by Zachary Caballero


On test days, mom’s hands
woke up early enough
to build a meal

for me, three chorizo & egg tacos
tucked in foil,
the foil kept the heat
alive long enough inside
our backpacks to eat on the bus.
Mom cooks in her robe,
spoon in hand,
pan on stove,
scrambled yolk.

The spoon yearns for movement,
but speed kills the scramble so mom
goes slow, her wrist
works like visible wind
moving so slow, the moment
is almost a secret. But
I see it.


it’s been said, I sprint through sentences
with a vicious lack of precision
like my speech is a track meet
except the audience
is the one out of breath
and somehow, I have no feet

it’s been said my voice is a vacuum
where syllables go missing,
where meaning is missed
mostly due to my quicksand
quips, the quivering lips I get
when the words I find are too
heavy to lift

it’s been said, I talk too fast
like my voice is reckless behind the wheel
like my thought-to-talk process
is a banana peel slip!
Witness every listener
hurt their hip against
the cautionary wind behind
each sentence I tea-cup spin.
I remember,
a woman who judged
my poem when I was 18
told me
that if I slowed down,
articulated my words
with the worth
they deserve, then
I’d be heard.
It hurt my
so I did not listen.


when I choose to read the poem in Spanish
my voice does not know how to move.
I freeze in the aisles between the letters
Just as I did as a kid, when my cousins
spoke Spanish as fast as light vanished
All I could hear was the dark shadow
Of sound I could not summon.

when I choose to read the poem in Spanish
I sit on the floor of my room with the windows open.
I call for my voice,
the slow breath rises,
not so much pronouncing
the word, but searching
for the light switch
the one my mom turns on
when she’s cooking
eggs in the morning.