• Marías at Sampaguitas

Poetry by Karo Ska

but you speak english so well


but you speak english so well...

yes, I know, I do.


you don't even have an accent...

yes, I know, I don't.


yes, I know, my mother beat it

out of me -- no child of mine

will have an accent...


ashamed of her own

broken english. ashamed

at the supermarket,


when the cashier frowns

not understanding

her dented words.


ashamed at the hospital

when the nurse asks

if she wants an interpreter.


i learned english too late...

my mother laments.


i swallowed & choked

on shame. tongue a clumsy

worm. struggling, shrinking

in the sun, looking for its dirt home.


elementary school kids laughing --

you talk funny...


i can't say pasta --

the a like fusilli in my mouth.


so i assimilated, harnessing

the non-english slug writhing

between my jaws, taught

it well, until it obeyed

american syllables & everyone

said you weren't born here???


at eight years, i learned english,

learned it so well, as to be

unrecognizable. i look in the mirror,


i'm vanishing...


yes i know, when i open

my mouth, dirt

spills out, missing

the flowers of its native soil.




Karo Ska (she/they) is a South Asian & Eastern European non-binary femme, migrant poet, living on occupied Tongva Land (aka Los Angeles) with their black cat muse. Anti-capitalist & anti-authoritarian, they find joy where they can. Their first chapbook, "gathering grandmothers' bones" was released on February 29th, 2020. For updates, follow them on instagram @karoo_skaa or check out their website karoska.com.

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