You Won’t Work Like a Donkey: Portrait of my Mother’s Worry
The slaughterhouse is halfway between the lake and the city, is there when the night falls, when this art hobby doesn’t cut it anymore, when you trot after the train, finger-paint with animal blood, this art hobby forgot to pay the electricity bill, snaps out of it when you step in a puddle of intestines and leave footprints going home, contemporary graffiti, this art hobby forgets on purpose, before I moved here, before I met your dad, they worked me like a mule, 50 cents over minimum wage and I forgot I hated killing animals, slitting their throats and peeling their skin, those were my footprints first, my blood, everything is bright when you’re doing art and getting paid, everything is glossy until this hobby quits and you don’t have running water, everything is shiny until you quit this hobby and you’re forced to sleep with a dirt head and crusting blood under your fingernails.
To: that noght in da jcemetsry
Th city light s r beutiful 2night.
Sky twinkles starligt on sidwalks
with cracks that almost shape like ur
sillhouette in twinkling moondust.
Clay polish tatters blu on ashes of
cigar wrappers flickering burnt blac
n im thinkn of the time u rolled roun
in somebody else’s ashes in that gravyard
next to the church with the clouds
rdy to snow upside down crosses.
Did u kn o th grass smells lik tequila
n th boys breaths smells like lilac
flickering burn t blqck sparks n my
legs feel like pillow n l8ly it dpens’t feel
right wrapping myself up in white
bedsheets bc they dont feel wuite as
electric as ur fingertips n m drunk
Im drunk im dunk m drnk n i want
u nex to me w legs like pillows n
breath like lilac burnt black n u
rollin around in someboyd else’s ashes
n i dk y u wouldnt want that eithr
Penelope Alegria is a an alumnus of Young Chicago Authors’ artistic apprenticeship, Louder Than a Bomb Squad. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in La Nueva Semana Newspaper, El Beisman. Penelope was awarded the 2018 Literary Award by Julian Randall, as well as being chosen as a 2019 Brain Mill Press National Poetry Month Contest Editor’s Pick. She has performed spoken word at The Metro, University of Chicago, and elsewhere.