Elsa Valmidiano: Isn’t That Stealing



Picking the guava from the tree

isn’t that stealing

I make an exception for my father

turn my head


scared of the owner who might catch him stealing

and I let him.


He reaches high

pulls down branches like it’s no big deal

not trying to hide the fact he’s stealing

“Oh yeah, I’ve done this before.

This fruit is sweet, sweeter than the one we have.

You have to try. Naimas.”

My mother ignores my father’s crime

as if this is what is to be expected.

It is to be expected.


I take the guava into my hand

notice the seeds are smaller –

– I am smaller –

inhale its bright green rind

as we dodder home

me, an idiot.


I love my father like a child,

like he is a child, teaching me

things I have forgotten as an adult.


These walks with my parents –

am I cutting into their romance or routine?

I go with them

                         because I am wanted.



for Trinilyn, for Yunnie, for Ghost Ship


What is it about her artist smile

who uses her hand to paint

sashes of dark blue

celestial bodies when

the world is going to shit,

painting on a ceiling or wall

ready to crumble or combust,

but joy and abandon remain

etched into her eyes,

just when you thought

the impossible is impossible,

she introduces herself  

with arms like wings outstretched

and a marigold in her hair

as she escorts you outside,

our attention focused

on the grand sweep

of her hand 

like a ballet dancer

sashaying across the stage

to show us her mural

that we fail to notice

the heartbeat of

helicopters circling

directly overhead.

Elsa Valmidiano’s works have appeared in TAYOmake/shiftBurnerAs/UsLiterature for LifeBottlecap Press, and others, as well as anthologies Field of MirrorsWalang HiyaCirce’s Lament, and forthcoming in Precipice: Writing On The Edge. In 2016, she was a finalist for the Rita Dove Award in Poetry, and was also long-listed for the Short Memoir Prize by Fish Publishing in Ireland. This summer, Elsa has been awarded to attend the DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and has performed numerous readings throughout the SF Bay Area.