YOLANDA & SELENA DON’T TALK ANYMORE

by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

Selected as the runner-up of the 2020 Beacon Street Prize by Ocean Vuong author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and Night Sky with Exit Wounds.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is the author of peluda (Button Poetry 2017) and co-host of podcast Say More with Olivia Gatwood. She performs her poems & teaches workshops across the country. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, Breakbeats Poets Volume 4: LatinNext, the Adroit Journal, the Visible Poetry Project, Muzzle Magazine, The Kenyon Review, REMEZCLA, & BBC Mundo. She lives in Brooklyn,where she sings in a band called Alejandro Got Mugged.

YOLANDA & SELENA DON’T TALK ANYMORE

by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

I stopped you just in time.
Now you’ll be remembered.
They’ll never hear me sing.
Most of the time,
I’m a villain
or a lesbian.
Jealousy reveals
a polaroid of the women I am not.
When I called you a “Bitch!”
and shot you
What I meant was,
“Love!”
I just didn’t want you to go.
In another life,
I am someone I can be proud of.
The face you see in the moon.
In another life,
You want to love me.
We are on the road going 85
playing a tape with only two songs.
My arm is around your shoulders and
we are wasting time like water,
you’re breathing

To dream about love
for all eternity. That’s why
death isn’t so bad. I like to think I’ve been pretty
lucky for all of my life.
I’m a saint
who loved too hard, trusted too deeply. Everyone’s
a prayer whispered violently,
a letter stained with fear.
I heard fans cheering. Their hands came together
because they loved me.
My heart was once the shape of
a pink fist before it turns blue.
I was brain-dead before I was a headline.
In this dream,
I am a wife and a mother
a woman who says “Yes.”
I am marinating steak & when you want to try a bite
I let you.
Somewhere far away, I am
on a loop and
I can’t stop smiling.
I am still alive and everyone is watching—
an entire country, singing in my ear.