In October after yesterday


The orange furniture isn’t being bought by anyone

Except for the kooky.

Yellow, quirky curtains are only okay sometimes

But make too much sound while you read.

Suave natural leather has too much history, but

Married smucks bring it home and sit on it.

White patent snakeskin is a magnet for red wine, but

It really shouldn’t have any.

Black throwaway college plastic doesn’t show stains

And it’s reflection doubles as a bad mirror.





DNA can be funny sometimes

But so can MDA.

Both psychostimulants will

Make you ask “where are

My glasses?”

They make you hold a kitten’s head

Between your palms and cry

At neon signs because they

Understand your family




girls with grey eyes

like pink rooms

and turning in their right foot.

Rooms with red bricks

Turn girls with grey eyes

Into comedians.

Foxes in a pumpkin patch

Grin sideways and head toward the

Chicken coop where girls with grey eyes

Whoop and Holler.



Valerie gathered all of her hair on top of her head. When she could wrangle the hairs with her pinkies and balance her bangs on top, she was in control. Valerie gathered her waist in her belt with the homemade notch in the front. Valerie’s boots need Valerie more than she needs them. Little tongues lick her fingertips and make them glisten. Downturned T’s marked Valerie’s mouth and the lip always grazes against the small hairs on her chin

when she smiles. She’s like cherries in a party punch when Valerie gets gathered.



Don’t hunt what you can’t kill


If you will kill her,

You better kill all of her.

You must take her eyes, and her heart,

You must take her brains.

Who is that man–

The one with deep set eyes

That bore into the back of her neck?


You must use every bit. If you waste it,

It is turns to murder.

What a waste to go sour.

You better kill all of her,

Or her eyes will bore into the back

Of your neck.

Her heart will spoil your blood.

Each fold of the bitter brain will bear

no fruit next spring,

When she shakes the ice away.



So many bits of bone and dirt and Coca Cola bottles

Make me invincible …if  I have enough of them.

Blue whales lay against my brow and Carol Hanson’s

Summer of ‘79 Ray Ban sunglass lens lays across my chest, shattered.

Bird feathers make me dense in the water

When there are 189,000 microscopic gobs snuck to my shins.

I reach land with Lorna’s wedding ring from four centuries ago

between my toes and a sabretooth resting on my shoulder.



Lilly shot down the slide like a bullet,

Little puffs of skin hot on summer plastic.

Jeans cuffs cuffed for safety reach asphalt too soon

With the plum belt loops soon after.













If Colombians Forced Me to Kiss Them

“Between 3 million and 8 million Americans live abroad” – The Association of American Residents Overseas

My heart beats a little fast when I walk into a crowded room here in Bogota. I know introductions will be had and I will decide whether or not I want to kiss each person on the cheek when I hug them. Call me a cold estadounidense, but touching like this makes me freeze up. Which cheek do I kiss? I’ve almost smacked a big one on someone’s lips before by going in the wrong direction.

I tell my students that in the U.S few people kiss on the cheek as a greeting (or at least the people I had laying around for analysis), they ask how we greet and I shrug and say it depends on the person. I tell them we have a “personal bubble” that only the closest friends and family step through. I don’t tell them that I usually flap my hand around and mouth “hey” or “hi” to new contacts mostly. We shake hands I say.

Colombian men outside of my family know I’m from up north and they don’t hug or kiss me, they smile warmly and say good morning or buenas or como estas. I can’t know what their thinking, but I don’t think any of them think I’m being mean, they just sense the difference and run with it. There are a few female co-workers who I hug and kiss, because seeing them makes me want to. I’m never made to feel like I have to do something that makes me uncomfortable. Even so, I still get nervous at the idea of introductions.

My Spanish makes me sound like a big baby, I don’t know how to construct sentences without arranging them in English in my head and then translating that into Spanish, which oftentimes sounds awkward. I leave out articles and mess up genders. If the person I’m talking learned a little English, they implement it with me. Even if they’re dusting it off since it was last used in high school, they will still grab into the back of their mind and show me their cards, to help me and I in turn, will return with my broken Spanish unless they tell me they want to speak in English. If Uber drivers or grocery store workers, waiters, and the multitude of other people I come into contact don’t speak English, I will ask them to speak slow and they are patient with me. They will repeat, use synonyms, laugh gently with me to ease my embarrassment.

Most Colombians seem to have endless patience with my communication skills. When someone doesn’t level with me, it hurts. My former boss said to me, “Well, you’re in Colombia, you need to learn [Spanish].” Comments like that sting, because I know I need to learn Spanish, but it isn’t happening overnight, it’s a slow and clumsy process. It’s easy to say “You should have learned Spanish before you got here.” You’re right. But a year ago, I had no idea that my life was taking me to Colombia.

Someone I once met referred to me as “gringa” for a whole day. By the afternoon I wanted to scream, “I AM MORE THAN THAT WORD!” I think of the way spic, spic, spic was thrown around on tongues of northern men then and some are using it again now, some never stopped.

When I meet someone who keeps repeating the same sentence to me rapidly, progressively getting louder when my eyes are blank, it makes my chest hurt, it makes my eyes well, it makes me want to lock myself in my apartment until I’m fluent. But luckily, that isn’t the Colombian way, most of people in this big city treat me just the way they’d treat their niece, or granddaughter. It’s hard to approach a conversation when you know 40% of the words you need to carry the idea through.  Non-native English speakers randomly say hello or thank you to me, and it makes me smile. When someone expresses interest in talking to me, when they come up to me and make that connection that I didn’t have the guts to, they will never know what a relief I feel.

As a white, middle class, North American female who came to Colombia for love, I don’t want anyone’s sympathy. I’m here and I’m living a good, comfortable life. But I would be lying if I said being different from the status quo in this country hasn’t changed the way I see the country that I left six months ago. I’m thankful my born culture doesn’t hold a dangerous stigma. That could change depending on how the U.S chooses to treat people.

Just like I can’t say “Colombians” and have that represent a certain type of person, I can’t say “American” (even though we’re all Americans all the way to the very tip of Argentina up to Ellesmere Island) and use that to describe those who live in the United States. But when I see a wave of Them vs. Us grasping the United States, I wonder how many negative words it takes to become a stronghold. Do any of those people have family members that have left the country or ancestors the came to the country not that long ago? When grandfathers in red hats hug their granddaughters goodbye, before she steps onto that plane, how do they hope she’s treated by her hosting country? With class, warmth, and welcoming? Probably.

How are you treating other people’s grandchildren? Are you yelling a second language in their face? Are you commenting on their body? Acting like they doesn’t exist? Are you building a culture of hate around them? Are their families sending them away to people who support someone who abhors them?

Yesterday I imagined what would happen if a gringo blew up a building downtown, if a Canadian shot Colombians, if someone with the same hair and eye color as me brought violence into this city. I would have no connection to those bad people, we would be complete strangers. I would grieve with my Colombian family members and friends.

What if the world used social media to paint me into a monster? What if people slowly stopped making eye contact with me and watched me from the corners of their eyes, with animosity. What if I was sent away from the person I love? If the whole country turned against me, would I want to go outside? How would my family feel?

Most Americans I know who voted for Trump have very little contact with minorities. It’s easy to be afraid or to forget the Other. It’s easy to point out the person who is different. They should be more like you right? Stepping foot into the United States means:


If I called my family and told them Colombians were forcing me to do things I didn’t want, what would they do? What if I came back to Ohio unrecognizable because my clothes, my speech, and my culture had to change to make Colombians feel more comfortable because they were afraid of the real me?


Does Colombia have its own cultural and political issues? YES. Is Colombia good and the U.S bad? ABSOLUTELY NO. I can’t think or speak for anyone but myself. Being estadounidense in South America doesn’t mean I know what it’s like to be Middle Eastern in the United States. My religious and cultural identity looks pretty similar to a lot of rolos here in Bogota. This does not mean I can’t find empathy for those who find themselves sleeping somewhere far away from their families. It’s easy to call people crybabies when they are feeling emotions that you yourself have never had to encounter. Most of you don’t deal with foreigners on a regular basis, but you’re raising children who might. Before spreading negative information about someone that isn’t white middle-class, maybe ask yourself, is what I’m saying going to make this world better? Will I hurt someone else’s loved one with my words? And if that doesn’t make you care, turn to your nearest loved one, say those toxic words out loud to them, and then, you will pray no one else ever will.

In the U.S, “hate crime incidents impacted a total of 7,242 victims—which are defined as individuals, businesses, institutions, or society as a whole” (2013)- FBI Hate Crime Statistics report

867 reported post-election hate attacks as of November 2016 – Southern Poverty Law Center


A Cat Without Claws

A cat without claws

Claws with no scratch

A scratch without an itch

An itch with no bite

A bite without teeth

Teeth without meat

Meat with no fat

Fat without warmth

Warmth without the sun’s rays

The sun’s rays with no window

A window with no ledge

A ledge without a cat


Girls are dolls

I reached back and felt the strings on my neck.

The concentrated pinch pulled me forward.

The fibers between my shoulder blades lifted up,

Unbent my knees and placed me on the ground toes first.

Twine in my fingernails opened my hands and stretched out my arms,

My arms unfastened and I began running.

Her refrigerator

My grandmother hold me today

On the phone she cut you

Out of the picture we sent

Two years ago .

“I threw him right in the trash

When you told me what he did.”

Her D like T, “dit.”

You went out with the trash,

I stay stoned and smiling on her refrigerator.

I laughed,

Her scissors never shook,

She had more faith in me,

Than me when you dit.

She cut between us

Without ever thinking about tape.