Allen Forrest © 2017 All Rights Reserved

I Want to Be

I want to be a burn, scorch a throat
lift the tongue in praise,
flame preaching in the mouth.
Worship me as I ascend. Can you love wildfire?

I am always an ocean, jellyfish jaw-clamped,
fish knotted-in-schools at the throat.
Whales curl into my folds and horse fish hide
in my tousled strands. Some days, I fillet
my feet to let the salt out.

I will never be pine. The soil disgusts me,
mocks my bone. I punish dandelions with a blow
for every falling leaf. For this, the wood cackles,
carves my name into its bark.

I want to brand somewhere youíll never forget.
Body, I promise you
I can change.

* * *


My mother
passes her shame

her shame
like a sure-footed man

my shame
a sure-footed man

convinces me
yellow can pass
for blue

convinces me
I am griefís bone


My motherís shame
is a bruise
on an infantís arm

My shame
is a cracked
coconut, its milk
unable to wet
a thirsty mouth

Her backís been broken
my backís been broken

halved spines

donít make

same ones
she makes


same ones
sitting like
passed china

cabinetís corner
til a woman blows dust

off a teacup
set on a chipped saucer

before a daughter.

Ysabel Y. Gonzalez
Copyright © 2017  

New Jersey native Ysabel Y. Gonzalez received her BA from Rutgers University and MFA from Drew University. Ysabel has attended VONA, Tin House, and BOAAT workshops. Sheís a CantoMundo fellow, and is published in Vinyl, Wide Shore, Waxwing Literary Journal, and others. You can read more about her work at

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