Jennifer Tamayo

My mother punched a man on the street once
who says women can't be violent with fists and spit
no more open handed slaps and shrieks, I'm talking knuckles
Hands wrapped around red, heart a throbbing knot
The man was calling his wife a cunt while I ate my meringue
what the fuck YOU looking at, skinny bitch
the purpled spot appeared on him like magic, her eyes gleamed rubies
It was just like her to stick her fists in someone else's business
The sidewalk was no place for fights, get in the yard, beat the man stupid
She couldn't ignore inutil, imbecil, uno de estos dias--
and the thunder of the lawn chair against the house,
My mother turned monster, hurled her words at the man
Hives appeared on my body, quarter size welts growing in whirlpools
The cells reacting to a thing I'd come to know well
a black smudge on the side lines, I couldn't have been five
eating blue sprinkles one at a time, she dazzled me
the tornado drawing the camera to the window
He'd have thrown one back had neighbors not been watching
But the other mother made ghost wondering
Who's this pendejita trying to save me? Who does she think she is?






XXV is a part of of a collection on a made-up/invented/fictional family history. One night, while reading Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library, #18, I realized I had no idea where I came from, who my parents were, who their parents were, etc. And, I'd never cared about this stuff before. I started going through photographs and I just began making up stories about the women in the images. Eventually, I ran out of photographs, so I made up the photographs too. Finally, I decided to stop bullshitting and just write about my family and draw into the gaps. This particular piece is about my mother, who actually did assault a man on the street. She says I wasn't there for that event but I think otherwise. I remember those sprinkles vividly.