West Side Girl & Other Poems

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In these poems written from 2005-2013, I explore themes of womanhood, family and my Mexican-German heritage. 

"...this exciting piece of work could perhaps be more aptly described as an assembly of mini-epics rather than a compilation of poems. Readers will find that each piece is a complete story, and that each of these stories is filled with its fair share of horrifically beautiful descriptions… Scharhag's poetry is as mesmerizing as a fly fisherman's sweeping line. The readers do not realize they've been submerged in verse until they surface from the pages, gasping for air." -Laura DiNovis, Vocal

“I just finished reading 'West Side Girl' and was glad I picked it up. Lauren Scharhag, takes one into a world not of just beauty but reality, and fantasy. Speaking of the dead, the hearth, and her own frailties. Her way with words and presentation, especially with the immersion in her Mexican culture, she is nothing short of a modern Frida Kahlo for poetry. If you wish to read book of poetry that will rip your soul out and then lets you gaze in awe at the myriad of colors and spices that it holds this would be that book.” –Smashwords reader

"Stark, beautiful, and not for the cowardly, [these poems] leave fingerprints upon the heart.  Be brave.  You'll be glad you did." -Goodreads reader

"Beautiful, expansive, eye-opening." -Smashwords reader


When you fry the rice, let it turn brown, like our skin, then you’ll know: it’s time to add water. White girls look good in pastels. You’re too pale for red and black, you should wear pink. Every time you walk out the door, you should say, “In the name of Jesus,” and He will help you. When rolling tortillas, make only a quarter-turn so they come out nice and round. It’s okay to burn the chilies a little when you toast them, it makes the salsa mas sabroso. You were born with a veil over your face, like your grandmother. She knew Raul was going to die in that car accident. You’re too pale for silver jewelry, you should wear gold. When you lose something, ask La Anima Sola. If that fails, pray to St. Jude. Let us go to the market for fresh cilantro and cominos and buckets of masa. For Day of the Dead, put out marigolds with their Aztec sun faces in cobalt pots. The dead follow the scent. Roll tamales for New Year’s. When we go out, be sure to wear big earrings and plenty of lash-coat and rouge. Wear your hair up to show off your neck. Walk with your shoulders back. Watch yourself, wetbacks love white girls. Ignore the TJ cowboys with their tiburon-staches and tats when they whistle and call out, “Ay, Mamacita!” Tuck a copper penny in your waistband to relieve menstrual cramps. Put salt in your socks to draw out the fever. Whenever you get in the car, just say, “In the name of Jesus,” and He will help you. Close the gate when you go out. The neighbors are from the old country, they have chickens in the yard. They left the gate open and the chickens got out in the road. Our people came here legally in 1918, we aren’t wetbacks. Don’t ever marry a Mexican, all he wants is a green card, then you’ll never see him again. Name your first daughter Maria Mercedes, it’s what your mother should have named you. Have lots of daughters, sons will only hurt and disappoint you even more than their worthless fathers. Big hair never goes out of style, who told you big hair was out of style? I have an eighth grade education, don’t be using them highfaluting words around me. If you spit at the sky, it will come back in your face. Don’t forget where your people are from, even if you are white. Don’t marry a Latino, not even an Italian. They’re not faithful to their wives, and they’ll beat you. El Diablo nunca duerme, that’s why you should always say, “In the name of Jesus.” Keep a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the wall. Say the rosary. Your great-great grandmother was a bruja. She used to read the cards like you, but she went to mass every Sunday. Plain Janes are just lazy, vieja secas, they don’t want to wear make-up, do you want to be a plain Jane? It’s bad enough you wear jeans all the time, you look like a goddamn lumberjack. How are you ever going to find a man? Put on some make-up. Wear high heels. Don’t use tampons, you’ll get that toxic shock. When you are on your period, you should wash at least twice a day. Men can smell you like a bitch in heat, but if you don’t wash, you just smell like a dead dog. Don’t take shit off a man. Do you know how glad I am that you came out white? I say “In the name of Jesus,” and thank Him that you weren’t born brown or some other color. Your grandpa was part Spanish, and very white, but not as white as you. You have a round face, part your hair on the side. Let us cut some roses for the shrine of Our Lady. Never let a man hit you. You finally wear a skirt and it comes down to your ankles, and those big clunky shoes. You look awful. Once, when you were a baby, a lady threatened to call the police on us, they thought we had kidnapped you—three Mexican women with a white baby didn’t look right back then, but I’m glad you’re white. It’s best to soak the beans overnight so they boil soft. This is how to roll enchiladas. This is how to roll a burrito so the meat doesn’t fall out. This is how to grind the toasted chilies in the molcajete. You’re only young once, why can’t you dress sexy? I sure did, and I had four husbands. If he cheats on you, you cheat on him. If he hits you, kill him. To dream of death is to foretell marriage, and to dream of marriage means death. If he hits you, just say, “In the name of Jesus,” then grab a knife and slit his motherfucking throat.

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