the dialectics of my exiled body: three poems

Laura Pérez Muñoz



Photo by Laura Pérez Muñoz

You’re Puerto Rican? But, you don’t look Spanish. I visited ‘Porto Rico’ once. Say something in Spanish. A girl in my school was ‘Porto Rican’. I love margaritas. Or is it Piña Colada? You know I want to get married there. Oh, that’s my favorite language. I don’t know why I haven’t learned it yet. Houla. When did you learn English? It doesn’t really count if you’re white passing. If it weren’t for your accent… Really? You can’t vote for the President? No, I didn’t know about Vieques. What’s Culebra? I mean, the military had to practice somewhere. But why are you white? Would you prefer statehood? Are your grandparents Americans? Spaniards? Yeah, I know another white Puerto Rican. Nah… you’re not Boricua. Do you miss the beach? How does it feel to live in a city now? I bet life is good at home. How was it like to grow up gay in ‘Porto Rico’? Did your parents kick you out? What did your dad say? Where you allowed to be queer? Is it Lohra? Lora? Lara? Can you say it again? I’m sorry I can’t pronounce your name right. Hahahaha. I bet you like writing better in Spanish. Why can’t we see your culture in your work? I think you could include more of your culture in this piece. You don’t have to hide it. Did you write this first in Spanish? Did you have to translate? You could include the translation. Then why did you come to New York City? What’s the weather like in ‘Porto Rico’ during winter? Your license is not a valid ID.





A veces sueño que mi padre me viene a buscar
a mi apartamento de Nueva York
mi padre a sus 32 años
mi padre con sus cabellos negros
la barba negra
los ojos un poco separados
sus dientes amarillos de tanto fumar
las cicatrices frescas en sus manos

mi padre acabado de graduar
con las cartas de amor a mi madre
debajo del brazo
la motocicleta encendida en el fondo
mi padre que me dice que va tarde
muy tarde

A veces sueño que mi padre me viene a buscar
y me dice que tengo que aprender a soñar
sin tanto remordimiento gringo
que las opiniones expiran junto al tiempo
me dice que se ha enamorado
pero no de mi madre
y las cartas ya expiraron
y todo le duele
su piel joven brotando las venas
de todo lo que dejó atrás
del mundo que siguió dando vueltas sin él
de la hija que vio crecer a través de fotos
y una carta cada dos semanas
mi padre que me dice que fui lo más bonito
mi padre que me dio consejos
solamente los domingos
al tomar café en las tardes empapadas de silencio
porque no nos teníamos más nada que decir
que eso

Mi padre que me juró ser
mucho más inteligente que él
y si supiera que he cometido sus mismos errores
de ser muy callada
de no dejar a nadie muy cerca
la introversión al borde de apatía

A veces sueño que mi padre
se sienta en la sala de mi vieja casa
abrazando a los nietos que no le voy a dar
y los tres me miran detrás de sus rizos negros
la mirada severa de sus ojos almendrados
la melancolía al borde de sus párpados

a veces sueño que mi padre me viene a buscar
a mi apartamento de Nueva York
y la moto se dirige hacia el sur
hacia el centro de todo lo que es nuestro
con nuestros pasaportes expirados
hacia la llaga profunda que ambos heredamos
nuestras venas abiertas
el deterioro de nuestra fe

y la moto toma el color de
los perros salvajes
que van detrás de nosotros mordiendo la tela de mis pantalones
que nos siguen hasta llegar
Al sur
Y mi padre que conduce sin
mirar el tiempo que nos ha tomado llegar
a Buenaventura
el sol despegándose entre los puertos
señalando la llegada a casa

A veces sueño que mi padre
me viene a buscar a mi apartamento de Nueva York






Sometimes I dream my father comes looking for me
At my apartment in New York
My father at 32
My father with his full head of black hair
Black beard
His eyes a bit separated
His teeth yellowing from smoking too much
Fresh scars in his hands

My father just graduated
And carries love letters for my mom
Under his arms
The rumble of the motorcycle behind him
My father tells me he’s late
Very late

Sometimes I dream my father comes looking for me
And tells me that I have to learn how to dream
Without American remorse
That opinions expire with time
He tells me he’s fallen in love
But not with my mother
The letters are overdue
And everything hurts
Veins sprouting from his young skin
Remind him of everything he left behind
Of the world that kept turning without him
Of the daughter he saw only through photographs
And letters every two weeks
My father tells me I was the best thing
That happened to him
My father who gave me advice
Only on Sundays
Drinking coffee on afternoons drenched in silence
We didn’t have anything else to say
But that.

My father who swore
I would be smarter than him
But if only he knew I’ve made his same mistakes
Of being too quiet
Of never letting anyone too close
Introversion bordering on apathy

Sometimes I dream
That my father sits in my house’s living room
Embracing the grandsons I’ll never give him
And the three of them look at me behind their black curls
Their almond eyes austere
Melancholy bordering their eyelids

Sometimes I dream my father comes looking for me
At my apartment in New York
And the motorcycle is going south
To the center of everything that’s ours
Our passports expired
To the wound we both inherited
Our veins wide open
The decay of our faith

and the motorcycle takes the color
of the savage dogs biting the back of my pants
that follow us until we’re south
and my father drives
without noticing the time it has taken us to arrive
at Buenaventura
the sun rising between the docks
shedding light on our way home

sometimes I dream
my father comes looking for me
at my apartment in New York





You ask me to write a poem
The deadline is coming up and I’m
staring at a bathtub full of water and salt they
said it helps to unstress your muscles and
fall asleep but you’ve been
chewing on my skin since
the day we met I
coughed 20 times today just to
make space for your name on my throat and
I’m counting the minutes left for you
To spit me out
                                  How much will you eat off me
Until you feel weightless?
I taught your index finger where I
was born and raised
Bajo agua te dije
                                      Entre mariposas coléricas del invierno
Te dije
                                      Bajo el sol
Te dije
                                      Entre capullos y cables de la telefónica te dije
But you
asked about the distance    you
asked about my mother my tongue
asked for love              you
asked for this body    this queer body  you
sharpened your pocket knife every morning
At 10                       you
made an incision            you
stuck your dirty fingernails
and pulled eagles out of my chest


Laura Pérez Muñoz is an MFA in Writing candidate at Pratt Institute. Their work currently involves multilingual translations and the language of the untranslatable body.