The Acentos Review - Youth



You smile like the Mona Lisa

thinking I don’t notice,

but I do,

your prosthetic teeth

behind your cracked lips

hardly ever get some light,

when you laugh

you cover your mouth with your hand,


thinking we will notice

that the teeth you chew with

are not yours,

but those from a laboratory.

You caught a gum disease

when you were fifteen

and had all your teeth

removed in Mexico,

plucked like chicken feathers,

and you tried to take your life,

your teeth-less life,

but you failed.

You tell me to brush my teeth,

get mad at me when I come home

from the dentist

and show you that I have six cavities,

and you cry,

tell me again about your teeth,

how you wish you had mine,

how you wish you could explode

in smiles bigger than just a smirk,

explode into laughter like Christmas,

explode away from your scared chuckle--

you point at the fake Mona Lisa

that hangs in my room

and tell me how you think she is beautiful,

how you wonder if that woman in the painting

had teeth like you

or had teeth like me.

You smile.


Alajuela in August

The mist hits my face

My eyes close,

Inhale, exhale,

A gentle smile opens them—

Majia Blanca Waterfall—

Thousands of gallons

Crushing to nothing,

Green palms

Growing up into the blue,

Tiny orange frogs with yellow eyes

Sticking to everything, to nothing,

My hands sliding on the wet railing,

Smooth as glass,

my backpack becoming heavy

with moist,

with fear,

knowing that a jump away

lays heaven.

I scream into the wind

Thinking I will be heard,

But hear nothing back,

But an echo,

The sounds of the songs

Of Costa Rican birds,

The squeaking of my tennis shoes

As I continue  down the narrow trail

Not knowing what is beyond

the white fog,

not knowing what is beyond


Luis Lopez-Maldonado


Luis Lopez-Maldonado was born and raised in Orange County, CA. He earned two Bachelor degrees from the University of California, majoring in Creative Writing and Dance. His work has been seen in the American Poetry Review, Cloudbank, The Packinghouse Review, Off Channel, Spillway, among others. He is single and living still in the OC.