He might sit with us for five minutes or five hours
but always ended his visits abruptly. His distant eyes
considering how departure is never over.
We held onto him
the way memory holds most     just enough
despite his always trying to let go. 

The reminder of ocean waves on another shore,
of his body within its swelling waves,
bodies under a low moon. The immensity of that loss
would wake within him a search for home. 

We would find him up to his knees in the pool, or
walking along the pier, or laying back in a tub.

Water made me, he would say.
Rolls within me, brought me here.
Could have killed me
but never did.


ode to the broken clavicle

my brother holds a scattering
of broken clavicles     his lips whisper
across each tender reed 

resting in its light sleep,
warm cavities of bone 
secret keepers of the possible: 

     arms outstretched,
the lightness of this flight 

instead cradling secrets
     dark flights, fists

startled, each girl shudders
but cannot

his words splinter
into their hollow 

          there is no story left
in a broken clavicle
no divination for
its caged girl

foxy ladies

a gazebo sits in the middle of the park
pride flags tied to its railing, small groups come together 

lipstick marks on cheeks
add a berry blush as the heat of summer eases down 

the night is marked by glitter slicking across shoulders
and the sun, setting along an outline of trees, 

leads us into the street. The brave among us
wear heels, manage tiptoeing through the grass 

There are some short women in our group,
and some men, but by far the most beautiful are 

the tall ones. Beloved, beautiful protectors
with voices like a chorus that will shut down 

hard on anyone trying to get into our party.
Women gathering always seems to bring some 

fool out from the shadows. We are new women,
walking down the street, heading to the bar 

for drinks, where we will make toasts to our freedom,
where we will rise up with our new found loves. 

Our shoulders close together, conversations
sweet and golden in this evening sky. 

How the stars come out to meet us.
How the moon shows like an overfilled cup.

© The Acentos Review 2017