“Someone I Once Knew” by Dulce Maria Menendez — Fictionaut

Someone I Once Knew


by Dulce Maria Menendez


He was a paisano on the same boat
which brought us to Ellis Island.
He died from tuberculoses.
I grew old in the factory breathing fumes.
I was the girl with auburn hair and burnt sienna eyes,
hiding inside a theatre with Betty Grable reels playing
on the silent screen, the star of David wrapped around
my neck as he was shot and fell backwards
his dog tags kissing his forehead and lost among the sunflowers
off the coast of Italy. He is holding his rifle high above
his head in Nam. He stops for a moment. For a second.
For a millisecond to think of me as a bullet escapes from
the Viet Cong and penetrates right through his temples
as it carries the memory of me with it.
He is a Dandy in Paris.
His cane is whisking by to a melody.
I am the whore he leaves his wife for every night.
He is a knight fighting for the Crusades.
I am a Moorish girl who steals his heart and the holy grail.
He is standing next to a painting.
He is someone I once knew.
And just like that with what seemed like 15 minutes of fame,
all the artwork went up in flames.
A cough is heard in the distance.

Source: “Someone I Once Knew” by Dulce Maria Menendez — Fictionaut

“Don’t Go” by Dulce Maria Menendez — Fictionaut

Don’t Go


by Dulce Maria Menendez


There is a blue eyed man painting a cactus.
He is everything I want.
He is everything I can’t have.
There is a man writing poetry.
He is tall and blond and his eyes are blue.
He is everything I want.
He is everything I can’t have.
There is a woman sitting on a sofa who is as old as my mother.
She tells me I can have the cactus.
She tells me I am the poem.


Source: “Don’t Go” by Dulce Maria Menendez — Fictionaut

“El Manisero” by Dulce Maria Menendez — Fictionaut


El Manisero

by Dulce Maria Menendez


It is sunset in Havana. I am sitting at a table in the little apartment on the second floor. It is 1930. The baby is asleep finally. He is like a little cherub cupid breathing shallow in his crib.

There are some rumors of guerilleros executing someone in the hills off Cien Fuegos. I don’t care. It does not affect me. My husband is at the local bar. I am tired. I have been sewing all day. I help my mother with the family business. She is the best seamstress of men suits in Havana. All dignitaries come to her. She provided for us when my father went and died when I was a child.
I met my husband when I was 15. He lived in the same building. My sister and I, god bless her soul, would take to the roof and sunbathe.
One day Luis finally found the courage to come up to the roof to introduce himself. He, his mother, and youngest sister had just moved from Pinar Del Rio. His mother had left his father there to fend for himself. His father had fathered the whole little pueblo he told us. His mother finally had it to her ultimate hair and left him. She knew Luis would find a job and provide for her and his sister.
The sun was too much for me and my sister and I invited him to a lemonade. El manisero was calling out from the street. Take them while they are hot. Roasted peanuts. Roasted and so tasty. I fell in love with him that same day.

He stared at me with smoldering eyes. I could tell he had some mulato in him but I didn’t care. My mother was another story. She made idle conversation  while he sipped his lemonade.
It is sunset in Havana. I am sitting at a table and waiting. Luis is taking too long and I will have to go drag him from the bar. My neighbor Margot will watch the baby. I can hear her listening to la vitrola from here. She is a typical teenager but not that much younger than me. I step out to the balcony and call her and she runs down the stairs and crosses over up the stairs to my apartment. It has become a routine for us lately.
I take my purse and go fetch my drunken husband.  When we come back Margot takes off and I help him to bed. The sawdust residual from his shoes scratch against the hardwood floors. It makes a cha cha cha sound.

Source: “El Manisero” by Dulce Maria Menendez — Fictionaut