Photo Courtesy Grace Chu
We’ve featured Bonnie Amesquita’s exquisite poetry here at the Café before, and by all accounts she has become one of our favorite writers. And not just with us: her poems get snapped up by literary magazines elsewhere, too, making us awfully proud that she offers us an opportunity to publish her work. Herewith we feature four of her recent poems, and a video bonus: Bonnie reading “A Memory of My Mother at Christmas” which won on the Mother’s Day poetry contest on WNIJ, Northern Illinois University Public Radio. Here’s the direct link to her reading. Congratulations, Bonnie!
We think Bonnie’s diligence in writing and getting her work in front of the public is an inspiration to all of us who work in the creative arts.
Hurry Up and Wait
Drink coffee. Brush teeth. Shower. Shampoo. Rinse.
Dry, wrap towel.
Deodorant. Moisturizer. Smoker’s patch. Body lotion.
Clothes (one leg at a time, one leg at a time).
Dry hair. Eyeliner. Shadow? (nah) Lip gloss (yeah, sure).
Drink coffee. Eat a banana? No time…
Watch? Glasses? Purse? Bookbag.
Hurry. Drive. Stop. Go. Turn, Turn. Go. Park.
Check mailbox. Check voicemail. Check email.
Run to class. Run to class.
Run to class. Run to class. Office hours.
Drive. Stop. Go. Turn, Turn. Go. Park.
Key in the door.
Stale yellow air
Paper, dirty socks
Dishes in sink.
need a cigarette, want a beer.
Check mailbox. Check voicemail.
Wait for Vernal Equinox, youth
of celestial time and sphere, to
touch the cool moist tulips, violets, and
arboreal buds. Tomorrow let us sleep
…in each other’s arms
and share a dream of grass, summer breeze,
the flight of worm
in robin’s beak.*
Through the glass
Watch clouds melt
blue to gray
his key in the door.
*Excerpt of a poem written by Ricardo Mario Amezquita to his wife, Bonita.
The House on College and John
supper time in the old rooming house
on College and John
somebody’s frying garlic and onions
sourdough is baking
and the smell of spice and steamy pinto beans
makes our mouths water
each of us
drifting toward the kitchen
ready to cop a meal
we’re an odd collection of types
a gay Rastafarian
a boozy musician with his jazzy horn
an edgy artist
a Marxist elitist
a quasi-hippie girl
and middle-class me
whom the Marxist calls
a bourgeois revisionist
I’ll be the first to go in the revolution
the rest of the house is drafty and cold
but the kitchen is warm
somebody turns on the radio
we hear Garrison Keillor’s sonorous voice
telling stories singing songs
the Marxist in a breathy voice
sneers mildly at me
kisses up to the hippie girl
the Rastafarian rambles on
about Derrida the Ren-nay-sance
the artist rolls his eyes
while the jazz musician drinks his MGD
and laughs quite amiably at us all.
At Acme Cotton Mill
three times our age
beat quota daily
packed metal aid kits in boxes
on wooden palettes
those women went to work
in house coats
the veins on their legs bulged
too many years standing
on concrete floors
newbies like us
pissed them off
slowed them down
they had kids to feed
rent to pay
we were smart-ass amateurs
we spent our pay on fast food, movies, rock ‘n roll
no skin off our nose if quota wasn’t made
but for them, we couldn’t pack and stack
Slow down! we begged
when they tossed the metal kits our way
Não compreendo, they shouted
This is a prayer that prays itself
This is a prayer that prays itself
Little girl spins circles in the dark
She runs, reaching up for God’s arms
Then cries because she cannot hear
She can only dream them.
This prayer is a dream that surfaces
now and again.
Here’s another one
In a mirror, tired eyes stare back
weary from searching a deserted house
for secret rooms where
mildewed books and baby doll clothes are buried
A mess of feeling
begging for a voice–
That’s how prayers and dreams are made.
But this, this isn’t a dream
I ask questions you can’t understand
and won’t answer
Words spin circles, tangle and confuse
Why can’t I say what I mean?
I watch your eyes
Your mind has moved to another room
somewhere safe and silent, beyond my reach
Bonnie Amesquita’s short perspectives have been featured on her local NPR station WNIJ, and on APR’s Speaking of Faith. Her poetry has been published in the New York Times, Third Wednesday, Fictional Café, and Greensilk Journal. She and her husband Ric live in DeKalb, Illinois.