Angyr Poetry Corner: "Alecia" by Janice Lobo Sapigao

We're getting poetic up here. It's time for another installment of Angry Poetry Corner, a regular weekly spotlight on the work of API poets -- not necessarily angry -- curated by Cara, our Angry Asian Intern. Because you could use a little more poetry in your life.

In the corner this week, a poem by Janice Lobo Sapigao.


A good grade on
Alecia’s history test
is the plane ticket to Mexico
for the summer.

She must know legacies of US presidencies,
how the New Deal provided relief, recovery, reform
US intervention in Latin America and
its impact on the global economy.

Every day for three weeks,
I tutor Alecia intensely
at school and at Starbucks.
I say we smell like coffee,

she says it’s sweeter in Jalisco.
Stuck between binder paper
and Hot Cheetos,
she is somewhere else.

Alecia remembers details of May Day -
moments before the arrest, no ID,
how her mom got out of the car
and never could come back.

History is too hard, she says a week before testing.
‘Tell me about social and political
policies’ I say again.
She rolls her pencil along her fingers,

it becomes a clenched fist. Who cares,
she replies. ‘You need to,’ I say. This
is too hard, I don’t know, she continues.
Between frappuccinos and this history test

is her family. What are the responsibilities
of a government during economic crisis?
Is there a danger that assistance will lead
to dependence? Are there answers?

Alecia talks to the edge of the table,
Repeats how it’s too hard, it’s unfair,
Asks, Why did they take her? Why can’t
she be here with me? Can she come back?
Janice Lobo Sapigao is a poet and writer from San Jose, CA. She is currently a graduate student in the MFA Writing Program at CalArts. She lives in Los Angeles, CA where she runs, reads and plays with her stuffed animals.

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