Tag Archives: jennifer

Upon Wonder

This is a bit of flash I wrote two years ago. It is about a girl who finally gets to go home. The homecoming theme is almost up so I am going to sneak it in under the wire.

A Warmer Place for Starving

The sun’s hot light clutched the faded paint of  the small brown house at the end of the block. Inside, abandoned bowls of Ramen Noodles and half-eaten bologna and mayonnaise sandwiches sat on almost every surface of the living room. I counted 12 Styrofoam bowls, but couldn’t be bothered to count the paper plates wobbling upon stacks of wonder bread upon paper plate upon wonder bread upon paper upon wonder. And they never went away, each one simply covered with a new version of itself.

I left school early with a stomach ache moving through me in waves the day she came to me. The heat of late summer followed me home, and once inside did a sour dance around the mayonnaise-perfumed room that left me dizzy and tired. When I woke  there she was, sitting cross-legged atop a piece of  drying Wonder Bread. She was small like an insect…

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homecoming: a chronology


1990 probably

or 91 i am so


the desert night sky whispers something to me

something comforting it is the first time i notice

the moon

i am worried/excited it is following me home

where will i put it?

we are leaving Safeway probably or the


i think it is summer

water is rationed but the air is cool

the star on the side of the mountain is bright

i am eating something chocolate, a donut, with colored sprinkles

i can still taste it i will taste it forever

the moon and the star on the mountain are still there

this memory is an amalgam


another car ride

leaving Texas

we had oranges the night before

we sat in the dim light of the neighbor lady’s den

peeling oranges they left a sour sadness in my mouth

Stevie Wonder calls to say I love you

all the way to Your New Home You Are Going To Love It Denver

Stevie’s love and a Tiny Toon Adventures coloring book

in the back seat occupy me through desert nothing

this desert is not home

(I will come to love it but not yet)

there is snow

there are squirrels and creeks and other oddities

there is sap in the trees! this home is strange


we are going to Kansas now

all i know is Kansas is in black and white

will i still see in color?

i have to meet my dad’s family my family

will there be lemonade on wrap-around porches?

are all the houses painted white with picket fences?

will it be like meeting the Golden Girls?

i miss my Nana Rosa’s menudo, raisin tamales

i hate raisins but i miss them

the peach tree in the back yard and fridge full

of guava nectar on the back porch

my cousins here ask me to say things in Spanish

Say the cow jumped over the moon!

there is spaghetti and Wonder Bread toast

ramen noodles and mayonnaise

there are big baggy t-shirts and not a single braid!

this is not my Golden Girls Dream Home


i dream of home

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We Used To Wait

This brilliant interactive video of Arcade Fire’s We Used To Wait will take you home, wherever that may be.

You will be prompted to enter an address– please share your video or address in the comments if you feel so inclined, so the rest of us can go home with you!

The address I entered is
11209 Yukon, El Paso, TX, USA


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foodie: some notes on food and memory

1.         1. There is the desert  and  food stand and the expansive blue sky like a bonnet holding it all in.  We are in Mexico.  It is probably 1990, one can just walk straight across the border, no passport or fuss, just “American” to get back in, the password into the party. We are visiting my Nana Nati—short for Natividad—and we are at a food stand in the market.  We have a lunch of pita pocket filled with ground meat and sauce (a gordita) and green glass bottles of orange soda,  there are vats of horchata (milky coconut, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberry) and the smoky aroma of  grilled corn is a fine mist.  The cool of the glass bottles and plastic cups and the wrinkle of foil are tastes my hands still reach for.

t       2.The dead of summer 1999. I am cupped by my Nana Nati’s death (We go back to Mexico for the funeral. In the market I feel like an observer this time around instead of obliviously in the thick of it) and my freshman year of high school. I spend the summer mostly by myself and reading. I read Francesca Lia Block, Shakespeare and mythology books over and over. I have a summer job at a daycare in a women’s shelter. I only eat in the afternoons. I drink coffee and fix myself peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I order fruit and salads at restaurants. I read cookbooks and make muffins and kolacky and take them to my room and read some more.

2.    3.. 1989. My abuelo’s  funeral. Us kids have to stay with my Madrina.  I am small and the grown-ups are so big and I don’t understand death. There are hotdogs. Buns and ketchup and paper plates. I don’t understand why no one feels  like cooking.

3.       4.. 2011. J.’s funeral. There is a brunch of fried chicken and sweet things and bread and eggs and bacon.  I eat none of it. I want to stuff my face but the thought of it makes me sick. We go home and make tamales and red rice and pintos and eat that instead. I finally understand the true and absolute essence of comfort food: the child I once was still nestled in my stomach and screaming for something ancient and familiar.

4.      5.  I am 16, it is 2001 and I live in an apartment with my friends. We are 16 and 17 year-old cast-outs and runaways and we have schemed our way into a $275/month 2-story apartment. There are no parents to tell us what to eat! I cook us Ramen with broccoli and some kind of dollar seasoning. We fill plastic goblets with ketchup and potato tots. There is cheap beer and cheap vodka. We are the kings of our castle.

5.      6. Sunday. 2014. I visit my mom on Sundays. We have split-pea soup, and spinach lasagna, and oranges. The times have changed. There is a brightness like a bonnet holding it all in.


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A blossom in my chest when it happens my heart

like petals and a breeze

Breezing through.

A call. And an answer.

A knock in my solar plexus wake up

Sleepyhead and an opening.

A breath caught with arrival.

Skin on fire and  blood reaching like hands

In child’s pose in gratitude and like new.

Each time an awesome exhale of thank you. So much thank you.

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shadow puppets

you may control me from somewhere so deep i’m afraid to go

                                                      and you  may appear where light projects

                                                      like someone, hands to window, peering in

to this lit world

but i control how you slide on the light and that is a relief


we used to be best-friends you know

                                                  before you got to be so needy

and seriously,

do you have to copy everything i do?  what would people think?

i can’t have you spilling all my secrets, so i’ve erased your face

                                                              all tell-tale signs are gone

                                                              thank god

don’t worry

                i can speak for you, i know pretty much everything you want to say

and i don’t care what anyone says, censorship isn’t all bad

one day you’ll understand, it’s for your own good you see

oh why do i argue? you just give me that blank look

                                                                                 well i see right through it missy


but i am sorry

really i am

it’s just i had no choice but to banish you to the wall

to ground you (pun not intended)

                                                    (okay, okay, you know me too well, it was intended…)


if you promise to be good i’ll let you out sometime

in the dark maybe, where you can’t get into (cause) too much trouble

besides it gets lonely there

in the dark


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Variations on Time

1. Time Out


I sit on a bench as cars, buses whirr by, light from the sky

crowning them in sharp shine. Children on scooters, bikes,

skates, they go by too. I watch their shadows change as the

day shifts, watch them pass, headed east, headed west, headed

somewhere I am not, and gone just like that.


Morning opens its door just a crack at first, letting

light seep through only the bottom before allowing

it to spill over and finally sucking it all back. Each day

the same on that bench, but each missing something

from the one before. A subtle loss that leaves a ring in

the ears, the sound grows heavier, fills the cavity in the

chest where breath goes.


Cars whirr by in new models, children grow up and make

children, day always cracks dawn overhead then dissipates

into nostalgic breeze. But no day is like that first one when

light rolled in so bright it  blinded everything in sight and

promised brilliance.




blades of nostalgia cut the air against my skin, this decade old vision of my hair long and me kneeling over against you in black and olive tones has worn thin at the edges. all this time and it is still there and i wonder why i painted it to begin with…

I wake up to time having already slipped away
slid through crevices
that I am not quick enough to guard.
Synapses that creak
that I am too lazy to mend
and I wonder why I do this to myself,
why not just wake up and get on with it full force
hold on like I’m sifting for precious jewels

How many lives are buried in our palms lifetimes
of lines lines of lifetimes, hidden narratives that
continue to play themselves spin themselves
like tops spun by the ghost fingers of past and
future selves simultaneously?

Time takes everything with it, Time’s a greedy child that packs the world and its infinite everything into his Radio Flyer and pulls it fast behind him into adulthood until Time dies






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Origin of Love– Hedwig and the Angry Inch

“When the earth was still flat,
And the clouds made of fire,
And mountains stretched up to the sky,
Sometimes higher,
Folks roamed the earth
Like big rolling kegs.
They had two sets of arms.
They had two sets of legs.
They had two faces peering
Out of one giant head
So they could watch all around them
As they talked; while they read.
And they never knew nothing of love.
It was before the origin of love.

The origin of love

And there were three sexes then,
One that looked like two men
Glued up back to back,
Called the children of the sun.
And similar in shape and girth
Were the children of the earth.
They looked like two girls
Rolled up in one.
And the children of the moon
Were like a fork shoved on a spoon.
They were part sun, part earth
Part daughter, part son.

The origin of love

Now the gods grew quite scared
Of our strength and defiance
And Thor said,
‘I’m gonna kill them all
With my hammer,
Like I killed the giants.’
And Zeus said, ‘No,
You better let me
Use my lightening, like scissors,
Like I cut the legs off the whales
And dinosaurs into lizards.’
Then he grabbed up some bolts
And he let out a laugh,
Said, “I’ll split them right down the middle.
Gonna cut them right up in half.”
And then storm clouds gathered above
Into great balls of fire

And then fire shot down
From the sky in bolts
Like shining blades
Of a knife.
And it ripped
Right through the flesh
Of the children of the sun
And the moon
And the earth.
And some Indian god
Sewed the wound up into a hole,
Pulled it round to our belly
To remind us of the price we pay.
And Osiris and the gods of the Nile
Gathered up a big storm
To blow a hurricane,
To scatter us away,
In a flood of wind and rain,
And a sea of tidal waves,
To wash us all away,
And if we don’t behave
They’ll cut us down again
And we’ll be hopping round on one foot
And looking through one eye.

Last time I saw you
We had just split in two.
You were looking at me.
I was looking at you.
You had a way so familiar,
But I could not recognize,
Cause you had blood on your face;
I had blood in my eyes.
But I could swear by your expression
That the pain down in your soul
Was the same as the one down in mine.
That’s the pain,
Cuts a straight line
Down through the heart;
We called it love.
So we wrapped our arms around each other,
Trying to shove ourselves back together.
We were making love,
Making love.
It was a cold dark evening,
Such a long time ago,
When by the mighty hand of Jove,
It was the sad story
How we became
Lonely two-legged creatures,
It’s the story of
The origin of love.
That’s the origin of love.”



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wild: break

weight of this cage crushes and peels back soul to bone, devours the marrow too
maybe leaves the edge of a hint to torment foggy nostalgia
maybe not, maybe just leaves an ache in the spine so strong you must sit upright
it pounds and beats and howls to break through time’s corseted hold, to
bend out of it, to crawl on all fours
to meet the sun creeping through the earth and up and  vanish in the heat 
move with the smoke unnoticed to beat the day

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Jennifer’s Week 5: Wild

Imma, Queen of the Insects

The water was thick with earth, and alive. It moved with unseen creatures. Small ones with legs that scattered, or ones with out legs that slithered. It never mattered to the girl that she wasn’t one of them, that she moved on two feet and was covered in skin, she let her body sink into the muddy pond anyway, and pretended. 

She practiced moving like an insect, contorting her limbs into angles and moving fast. Her skin grew soft from the minerals and her muscles strong from all the crawling and burrowing in dirt. Soon she secretly referred to herself as Queen of the Insects. 

“Imma!” Her mother called. And Imma emerged covered in the stuff of the ground, nails caked with dirt, hair wet and tangled, handfuls of earth worms for her to play with in her mother’s garden. 

One day Imma’s mom called her home early, the sun still high, and Imma was confused. Her mom grabbed her by the shoulders and said, “Look at you, you’re filthy! Your aunt is here to see you,” and rushed her to the tub where she was scrubbed red. Imma’s hair was combed and braided, skin oiled. A dress pulled on and ribbons tied.

Cabbage and potatoes and onions were spooned into wooden bowls and the three– Imma, mother, and aunt– ate the meal in silence. Imma wondered what her dead father’s sister was doing at the small house in the woods, eating food Imma and her mom pulled from the ground, food the woman wrinkled her nose at.  The rings on her aunt’s fingers were the same hue as the mead made of dark berries they drank at every meal, but worth far more as as she pointed out. “One of my fingers is worth more than this whole forest,” said Imma’s aunt.

That was the last time Imma saw her mother. A three-story house sat on a street with no trees. A pillow embroidered with Imma’s full name waited for her in her new home.

Imma, Queen of the Insects, grew into Imma, Home-coming Queen. She covered herself in make-up and jewelry and naked boys. 

“Come on, Imma! Pound it!” The girls sat around a table topped with plastic bottles of cheap tequila and vodka, paper cups, and countless cigarette ends stubbed into ashtrays. Music rose and fell with their pulse and laughter. Imma took a bottle and tipped it into her open mouth, bent her neck back and spilled the rest of it down her throat. It burned her sick and sweet in the stomach, and lay a hazy blanket over eyes, face. Some of the liquor spilled down her legs and she felt someone lick it off, it tickled and she laughed. Everyone else laughed. She said she was hot, her voice echoed in her head. Hot, hot, hot.  Hands touched her. Sweat, sweat, sweat. She let the hands take her shirt off, and fell back laughing.  

Sun fought its way through the closed blinds and Imma groaned and rolled over into a pile of clothes. Shit, she thought. It was past noon, her aunt would be waiting for her at the salon. Grabbing a black halter top and stepping over sleeping bodies, she found a bathroom. Imma looked in the mirror, her hair a mess of black curls. Like her mom, that much she remembered. She splashed water on her face and pulled the halter over her head and forced it  over her breasts. The maxi skirt she wore touched to the floor and hid her sticky legs, and that much she was grateful for. Her aunt would be mad enough. 

Imma burst into the salon where her aunt sat waiting at the front desk flipping through magazines. “You’re a mess,” she said, “They’re waiting.” 

Imma felt something crawl inside her, she wanted to wretch. The men waited on tables for Imma’s hands. “The hands of an angel!” They said. Or, “She knows how to heal a body, that Imma.”  She felt the familiar contortion of bone, lost herself in the mud of memory, and let her body hint at the creature hidden inside. 


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