Bembas rojas, mom always said,
that’s for dangerous girls.
(her lipstick smelled like roses)
—a thing so full of sex and curve
cannot be enrobed in red—stick to neutral:
your lips but better, the sales lady said;
that color was dead flower.
My first rock star was not Madonna or Janet—
Gloria Trevi with her pelo suelto
licking the curve of her back,
curtain against nip of waist and rounded hips—
Danger, danger, a danger-bell rung
by every maternal hand;
If you let it down, who will climb up?
A good girl always stays in place.

Jeni De La O is an Afro-Cuban poet and storyteller living in Detroit. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Obsidian, Fifth Wednesday, Rigorous Magazine, Okay Donkey, Gigantic Sequins and others. Jeni founded Relato:Detroit, the nation’s first bilingual community storytelling event, which seeks to bridge linguistics divides through story. She is a Poetry Editor for Rockvale Review and organizes Poems in the Park, an acoustic reading series based in Detroit.

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