National Poetry Month Day 14: Benjamin Garcia





My Father Tells My Mother Not to Eat Papaya While She’s Pregnant
& Also She Should Abort Me


Kiss cousin to the quince
                        & story of my life:
a fruit that’s rot before it’s ripe.

                        Clothe it in yesterday’s
paper like a butcher’s sack.
                        The skin should fuzz a little,

& if it dimples,
                        even better.
Bruising is normal.

                        I had forgotten
what lies inside:
                        the eyes of flies or

the eggs of a toad.
                        It doesn’t take a scalpel, you know,
just a scoop, a scrape.

Do you ever feel guilty? Why? I’m not
                        the father, he said.

Her mouth so shut it’s golden.
                        Don’t put any sugar on it. Don’t.
Because ever since you said this thing

                        makes our kitchen smell
like baby shit,
                        I can’t smell anything else.


Photograph of Benjamin Garcia by Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers.

Benjamin Garcia’s first collection, Thrown in the Throat (Milkweed Editions, August 2020), was selected by Kazim Ali for the 2019 National Poetry Series. He works as a sexual health and harm reduction educator throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York. A CantoMundo and Lambda Literary Fellow, he serves as faculty with Alma College’s MFA program. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in: AGNI, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Quarterly West, and New England Review. Find him at More from this author →