Casandra Lopez


Casandra Lopez is a Chicana, Cahuilla, Luiseño and Tongva writer raised in Southern California. She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and has been selected for residencies with the Santa Fe Art Institute as well as the School of Advanced Research where she was the Indigenous writer in residence for 2013. Winner of the 2013 Native Writers Chapbook Award from the Sequoyah National Research Center, her work can be found in various literary journals. She is a CantoMundo Fellow and a founding editor of As/Us: A Space For Women Of The World.

Casandra Lopez

“Sister Song”


Sister Song 

Promise that you will sing about me  -Kendrick Lamar 


I am not much more than a promise of a song,
that Brother never asked me to sing, our forever song, 

but the crack of streets is sometimes a prison,
it wasn’t always this way, me swallowing a far song. 

Once your neighbor friend chewed a lightbulb and didn’t
cry. His child mouth smiled, a glass cracked marred song, 

close to lips. On the 4th of July you used to like to light
the streets on fire, we’d become bright-–a North star song. 

These days I stay inside when there is too much noise,
shattered bottles or loud ariel dances; I become a scarred song 

remembering Brother, a street number tattooed to your arm
you can’t rub off. It inks my own, a tarred song, 

that never feels clean. Once you trucked a load of fireworks
across borders. Mother forbid it, not wanting you to become a barred song, 

imprisoned light. Sometimes I grow tired, all the singing, want to witness
the sky boom, flare and burn, want to hear you call me Sister again.



“He Tells Me”


He tells me:


This is not a break
up. But tonight lover sounds like
leave her. A directive, that will soon 

turn to past tense: left her.
He showers with the door cracked
open but I don’t know if he hears 

my unease–I am a full moon tonight
wanting to silence water. He once told me
that he caught a taste of me on his lips 

the day after and smiled–the salty part
of me wouldn’t leave him
for days. Except now I am rinsed down 

the drain and I don’t have to look to
know he’s dirtying my towels, trying
to hide the evidence, rolling the towel back

into the closet but I always know what he
has touched. We played at control. We played
at hurt. We played on my brown–the sweetness

of his capitulation. I learned to desire
his docility, but tonight I learn I am still
a woman that can be left

and there will be no birds to sing
a goodbye song just the steady surge
of cars on city streets that he once described

as an ocean wave. He pockets his phone
and the toilet continues to run–-
a constant circling of the drain.

Polite goodbyes. He detangles himself from
my words–keep in touch becomes an awkward
arm and mine still want to reach out even as I watch

him put on his shoes and zip his jacket.
The water still won’t stop. I turn off
the valve after he leaves.


Casandra Lopez