Mother Tongue Day: February 21)
en los murmullos de calor
De la ofrenda
para venir al lugar
que se deslizan
entre mis dedos.
in the murmurs of heat
From the altar
to come to the place
where the words
that slide between my fingers
(c)2018 Monica Sánchez
Mónica Sánchez was born and raised in Orange County, California. She graduated from Cal State University, Fullerton with a B.A. in English. She was an English teacher for 3 years and is working on obtaining her Master's in Library and Information Science. Her work has appeared in the Intersections anthology by ZZyZx Writerz and Spectrum.
These poems are about her experience as a second generation Mexican-American woman.
What Women Want
A response to Kim Addonizio’s “What Do Women Want?”
I want respect.
I want to command awe
and create a series of symphonies
of “Yes, ma’am” with a flick of my wrist.
I want it mixed
with a bucket of admiration
and a pinch of groveling,
so no one ever questions
whether I deserve it.
I want to walk down the street
past the kids on their bikes
with no place to go,
past the bars spilling out
slovenly drunks, always searching…
past the eyes that follow
as I turn the corner
and put distant declarations of love
I want to walk
like I’m the only woman on earth
who knows how to part the crowd
and tear through it gracefully.
I want to be the reason other women
rise to emulate that action.
I want respect
more than you can imagine.
I want to confirm
what I already know about myself.
And when I get it,
I will cling to it so tightly
that I will have,
by strength of will,
tattooed it on my skin,
a part of me that was not given
(c)2018 Monica Sánchez
Blooming Before Spring
Blooming before Spring, a thing of magic they tell you: the sitcoms. Dammmnnn girl. Cartoon
eyes widen, fling out heads then boomerang back. You sure are fine. But you’re not. You never
have been. You cry at night from the growing pains. Nothing fits you, and Mom doesn’t believe
you when you say bras and swimsuits are miniscule nipple ornaments. You’ll have to wait till the
next paycheck, she says.
You look in the mirror before getting dressed. Ugh. They are lopsided and heavy and you have to
double up on armor that never fits quite just right and was probably made by a man who doesn’t
understand the curves of a woman’s body but loves to pretend mastery of carnal knowledge in
stories told to friends and lovers.
You avoid beach days and pool parties because everyone stares, even your family, and they
never stop talking about them. For once can the conversation be about something other than
these uncomfortable mounds of yellow fat I didn’t ask for?
You are taught your body is not your own. It is an object of amusement and let dreams of
wedding bells fade because you are already married to shame, which your grandmother will
outline when your cousin and you, junior high twins, yearning to own womanly power praised in
magazines, leave the house wearing the same spaghetti strap shirt and she scolds only you to go
back inside and change/ Cover up. Put on a sweater. IT IS THE MIDDLE OF JULY! screams
the California sun.
Tits and pimples and disgust and dread. Is this the rest of my life? you wonder.
Your classmates question why you don’t have a boyfriend. How easily you could get one
because they’re so huge! They want them. Share why don’t you? I would if I could, but your
parents tell you to love your body. You’re too young for surgery and what would your husband
one day think? Is it really worth the scars?
You are 16 and your lab partner tells you all the guys talk about them in gym class, even though
you wear a size large t-shirt to avoid notice. He joked about copping a feel once and then slyly
tried. Others didn’t bother with such formalities, grabbed and squeezed in the quad by the lunch
line, guys and girls, without permission. So much fascination, even from your uncle on
Thanksgiving, a moment you flew to your mother. That day was slapped on the wrist and then
died peacefully in silence.
Consent had not yet entered your vocabulary. School only taught girls like you to protect
yourselves with flimsy polyester layers while billboards and TV said otherwise.
Touch. Touch Touch. That is all you are good for. Worth established and validated with the first
boy who ever tossed I love you into your basket. Score for him but loss for you. You won’t learn
and will keep losing until one day you seek peace at the edge of a knife from a doctor who
ignores everything you’ve experienced and shapes your body to the worldview that dictated your
childhood and made teenage years insufferable.
6 months of healing and you receive little relief. From growing pains to scars mending, you cry
at night again. The mountains aren’t half as tall now. You can zip up your dresses without asking
for help, but the conversation continues and eyes travel. You are an adult that bangs on the
hourglass of your sex to escape while you catch deer in headlights try to hide what they’re
thinking, but you see it on their faces. Even so, you still search for your value in the grooves of
And one day you will guide your daughter through the storm of blooming before Spring. Slow
down. Hang up the phone. Quit worrying about taxes and groceries and bedtime and listen to her.
Teach her to love herself and build a forcefield that repels stares and comments and grimy
grabbing hands because oh god there will be so many! It is not easy to do and she will need more
help than either of you can imagine.
And don’t forget about your son. Teach him to understand the simplest concept: that a woman’s
body is not a toy. It is the flower blooming before Spring and the sunlight long after. Guide him
towards open fields that let the sun shine down forever. And above all, make sure your daughter
understands that no one has the right to make her feel anything less than what she is worth,
which is everything and then some.
(c)2018 Monica Sánchez
Walking Around LA at Night
I intend to ride
the wings of neon lights,
cheap thrills and starstruck drifters
until my number is up
and the city swoops down,
But will it happen soon?
Will it be after a glass
of red wine or two,
settled into a blissful daze,
instincts placed on hold till sunrise?
Will it be on the walk towards my car,
returning to cracked cement trips
and battered street sign squints?
Will it be on a tagged
of glitz and glamour
with black cages on the windows
and locked doors that don’t open
for a woman’s anguished cry?
Will I be left sobbing on the sidewalk,
keys, purse stolen,
2 a.m. quitting time,
shopping cart elote saviors
and grilled onion-doused hot dogs
to drooling banned barflies,
hoping they have a cell phone,
that one of them is kind enough
to let me use it?
Will I have to argue my case,
amp up the tears,
smear my makeup a little more
in case the ripped blouse
doesn’t prove my story is true?
Will they watch me like a hawk,
mutter razor-laced words
they think this Gringa mask
as I call Mom,
the only one
I can trust might answer?
Will she hear it ring
and sleep through it,
ask my father
in her Sandman mumble,
“Who’s calling at this hour?”
Will I spend the night
on unclaimed cardboard
begging for generosity
to spend on a taxi or bite to eat
like those I walk past and pity?
Will I survive and tell my parents?
Will I share this with my sisters?
Will I go out again?
The LA night and I
have unfinished business.
(c)2018 Monica Sánchez
Street Performer in Barcelona
are just one among many
in a lineup of beggars
with tin cups and buckets
clinking from loose change
tossed in by passing snickers
and idlers whose hyena cries
release falling dominoes
through the growing crowd.
And the phones, and the recorders,
and the plastic, yellow, two-euro,
drugstore cameras venture out
of the pockets they were hiding in
to preserve the memory
of this cheap thrill obtained
not from singing or dancing,
or performing some sort of odd trick,
or revealing a wonder of epic hilarity,
but from you simply standing there
on a low pedestal,
wearing a poncho, sombrero,
and fake, dark mustache.
And I can escape
to another country,
as many as I like,
and still find
everything that made me
who I am today
will be reduced
to the butt of a cruel