about the author

A Filipino-American writer and teacher, Samantha Tetangco’s short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in The Sun, Gargoyle, Phoebe, Gertrude, Oklahoma Review, Stone Path Review, Vela, Tayo, and others. In 2011, she earned her MFA from the University of New Mexico where she also served as editor-in-chief for Blue Mesa Review. She currently teaches writing at the University of California, Merced and is serving as President of the AWP Conference’s LGBTQ Writer’s Caucus.

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Two Poems  

Samantha Tetangco

@ Penacook Avenue

It could have been the tick bite,
imaginary though it was, that pressed
the bull’s eye to my chest.
Or the raw wound
on the underside of my left breast.
Or the man on the airplane
who looked me in the eye
and said, I don’t care what you have
between your legs, I still want to kill you

(and how we both know he meant it).
Or the way we sat, eyes closed,
clutching hands as the plane dropped,
the earth a shadow so dark and so low
it made to swallow the plane whole.
Sarah tells how the morning after the election,
she woke to paint tiny black squares,
each one a camera’s slice of slightly
differing sky. I wake the next morning to stand
at the open window, acutely aware
of the tiny black squares lined
inside the cavity of my chest, waiting,
as she did, on the promise of sun.

@ 290 E21st Street

Last night, a dream of a single black hair sticking from my chin and the tweezers that tried again and again to pluck the imperfection out. Upon waking, I remember how the man touched his hand to that very same place, one to me, the other to you, and he tilted us by the chins and told us we were beautiful, which was nice the first time, but by the fifth, getting old, as was the way he kept draping his arms over our shoulders and pulling us close—I just love you guys! he said even though we had only met, and you said he felt familiar so we played the eager tenants, told him how we loved the house with the fig trees and the wrap around porch and the back house, which would be perfect for herbs and guests, and when he walked us to our car, we thought nothing of it, even though the hugs lasted longer and had grown more frequent, and that’s when he asked to take our picture.

I wish I could tell you why we did it. Why we posed beside him, not once, but twice as he held his phone towards us—“I love selfies,” he said, as if he were an uncle or an old friend and not a potential landlord with the perfect house stuck between his teeth like a shorn toothpick, and later, as we drove away, I could still feel his hand just there, on the chin, and I tried to rub the feel away, but it was as if he’d planted something there and its roots had already took, and as we drove away, we laughed weakly, the way people laugh when something is not the least bit funny and wondered aloud why men like him keep exploiting the desires of women like us. And also of why we kept letting them.

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