The Alley

.Juanita Rey

Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in this country five years. Her work has been published in Pennsylvania English, Opiate Journal, Petrichor Machine and Porter Gulch Review.

Nobody strings a line across the alley,

hangs out their washing 

like I’ve seen in old movies.

There’s a laundromat down the street.

If you wish to know

what others are wearing,

that’s the place to go.

Shirts don’t wave like flags.

No woman’s fancy underwear 

flaunts its shamelessness.

The alley is for trash mostly. 

Pigeons and sparrows pick away

in the daylight hours.

Rats take the night shift.

No one looks out on it anyhow.

All windows facing are shuttered,

curtains drawn.

No flower boxes on sills.

Nothing would be brave enough 

to bloom.

People must make do 

with whatever faces the street,

the traffic, the folks strolling by,

the neighbors hanging out

on the stoop opposite.

Once or twice,

I’ve seen the homeless 

shuffle toward the alley

to make themselves a bed for the night.

They’re still homeless when they get there. 

Dear Fortune-Teller

No I don’t want you to read for me,

to spread tarot cards on a table,

spin my expectations

into death, the devil,

wands and cups,

or peer into your crystal ball,

see, in advance,

my next year or two. 

And I’d rather you

not check out the bumps on my head,

the tea-leaves in a cup

I’ve drunk from

or where the constellations resided

the moment I was born.

I prefer an uncharted future.

It’s what I’m used to.


Her death happened

on a Dominican roadway,

so it’s still in Spanish –

la muerte –

for a hot climate,

it’s incredibly chilly

you say you like this face

but I tell you it holds secrets –

crumpled cars,

the sickly air of ether 

all it takes is her name

and your kiss is broken –

her name

and I can’t bear the grind of bones –

her name,

please, zip me up,

it’s cold as hell in here –


why wouldn’t it be?

it is hell –

el infierno 

if you’ve been paying attention.