roaches killed our fish again,
roaches killed our dinner.

how my cuzzos' gettin' fat,
i'm just gettin' thinner.

rats on rats on rats again,
"oh no, that's no conejo."

pissed my pants
every day,
think i grew up late.

think i grew up great.

ridgewood, queens
deli things
sour icees,
latin kings

gameboy color,
crack the hydrants,
stressless summers

daytime sirens
wizzing by.
nighttime street race

and it wasn't all bad,
my brothers and my cousins
were all i had.

loved my mother,
loved my dad.

never called him that.
it was too soon.

we left the city too soon.

but once in a blue moon,
i find myself in that
little apartment again.

where everything i knew
and loved were within
arm's reach.

sometimes i find myself in 
ridgewood, queens.

©Steven Cuenca

the place i stay

nintendo 2

there’s a puddle of spit that lay
in the place i stay
where there’s smoke that sprays
from my mouth to the moonlight.

it’s a type of howl, i guess.
all the day that’s left
building up to my chest
and exploding.

it’s the only way i sleep,
such a monkey sheep,
finding medicine that works
only sometimes.

and she hates it.
i was ugly before
and she took it.
but i’m uglier now,
my eyes are crooked.
my face is numb,
my face is dumb,
i’m stupid.

but i can count by twos
and tie my shoes
like a turtle do.

she loves me,
but that hurdle grew.

used to make her cheese,
she watched me curdle too.

but porch days
are porch grays,
we awake
with heartache.

so there’s a puddle of spit that lay
in the place i stay
where there’s smoke that sprays
from my mouth to the moonlight.

“the place i stay”
©Steven Cuenca

New York

Playing 13

you won’t see
the New York in me
when i speak.

you won’t see it how i walk.

you won’t see it on the clothes i wear,
but you’ll hear it when i talk.

and you can’t sniff
the New York on me,
i’ve washed and rinsed
too much.

you might see it in my eyes
if you catch me by surprise,
you might feel it
in my touch.

i dress half my age.
my height is less than that.
i used to drink so well,
and now i’m skinny-fat.

i look south of america.
i speak midwest.
i think left of center,
but New York is in my chest.

i’ve never been
to the statue of liberty,
but i’ve seen her watching.

never know if she’s waving
goodbye or hello,
but i’ve seen her plotting.

green with envy,
she wants to get out.
everyone loves New York
until they want to get out.

but like every other girl
who’s held a torch above her head
and stood atop the ocean,
she’s stuck where she stands.
shes’s stuck.

but i’ve got New York in my blood;
the immigrant kind.

born and raised in Queens,
we left it behind.

moved upstate, lived great,
in record immigrant time.

i lived and loved
through all that i have
been assigned.

and i’ve been lucky, trust me.

i fell.

fell forward,
but i’ve always had good balance.

ask my mother,
it’s standing still
that’s always been the challenge.

always had a dream
i’d grow old around
the people i love:
all my brothers,
my friends,
my cousins.

be a man,
a father
a husband.

and we’d all gather
’round for sports.

don’t know where
or when it’d be,
but i’ll still be
cheering for New York.

“new york”
©Steven Cuenca

banana split

gate 5.JPG

am i dead today?
i’m going bananas.
split my head today
and watched all my wishes
wish and wash away.

i’ve washed away,
i’m washed today,
i think and look
and act my age.

i’m paid enough,
i play enough,
i’ve been enough,
to say enough.
i’ll die enough,
they’ll cry enough.

wet walnuts
whipped cream
drizzled fudge

i’m going bananas.
split my head today;
i watched all my wishes
wish and wash away.

“banana split”
©Steven Cuenca


starlit jersey

pew 3

ya can’t see stars in the city,
New York City
and Salt Lake too

i miss those starlit
Jersey nights with you

“starlit jersey”
©Steven Cuenca

sunrise, moonglow

zebra 3.JPG

i was just
so high,
higher than a sunrise

and i was just
so low,
lower than the moonglow

i thought i’d die
by 25,
not by choice
but by surprise

i thought i’d break
a bone by now,
Superman is in town

i thought i saw
my mother’s ghosts,
in every single
word i wrote

and i was just
so high,
higher than a sunrise

and i was just
so low,
lower than the moonglow

i think i die
at 45,
not by choice
but by surprise

i think i’ll break
some bones right now,
Spaghetti Western style

my father’s ghost
is what i saw,
he looked like
he saw it all

the sunrise,
the moonglow,
what’s above
and what’s below

i looked at him,
he looked like me,
that’ll be
enough for me

“sunrise, moonglow”
©Steven Cuenca

remember II

porch 4
ig: @snapshotsteve

remember the time i was all fucked up,
mild manorexia,
“my life’s so tough.”
ate 3 lollipops, for breakfast and lunch
every day,
there were holes in my
teeth by the end of the month.

and cold water reminds me
as it shifts against my cavities,
and shocks my nervous system,
shoulda listened to my wisdom
teeth. and made a good decision,

like breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
like i can’t get much thinner.
fittin’ into my
old shirts and jeans,

feelin’ like a fucking gremlin.
need to take much better
care of me.

every hole in my teeth
has a story to tell
and i’ll tell ’em
’til they all fall out.

“remember II”
©Steven Cuenca