Luivette Resto

Luivette Resto, a mother, teacher, poet, and Wonder Woman fanatic, was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico but proudly raised in the Bronx. Her two books of poetry Unfinished Portrait and Ascension have been published by Tía Chucha Press. Some of her latest work can be found on the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center website, Bozalta, and North American Review. Her third collection is forthcoming from FlowerSong Press. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley with her three children aka her revolutionaries.

All Day Every Day

The Bronx isn’t a résumé builder. You don’t get a Scouts badge because you lived there today or 20 years ago. You don’t come from The Bronx. The Bronx comes from you. And you don’t survive The Bronx. It isn’t trying to kill you so you can justify leaving it behind. Abandoning it like one of the buildings from the ‘80s with painted flower pots on the windows, making them more aesthetically pleasing for the Jersey commuters as they crawl on the Cross Bronx Expressway, which is always under construction. The Bronx is more than switching your t’s for d’s when you say water. The accent isn’t part of your audition for the next Spike Lee movie. The Bronx is more than dancing to hip-hop and bomba. It’s Lisa Lisa & the Cult Jam and TKA in the community center basement at your cousin’s sweet 16. It’s having enough spray cans and D batteries. The Bronx is the way your head tilts when someone says something suspicious. It is in the amount of yo’s and dead asses used in a story. Because yo I am dead ass when I tell you that shit happened like I said it did. But in the end, we good. The Bronx is the original Yankee Stadium and hating on the Mets in perpetuity. It is witnessing love triangles at the park unravel like a telenovela. The Bronx is the ineptitude of the 2 train and cursing Robert Moses when you surface. The Bronx is knowing bodega aisles like treasure maps. It is getting ready for a night out, searching for your favorite hoop earrings and Boricua red lipstick. It means rolling without hesitation when your comadre hits you up. The Bronx is sitting at a faculty meeting and asking the questions no one is willing to ask because in the BX there is no sugar coating

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Promises Are Coffee

It’s Wednesday
and I ask my father
if he can mail me
two packages of coffee
from Puerto Rico.

My request is specific and desperate:
It has to be Café Crema.
Abuela worked for the company
until she retired in her late 40s.
In between meetings
she created my name on her desk pad.
I can’t find this brand in the States.

I ask my father

and he quickly promises with a
Sí, sí por supuesto
and I reply with gratitude
like a daughter would
forgetting the cardless birthdays,
the chances I gave away like bendiciónes
at the end of a phone call
and the afternoons where I waited and waited
like a daughter would.

But today he promises coffee
knowing how much it means to me
and I believe him
like a daughter would
because this is the kind of coffee
that can only be found on the island
just like him.

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I Am 43 Still Stealing Cigarettes from My Mother

Two decades since my first drag
I find myself stealing cigarettes from my mother’s stash,
held in the top left hand kitchen drawer.

She doesn’t count them like I did in college
when loosies could be bought without getting one killed
they were expensive even back then
when I was known for throwing lit cigarettes at people
particularly men with their inane conversation starters.

Growing up with a chain smoker I vowed my disgust
the Newport menthol smell attached to my Catholic school uniform,
overpowering the Aquanet in my bun.

My abuelo looked down on smokers
so naturally all of the women in my family
smoked out back, when he was asleep, or working late nights at the bodega
the same place where they would buy cigarettes.

They didn’t want any part of Pedro’s wrath
Las mujeres decentes no fuman.
Smoking was for whores, women with low morals,
women who fought on command.

Inhaling the nicotine
outside of my mother’s house
I think about the first time I gave a man a blowjob,
allowed a man to put his hands on me,
watched my mother show me how to fight.

Perhaps Pedro was right,
as I squash the cigarette butt
back and forth with the heel of my shoe. 

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