My Dominican Breakfast

Kim, over at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, asked for a poem about cooking that “appeals to the senses and is related to [our] life or culture in some way.” I woke up with the Dominican Republic singing memories into my mind—a poem about the kind of breakfast I used to eat when I was a child tasted just right. The side order of nostalgia that came with the writing of the piece was not part of the original recipe… neither was the craving for breakfast in the middle of the afternoon *sigh*.

“My Dominican Breakfast”

Morning food was green bananas,
doing a tenderizing water dance
in a cauldron kissed by firewood.

Next to the cauldron bubbled a tiny pot
that had never been called a kettle; yet,
its belly brewed nothing but ginger tea.

My belly sang its rumbles to the brew,
waiting for the spicy warmth to simmer
true, readying its self for morning food.

True morning food is green bananas
and ginger tea, over firewood and smoke,
conjuring memories… to sting my eyes.

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Linked to Poets United (Poetry Pantry 330)

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caldero-fogon-cauldron
“Fogón… What’s Cooking?” by Mercedes Dayanara
via

Praying Him into an Angel

Death has a rather peculiar effect on the memory of the living… or more accurately put, on the way some of the living tend to remember those who are no longer breathing. I recall standing near my little brother’s coffin listening to people say things about him, which had nothing to do with who he was. The things they said were lovely and sweet and… total fabrications. I wondered, Why try to turn him into someone else? He was a good man—wild, and not as responsible as we wished him to be, but a good man nonetheless… The bit of fiction below was inspired by my feelings towards the whole situation.  

“Praying Him into an Angel”

“My own viewing and they have the cojones to glue my eyelids shut.”

I turned away from his casket. The voice behind me wasn’t familiar. But the ire-infused mirth in the words told my heart’s ear that the body being viewed by friends, family (and by pretenders trying to pass for the former) was only soulless meat.

“Want a spin?” he said.

“These bones were made for dancing,” I answered, but cocked my head towards the black and white teary gathering. “You know anything lively will piss them off right now.”

“Fuck ‘em,” he said, extending a hand and spinning me around and around, until I was clad in a blood-red dress with spaghetti straps and tiny polka dots sprinkled blackly around the hem.

Two young women, one in tight white leather and the other in very little of anything, began to argue over his casket.

“He loved me,” said one.

“In your heifer dreams,” said the other, snatching a handful of straight blonde wig.

He picked me up by the waist, and we leapt-danced into the middle of the fight.

“Tell her you loved me often,” said one.

“I did,” he told her with a grin.

“Tell her you love me best,” said the other.

“I did that, too.” He winked before gliding us out of reach of clawing shrieks.

“You are still a scoundrel,” I said.

“I died, but I’m still me. Always me, no one changes me without my permission. You should know that, brujita.”

“I’m a big one,” I said, as I always did when he called me little witch. Then I stopped laughing, and told him, “They’ve been trying to pray you into an angel.”

“Ha!” He twirled me closer to him. I grinned at his teeth made of light. “I would look ridiculous with wings. A flying Cadillac or no one’s getting miracles out of this baby.”

I was quiet for a while.

“Plotting, sister of mine?”

“Wondering about eyeballs and Universal Truths,” I said. “Someone told me I might be able to find my answer, if I were to look into the empty fullness of your eyes. Would you—”

He opened his eyes before I finished asking. “Anything for you.” His eyes were full of books, frogs, and skulls surfing powerful wee waves made of letters.

“What does it mean?” I said.

“I know what it means to me.” He tapped the tip of a finger of light between my eyes, then pressed a hand over my heart. “But only you can see through your eye.”

“Will I remember this when I wake up?” I said.

“And who said you’re sleeping?”

I blinked until my brother’s casket came back into focus. The funeral home was still bursting with black and crying. A pretty woman in a white leather suit and gold stiletto shoes jabbed a finger at a mirror image of herself in a micro mini dress. I grinned (and perhaps cackled), letting the words dancing in my mind’s eye spin and spin until they morphed into this story.

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the wee notes…
First published in 2014.
– All the characters that appear in this story are fictional… except the ones that aren’t *cough*.
– Linked to Sanaa’s Prompt Nights (That which we seek; deep within will find – “Identity”)

dancing-with-a-ghost-by-lucille-rusty-umali“Dancing with a Ghost”, by Lucille Umali