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English is Not my Language
by Karo Ska


My primordial language
my tongue. In my brain
words I knew
for eight years     disappear.
I ache. Hypoglossal nerves
crave syllables     syllables
from my vocabulary. The snake
in my mouth
smells diseased    it tries
to uncoil    trips on
teef until they
teach it to say teeth
in speech ferapy    I read
out loud       the students laff.

English is not my language.

I search for a/my voice
within a prickly ficket   the fistles
discourage me    my words bleed
red on English papers    passive
verbs     run-on
sentences     low verbal
standardized test scores whisper
English is your second
language / rejection
from creative writing
classes murmur give up.

English is not my language.

I learn to switch from Karolina
to Caroline. As if
an English-sounding name can
       it doesn't / I learn to switch
from Mama to Mom    watching
the Simpsons     choking
on Homer-chokes-Bart
American culture. I learn
to use the semi-colon; I learn
to activate my verbs. 

English is not my language.

What was mine
is gone    only
       a caged
             snake remains.

English does not language me.
The snake fights
to break three

Hirsute Goddesses
by Karo Ska


At twelve        my legs sprout
thick vines       blanketing my calves
shins & knees. When I wear

shorts my friends advise --
others giggle behind their hands --
                                     she is so hairy

In the shower
with my mom's razor
I hack away    burgundy blood
splatters on the bathtub
walls. After     I shiver
at my legs'
smooth shine.

Pants cover my refusal    I escape
embarrassment    until my lover
announces -- please shave 

Years    maturing    a collective
bloody journeys across drought-
stricken fields before I find
pride in my vines. Today 

men tell me to shave --
my bushy femme-perceived body
causes cognitive dissonance.
I give them the middle finger.

Today     I  display my legs
at Home Garden competitions
expecting to win first prize. 

Today     I don't care what you say
behind your hands or to my face
Today     I praise my hair     caress
the strands like hirsute goddesses. 

Karo Ska uses poetry to build towards an anti-authoritarian & autonomous world. She questions the legitimacy of the Amerikkkan empire & recognizes LA as Tongva Territory. You can find other work by her in the Conchas y Café Zine, Vol. III, Issue 3 and Vol. IV, Issue 2.