The Acentos Review - Youth


Un Cafecito Extra Cream Extra Sugar

When I was four, Abuelita would dunk

cookies in her café con leche

and pass them to me, peering through

her dark-rimmed spectacles and life-wrinkles,

smiling at me with china eyes.

Earth-colored hands, always wrinkled,

with veins like tiny fluid underground tunnels 

would smooth against my hair,

the lingering scents of Agua Florida

and Galletas María mingling over

the aroma of café chorreado.

When I was a fifteen Abuelita arrived,

smaller than she used to be,

to live with us and I had to give up my bedroom

sharing now with my cat-ophile sister

who’d feed Pepper canned Fancy Feast

right in the middle of the bedroom floor

where I was sure to step right in it,

wet mushy salmon smelling cat cuisine

between my toes and

she would read Piers Anthony and Heinlein

until reality disappeared into the glow

of the bedside lamp, and I

had to acquire the life-skill of sleeping

with my head under a pillow and give up

wishing for my room back.

When I was twenty-two, my grandmother

would grip my arm just in case she stumbled

when we’d go to Burger King for lunch

and it was there she made revelations

over a small coffee extra sugar extra cream:

Orphaned, age twelve –

worlds of jagged-wound pain in those words – 

and no more school.

“Era muy buena alumna.”

Older sisters took her in, begrudging.

Babysitter, laundry doer, potato peeler

floor cleaner, errand runner, empleada.

And growing up and growing older and then

miracle and hardship intertwined:

birth of a daughter, obsidian-haired.

“Jamás pensé en no tenerla.  Jamás.”

Eyes the steel of a mother’s will, 

then a twinkle, a sip of coffee: “Era la única niña

que nacío ahí en esos días.  Las enfermeras

me la llamaban La Reina.  Bella, mi Reina.”

At ninety-nine, Abuelita sings in bed or

in her wheelchair, her memory like a spider’s web

trying to catch water

pearls of crystal sparkle, catch the light, disappear.

“Este es mi esposo,” I tell her, introducing my husband.

“¡Qué guapo!” she approves, smiling, toothless now.

She must really think so – she says it every time;

and she radiates her pleasure with a special wink.

After all, she had her resin San Antonio upside down

in the closet “para que te trajera uno bueno.”

Faith the jade of her heart, sea green

like the waters of Limón, of Puntarenas, of Playa Hermosa.

Bringing morphine, Hospice visits our house now

Regular as her heartbeat used to be

In the evenings, I sing to her those old songs

Bésame mucho, Ojos negros, Solamente una vez

She is one hundred, her hearing furred into violet murmurs

When she speaks, I’m not sure if she speaks to me

Or to the mango ghosts of years ago

Or to her mother’s portrait by the bed.

“Mamá,” she calls, her eyes closed. “Mamá.”

“Abuelita,” I say.  “¿Quieres un cafecito?”

Small coffee extra cream extra sugar

I take the cookie, dunk it in, and pass it to her.

Facebook Disclosure

Your status reads

This status has been cancelled

Because of inappropriate content.  Laughing,

I send a small emoticon as yellow

as that pencil that I never use.

In homage to your status I compose

“This status is postponed ‘til after coffee.”

The chat box opens:

I can’t seem to drink

a whole cup anymore.  Looks like my taste

for it is going. 

“Oh? This is quite serious.

It means I can’t be friends with you,” so types

the coffee demon me. The chat box waits.

There’s always chicory.

“We’re saved!”  I smile.

Your own emoticon materializes

So happy but quite speechless, yellow too.

This flirting… we have yet to meet.  You see

my nicest angles, pictures snapped with friends

lips curling up, eyes glowing, hair fixed so.

And you. That crazy close-up of your nose

and half your face.  Quite quirky, true.  I wonder,

are you that quirky too?

Our Scrabble war

is on again because I don’t see how

you could’ve ever won with my  huge lead

of just about a zillion points, I’m sure. 

Did you quadruple-score with “zoo” or “square” –


Yet  Facebook hugs and hearts

and pokes lay waiting in my arsenal. 

Is that too much?  Right now, we’re newly friends.

I think.  Do you?

I walked in on my husband –

now my ex –another woman lying

on my bed.  Is this the only type

of man to trust?  A Facebook friend who lives

a world away?  A man who makes me laugh

and sends me YouTube links to “China Girl”

with kisses shared in 1983,

the heat and sand and rolling waves. 

“Hmm. Cool,”

the comment – weak and limp – beneath the link

and I feel anything but cool.  The truth:

there’s no emoticon for this.  I change

the subject and type in: “Your middle name?”

It’s John.

I look at it, so neat and to

the point.  Three consonants. No dissonance.

And isn’t John a name that one can trust?

And anyway, on Facebook I have found

Desires lack the strength for full destruction

I proof myself for safety.  You don’t see

me flushing, breathless, hot when you appear,

a name, your pix, a dot of eco-green.

And yours?

“It’s Ana” – one more part of me


Silva of the Conquest

Remember our diosa, o daughter, our queen,

resplendent in Mayan shades

holy quetzal blue and green

golden crowns of jade and alabaster blades.

Sacrifice in blood fell due

to corn gods, gods of fire,

‘til the sun god rose, the world of Tunatiuh,

the bearded beings, dire

eaters of the anona,

heralding in 11 Ahau Katún

a misery chingona.

As Tékum Umán, nagual,

our prince, descends to death ‘neath goddess moon.

The loose-mouth twisted-throats win,

and take our wings of  quetzal

and give us slavery and European shoes.

Mary Sobhani


The famous Persian Educator Baha'u'llah said, “The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds and through commendable and seemly conduct.” Mary Sobhani believes that writing poetry is one of these pure and goodly deeds. Born in Costa Rica, Sobhani currently resides in Fort Smith, Arkansas.