Behind the Poems: D Major

Welcome to the next installment of my “Behind the Poems” series. Check out more of these posts here.

This is another poem published in my alma mater’s literary journal, The Cypress Dome. It’s one of my earliest forays into acrostic poems and it set off my love for the format.

Fingers on the frets of a guitar

D Major

Calloused fingertips press against steel and nylon strings. They curl,
Hammer-on some notes, and let others sing a softer song. One, two,
One, two, three, four…The tempo pulses like a hammering heart.
Relax, press, pick, strum. I pluck each note with intent. Start
Down the frets, fingers slide, making a tinny squeal.

Swaying my body with the four-four beat I nod my head and
Tap my feet. The instrument’s curve and my lap fit one another
Readily, like lock and key. Vibrating strings buzz at my fingertips.
Up and down, up and down, my hand strokes the six lines,
Mesmerized, intoxicated, giving in. I’m letting the music play.

For those unfamiliar, an acrostic poem uses the letters of a word(s) as the first letter of each line to create a piece about the word(s) itself. How the poem relates to the chosen keyword(s) is open to interpretation by the poet.

Here, I wrote about the feeling of playing guitar. It’s been years now since I took lessons and played the instrument. But reading over this poem, I remember clearly the sense of harmony that overcomes me when I’m lost in the music.

I tend to stay away from most structured formats of poetry, as I feel restricted when I start to focus too much on elements like meter count and rhyme scheme. I often feel locked by these mechanisms. But something about an acrostic format feels like just enough restraint and challenge with the freedom to make the poem work as I need it.

In fact, the acrostic format to me feels the way music does. You can stay within the chord structure and hit the necessary notes, but the freedom comes in the texture you choose to convey those notes. While I may play or sing in D major, I decide if it will be a straight note or reverberate.

I chose the title “D Major” because that’s the key of my favorite song at the time, Good Charlotte’s “Let the Music Play.” It was such a favorite of mine that I even have a tattoo of it on my ankle. I think I fell in love with poetry because I already loved music. The two feel like cousins to me.

We Now Return to a Bi-Weekly Schedule

I pulled back from blogging for the last couple of years to give myself time to recalibrate. My work/life schedule became overwhelming and I couldn’t fit blogging in as much as I used to before.

laptop on a dining table with mouse and mousepad on the right and food containers on the left
Can’t be a proper blogger without snacks

But I find myself at a steadier pace these days with a better grasp on my time. So, I’m going to attempt to return to a bi-weekly schedule after taking the last year and a half to do a monthly schedule.

I’ll be cheating a little bit and using posts I wrote originally for the Lesbrary, but tweaked for my blog. I figured having my content calendar filled out for the rest of the year will help me get back in the flow of posting twice a month.

I look forward to creating my content calendar for 2023 the closer I get to the end of the year. I’ve missed posting more frequently and I want to get back into book reviews, pieces about writing and records of my travels.

Thank you to those who have stuck around during my slowdown. And I hope you come along for the rest of the ride.

Let me know if there’s any other content you’d like to see more of on my blog!

Behind the Poems: Leonids

Welcome to the second installment of a series I’m doing called Behind the Poems. You can see the first post here.

Meteor shower and sunset
“Leonids” was originally published in The Cypress Dome 2012

I had the great honor of having one of my earliest published poems accepted at The Cypress Dome, the literary journal from my alma mater, the University of Central Florida. This poem, workshopped in my poetry class, was published during my last year at the school right before I graduated.

This poem depicts a fond memory from my childhood when I was about eight or nine years old. It was the first time I’d been allowed to be up so late, way past midnight, and witness something spectacular. I still remember how magical it felt and I wanted to capture that emotion in the imagery.

I don’t actually know if the meteor shower I saw were the Leonids, but when I looked up the events of that year for research, this seemed the closest occurrence. It’s not about the accuracy of the facts, because this is coming from a child’s perspective. There’s even a reference to my favorite Disney movie from that time. I’ll let you decipher it.

The Toyota featured in this poem is long gone now. It’s surreal to read this poem with that car mentioned because a few years later, it went up in flames on the side of the highway in Miami Springs. For me, this poem serves as a historical record of things that were and will always be frozen in time.

I also remember from this event I was allowed to stay home from school the next day for being up late. This was a big to-do, as staying home from school usually only happened if we were really sick. It was one of my first lessons in understanding that some things in life are more important and have more value than school and academics.

Behind the Poems: Making Mom’s Meatloaf

This is my first installment of a series I’m calling Behind the Poems. Let’s start with my first-ever published poem, “Making Mom’s Meatloaf,” posted below.

representation of making mom's meatloaf
Illustration of a mom and daughter cooking

She teaches me how to make it because I asked her to.
I stare at the stuff that’s going to make this delicious dish
and drop my mouth in horror. “It’s okay,” she says,
“you’ll get used to it.” I take a deep breath and start.

Tense fingers and peel back saran wrap around ground meat.
Let blood ooze out the package and into the sink, a faint swirl
down the drain. Once free of the stretching and struggling

covering, let the ball plop with a squish into the tinted glassware
baking pan. Shove fingers into what looks like a mass of worms.
Close eyes and set face in a grimace. Swallow hard. Hold breath.

Hear loud crack echo like a breaking bone as Mom snaps
the package in two to throw away. Feel her hands rest on my
shoulders and relax the muscles. Pull hands back for a moment

and breathe relief. Let Mom slowly add Sazón, salt, and sofrito.
Watch her mix in bread crumbs and see how bits fall between
her fingers as she takes over some of the kneading.

Plunge fingers back into meat. See it now looks like a brain
but push thought away. Mush, mush, mush ingredients
into the cracks until it all stays together.

Mom says it’s ready to cook. Wash hands and then throw it
into the oven. Bang door closed. Wait one hour. Breathe in
that familiar scent like when Mom makes meatloaf.

This piece was published in 2012 by a digital journal called Dead Beats. The publication is now defunct and the poem is no longer available online, but I never deleted my Word document.

When I wrote this poem, it was my first time infusing my culture into an artform I hadn’t always thought invited it in. Including the details about Sazón and sofrito were specific to highlight my mom’s Puerto Rican roots. It’s a poem about cultural rituals that get passed down from one generation to the next.

What stands out most from my memories with this poem is a reaction to it. I wrote the first drafts of this poem in my poetry workshop my sophomore year of undergrad at UCF. One of my classmates, who happened to be a vegetarian, responded with great discomfort over the imagery.

On the one hand, I was delighted to have elicited such strong disgust. But on the other hand, her reaction hurt a little. I never talked to anyone about that. It wasn’t just her clear disgust over the details about making meatloaf. She had also left a comment on the hard copy with a message about switching to vegeterianism, complete with a smiley face.

Her reaction stung because it felt like she was looking down on my family and our culture. Perhaps it’s because this classmate happened to be a white woman that made it feel that way. And I’ve always given her the benefit of the doubt and tried to say she meant no harm. But at the end of the day, it’s never a good idea to try to push your own beliefs on someone else.

Despite all that, looking back at this poem always brings a smile to my face. Eliciting this reaction taught me how powerful my words could be. There was something oddly satisfying knowing that speaking my truth could get under someone’s skin. It made me hungry to write more like it and keep speaking my stories into a world that would prefer I stayed silent.

How to Find Diverse Books

While many readers often want to diversify what they read, they sometimes have trouble knowing how to find diverse books. Below you will find my collection of book databases to help you on your reading journey. I plan to keep adding to it the more I find. And if you have any websites or apps you like to use to diversy your shelves, please share them!

graphic of a person sitting and reading with bookshelves behind them


how to find diverse books with LGBTQ+ representation

THE AROACE DATABASE – To help you read more aromantic and asexual perspectives, you can search by keywords, such as genre, category, other sexual orientations and more.

BI/PAN LIBRARY – Discover books by and about bisexual and pansexual people across genres and age groups.

BISEXUAL BOOKS – This Tumblr account keeps a running blog with reviews of bisexual books across genres and age markets. It’s a great resource to find recs.

LGBTQ READS – Run by author and blogger Dahlia Adler, this is a site dedicated to curating books across the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum for all ages.


Student reading in school

THE BIPOC BOOKSHELF – Aside from book recommendations, you will also find publishing industry resources for agents, editors and writers.

LAS MUSAS BOOKS – This one holds a special place in my heart as I was an Hermana mentee in Spring 2020. A great resource to find Latinx literature and keep up with the latest.

MELANIN IN YA – This database is specifically dedicated to helping you find Black authors, narrators, editors, cover designers, etc. in the young adult category.


graphic of a brain with a puzzle piece and older person with walking cane

YA DISABILITY DATABASE – This blogger dedicates her website to providing reading recommendations with disability representation in the young adult category.

Behind the Poems

I’ve been thinking of starting a series called “Behind the Poems” that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago on my Instagram. Growing up with MTV and VH1, I may have been inspired by the Behind the Music series. I plan on discussing inspiration behind my poetry, why I chose their structures and more.

Introducing behind the poems
Ink and quill

I’ll start with one or two to see how this goes. I’m not sure yet this series will have legs, but I lose nothing in giving it a shot. Let me know if there are any poets out there who would like to participate!

In the meantime, take a look at my other poems here.

Wanderlust: New York Revisited

I went to New York again in 2018, nine years after my last time there. Though in 2009, I did a quick day trip to visit a college, so not sure if that actually counts. It’s now been four years since I’ve been, but the city still holds a certain magic over me. And how fitting that I come to revisit my travels to New York after finishing The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin.

Street mural in New York City. GIF combined from photo burst series
Street mural in New York City

The first time I went to New York as a kid in 2000, we’d visited the Twin Towers. This time, my mom and I found ourselves at the memorial that stands in their place. There’s a confounding mix of hope and sorrow that weighs heavy on your shoulders as you read the names of the lives lost from 9/11. More so on a cold, gray day surrounded by skyscrapers of steel and glass. It almost feels like time stands still while you’re there, and yet you’re always aware of how life goes on around it.

New Adventures in New York

For the first time, I caught a Broadway show. My cousin had entered the raffle and we ended up with tickets to Head Over Heels, a jukebox musical of the Go-Gos songs. It was kind of cheesy and over the top, but fun and filled with so much queer celebration.

Venturing into Brooklyn, we found The Little Sweet Cafe, where we indulged in a delicious breakfast. Taking the bus through the neighborhoods, we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge and began the trek across. It’s a high traffic foot path, but the exhilaration of walking from that borough to Manhattan went by in the blink of an eye. Of course, the brisk weather probably helped. I’m sure in the summer swelter it’s unbearable.

As a Florida girl, I’m always fascinated by taking the subway. Grand Central Station, inside and out, has a way of captivating you.

Exterior of Grand Central Station in New York City
Looking up at Grand Central Station from the street below

New Perspectives

While we revisited old haunts, we also added new stops to the itinerary. I found a tour of the catacombs of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (the one on Mulberry Street, not 5th). We were taken behind the organ and behind the scenes of this historic church. Then it was time to dive under. We were led to an empty, concrete room with a single door leading into the catacombs. As we walked through the musty air and dark tunnels, our guide told us the history of the people buried there.

Making your way through Central Park is quintessential to the New York experience. We took a bike and buggy tour, being pulled along through some of the major highlights. As we passed the Balto statue, I confessed I only knew the cartoon movie story. My cousin could not believe I’d never learned about Balto in my history classes.

While a stroll through Central Park these days is part of the classic city experience, it’s important to remember how the park came to be in the first place. It’s worth a read to learn about the once-thriving African-American community of Seneca Village and how the government used eminent domain to acquire the land for the park’s construction.

No matter how many times I visit, New York always holds something new and magical to discover. I can’t wait to go back sometime!

Have you visited New York? More than once? What’s your impression of the city that never sleeps?

Wanderlust: Salem, Massachusetts

Salem came as an unexpected surprise during my trip to Boston. It’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit and I definitely need to go back in October. But I certainly hadn’t planned for it.

Sign welcoming you into Salem, Massachusetts
Welcome sign in Salem, Massachusetts

If you know about my trip to Washington, D.C., then you know I have a habit of getting on the wrong train. But to be fair, I asked the attendant at the station which route to take to get to the Boston neighborhood I was looking for (of course, I can’t remember the name now). Instead, she sent me to the line that went out to another city of the same name. I found myself on the train that passed through Salem and decided to make that my stop instead.

From the moment I stepped off the train and began walking the quiet streets, I thought to myself, “I could move here and open up a little bookshop.” I made my way to the Salem Witch Trials memorial. The stones with so many names brought to life a history I only knew in passing, mostly through literature. The silence sits heavy over the former home of some of the residents of the witch trials. Unfortunately, many of the museums weren’t open during the time of year I visited.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial sign

I remembered reading The Scarlet Letter in college and loving it. So when I stumbled upon Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables, I made sure to take a tour. The most fascinating thing I learned was that his original surname was Hathorne, as in magistrate John Hathorne, one of the leading judges in the Salem witch trials. To distance himself from his family’s atrocities, Nathaniel added the W to his last name. Learning this history made my understanding of his famous novel all the richer.

Nathaniel Hawthorne House of the Seven Gables museum

Walking further out along the bay, I came upon the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, America’s first national historic site. I tried to make the hike out across the rocks to the lighthouse, but the winter chill was simply too much for me. Still, the sight of the bay and the maritime history monuments in the freezing cold was a beautiful sight.

I completed my visit to Salem with a stop at a local tavern and ordered a serving of New England clam chowder to warm me up. Maybe I was just tired and cold, but it was the best damn chowder I’d ever had. I finished and hopped back on the train as the sun started to set, making my way back to my hotel in Lowell.

Have you been to Salem? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Wanderlust: Boston

In December 2018 I had quit a job I hated and just graduated from my MBA program. For the first time in my life I found myself free with no specific plans in sight. All my life, I either worked or went to school or did both at the same time. I felt like I had room to breathe, so when my dad asked if I wanted to tag along on his work trip to Boston, I said yes.

Collage of pictures of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts from my trip in 2018
Boston, Massachusetts 2018

My dad and I stayed in Lowell, Massachusetts, about a 40-minute drive from Boston. In the mornings we carpooled with Uber, he dropped me off at the train station and went to work. While he did his job training, I took the train into the city. As I wandered the city early in the morning, I found the Boston Public Market and discovered cider donuts and ginger soda. On a bracing cold day, these sweet treats did a lot to warm my soul.

image on the left a half-eaten cider donut. image on the right a bottle of Green Bee ginger and honey soda
Left: Cider Donut, Right: Green Bee ginger & honey soda

Highlights of My Boston Trip

I did the tourist thing and walked the Freedom Trail. But it really does give you the chance to explore so much of the city’s history. And Boston is rife with history. Along the way I found the Printing Office of Edes & Gill, a dream for a writer like me. An actor gives a demonstration of an old printing press and you have the chance to purchase the document created: the Declaration of Independence.

Historic reenactment demonstration at the Printing Office of Edes & Gill

There are so many stops along the Freedom Trail, it would be hard to name them all. But one of my favorites was the Granary Burying Ground. A lot of people think visiting cemeteries is a bit morbid, but I’ve always been fascinated by them. The headstones so faded only traces of names remain, the quiet reverence as visitors take a moment to consider mortality, the noises of Boston’s streets outside the cemetery gates somehow diluted, all in the midst of the chilly winter.

The Paul Revere House also captivated me. It could have been another museum tour, but the docent who worked there had so much passion for history. I talked to her for almost two hours, listening in rapt attention as she gave me the story of Paul Revere and his life. It always impresses me how much the history books leave out and how they can distill a person to a single point in time, but figures like Paul Revere live such rich and full lives.

I have more to share about my travels to Boston, but I’ll leave the rest for a second part. In the meantime, you can keep reading about my adventures in my Wanderlust tag.

And let me know if you’ve visited Boston. What was your favorite part?

Mexican Gothic Book Review

Disclaimer: Some of the links in my review for Mexican Gothic are affiliate links. If you click them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. The decision of whether or not to buy something is completely up to you.

Hard cover copy of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic in front of a glass vase filled with fake marigolds and ferns. Surrounded by small, multicolor pumpkins
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I picked this one up sooner than expected thanks to Overdue covering it in their podcast. If you haven’t listened to Andrew and Craig talk books, I highly recommend you begin. Their coverage of Mexican Gothic is fantastic!


Noemí Taboada is a flirtacious socialite in Mexico City who only wants to continue her education and study anthropology. But her father wants her to settle down with an appropriate young man. When they receive an unsettling letter from her cousin Catalina, whom they hadn’t heard from since her marriage, her father strikes a deal with her. If Noemí investigates her cousin’s situation and brings her where she needs to be, he will let her continue her studies. She accepts the challenge, but the situation turns out much more sinister than she imagined.

The Plot of Mexican Gothic

Noemí arrives at High Place, the creepy mansion where her ailing cousin Catalina resides with her family by marriage. The Doyles are a haunting bunch, like living ghosts gliding through the old house. Catalina’s husband, Virgil, insists his wife is suffering from tuberculosis and doesn’t need a psychiatrist. But Noemí is stubborn and won’t leave until she finds out the truth.

However, the darkness she experiences while staying at High Place turns out to have deeper roots than she thought. Catalina’s rantings in her letter were not the ravings of a woman gone mad, but rather a woman held prisoner by a family’s secret.

Throughout the story, Moreno-Garcia builds the fictional horror in such a subtle way you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late. But the Doyle patriarch’s obsessive exoticizing of Noemí puts the real horror upfront and center: white supremacy. Moreno-Garcia flips the script so that the Lovecraftian horror takes root the way racism and colonialism do in real life – quietly and behind the scenes.


Noemí works great as a protagonist. Glimpsing into her thought processes throughout the book, you come to find a smart and resourceful heroine. Interestingly enough, this intellect also leaves her vulnerable in the face of the impossible. While she often handles the real evil of the Doyles deftly, the supernatural evil of the house is harder to fight, especially for someone who starts out as a skeptic.

She finds an ally in Francis, the only one of the Doyles who shows a shred of decency. And the first man that has managed to garner Noemí’s genuine affection. His family often derides him, shunning him for his softness. But as sweet and kind as Francis is, he’s also been poisoned by the paranormal evil of the house. It’s a fascinating development that shows how those growing up in a toxic environment will always be a product of it, no matter how compassionate they may be. It takes courage and work to break free from that poison.

Mexican Gothic Rating

5 out of 5 stars hands down. Moreno-Garcia created an unsettling atmosphere by intertwining real-life horrors with the supernatural kind. Every moment reading this novel, I found myself crawling in my skin.

You can find a copy of the book here.