May 15, 2017

New Poetry from Bonnie Amesquita

New Poetry from Bonnie Amesquita

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.

Wipe tub.

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…


Anti-depressant? Yes.

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.

Outta here!

Drive. Stop. Go. Turn, Turn. Go. Park.

Key in the door.

Stale yellow air

A room

Paper, dirty socks

Dishes in sink.

need a cigarette, want a beer.

Check mailbox. Check voicemail.

Check email.


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

he says

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

there’s talk

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

smiles sheepishly

and laughs quite amiably at us all.


At Acme Cotton Mill

Portuguese women

three times our age

beat quota daily

packed metal aid kits in boxes

we stacked

on wooden palettes

those women went to work

in house coats

bedroom slippers

the veins on their legs bulged

too many years standing

on concrete floors

newbies like us

summer help

pissed them off

slowed them down

cost them


they had kids to feed

rent to pay

we were smart-ass amateurs

clumsy, slow

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

fast enough

Slow down! we begged

when they tossed the metal kits our way

Não compreendo, they shouted

Não compreendo


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

her words

or his

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

beneath floorboards

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.


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