Three Poems by Juanita Rey

Artwork by Chota


The bus is like an asylum
except these inmates are free to roam.
The driver ignores his passengers.
But they ooze out of seats,
crawl down from the ceiling,
just to keep me company.

One guy is making barnyard noises.
Another rolls his eyes
like a slot machine.
A third reeks of weeks-old fish.
They disregard all the empty seats
and surround me

I’m a young woman,
not adult enough to pity them,
not so much of a child
so as to fear them.
I’m at an age
where I just want them away from me.

So beware all oddballs, weirdos
and all others who make me uncomfortable
in this skin of mine.
I’m on the way to the city.
My attitude is along for the ride.




She’s a striptisera,
body brown and oiled,
wrapped around a pole –

her senses licked
by a slovenly dejado
in the front row –

how she wishes the air
were a lust proof vest –

but who undresses her,
if not him?
who paints her lips
dark red?
who shoves yankee dollars
in the cracks of her skin?

she’s younger than his own daughter
with a child of her own –

I hold the boy
while she dresses –

child cries
because my skin is not hers –

let the dejado cry –
God knows, he has his reasons




James ushered me into
the gilded foyer
of the Veteran’s Auditorium.
Amid the suited men
and women in fancy gowns,
I had never felt so Dominican.

My attention
slipped in and out of the music
but my eyes never once
broke contact with the orchestra.

Every instrument was familiar to me
but not in this context.
Their dependency upon each other,
the conductor waving his baton,
the notes chained to the page…
all new territory.

And scouting the players,
I was like a census taker
There were many women,
one distinctly Asian,
but not one black
and no one brown like me.

Was there an impassable barrier, I wondered.
Or had no one bothered
to batter down the door?

I identified most with the trombone,
though not the guy
who blew into it.

But how harsh it sounded,
how ungainly it looked,
against the sweep
of the bows across sweet violins,
the waltz of fingers on piano keys.

And yet there it was blaring
between the flutes and piccolos,
the cello and the horn.
Why shouldn’t it make itself known?



Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in this country five years. Her work has been published in Pennsylvania English, Harbinger Asylum, Petrichor Machine and Madcap Poets.

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