Ode To A Dominican Breakfast
Yesenia Montilla

Keep your pancakes, french toast, eggs
benedict, your muffins and scones

Keep your waffles and four types of syrup
the way your eggs scramble but never sizzle

Nothing more scrumptious than mangu con queso frito

The other day I wore a white dress
with a wide skirt and a red sash

I danced merengue barefoot on my stoop. I kissed the
Dominican flag, once for each time I remembered a taino word

yuca, batata, tanama, ocama, yautia, cacique, juracan,
every bite on the plate, every morsel like a bachata tune

This can all be yours, get off the long lines at the brunch spot
Forget the grits and cheesy okra. Ring my doorbell

Five ingredients: Olive oil, onions, plantain, white cheese and flour


The Day I Realized We Were Black

my brother Hector was four hours late coming home from work
when he entered the house   He was angry I was holding his pet
rabbit in my arms watching The Godfather — which part I can’t remember
did I mention he was angry     sixteen and angry

and he said his legs ached like what the wind must feel against a tumbleweed
and he said he was tired like death seemed easy like rice and beans
and whatever meat we had that night was too hard to swallow
and he said he wished we were white
and I stood up startled my much lighter skin than his
could not wrap my coarse hair around the idea that we were not that

because my mother is Cuban with grey eyes
because my father had an afro once but I had not noticed then
because my grandfather once said “I wish I were King Kong so I could destroy Harlem and those
fucking black cockroaches”
because my godparents were Irish-American
because I had suppressed my blackness
because my brother shook me when I told him he was stupid   we were Latino
because he had missed his Jersey to Port Authority bus
because he was walking to the nearest train station and lost his way
because he was stopped by the police
because he was hit with a stick
because he was never given the right directions even though he begged
because trash was thrown at him from the police cruiser’s window as he walked
because he was never the same
because we’re black
because we’re black and I never knew       I was twenty-two


Yesenia Montilla is a New York City poet with Afro-Caribbean roots. Her poetry has appeared in the chapbook For The Crowns Of Your Head, as well as the literary journals: 5 AM, OVS and Adanna. Her Manuscript “The Pink Box” was a first book award semifinalist with Crab Orchard Press, Trio House Press and most recently Alice James Books. In 2012 Notorious was nominated for a Pushcart prize.

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