Two Poems – Violeta Orozco


Requiem for the dead time of the female activist stolen by the male

I never acknowledged this was work
you learned so slow
I thought it was my job
to heal you, teach you
how to heal, you didn’t know
(and after all
someone had to do the work, the dirty work).

You hated yourself so much, I felt your pain
so deeply, I thought it was my own
but I was wrong. You took all the credit,
I took all the pain.

You said you trained yourself
to face your ghosts, the toxic loads
you carried on your back
cause your old man
told you to keep them.

You think I didn’t have
poisonous toads
and venomous snakes
lodged in my throat?

I have enough with my own
to have time to do yours,
go pay a male
to educate your soul,
don’t come a-beggin’
around my road
askin’ for love, time, hope,
another chance to do this right.

it all burns down to time
and labor. Two things you took away
already, so get your ass to grind
away at the mill
the time has come
the time has come
for you
to work
for me.


You said those bonds were sacred—
you were wrong.
Those bonds were nothing but work
for me and other women in our family
who paid for all the shrinks and hospital bills,
therapy and permanent medication
to get rid of traumas and clinical depression
years of domestic abuse
gaslighting blackmailing cheating and plain household exploitation
masked behind the catholic pedestal of marriage
the nuclear family fighting to death over the properties
properties properties.
Guess who was willing to uphold romantic myths?
keep house clean and husband happy
on whose dime those myths were built and for how long.

But what about the kids? the aunts had whined
we can’t just go. And who will feed them
if we do divorce?
They worked their asses off in the kitchen
till the children grew old enough to feed themselves
and then wouldn’t feed themselves
‘cause mum was there to do the work,
why bother? After all they left for work
and came back late. No time to cook or care.
Too late for their mothers to get a new job
after twenty years off the job market
Anyway, they knew what they were signing up for.
Work work work,
the poor girls expecting to be paid back in love.
I know the whole story.
I don’t fall for that crap.
Pay me with money.
Don’t gimme no lectures
about the sacred family.
My work
is sacred.

Violeta Orozco is the author of three poetry collections, Stillness in the Land of Speed (Jacar Press, forthcoming), The Broken Woman Diaries (available for presale at Andante Books at and El cuarto de la luna (2020). A diasporic bilingual writer from Mexico City writing in English and Spanglish, her poetry celebrates the borders that have shaped her work as a transnational writer. She has been published in Acentos Review, A Gathering of the Tribes Magazine, Chicana/Latina MALCS Journal, Harvard’s Palabritas, Cloud Women’s Quarterly Journal and elsewhere. Also a literary translator, she has a monthly column in Nueva York Poetry Review featuring Latina and Chicana poets she translates into Spanish. She currently studies her Ph.D. at University of Cincinnati. Reach her on instagram @vletra

Banner art “Mannequin” a photo piece by M.S. Evans. A guest reader and editor on the Work & The Anthropocene Project for Ice Floe Press, M.S. Evans is a widely published author, a Pushcart nominated poet, and a visual artist with work in Feral, Black Bough, Ice Floe Press, and many other venues. She recently had a solo show of her photographic works in Butte, Montana. Twitter: @seanettleink.

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