I was trying to walk to your house in the drizzle
for the drama

I met a woman at the bus stop
she was trying to walk to the club
but didn't wanna be looking all moist

she says
'sister, can you put this chain on me?'
it's a golden fish
she's a pisces baby

the fish slips through my wet fingers as I'm holding the clasp
she's trying to get her lover to answer the phone
last week she turned $5 into $1000
she bought everyone drinks at the club
quenching the thirst
she shouldacouldawoulda
but you're not old till your cold

the drizzle turns into a downpour
everything that surrounds us is water

we keep taking turns wading into the middle of the street
trying to see if the bus will ever come

I can see the golden fish from here
swimming away in the flood

hello hello hellOOOOO
her phone call turns into a static
the water keeps rising

i wonder will she ever get to the club?
everyone is waiting for her

he woke up
early morning
a hospital bed
a blue building
blue like grey
Lima sky,
not ocean
his eyes
still dry
his hands
still cold
cold like Pacific
not like Atlantic

he woke up
early morning
a hospital bed
he said
I have a new
business idea
it came to me
when my eyes
were closed
closed like casket
not like safe

i have so many
popsicle flavors
burnt siena-yellow ochre
and we’ll make them
so refreshing
he said
so cold
cold like Pacific
not like Atlantic


Its almost like the smell of gasoline, sweat and candy being sold is imprinted on my skin,
Like the chicha, salsa and cumbia blasting from the bus speakers is in a loop in my head 

and all of it became my intense motion sickness and my everyday.

Everything happened on the bus

Back then-- the bus routes depended on the driver’s mood -- and the schedule? On whether or not they had a contender to race them -- that day, the bus

( a repainted School bus from the United States)

Was going so fast it was rattling -- trying to keep up with its rival

We were on our way to visit my brother at the cemetery, to wash his grave. The flowers on my lap were shaking violently 

My father started to shout for the bus to stop and slammed on the windows until they shattered

I think maybe I wrote my first poem on the bus and

Met my mother’s boyfriend, Roberto -- later he would live with us in the projects but that day, she introduced him as a friend. He was a musician, he beat on the cajon and also on her.

I think maybe my first words were “esquina baja” -- letting the driver know I had a destination -- a plan to get off this bus and maybe,

I held money for the first time on the bus. It’s almost like the coins in my sweaty palms seeped their metal essence into my body

I could never ride the bus without a bottle of rubbing alcohol to sniff to calm my nausea 

It was on the bus, in Miami when I was 14 that an old white man grabbed my leg and told me how beautiful he thought I was

I think maybe I made my first friend on the bus, had my first kiss, walked my first steps.

And all of it became my intense motion sickness and my everyday.


An early morning at la mami’s house, she doesnt like to be called grandma -- so we dont

Liter soda bottles with the tops cut off, we fill them up with water from the tank to shower.

Every sound seeps through her thin woven straw walls. The dogs running up and down the sand dune, the neighbors fighting, the boy next door grabs a coin from his pocket and uses it to knock on the bodega owner’s fence to buy 3 bread rolls.

The cuyes are squirming in their boxes making their squeaky sounds. I grab one and hold it in my hands, and look into its beady eyes

My uncle Mario is still alive, he’s awake before all of us -- I can hear the sound of the pigeon wings flapping on the tin roof as he pours some grain for them all to eat

Julio is getting ready to go into the city to sell cassettes and watches in the street. He combs his hair to the side -- looking into a tiny pink plastic mirror I must have shoved into the straw wall as a child.

He shines his shoes and tucks his shirt in. Chiqui is jumping all over him and wagging her tail. She’s even wearing a little sweater la mami made for her.


XIMENA IZQUIERDO UGAZ is a multimedia artist, curator, and educator born in Lima, Perú. Her work primarily touches on the imprint of inter-generational trauma within her own family in relationship to place and migration. She is the Teen Programs Coordinator at the Brooklyn Museum, the visual arts co-curator at Nat Brut as well as a founding member and co-curator of Sweety’s, a gallery and platform dedicated to supporting and exhibiting artists of color. In addition, Izquierdo Ugaz is the author of the self-published Standing in the Bathroom in the Dark Thinking About Green, El Mismo Pozo/The Same Well, Plan B and Uñas.