5 Microaggressions (My Last Poem For You)

by Mariela Flores '23
Portfolio Staff


Features


hands go brazy
photo creds: pexels

ONE

“Maria”

You are so lazy.

My name is one more syllable at the end

a sound I know you know well––“uh”

Use your tongue, don’t you dare cheat.

TWO

“Where are you really from?”

Where do you think?

I want you to say it loud, tell me who you think I am

tell me why. Do not veil your ignorance with curiosity.

You have not earned the right to innocence.

THREE

“We wanted to make sure the grammar was right.”

Of my Spanish. A language you do not know. A language I know intimately.

My Spanish loves me more than your English.

What a thing you did––colonizing a language that has already colonized

thousands. You hold a boldness in your hands, it is heavy, and it bleeds––

you are hungry for power. Stop hurting what is not yours.

FOUR

“Why are you so loud?”

You hate that someone like me could take up

space from someone like you. Do you hate it when my words touch you?

All I have are words. I will use them, plunge them deep

Into

Your

Skin

into the marrow of your bones until you hear me.

FIVE

“You people”

We are people. Yes, we are people. You wish we were nothing

but dust and memories. Do we scare you? We people are going to “steal” your jobs.

No. We are going to earn everything you think you were born deserving.

We take it back for ourselves, lather in the goodness of our time, you will get nothing.

That is the least we could do.

We take back what you stole.

Hispanic Heritage Month

by Mariela Flores '23
Portfolio Staff


Poetry


flamenco dancer
photo creds: pixabay

Quien soy yo, si no una flor rompida de la tierra de mi madre, de mi padre.

Who am I, if not a flower ripped from the soil of my mother, of my father.

Tierra que una vez era mía––o así dicen. Tierra de gente con piel de oro.

Land that was once mine––or so they say. The land of people with skin like gold.

Quien soy yo, si no alguien robada de algo mejor.

Who am I, if not someone robbed of something better.

Una ceremonia para el sol, una canción para la tierra, un sacrificio para un dios.

A ceremony for the sun, a song for the earth, a sacrifice for a god.

Yo no se quien soy. Yo no sé a quién fui.

I don’t know who I am. I don’t know who I’ve been.

Celebrando herencia con otra vida en mente.

Celebrating heritage with another life in mind.

Quiero saber––quiero conocer a mis ancestros, entender su lenguaje.

I want to know––I want to meet my ancestors; I want to understand their language.

Pero los quemaron. Ahora son polvo, hundiéndose en el fondo de nuestra historia.

But they burned them. They are now dust sinking to the bottom of our history.

Que descansen en paz. Que descansen en paz. Que descansen en paz.

May they rest in peace. May they rest in peace. May they rest in peace.

To Friends of the Past

by Mariela Flores '23
Portfolio Staff


Poetry


two children hugging
photo creds: pixabay

You were so special. Like a beam of something good sitting next to me in every classroom, every space, every inch of the world as if we owned the air that we breathed in. 

You were so good to me. With words that wrapped me up warmly, just like a hug. With belly laughter that only you knew the sound of. With talking about futures neither of us knew how we would get a hold of––I sit here somewhere that feels too much like the past, waiting to know if you are close to your future. I hope you are well. 

I hate mourning you while you are still alive, living a life I thought I’d be a part of. I hate watching you grow from afar––I try to reach into the pixels and write something good, something clever, algo bonito. It doesn’t matter anymore. I know that. 

I’m not angry, I’m not even sad, you’ve let time fill that wound with new laughs, new people, new warmth, new futures, new stories. Still, I miss you. 

I wish you would have let me know it was the end of us. The end of catch ups in between brand new classes, brand new people, brand new lives. 

But you will fade into my memory, like a dream you wake up from after a deep sleep. You will fade like the friends before you and the ones who’ve come after. 

I think of you now and then, you’re like an echo in the air, you’re only with me briefly. 

I just hope you are well. I miss you, and I just hope you are well. 

Not a Goodbye

by trogers5


Poetry


two graduates
Photo courtesy of pixabay

by Mariela Flores ‘23 

This Poem is for my best friend.

A goodbye is near, it lingers in our air.

I feel the goodbye when we share a meal in a comfortable silence––

I feel the goodbye during late nights when all I want is to absorb any time

I have left with you.

It is dramatic to say my life will change when you are off

seeing, feeling, experiencing all new things,

you will have a new rhythm, a new song.

I will not know the words.

You will grow into the person I’ve always known you could be

and you will meet new people whom you will dance with

until your feet are tired, and your cheeks are flushed

with the feeling of this new life. And I will watch from afar.

This is not a bitter end. You are not going far.

But I will miss all the nights, mornings, evenings, minutes, days

hours, seconds, all the time we had together in this place that never quite felt

like home until I knew you were in it. Friend.

Here’s to you and all lines you’ve crossed.

Here’s to the cries, the fights, the feeling that kept you in bed

and the sun that took you out of it. Here’s to it all.

I will not say goodbye.

But I will say I miss you.

As

      you

             cross

                        the

                                  stage

with your head held up high, I will smile.

And I will capture the moment and keep it pressed to the inside of

my mind. I miss you. The world is lucky to have you in it––

I am luckier to have known you for a lifetime, for a moment, for a time.

Criseyde

by The Cowl Editor


Poetry


by Mariela Flores ’23

painting of criseyde
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This poem gives voice to Criseyde from Chaucer’s work, Troilus and Criseyde.  

 

There is no honor in loving you, Troilus.  

There is only shame that roots itself in between my bones 

until my movements grow stiff and my choices none.  

There is no beneficence in loving you, Troilus. 

There is only greed. You take from the gardens in my soul 

and you leave me with no petals to weigh your worth upon. 

There is no indulgence in loving you, Troilus. 

There is only need––your need fills my lungs.  

I drown in the waters of your misguided affections until I am only breathing you.  

There is no honor in loving you, Troilus. 

  

I am a woman who had earned her sovereignty. 

Loved and lost a lifetime to a man,  

I adorned the black clothing; I closed my mouth shut.  

I pressed delicately into broken ground and sprouted an army of one.  

 

But you came along, and you chose this life for me.  

Ensnared by my long noble strides,  

trapped by the hair between my eyes,  

struck by the arrow of a cruel god––one who never thought of me. 

 

The god of love only sought to punish you. 

You critiqued his work on our earth, you dared to laugh at the love of others 

and now you and I must bear a love that is not ours.  

 

There is no honor in loving you, Troilus.  

But there is no choice in loving you either. 

How Death Lingers

by The Cowl Editor


Poetry


woman holding flowers over her eyes
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

by Mariela Flores ’23

Content warning: This poem contains themes of death and suicide.

Both of my parents teased their death. One friend took their death and plastered it onto every wall of my life. I had my very own half death, one at twelve, another at fifteen––I am starting to think these events are related.

While I witnessed all of these half deaths: my dad’s two heart attacks, my mom’s staggered breathing; while I witnessed the aftermath of a life in the face of Arianna on a hot July day,  

no one,  

not one person,   

has ever witnessed my own.  

I have never said it out loud, can’t utter the words, it’s too hard.  

If I am sitting in a therapist’s office and they ask me if I’ve had thoughts of hurting myself,  

there’s venom that lingers in their voice that poisons the time I have to talk.  

If I say it, the death thing, I’d have to fix it and fixing it means being sent away.  

And I am far too afraid of being somewhere other than near.

I want to feel different from my younger selves.  

They left behind raised skin and an itchy habit that makes me hate them.  

My body has changed, I cut my hair and it’s darker now, but this part of me–– 

like lines to an old song—stays stuck on me and it makes it so hard to feel changed.  

I am actively trying to learn how to live and how to want to live and how to tell myself that wanting to live and learning how to live is just as good as living.

Death lingers on my worst days, loud and crass,  

it hums on my best days, static, white noise.  

On the best days and the worst days, I will myself not to listen.

 

I Wish

by The Cowl Editor


Poetry


young woman drowning
photo creds- pexels

Mariela Flores ’23

 

I wish I could float inside the slits you let open 

like a seed in a line ready to sink and to grow. I wish I could dive  

into your veins and feel your hot blood crash against me. 

I want nothing more than to burn from the spark in the shaking of our hands 

––to feel the drilling of your rhythm until I only hear––your sounds. 

 

But your body is hollow, echoing my screams.  

If I dive into you now, I will fall onto soft bags  

filled with proof of a breath, proof of a cleansing, proof  

of a thought etched into the ridges of time with no ear nearby.  

 

I cannot float without choking on the colorless  

pungent smell of this new you. You reek of wilting petals 

and dimming lights from the sky pulling bodies into rest.  

 

As I touch you now, the burn is cold and raw.  

I wait for the spark in my hand to thaw you––but you stay frozen. 

I press my ear to your chamber hoping to hear  

the thumping of some sound. I hate the silence that you leave me.  

 

I wish I could will your soul back into its casing  

and feel the pulsing rush of your life embrace me. 

 

But your body is rusted underneath old soft green earth  

and there is no more time to wish.   

Five Ways to Look at Hands

by The Cowl Editor


Poetry


Six hands forming a heart
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

by Mariela Flores ’23

ONE 

I fashion a gun out of cold flesh,  

and point it directly at my enemy.  

There is no hesitation in this kill,  

you are at the mercy of my hands.   

 

TWO 

When the wind turns my bones stiff  

and the ground is frozen,  

warm hands find my flesh  

and thaw my body.  

 

THREE 

Millions of natives were slaughtered for the shine in their land.  

Millions of slaves were drowned on foreign ships and lost in the sand.  

Millions were charred in the name of a Man.  

Look down to see the weapons of this destruction and you 

will find your hands.  

 

FOUR 

There are no words a voice can carry  

that capture so movingly what hands can say. 

Like birds flying through wicked winds,  

or fish floating through thick currents.  

Hands push through space loudly with so much to say.  

 

FIVE

Oh, how wonderful a thing it is to see nothing.  

Nothing carved   

nothing molded  

nothing sculpted  

into something, by some hands.

An Ode to My Dark Circles.

by The Cowl Editor


Poetry


a drawing of a face
Image courtesy of Mariela Flores ’23

by Mariela Flores ’23

 

It’s as if someone cut you out of a magazine

and glued you under my eyes.

You are the accessory that I have been given,

even in my well-rested times.

I’ll always know when I’m tired

but I won’t ever need an eyeshadow base,

and even if I don’t like you that morning,

you’ll always be a part of my face.

 

You’re the star witness of my best nights writing

your brown-ish purple hue lets others know that I am still fighting.

I keep my darkest secrets in the roundness of your bags

the swollen fragile skin stays soft despite the tags.

They remind me of my father whenever I look in the mirror.

Caffeine courses through our blood and it helps us see much clearer.

 

I don’t know who I’d be if you weren’t there.

Makeup tried to hide you

but I didn’t like the feeling or the purple-lacking stare.

I see now you are my inheritance

a face I cannot escape,

but I’ll always remember to love

my tired face.

Llenita 

by The Cowl Editor


Poetry


a small girl who is crying
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

by Mariela Flores ’23

Content Warning: this piece contains content that could be triggering regarding eating disorders and body image. 

She called me llenita.  

Those words poked at my round belly,  

her eyes threw daggers into the soft flesh of my cheeks, 

her hands pinched my sides,  

as if she were trying to rip off the excess fat.  

 

At eight-years-old I was forced to notice my body,  

every tamale, pupusa, tortilla, weighed  

me down. 

I began to sink within myself.  

I had no strength at eight-years-old to carry  

the weight of being llenita.  

 

I noticed every curve–– 

the bluntness or the angles that protruded, 

the soft skin not yet tainted  

by the sharpness of my very own words.  

 

I listened as the women around me talked.  

Their voices held a dissonant tune  

notes and cadences crashing into one another. 

It reached my ears, 

the words dieta and gordita, joined the chorus leaving no room for a bridge.  

 

I had been called out and accused. 

They were the judge and juror sending me to a life sentence 

of questioning if I was too llenita, gordita, feita

 

They handed me rope that I would tie around my waist  

measuring my worth every single day.  

Llenita was tattooed onto my forehead.  

A reminder that being too full was the worst thing I could be. 

 

If I was llenita

no one would ever think I could be bonita.