Dani Putney


Tucked in a fluorescent corner
of my go-to mini mart is
a row of fish heads, chicken adobo,
& my mom’s favorite, pork
blood stew. I can’t picture the café
differently: a couple of kumustas,
steel ladle on steel tray, Styrofoam
boxes foolishly compartmentalized
(sauces love to intermingle).
Maraming salamat po

but I remind Ma to buy halo-
halo, Yes, you said you would. I see
myself in the cup’s crushed
ice, scattered like islands
throughout an archipelago,
the shards of my blood floating
in evaporated milk. Add coconut
& I’m my parents’ child, lighter
than the Visayas,
darker than Virginia.

What if I grew up across
the Pacific, a mestizo transplant?
I wouldn’t use whitening
lotion to become a model
of the West. My face would have
the right type of crooked, the perfect
dash of stubble on my chin.
A heterogeneous mixture
comes standard with twice-
colonized island nations.

Like ube, my color would be
undeniable: no doubts
under hot fluorescents,
no more dessert metaphors.
My brown feet
would mirror Ma’s brown feet,
a bowl of dinuguan between us,
her face just a face—
no longer a reflection
of our homeland.

Dani Putney is a queer, non-binary, mixed-race Filipinx writer originally from Sacramento, California. Their poems appear or are forthcoming in outlets such as Azahares, The Blue Mountain ReviewCosmonauts Avenue, Figure 1, and Tule Review, while their personal essays can be found in journals such as Cold Mountain Review and Glassworks Magazine, among others. They received their M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women and are presently an English Ph.D. student at Oklahoma State University. While not always (physically) there, they permanently reside in the middle of the Nevada desert.