Eric Odynocki


Eric Odynocki is an emerging writer of poetry and fiction from New York. He is a first generation American who grew up in a multicultural household: his mother is Mexican and his father was Ukrainian and Jewish. Eric holds a BA/MAT in Spanish Language and Literature from Stony Brook University and teaches Spanish in a New York public high school.



Lesson 1: Translation


We stand in Renaissance Square, White Plains: Lisette, whose parents’ conversations at dinner echoed the salty waves of the Isla del Encanto; Pamela, whose mother’s recipes were recited in the sugar cane rounded vowels of Barbados; and I, who as a child ate chilaquiles for breakfast and gołąbki for dinner but asked to pass a napkin only in English. 

We observe the businessmen in their suits conduct their daily pilgrimage to the Starbucks.  They do not hold doors for their fellow patrons nor care if passersby hear snippets of their vulgar banter spewed in caffeine fumes. 

Lisette says, “See, I think people are just not educated.”

Pamela counters, “But they all were probably frat boys at Harvard.”

My inner Spanish teacher cannot be restrained: “In Spanish, being educated is more than the years you spend at school.”


Lesson 2: Linguistics



         the past participle of ‘educate’

                  from the Latin verb ‘educare’ or ‘educere’

                           itself comprised of ‘ex,’ out, and ‘ducere,’ to lead

                                    to lead out



                                    in other words


         to guide

                  as in to guide a child

                           to raise


attaching a preposition to a root verb is nothing unique:

         just think of your


Lesson 3: Social Studies


When I was yearbook editor, the librarian advised,

“Eric, keep faculty and staff photos separate;

we have masters degrees.”


I snickered with the rest of the Internet when

the girl demanded of the train conductor,

“Do you know what schools I've been to?”


         I saw my literature professor from Ecuador,

         volumes in the crook of her arm,

         greet the mop-wielding janitor, una dominicana,

         with a kiss on her cheek.



Lesson 4: Eureka


at back to school night

         I highlight the importance

of global competence

         and how the study of other languages 

unlocks success

         in international business

so one is able to decipher

         the shadows of emotion and history

that words cast

         like bien educado


if you cannot say hello

         even in your own language

to someone whose salary

         is a few zeros short of yours

it does not matter

         the quality of the paper

on which is branded

         the abbreviation after your name

or the Alma Mater in Gothic emboss


your schooling should help you deduce

         what the campesinos

who pick your coffee beans

         would think of you


© The Acentos Review 2017