#5 Mi Rancho

There was a Mexican grocery store called Mi Rancho

Near the city jail

Buttressed by bail bondsmen and cut-rate law offices

A sweet spot for viciousness

This was downtown Oakland, CA in the seventies

Rough and raw and flush with low expectations

No gentrification to be found here

But to us kids, oblivious to the dangers of the streets

Mi Rancho was our wonderland

We could smell the chorizo as soon as we entered

Peppers and sausage and lard mixed together

Then perfectly encased in its delicate skin

That my mother would oh so carefully remove

With one flick of a sharp knife

How she didn’t cut herself I will never know

Then she would fry it, and the whiff of the spices

And the sparks of fat crashing against the pan

Lulled us into perfect bliss.

#4 Colorless

There is a vase of dried flowers and peppers

Sitting behind my computer as I type

Bought long ago at a farmer’s market

In the deepest hues of reds and yellows

Colors frozen in time.

But they are long past faded now

The red peppers have not aged well

Sick and gasping for air

Even dead flowers have dreams

Of being sustained in their after-lives

But I have failed them.

#3 Let there be Light

I wish I could emanate light

in one, long, straight shot to the world

to say I am here, I am alive

I am ok.

But a long time ago I lost that light

Illumination was taken from me

when I could not defend myself.

And whatever spark remained has kept me

just bright enough to get by

to avoid the obstacles of human interaction

but not yet to shine.

#2 My beloved disease

If I could tell you

everything I long for

I would be wiped clean, barely a skeleton

because my body, my mass of muscle and tissue and particle

is sick with yearning

a disease long untreated.

But it is the cure that scares me

all of that exposed flesh, free but wholly undisciplined

and without order

My disease protects me

covers my ears so I can’t hear the screaming

of my subjugated heart.


#1 Secret

I kept this a secret

Being here, in my house, by myself

In my head, where I already spend so much time

Living a life internal

Because no one needed to know

Of the years I have waited

Of the years I have wasted

Until I could finally feed the words.


New to this but excited to be here!

Hi everyone:

I am brand new to this and am doing a half-marathon.  I have always loved writing, I wrote short stories when I was younger and kept detailed journals.  I abandoned writing after college, a combination of “real world” distractions and laziness.  But writing was always in the back of my mind.  About five years ago, a friend suggested/challenged me to start writing again, but this time to try poetry.  This was at a point in my life when I was temporarily unemployed and spending my days wandering around NYC.  I had never considered poetry before, always deeming it “not my thing” or too technical.  I started a notebook which I called ‘Maria’s Big Book of Bad Poetry” as a joke to keep my expectations low.  As it turns out, not only did I start to like poetry (and learned that my assumptions of “form” and “technicality” were just that–assumptions), I realized that poems gave me a freedom I didn’t feel with short stories.  But I struggle with finding time to write, and I am hoping the half-marathon will be the challenge I need to get started again.