Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by Dina Paulson-McEwen





La Chocolatera


The tip of the palm
enters the back
of the bathroom, its wood
cut window, its smells
of platanos after playas,
its seaside breath stuck
in ergo sides—
enter la radio,
conmigo, contigo—
parts of us wanting
La Chocolatera,
the most western point
of the South American
how suddenly small
palms seem.

We face this curve,
a jogged Santa Fe,
Pacific gutter green
over white cunt crush.

Picture our time,
make me yours.

A hashtag of breathable

What it does:
make the domicile shower
stare-down, a liquor party
of Burt’s Bees.

Whisper with our neighbor
(we share that palm
tip in our baños),
too drop dreams,
too express
our military selves
by a military part,
the base of Chipipe

Too believe this scene—
locals and tourists
selfie up,
pat babies
soft or hard,
friend and fry
with different
languages, then—

a taxi ride, a passport show,
two adults back to baby.

The velocity
of our steam—
pores and a baby’s brush,
our occasional
still brushing skin—

covers our curling,
hyper smile, home to you,
to hug you,
like history never happened.


for Santa Fe


If there were a place with a window
to all places, it would be Santa Fe.

Kept by the bluest blue, so blue it burns
the eyes who see it by simply, being, blue.

How big, how deep, how long, this blue,
how sassy its feeling, feeding, giving

of earth. Its purple cacti starring low,
loud pink bumping beige, brown

skin pricked. Green trees splatter by
trough, a low, loose, gravelly sand.

Those yellow bushes should come
by signage—“combustible”—if touched,

would turn mesh, remind the internality
and eternality of organs.

Were to light them, would engulf with flame.

Of a rock etched in green, she asked me,
did you take it? Is not the act of taking

felt cross-pueblo, cross-land belonged /
cured / tended / earthed / lentiled / tilled /

divvied / breathed / by Native Americans
backing 10,000 years?

Is not this land, never for plucking,
neither for plucking now?




This mess can be handled, they tell us.
What we see: rustled drawers of
ducks and compasses, layers of cool leaky bones.

The winners loosen their acorn hats but tighten
their haunches

         recklessly       brawn.

What we see: the difference a break of skin
brakes, how a tome of pho is built.

What we see: old news as new news
as grandmother feeds us, contemplates
the tic on the tac-toe of life.

The mouths who mourn her once she goes,
that artillery in her arteries.

Dina Paulson-McEwen is the executive director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF), a poet, writer, editor, and founder of Aqua Editing, a story developer for creative thinkers. Her first poetry collection, Parts of love (Finishing Line Press, 2018), was a finalist in the 2017 Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Bayou Magazine, Book of Sighs (Little Red Tree Publishing), Empty Mirror, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Evidence of Fetus Diversity (Locofo Chaps), and elsewhere. Her poetry has been performed and exhibited nationally. She is a youth volunteer editor at Uptown Stories in New York City and lives in Princeton, New Jersey. She is a Notary Public of the State of New Jersey and a Commissioner for the Princeton mayoral Human Services Commission. More from this author →