begins with mud and ends in upward mobility, grandbabies tossed into the clouds—they never float back down. A sheep in wolf’s clothing, I skinned away all my meekness. Became a fanged sort of fodder. Asked god to make my hunger holy, to sanctify my belly. From on high: Eat your money. I have been spitting up parables ever since: come from dust, bless our bootstraps, fuck your failure until it births you a success. My lolo showed me how to burn my tongue down to its wick, let the wax drip, then make a seal of it—invest in pain, reap the pleasure. Take me out to pasture, disrobe me, shoot me so I bleed red luck. Cover me in the flag of my father: the sun I tongued down, the three stars I swallowed in a single gulp. The red stripe above the blue to signify war. The American flag has no wartime variation. Translation: bring your fighting spirit. Coming here, we made an agreement: covered our eyes in gold, paid the ferryman. Said, make us All-American: complicit in sin. My teeth are so sharp they cut my lips. Can’t tell where my flesh ends and the pelt begins. I’m howling at the moon, wanting that lost yellow coin, the fare for another bargain.
Kimberly Ramos is a queer Filipina writer from Missouri. Their work has been published in Southern Humanities Review, Jet Fuel Review, and West Trade Review, among others. Their first chapbook is set for publication with Unsolicited Press in 2023. They dream of becoming a cryptid and haunting the Midwest. You can read more of their work at kimramoswrites.carrd.co. • Photo by the author