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Amá Teaches Me How to Whistle

By Moncho Alvarado

She said, it's facil, look up, kiss everything,
hold the sun between your mouth,

blow like this * *   * *   * ****
**** * *  * * **** ****

after I told her I was a woman, she wrinkled
the space between us by hugging me. 

She told me, "you confused?"
I said, is the fire confused when it eats?

& told her, I'm going by she & my real name,
the one I was born with, not given, she said,

"you are not what it says on your driver's license,"
amá, gracias for believing in this ordinary phenomenon,

like the DNA that made grapes, it made them
a million times before, a million times after,

I have one in my mouth, how round this knowledge,
the gush in my mouth: sweet, tart, & bitter, oh amá,

I finally learned how to whistle like you:
* *   * *  * **** ****  * *  * *  **** ****



Listen as Moncho Alvarado readsAmá Teaches Me How to Whistle.”

Added: Tuesday, April 18, 2023  /  Poem used with permission.
Moncho Alvarado
Photo by Oscar Ochoa.

Moncho Alvarado aka @moncholapoet is a sister in residence in air, a Cihuayollotl trans Xicanx poet, translator, visual artist, and educator. She is the author of Greyhound Americans (Saturnalia Books 2022), which was the winner of the 2020 Saturnalia Book Prize, selected by Diane Seuss. She has been published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Foglifter Journal,, and other publications. She has fellowships and residencies from Lambda Literary, The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, Troika House, and others. Alvarado is a two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee and a Best of the Net nominee, and has been featured at Brooklyn Museum, Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation, Times Square Arts, and PEN America, to name a few. Currently, she is working on a trans historical novel in verse and lives in Queens with her partner, cuddly dog, and meowling cat. Learn more about Moncho at her website and follow her on Instagram @moncholapoet

Image Description: Moncho Alvarado, a queer trans woman of color with bold blond and dark brown hair, is smiling widely. She wears a multi-colored shawl with a colored pencil and a dangling earring in their right ear as well as two circular nose piercings. Her hair is worn swept over her left shoulder. She is outside with branches in the background.

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