7.06 / June 2012

Two Poems

How to Fight Back

Hayward, California


I’m gonna scratch up his car, pour

sugar in his gas tank and watch

the whole thing blow.

A girl inside a car of women, almost

women, speed down Mission Blvd to downtown Hayward.

Jalapeno poppers on their laps,

dinner. Miles away, their cousin cools her bruises

with weed choke, leaning on cold brick.

Motherfucker, the driver says, swerving past Whitman,

is gonna get it. Pipe and all.

The girl says nothing, sticks her hand out

of the window to cool a pepper.

Springtime red and dying on her face,

lilac fingers on her arms. She considers

spring a season for lovers, his smile, of course. She is convincing

with her hands. She hopes they are convinced. Motherfucker,

the girl repeats, burning her fingertips and lips on hot grease.

With more force and heat, she thinks, this must be love.

After Botticelli: Imelda Marcos Posing as Venus

Boracay’s precisely white

shore will have to do,

but I will be better

than Venus:

taut stomach,

swept-up dark-sugared hair,

Chanel-powdered face,

tits that peek through the cracks

of spread palms

and inspire.


Nipples disguised with rose

petals, of course.

There’s still something

to be said about modesty.

My chariot: a nautilus shell

plated with Yamashita’s gold

(rightfully ours),

mother-of-pearl accents

the spiral outward

toward God’s locked kiss.


My daughters will toss

handfuls of sampaguita

when the camera’s

red light signals.

I bite down

on my tongue for the flood

of salt. This is when

the flash of light

preserves my beauty.

This is when

I step out pure

from the ocean.


Rachelle Cruz is from Hayward, California. She is the author of Self-Portrait as Rumor and Blood (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in Muzzle Magazine, Splinter Generation, KCET's Departures Series, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, among others. She hosts The Blood-Jet Writing Hour Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio. An Emerging Voices Fellow, a Kundiman Fellow and a VONA writer, she lives and writes in Riverside, California.
7.06 / June 2012