Mariana Goycoechea

PoEma for MaMi

I picked this pen

up from where you left it

on that wooden desk in a town

you will learn to hate.

you that city girl not that india sucia

from Jutiapa as you would call yourself.

you only knew how to write your simple name

in all orders of


UpPPer case AnD LoweR-case letters

and sometimes baby cursive that

you managed to learn on your own.


you a vieja

with abandoned school

on your fingertips, I would

walk into classrooms with your signed forms

to scrunched eyebrows come hither index fingers

pointing to the juxtaposing signatures

that were the wrong sizes for our bodies.


sign here, young lady so I signed

to prove how well-colonized

I was with my perfect grown woman

Oxford English cursive up against

your toppling letters. a majestic view

of uneven rooftops

of the skyscrapers of a city that

would become your first place of

many deaths.


my name is on your death certificate now.

a coffin typed six feet below your name

my name a sole witness, the purveyor of truths.


I don’t know what I’ll write

from here on other than

to remember to write the entire

alphabet every time I write your name

spelling out all the dichos

that didn’t die with you

setting those concrete buildings on fire creating


a new city of angels.

Self-Portrait in Several Definitions


air· n.        I began with a kiss and ended in an orgasm

                  my parents exchanging air the entire time

                  what a feat to have been there at

                  the right place right time because

                  desde que el mundo es mundo

                  we all share the same origin

                  that of pleasure

                  how simple, que dicha.


bare· adj.  like my mother’s feet not the ones

                  that ran bare after her mother kicking

                  the dirt causing a scar on the blush

                  of her right cheek. more like the ones that

                  grew exhausted greñas sticking out like

                  the weathered branches of November birches.

                  heels smothered in restorative oils

                  tea tree jasmine, fungal toenails except

                  the pinky one black. uninfected because  

                  perhaps an entire Mayan empire guarded it.

                  it is called la marca del indio after all,

                  the mark of the native, solo los indios tienen esto  

                  my mother would say proudly in forced Spanish

                  her stubby index finger pointing to it

                  like a long sought-after landmark.


My goodness, for a diabetic, your mother’s feet are well cared for, doctors would say

                  a coy smile on my face. silent pride. 


hot· adj.    a July baby I was supposed to love

                  the heat but alas genes always win.

                  Mami hated the heat. I hate it too.

                  AC on in October fan in December.

                  I shift my solutions for the heat perhaps

                  one day I’ll make it on the Miss Universe stage

                  showcase my talent of taking

                  the shape of a dead mother. 


mist· n.     the perfect in-between.

                  not quite air but a bit thicker.

                  like fog. like spirit even. like

                  the one the angel oracle card bruja told me about eyes closed:


Your mother. She left a lot of unfinished business on earth.




You used to say la gente lampiña no tiene vergüenza. 

I suppose that leaving a trinity of shaving

blades on your altar is also a shameless act.


More shameless than the fact that I

made the top of my cheap IKEA dresser

your memorial.


I choose the sea-foam green colored blade.

I commence the butchering,

the carving of my face into a more palatable one.


Me decías that hair makes skin

look darker y mejor depilar. So, I bleach

with this knife, the color of a newborn’s nursery.

Whiteness always looks innocent, no cierto?


I shave and shave and shave

the baby hairs, the side burns, my mustache,

the large patches of maize swaying

under July sun up and down my jawline. 


My cheeks crimson,

another marca del indio.

All the indios in me cry before

the spectacle of this whitened becoming.


Just one more patch. One more.

I’m so dark and light a la vez.

Que ugly y que fea.


Inside my mouth ancestors scream

for me to stop in a language

raped out of them.


Scratches suddenly appear on the left cheek.

The handiwork of their banging and chiseling.

A bit of my blood diluted with Mediterranean 

Sefarads and other criminals is drawn.


I count three

pricks on my left cheek.

I stop.


I run my olive and suckling

pig pink fingers over my cheeks.

They sound the fire alarms.

Announce the midnight mass.

The last call for the bus leaving Chiapas


I stare at the red reflection

of my mother and her people.

I am a lampiña now.

An assassin of ancestors.


I remove the weapons

off my mother’s altar.

A choir of silence

fills the air around me.


Ashamed, I say, Que vergüenza.

© The Acentos Review 2019