Erika Ceballos “Questions” “Snapshot” “Abecedarian”


by Erika Ceballos

Sometimes I scoop out my breasts and my vulva,

pack them away,

and press flat against the covers.

I’ll pluck the hairs of my body,

shedding imperfections until only

identity is left.

Sometimes I fasten a cock to my hips,

deepen my voice,

and feel the ridge of my throat.

I’ll answer to Harry, or Charlie, or Tom.

Let my bindings unravel, unzip skin from flesh,

and slip into character.

Recycle through masks to find a face.

I want to slide in between parted thighs,

and breathe in open smiles,

To press down against soft curves.

But they teach us to devour,

to break women open and arrange

immobile limbs on a plate

for the world to feast on.

How do you differentiate between

insecurity and desire?


i wanted to find yellow in mechanized trees

that bobbled along the train tracks

weaving in and out of perdition

Wanted a snapshot of scarecrows straddling gravemarkers

or warblers that La Bamba along wheat fields

i wanted the cardiac muscle to compound the minerals

of my body into yellowcake

so that my hands could feed under the heat

To fill my breath with sunlight and trade golden

strands of barley for a crown

Do you think if i stood in a traffic light

i could suck the yellow from go until only a bruise is left

you think i could i crawl into a bruise

The valley wants to map yellow lines in between

my footsteps, but i keep missing the caution signs

Abecedarian: Analyzing Behavioral Conditions During Extremely Futile Gender Hysterics

A man thinks he is entitled to conversations at

bus stop sidewalks and empty parking lots. Thinks a returned smile exists without the

context of listen, sweetheart, I was just trying to be a gentleman and

damn, girl, you ain’t that fine anyways.

Expects his surprise of a woman walking to

Food Maxx at midnight without a male companion to be excused, expects to be

greeted as savior to the gender when

he suggests that the women in question stay home next time

instead trading her safety for a soda.

Just ask the man his views on preventing rape and

keep watch for any suggestion on teaching boys about consent or for

limiting men to their homes after dark unless accompanied by an escort.

Most men aren’t taught to weaponize keys between knuckles,

Not taught to search for cameras in McDonald’s bathroom stalls.

Or told by their mothers to say yes when you really mean no because your

partner might not be willing to tolerate such a marriage.

Quiet acceptance is demanded. So women

roll out a smile, brandishing teeth in place of pepper

spray, so she may evade  

that inevitable bitch directed at her. But

until men are stripped of their fists,

voided of their compulsive demands for a

woman’s attention, and washed of their

xenophobic mentality that prevent them from recognizing a grimace from a smile—

you won’t see me feeding these

zealots with a good morning.

About The Author

Erika Ceballos is a student at Fresno City College in Fresno, California. Her work has been published in the Fresno City Review (formerly, the Ram’s Tail). She intends to earn an MFA in Creative Writing and hopes her writing will reflect intersectional and representative feminism.


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