April Guest: Lupita Eyde Tucker

This month, I am pleased to feature my cousin and guest poet Lupita-Eyde Tucker. Lupita Eyde-Tucker writes and translates poetry in English and Spanish, has studied poetry at Bread Loaf, is a Fellow at The Watering Hole, and was selected as a 2018 AWP Writer to Writer Mentee. Her poems and translations have recently appeared in Baltimore Review, SWWIM, Muse/ A Journal, Nashville Review, Small Orange, Aquifer, The Acentos Review, The Florida Review, Contrapuntos VI, and Asymptote. More poems can be found on her website: www.NotEnoughPoetry.com


Your two wheels
and metal frame
have penetrated my brain
my two feet no longer
can catch up
to racing thoughts
that swoop on
spinning faster
rounding corners
jumping curbs
down the slightest slopes
you make me fly
with rubber wings
pushing me harder
pumping muscles
steely minded
wind whistling
past me around me
dodging raindrops
and ever increasing
my peripheral vision
pumping euphoria
through my veins
while I dance
on your two wheels.

© Lupita Eyde-Tucker


Raising Ourselves: Girls and Boys

Disappointment. Comes from assumed behaviors and expectations of another. Comes from customs and values inferred upon others without the benefit of the same upbringing.

Maybe, little boy, you were raised without a father or a mother. Did you have siblings? A sister? A brother? Other family living near? Maybe, you little man, were raised to fight to win. Protector. Defender. Maybe, you little warrior, were raised that caring, kindness, nurturing or generosity will come eventually. You’ll learn about it in school. For now, stomp, grab, take, make it yours. Money will provide nurture. Maybe, young man, you were raised to do what you wanted, short of getting arrested. Wink. Proud parents of the future Harvard Grad and CEO.

Maybe, little lady, you were raised to preen, brush your long, long hair until it shone. Don’t spill on your new dress. Twirl for daddy. Keep your knees together, sweetie. Maybe, princess, you were raised to look for your prince—one who’ll respect your career— because women’s rights are human rights, princesses must be warriors, Supreme Court Judges, Presidential Nominees, but first of all: mothers. Nurturers. Maybe, young lady, you were raised to give and give and worry and give until you have nothing left for yourself, no self-nurturing left. You went to school, went to work, had a baby, helped your parents get to doctor appointments, helped your children with their homework, helped throw a baby shower, helped do the grocery shopping, the laundry, the cooking. Help. Worry. Help.

Little Boy, Little Lady, meet one day. They get married. Soon, they find disappointment because their expectations have been misrepresented, realized once life together got underway. They ignore it. Twenty years later, they don’t understand each other any better. It all started when they were both little though. Helplessly, their own little ones continue the same disappointments under the same sets of misrepresented expectations.

Eventually it will stop…

©April 2019, Isabel Alvear

The Park Awakens

Inside the park, dirt churning
The sandy soil moistly warming
The earth readying, fortifying
Nurturing, gathering power
Pushing up daffodils and lilies

Deep inhale, the smells of spring
Heat gathering as nature’s strength
Returns to give life, permeates
All through Jackie Robinson park
The dogs following her vigor
Gather scents feverishly, salivating
Zig-zagging, nuzzling the earth

Oft times like forensic scientists
Dogs are like the original CSI’s
Of the human domestic experience
Lifting one paw whilst noses buried
Smelling all creatures’ messages
Like the tulip bulbs splitting open
Like the worms actively moving seeds

Pollen floating through sun-rays
The park cheerful with mating birds
Budding branches gently quivering
Under the weight of their vibrating
Chests, and nature yawns, stretching
Awake under winter’s uneasy slumber
Spring’s dominance now commencing

©April 2019, Isabel Alvear

Sopa de espinacas y papas

A Short Story

I’m at a point where I’m getting closer to understanding why it’s hard to replicate my abuelita’s spinach and potato soup. I’ve tried five different potatoes. Three different sizes. I’ve played with mostly potato and some yucca. I’ve tried sautéing the spinach in garlic first; adding it last, right before serving. That’s been the closest. Also, the onion counts. Yellow over white or red. The funny thing about memories, like when I was standing on my tip-toes in mi abuela’s kitchen, is that it’s never quite the same each time you next remember it. Details come back. Like when she pulled over the step stool, then a chair, to better accommodate my smallness. How she smelled. The ever-present scent of lavender. Heavy cast iron pans. Humming. Music. The sound of birds in the garden.

It took me into my forties to realize that it won’t ever be the same, and that’s on purpose.

Time works our memories in this way so that we have to do things our own way, and simply pay homage to what was at one time. Her kitchen never will be my kitchen. The smells aren’t even close. Herbs of all kinds hanging upside down drying. Potions in assorted glass bottles and jars with spidery writing. She was always drawing me pictures, in pen no less, with her thin, slightly shaken lines. Where she lived in Guayaquil, she had access to the kinds of fruits and vegetables that I could never find in the States—similar, yes—but not the same. I live in an apartment on the third floor in Harlem where I’m probably the only Ecuadorian within ten blocks. Abuela had a beautiful garden in the back, with pockets of delicacies on the sides and front. Plus, the water is way different. The air. The humidity. On the equator, daily torrential downpours muddying the streets, blinding drivers and impossible to walk in, is normal. Over in a moment, the sun comes out blazing hot again, drying the streets within the hour. Abuela would look at me with one of her Mona Lisa smiles, fragile skin tanned, her hands showing arthritis. The strength in those hands, like death grips followed by feather-like touches.

It’s the balance of her hands that yields the perfect sopa de espinacas y papas.

It’s all of her spirit too, and the memories of those who taught her, and those who taught them. In some ways, my simple sopa becomes a history lesson on the memories of taste. My sopa will never taste exactly like mi abuela’s because now it includes her as part of my memories. The alchemy has changed because it’s her and me.

© April 2019, Isabel Alvear

Seasons with Los Primos

A beautifully large, rambling house
Silly children spilling out of rooms
Screaming, playing, laughing
Spending the seasons with los primos.

Secrets, whispers, and giggle-fits
Dozing mostly into morning light
Malibu Barbie and VHS under the tree
Christmas pancakes as the snow flaked.

Scary storms whipping in springtime
The ancient tree knocking windows
Toys bobbing from basement floods
Rubber botas stuck dry in the front lawn.

Screaming laughter, endless chases
Fishing lines dropping along the pier
Sandy toes, browned skin and salty hair
Summertime ease at the Jersey Shore

Tia’s Hatchback led to maniac drives
Like human bumper cars in the back
Primas jostling, faces pressed on the glass
Tia honking, breaks pumping, cackling.

Frenetically fun times como un secreto
From step-mom and dad’s stricter gaze
Bad cousin influences lurking, stoking
Damn hippie niños, wildly daring-do.

Baseball, soccer and Marco Polo
Cool cuz dirt-covered in sweaty blood
Huge smiles from the brave and injured
Hospital rides full of American pride.

Us reserved Northerners so wrapped up
Parkas incase snow; sweaters even in summer
Watermelon seeds, BBQs, friendship bracelets
Lingering memories defying the seasons.

© March 2019, Isabel Alvear

Sibling Adventures, Circa 1983

When I was seven years old, my brother and I began playing “Space Ship Adventures.” He had these two awesome giant picture books for kids, published by National Geographic. Sitting on the end of his bed, co-pilot and pilot, we diligently cross-checked our supplies: Landing craft? Check. Translator machine? Check. Stun gun? Check. Food? Check. We gathered our supplies and imaginations, climbed aboard his bed with our stuffed animals cheering us heroes on. We dared to discover the next frontier. Occasionally, a rogue GI Joe, Barbie or Bear would try and stowaway. We donned our helmets. Readied for lift off, my brother counted off launch sequences. Bumping, jostling, shaking and shimmying, we simulated G-forces. Leaning backwards as far as we could, we dared one another not to fall over, plastering our cheeks back as flat as we could. Reaching stabilization, my brother cracked open the book, pages randomly flopping open as I peered over his shoulder.
Paraguay! Saturn! Antarctica! The Milky Way!
The Milky Way found us floating on tip toes all around his bedroom, string tied around our waists. My brother’s fingers extending fully, found my lower back, pushing me off trajectory…slowly… I spun, colliding with an asteroid blazing by, somehow nudging me into self-correcting my course… peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches finding flight, sabotaged from cargo holding… eyes bulging, trying to make it back to the shuttle before our oxygen lines got chopped off… bay doors clamping close by a rogue Barbie cackling at the controls, revenge for the botched haircut I’d given her.
On Saturn we used our landing craft constructed of Froggy, the child-sized carnival prize, her green fuzziness draped over the length of my brother’s canary-yellow skateboard. She multi-tasked as our hover craft, inflatable boat, and moon walker. Froggy, valiantly hard won by my brother up in Scarborough, was used to calm me down after the Colossal Haunted Castle Meltdown of 1982. Her solid padding perfectly held us aloft the skateboard as we Fred Flintstoned our feet up and down the hallway in our second apartment. A year later, we moved to the rented townhouse where she buffered our butts as we slid down staircases, catapulting into the living room. Careening around avalanches, sluicing through waterfalls, and dodging endless meteor showers, Froggy was ever present on countless sibling adventures.

© March 2019, Isabel Alvear

Air Space

The air between two
Things, places, beings
The emptiness
The fullness
The space amidst it all
Negative, positive
Hopeful, hopeless

Space, as in distance
Makes the heart grow fonder
Makes the heart cry harder
Wind, carries such love
Rustles peaceably through leaves
Tears down shingles one by one
In its wake—change

Space heals, or does it
Amplifies or isolates
Good versus evil
Air flitting in and around
Grey area buffering between
Things, places, beings
Altering what arises next

© March 2019, Isabel Alvear