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Two Poems by Cybele Garcia Kohel

These Truths

I hold these truths–the self-evident ones–that all men

all of them, are created and equal, creatively.

They are endowed, all these men with certain, but unnamed, inalienable rights.

But some are named and we hold them,

hold space for them, cradle them, swaddled, coddle

and allow the men to believe in themselves, in their own pursuits, to be free and have life,

so chosen by their own minds.

I hold these truths–as I am, a woman, I was, a girl.

That girl with original sin, with a snake and an apple and a tree

and that was me and I was the sin. A six year old sin.

I was told what to do, what was right.

Because submission was a contract,

and I was the sin, and I did the sin,

and if I listened, if I heard what the sin was, and how every day I sinned,

If I listened, in contrition, then I may have protection

from all men, all of them

who were equally created and held space for

who were allowed to believe in themselves

and their inalienable actions and even those actions done to me.

Those actions, in the pursuit of happiness done to me, are still inalienable.

I hold truths

as I am a woman, I am a rib, a sin

I am alienable. Pursuable, without pursuits.

I am sin, an apple, a snake in a tree.



I stood there, solitary

that cold Wednesday morning

in a sea of parents and kids

then they came, all out of breath

to me

they came

were they first grade? Or Kinder?

all a-thunder, stopping short

around me

me with my hands in my pockets,

a downcast statue, shoulders low

I looked up

‘Max’s mom! Max’s mom! Who did you vote for?!’

a silence fell over them, their eager little brown faces

turned to mine, awaiting my response

etched lines of anticipation, apprehension on their young brows

‘Hill-ry’ I stammered

a sudden chorus of ‘yes!’ rang out

and they were off

to run, play. Perhaps

to search, to run and look

for safety.


Cybele Garcia Kohel is a Puerto Rican writer living on unceded Tongva land called Pasadena, California. She writes poetry, short stories, and essays, in a loud voice from the margins. She is a mom, fierce dog lover, and librarian. You can read her individual poems in the Altadena Poetry Review (2017, 2018), New American Legends (2019), Screaming from the Silence Anthology (Vociferous Press, 2020), the Women Who Submit anthology, Accolades (2020), and the Altadena Literary Review (2020). She shares her essays on Medium, here: https://cgkohel.medium.com

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