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John Olivares Espinoza

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John Olivares Espinoza received a BA from the University of California–Riverside and an MFA from Arizona State University. Olivares Espinoza is the author of The Date Fruit Elegies (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2008). He lives in San Jose, California.

by this poet

poem

My mother pushes a grocery cart,
I tug at her blue pleated skirt.

She puts her change into my hands,
For the old soul slumped against the wall,
His gray mouth covered by a beard of wind and dirt.

I place the coins into his cupped hands
And he stacks two neat columns of cents

poem

A George Washington quarter was a cuarta. Two cuartas bought us una soda from a vending machine. We asked abuelito for a cuarta to play the video game console. No, he said, una peseta. No, una cuarta. Una peseta para la

poem

Go on, tell me
My hands look like yours,
Nail clipped, filed, buffed, shined.
They weren’t always so.
My hands were

Forged from
Gardening, working so deep
In the soil, they could have been roots.
Fingers splintered by wooden
Rakes and shovels.

Some gardener—