Cecilia Caballero


Cecilia Caballero is a mother, writer, and scholar based in LA. She is a PhD Candidate in the Department of the American Studies and Ethnicity at USC and she is a co-editor of The Chicana M(other)work Anthology: Porque Sin Madres No Hay Revolución (contracted with University of Arizona Press). She writes poetry, creative nonfiction, short fiction, and all things spooky. To learn more about her creative work, visit: https://www.patreon.com/CeciliaCaballero

On Sad Days


I put my hair in a bun

Wash my body with lavender

And shea butter scents

Spray a rose tincture on my face

Make a chocolate smoothie

Eat too many dried mangos

Write a poem about too much anger

(No, not this one,

Another one.)


On sad days, I

Don’t do the laundry

Don’t wash the dishes

Don’t grade my students’ papers.

But on sad days, at least, I can still see the sun

During wintertime in Los Angeles.

On sad days, I look outside and think

How we can’t grow much of a garden

Because there’s already too much plomo blooming into dirt

That was trail into the house with our chanclas.

And yet. A ladybug lands on my finger.


On sad days, I can still

Hear the viejita next door

Laugh like she’s crying and

She sounds just like my mom

(I didn’t answer her call last night

Because I knew it was more bad news.)


On sad days, I don’t even want to put a record on

Or apply my black eyeliner in a single stroke

I can’t even finish the novel that I’m reading

And maybe I won’t. (I do.)


On sad days, I want to learn

What the pain is trying to tell me

And maybe I’ll listen some time.

I Grew Up Poor, Not Working Class


It means

“No speak English”

It means

All of my mom’s lower teeth fell out

It means

Going to the local food pantry

And eating canned food from white people

It means

Going to charity dinners for “the poor”

And being served by my blonde classmate

(I think her pity on me meant that she felt good about herself.)

It means

Asking your white teachers to cover $10 field trip costs

It means

Seeing your name on the plastic Christmas tree at the mall

And somebody saw it and bought you some Payless shoes

(And you really liked those shoes.)

It means

My parents telling me that I can’t go to birthday parties

Because there is no money their gifts

And I stayed home instead

It means

My mom lighting another vela on la virgen’s altar

It means

Don’t write books about me or my familia for your career.

It means

I grew up poor, not working class

It means

Fuck you.

© The Acentos Review 2017