New Poems by Maura Lee Bee

This week we’re bringing you some poems that I’ve kept in my back pocket. These poems ask you to observe the immediate world — a pan that still sizzles when removed from heat, elderly hair dye, an animal tooth for a necklace, and a government that can hear but cannot see. It is within these ordinary observations that Maura Lee Bee finds revelations: the unspoken strength of a grandmother as guide, how fear is instilled even in distance, and the value of a face remembered.

Though Bee’s work was submitted long before the madness of this past week, I can’t help but make a connection to their revelations and the death of Heather Heyer (Charlottesville, VA) and the arrest of Takiya Fatima Thompson, Dante Emmanuel Strobino, Ngoc Loan Tran, and Peter Gull Gilbert (Durham, NC). One died in protest of white supremacy and four others were arrested for “disorderly conduct by injury to a statue and damage to real property (misdemeanors), and participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot where property damage exceeds $1,500 (felonies).” These poems reflect the five individuals who chose to speak, who saw the warning signs, and who also wanted to know “what fire tastes like.” Read them and remember that there is still so much work to do.

Keep writing and working and making the change.



In a conversation after dinner,
she pulls on the skin of her hand
watching the webbing pull
as she tightens the muscle.
Like me, she is the oldest daughter,
eyes big as her heart and her fist
Like me, she talks in her mother tongue,
laughing j’s and insatiable mi familia’s
Like me, she has that itch,
un impulso and a desire to soar
Our grandmother’s curls—
that aged, pinkish hue—
are giving her a warning;
she pressed her fingers to hers
That instant tautness,
and Candicita remembers:
the mocking boy
and what a fist felt like;
His teeth rattling against the earth
Born of thorns and autumn grass,
she watches as the plumes
rise from the frying pan
lying in the sink.
She wonders
what fire tastes like
And our Mama, her guide,
places it in her hand:
that minuscule point
of a crocodile fang
to hang around her neck.
Her sons, wallowing in masculinidad,
a feminized word for strength.



Ropa Vieja


The government can hear
my grandmother on the phone asking,
Que es Fidel Castro?
Quien es comunismo?

The government can hear
my grandmother in conversation
whispering about sugar cane
and Santo Carlos

Her hands are dark wet paper,
curling at the edges
as she stirs the rice,
flips the frying steak

Onions caramelizing
the sizzle of a teflon pan
the letters threatening her freedom

The government can’t hear
the conveyor belts of soap
the splash of the ocean
or her wedding vows;

The government cannot see
her smile on my father’s face,
her glasses specked with canola oil or
that my niece has her eyes

Memories boiling
seasoned with fear,
oregano, cumin
and a little bit of limón.



Maura Lee Bee is a queer, LatinX writer based out of New York City. She has previously been published in Flux Weekly, as well as Public Pool, Huffington Post, and Harpoon Review. When she isn’t busy dismantling an otherwise oppressive system, she enjoys baking pies, drinking gin, and meeting new dogs.

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