Poetry No. 10 – Rachel Ronquillo Gray

Two Poems: Vigilante,
On Crying in Public
By Rachel Ronquillo Gray


Go ahead: catcall me. I need to learn
to take a compliment. I went dancing
& a stranger kept grinding his dick into me.
I should have grabbed his balls myself

& twisted, but I didn’t because I’m cute.
Being out in public, I waive my right to not
have dicks ground into me. All this is to say:
I want a superpower. I don’t want to control

the weather or deflect bullets with bracelets.
I want power that hurts. Hurts especially men.
Men on the dance floor & men on the street &
men at parties & men at the office & men on

the bus & men who are professors & men who
are bosses & men who think they are bosses &
men who want children by any means necessary
& all the other men. I want to make them

dickless. I will summon medieval, unreasonable mobs
of cute women, which is to say all women. I will gather
our pitchforks & torches. Spill gasoline, burn animal fat.
We don’t have all our lives to wait for karma.


On Crying in Public

Cry as much as you want. Be that
girl in the corner, drunk on Benadryl
and Franzia, eating all the pizza and crying.
Babies cry when they’re uncomfortable,
when they don’t know how to say
they’re unhappy. Don’t get it twisted—
you’re not a baby. What I’m saying
is when there’s no vocabulary for it,
there is only sensation, a feeling
that something is not right. You’ll say
far too often, I don’t know why I’m crying,
but you know why you’re crying. One night,
a person you think you could love yells
at you about your missing hair tie,
and you feel small. Whatever you do,
don’t hold in the tears on your way
to the grocery store. If you do, your throat
will swell like a volcano full of wails, and tears
will leak out anyway, and you will soak your jacket
sleeves wiping salt water from your cheeks,
and you’ll pretend your sniffles are allergies
in December, and you will see your reflected
face, all shadow in the car window, and you
will feel so small. And your heart will grow
small too. It will clench itself like a toothed
fly trap, shutting in and swallowing all the
flies, using them for food.



Rachel Ronquillo Gray was born and raised in rural Nevada, and holds an MFA from Indiana University. Her work has appeared in Winter Tangerine Review, Radar Poetry, As/Us, Lantern Review, CURA and other places. A Kundiman fellow, she lives and works toward reproductive justice in Bloomington, Indiana.

Photo by: Gessy Alvarez