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Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is author of Beastgirl and Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) as well as the novels Clap When You Land (Quill Tree Books, 2020), With the Fire on High (Quill Tree Books, 2019), and THE POET X (HarperTeen, 2018), which won the 2018 National Book Award in Young People's Literature. She holds a BA from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion and lives in Washington, D.C.

By This Poet

2

Ode to the Head Nod

the slight angling up of the forehead
neck extension                        quick jut of chin

meeting the strangers’ eyes
a gilded curtsy to the sunfill in another

in yourself      tithe of respect
in an early version the copy editor deleted

the word “head” from the title
the copy editor says              it’s implied

the copy editor means well
the copy editor means

she is only fluent in one language of gestures
i do not explain                     i feel sad for her

limited understanding of greetings              & maybe
this is why my acknowledgements are so long;

didn’t we learn this early?
            to look at white spaces

            & find the color       
            thank god o thank god for

                                                             you               
                                                                                        are here.

After He's Decided to Leave

When the bottle of hot sauce shattered in the kitchen
he stood in the doorframe, shook his head at the mess.

Not worried if I was injured,
mostly curious at what else it was I’d broken.

You are so clumsy with the things you hold,
he never said.

The red stain on my chest bloomed pungent,
soaked any apology.

I used his shirt, the one I slept in,
to wipe the counter and pale-colored kitchen floor.

That night and the next for a straight week
as he prepared boxes to leave

I hunched and scrubbed the tiles. Couldn’t rid myself
of the things that I’d sullied, of the look he left behind.