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Mateo Perez Lara

Like a Bell in the Throat

dings so heavy

whispers: I’m from ‘nowhere, Mexico’.

where is home, if it isn’t California?

if it isn’t Virginia, if it isn’t where

I breathe?

I am not welcomed here.

three generations in

maybe more, but no one

talks about the past or

our history, we simply

dance in our ignorance

another cumbia, another

night of bad takes and tacos

another embrace, feels like

drowning, feels like

remembering, but mostly

feels like drowning.

& sometimes it roars that I’m still

a nobody making friends and falling in love

with somebodies and other nobodies and talking

like I’m from elsewhere. I’m from California.

I am not from Mexico, though I wish I knew all

my family, because Virginia is ready to

send me back somewhere else that is not right here.

Gloria, a revenge

Two shots in: I’m back in Bakersfield. I’m hearing my tireless, nagging mother, reminding me that, at 16, she was working. I was working for you! she squeals. I was not born until 1994, she was 20 when I arrived. But still, she was working for me, a sinew, a glint, a wiry membrane tugging in her body. Some piece of cloth she was going to shred before my aunt and grandma talked her out of it. She was working for me. I gulp.

It’s 2019, I’m in Virginia, and I’m homesick and sickly and drunk. I am bubbling water, boiling & soiling, ancestral feather burning. I am splintered wood, cracked cement, dirtied floor, smudgy steel. There is shame, gurgling teapot in my aching throat, my mother would feel such shame if she knew the seeds I grew in my mouth.

I drink dark liquor, all my friends think I have an alcohol problem, I am myself not before or after this incessant humming in my mind. Look, there is a lizard nibbling my ear, a crow, lazily perched on my ass, my murderous rampage, my revenge. a serpent leaps out when I open my mouth and I want to abort every seed I swallowed as my mother would have aborted me, if I didn’t need to burden her with a curse, a curse and a cure, not much else in our family but more blood and rage, this too-sweet, too-much whiskey, this tequila brewing and fermenting in my gut.

The heat gets to me. It really does. I want to be a kid again. I want my mother to love me. Run the streets in Delano again, pretend nothing matters. Pretend I have the whole world ahead of my aching body.

what’s worst of all is how deathly my rattle is, or my splintering, my days numbered with infectious hissing, a writhing desert snake untamed.


Mateo Perez Lara is a queer latinx poet from Bakersfield, California. He writes about sex, cultural identity, LGBTQ rights, education, health and history. Mateo is also an editor for RabidOak Online Literary Journal. He has new poems soon to be published in Porter House Review, Poets.Org, and FlyPaper Mag.

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