Likely Stories: Monsters, Zombies, and Addicts by Gwendolyn Zepeda

Nov 23, 2017

A neat collection of poetry by an introspective woman.


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

A friend passed along an interesting collection of poems by Gwendolyn Zepeda, which she had inscribed.  I had never heard of Zepeda, but I enjoyed her collection Monsters, Zombies & Addicts.  Her poems are sometimes funny, and unless you frequently find yourself hiding under the bed, you might enjoy these as well.  I love a collection which forces me to choose a “favorite” as an example to my audience, and this one fills the bill.  According to the cover, Gwendolyn Zepeda has authored a poetry collection Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners.  The title intrigues.  She has also written several novels, and she is currently the Bayou City’s first Poet Laureate. 

In “It’s Friday Night,” she writes, “The ghosts who routinely arrive at one AM when you’re awake alone at night and your mind is overwrought from its concerns. // Sometimes they start in the corners of your eyes, in the corners of the windows // Othertimes they lurk in the low-res photos online of women who allegedly wait for you because they know you’re alone” (19).  This narrative poem is a good example of this genre.  She has written a number of these, and I liked them a great deal. 

In “Dream Dictionary,” she struck me in a wonderful way.  She writes, “They say the symbols of your dream must be particular to you. / They say only you can know their meanings. / And, so I meditate. // The kittens that cry sound like they do, but then / tug at my womb like everything. // The woman that left (like She did) looked mean but when / breathed, smelled like freedom. // The monsters that made me scream in the dream, I / realize now, had your faces. // I’m screaming at your faces, but I can’t run away.”  (25).

Here is a short poem about pain.  “A Fall.  I felt my foot hit wrong on the stair / my weight pitch too far forward of center / Corrected course but not enough. / A little too late. / I felt my wrists wrench, gripping / the banister, / Ankle bone ground on the edge. / Hip took the weight of far too much of me. / Carpet burns everywhere. / Carpet burns everything. / I heard my own scream / like a scared, angry goat.  I bleated.  I called out the / pain, the rage, the regret / of my miscalculation” (56).

“Flirt” is another fun piece.  “You say I flirt too much. You / call me flirt.  Wide eyes, / moving lashes. Flashing smiles / were how I got taught to be / polite.  My memories pretty / women and my targets / stubborn men. / See what you want. / Say what you wish / If I wanted you, my ears / would sound like roaring / trains of lions.  My tongue would / taste like a metal of a pencil’s end, /or blood.  My feet would ride / a wave to you, then bed. // I can’t say how it’d look to you; I can’t say how it’d look to you, I’ve never seen me flirt.) (65). 

This nice and neat collection of poems is just the thing for cool autumn nights.  Gwendolyn Zepeda has offered some interesting poems to give us a new perspective on life.  4 Stars.

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories and happy reading!