by Asusena Lopez



My mother danced in the devil's 

abandoned playground where he tossed 

jacks with boulders and twisted cat’s cradles 

with tree branches.  


The villagers guarded their casas de adobe 

by hanging horseshoes over their doorways,

but the tendrils still bear his mark, 

and some say they see him under moonlight 

tottering rocks over cliffs. 


From this dry fertile land

my mother learned the secrets of the mandrake:

always plant a tree under a luna tierna,

and protect it with a red ribbon during an eclipse.

Cola de caballo soothes the intestines and cow 

shaped leaves treat diabetes. 


Store a bowl of salt under your bed. 

As it absorbs nightmares it will stiffen;

discard it when you’ve stopped dreaming. 

Coat your tongue in honey

when asking for a favor.

Figs dry warts.

Menstruation piss fades acne scars.


En la víspera de Año Nuevo crack an egg 

in a glass of water; read the yolk.

Light a cigarette in your ear when it's sore.

Sweep an egg over your body

to lower a fever. 

Always offer flowers or molasses

to the ocean.


But if you want to keep a man, pin

his name to a mouse trap.

Never sleep with a mirror facing you

or your toes pointing towards a window.

Only praise the idols you can feed.

When you catch a shadow in your

peripheral, burn copal. 

Dreaming of meat, a wedding, or falling teeth

means someone is going to die.

If they leave before you apologize,

lift the casket and kiss Death’s cold feet.



This poem first appeared in The Northridge Review's Fall 2021 issue. 

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