José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants, the co-author of the book of poems Home Court, and the co-host of the poetry podcast The Poetry Gods. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the Marketing Manager at Young Chicago Authors. A winner of a 2016 Poets House Emerging Poet Fellowship and a 2015 Bronx Recognizes Its Own award from the Bronx Council on the Arts, his work has been published in The BreakBeat Poets, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, The Chicago Tribune, and Brooklyn Magazine, among other places. He is from Calumet City, IL, and lives in Chicago. Follow him on social media at @_joseolivarez.
my therapist says make friends with your monsters
we are gathered in truce
to discuss our differences,
my therapist seated between us.
my roadrunner legs point
past the door in case. we
are gathered in truth,
because my therapist said
it was time to stop running, &
i pay my therapist too much
to be wrong, so i am here.
in case my therapist is right.
my monsters, coyotes in the
chase, look almost human
in the sterile office light.
my monsters say they just
want to be friends. i remember
when we first met, me & my
monsters. i remember the moment
i birthed each one. each time
i tried to shed a piece of myself,
it grew into a monster. take this
one with the collar of belly fat
around its neck, the monster
called Chubby, Husky, Big Boy.
i climbed out of that skin as fast
as i could, only to see some spirit
give it legs. i ran & it never stopped
chasing me. each new humiliation
coming to life & following after me.
after me, a long procession of sad
monsters. each monster hungry
to drag me back, to return me
to the dirt i came from. ashes
to ashes, fat boy to fat.
i point my feet to the nearest
exit, all my fire alarms go off.
my monsters crowd around me,
i stare into a no-fun house of mirrors
showing me all the angles i try
to forget. my therapist says i can’t
make the monsters disappear
no matter how much i pay her.
all she can do is bring them
into the room, so i can get
to know them, so i can learn
their names, so i can see
clearly their toothless mouths,
their empty hands, their pleading eyes.