Americana Exotica by Irene Vazquez

Painting by Seon-Jeong Kim

Americana Exotica

Age 5: kindergarten journal
countless mornings trying to blend brown and yellow
orange and white
attempts to find my skin color.
When you blend a rainbow, you get brown.
The result: my self portrait was not of myself.

My eyes are not coffee, not chocolate,
but river delta mud
obscuring riots in my mind,
the constant warring of color, sound, pounding bass line.

You’d think that years of evolution would have conspired to stop making eyes that leak fear.
I wonder if my eyes aren’t a mirror but a magnifying glass.

I, an undefinable creature,
forget who I am.
A specimen under a microscope, wastes away in the harsh light.
It dies in the end​—
the bug on the glass in the light with no name.

On becoming a poet, I thought about my choices:
Was twilight my favorite time of day because we were both in between?
Was special just another way of saying that no one understood?

I’ll always be in the next state of comprehension,
never fully holding acceptance in my hands.
Always out of reach,

Irene Vazquez

Irene Vazquez is a mixed-race poet (African-American and Mexican) currently residing in Houston, Texas. She attends St. John’s School where she writes and edits for her school newspaper, The Review, which received a Gold Crown rating from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The summer of 2014, Irene spent three weeks at Interlochen Center for the Arts studying creative writing. There, she worked under poets like Travis Wade and Francine J. Harris. Irene received a regional Silver Key for her poetry in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and she received an honorable mention in the 2014 Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest, sponsored by Hollins University. Her work has previously been featured on Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. She often writes about the intersection of her identities in modern America and what it means to have her childhood dreams of a “post-racial America” shattered.