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Three Poems on the Anniversary of Hurricane Maria

The Room I Cannot Enter

The game show host announces the doors to our cultura are

language and food        las puertas

son lenguaje y comida


y no tengo las llaves                 brain locked down when anyone speaks

Spanish too                  suddenly


In Puerto Rico, I want to crack myself open

an inside-out coconut, let español spill over my beloved island

where I learned to eat my plantains sweet


San Juan, Sabana Grande are where I see my face reflected back at me

in each shop, la playa, bars

near-perfect replica of my mother’s


In Panamá, when she was a child, our familia called her fea—

ugly girl, with our afroboricua smile


that is the mouth I want to know, the Spanish I stretch lips to reach



 my friends urge


no sé la palabra para try                but maybe

my mother kept the keys from me so each blade-

shaped word

could not cut through


forged me as Latina Jeanne D’Arc

her naked back a constellation of stab wounds



No Matter Where I Go, I Carry You With Me

On Sundays when the children’s bodies are dragged from the Rio



they are reborn


 yucca flowers, baptized in cool blue morning broken




is to run through the fence, barbed

wire laced in your gut,


no tetanus shot to back you up. As the doctor re-inoculates

me, decade since my last shot in the arm


 raw with hubris, one more defense




desert borders,

bare feet

 my choice


When I ask, how do I ready this womb          to deliver another,

she says,                    you know this means you can’t go home


Si, I reply, lo sé,

I know,

 there is not enough Spanish in this poem.



Ode To My Latina Machete Heart

If my torso is the transfomer toppled in Coamo by la tormenta

que comenzo todas las tormentas, pole splinters, sundered


lines wrapped around my neck, then my heart is the machete

mi hermano takes to the debris, hacks his way to power


once more. If my mouth is the cage closed on our stolen hijos

e hijas from El Paso to New York, then my tongue is the machete


struck to stone for one spark to ignite the final fire. If my feet

are the desert floor jagged with rock shards and sand scorch,


then my legs are the machete that have held mi madre up since San

Salvador, breaks through brush, past helicopter-light hunt.


If my arms are the closed gate between mi hermana and refuge, then

my hands are the machete, handle bashing down the lock.


This is how I bear this body forward, weapon honed by the white

man since I was una niña pequeña and now they will pay


homage to my machete heart, corazón de machete, your crimson

insurgent beats, those booted steps, you do not bleed, you burn—


your only stillness the song between, breath before the slash,

then the salvo, la fuerza,         when they broke through the front door,


you were already gone.



Angela Maria Spring

Angela Maria Spring is a Latinx of Central American and Puerto Rican descent and the founder of Duende District, a bookstore based in Washington, DC, by and for people of color, where all are welcome. She holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications, including the American Poetry Journal, Origins Journal, District Lines, Naugatuck River Review, Tar River Poetry, and pacificREVIEW.