Here’s our May installment of “Bushwick Bohemia Beat Poetry” curated by Bushwick-born poet, Emanuel Xavier. The series features poems by Bushwick residents. This month’s poem comes from Ximena Izquierdo Ugaz.



Don’t panic

When mami is learning to drive

And where you’re from there’s no real seatbelt laws

No one to reinforce them

Nothing to hold you

And when she slams the breaks

Your little body flies from the back seat onto the dashboard

Your lips break open like how your fingers dig into an egg’s shell on Saturday mornings

In the clinic inside the driving school

the nurse tells you to not panic


You refuse to drive

You have so many excuses

You’re always afraid to lose control

You bike to school even though

It is hours away

even after Chuy gets deported to Costa Rica

He offers you to keep his car

It’s an Astrovan, with the words “Pura Vida” on the

front license plate

Tempting, but you can’t really bear it


Don’t panic

When you’re sitting in the passenger seat

Your mother at the wheel

She is trying to tell you something

But there’s no real way to say it

No one to support you

Nothing to hold you

And when finally she tells you that she had to marry her rapist

Your father (her rapist)

Your heart breaks open like how your fingers dig into an egg’s shell on Saturday mornings


You refuse to drive

You have so many excuses

You let everyone else take the wheel

Your eyes can only see what is closest to them

Even when you start to piece it all together

how she makes you wear longsleeve shirts and pants in the Miami summer

The silences

Overwhelming, but you can’t really bear it


Don’t panic

When the man that loves you more than anyone else

That calls you gato

That kisses your teenage forehead goodnight

A man that left you on a different planet as a child


With nothing to hold you

How do you bear it?

You breathe

In and out

And you don’t panic

Ximena Izquierdo Ugaz is a multimedia artist, curator, and educator born in Lima, Perú. She is the Teen Programs Coordinator at the Brooklyn Museum, the visual arts co-curator at Nat. Brut as well as a founding member and co-curator of Sweety’s, a gallery and platform dedicated to supporting and exhibiting artists of color. Izquierdo Ugaz is the author of the self-published “Standing in the Bathroom in the Dark Thinking About Green” and” El Mismo Pozo/The Same Well.” Her work has appeared in FEELINGS and her first chapbook is titled “Estoy Tristeza” (No, Dear Magazine & Small Anchor Press, 2018).

Catch Ximena Izquierdo Ugaz and Emanuel Xavier at a reading at Starr Bar (214 Starr Street, L train to Jefferson Street) on Saturday, May 19 at 7 pm, FREE EVENT.You can follow her at @besodemoza.

Cover image by Wes Hicks