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Jen Yáñez-Alaniz


                      “I must be a mermaid, … I have no fear of depth and
                       great fear of shallow living.” — Anaïs Nin


When I pray for love, I imagine our youth
and Anaïs Nin —


her wet verses underneath our tongues,
her sex an unguent between our bodies.

My tempered knees
tender & buckling at your waist, seeking salve
and chrism.

In my surrender,
In my memory, you untie the blue ribbon
from around my thigh, your teeth releasing the knot.
My openness tastes of fig and tamarind,
glistened cadence on the tongue.

I don’t know you without the warm sun,
without summer’s rain arced above our bodies,
without the milk-like sky anointing us with grace.


I long for your witness to my sanctity.
I long for your witness to my breasts,
swollen like a sea of darkness.



You travel along my body,
toward impossible deserts within.


Here, there is longing and starvation


quelled by orgasm, by gnashing hips,
my hair wrapped in your fists. You know
what my body needs.


You urge me to take the thickness of honey,
to cup it in my throat.


Like manna, you feed me.



We build a castle around his seeding
as he grows.

He is taught to keep one foot tilting
the pedestal,

his palm a foothold
for his queen.

His birth,
the season’s harvest,

bears no thought for fallen fruit.
His sisters bloom

into shifting hips
and nectar of nourishing sexuality

left to redden, hot and bleeding,
in the garden.

His biceps and genitals,
the celebrated centerpiece,

we devour at family feasts.


I am wide-open —suspended,
a pink beast hanging from the sky
of an overpriced hotel room.
A stranger waits on my bed
— begs my descent.
He wants to be fed, but I cannot
feed him.

I fly across a hall to a bedroom.
It no longer exists. I cry out to my mother.
I want to feed her what I cannot eat.
Collapsed on the floor,
she begs to be fed, but I cannot
feed her.

My mother stretches her neck.
Unhinged, she widens her jaw.
I keep from her swallowing
all that she denies me.

My hips starved and severed
breasts. I choke.

I release.


Rope and hoist,
my body hangs from the bleed.

My body flings
across the ceiling. I want to return
to my stranger. I need to be fed.

Mother, consume me.

-from Surrogate Eater, a signed limited-edition chapbook, published by Alabrava Press, selected by Assistant Editor, Karen Carr 


Jen Yáñez-Alaniz is a Chicana Mestiza activist, educator, and poet. She is a PhD Fellow in Culture, Literacy, and Language at the University of Texas, San Antonio. As co-founder of Welcome: A Poetry Declaration, she brings awareness through equity-driven conversations centered on the preservation of language and language literacy. Her work, "Matrilineal Poetics: Toward an Understanding of Corporeality and Identity" is featured in Latinas in Hollywood Herstories. Her poetry is published in various journals and anthologies including South Dakota Review, Rogue Agent Journal, Mom Egg Review, West Trestle Review, Cutthroat: Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century Anthology, and more. Her extensive critical biography of Carmen Tafolla is anthologized in Chicana Portraits, edited by Dr. Norma E. Cantú. She is the author of Surrogate Eater, a chapbook published by Alabrava Press. Her forthcoming full collection of poetry, Taking it Deeper, Revaluations of a Surrogate Eater is due 2025. Reach her at Follow her at:

IG@poet_ jen.ya & IG@corazoncollective.

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