The Hyphenated American

Photo by Melissa Reid

Photo by Melissa Reid


There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all // Theodore Roosevelt, Address to the Knights of Columbus 1915


We sit with our Columbian coffee,
listening to a rooster sing
waking the town.

We eat in Little Havana at sunset,
roasted chicken with habichuelas
or a Cuban sandwich—the butter oozing from the press.

In LA we drive around
chasing the paletero—the one who also sells mayo smeared elotes
with sprinkled Mexican cheese and powdered chile,

          then we pull up to a beat up taco truck
          carne asada on fresh corn tortillas—cilantro, onions, and lime.

We swim in Key West,
our feet in the sea-salt sand
where the ocean wraps around us
and it’s ninety miles to Cuba

and on every Fourth of July we too eat burgers,
sing the Star-Spangled Banner at Friday night football,
cut the turkey for dinner on Thanksgiving,
and in November we vote.

Sonia Perez is currently pursuing a Master of Letters in Creative Writing at the University of Stirling. She writes: 'I am new to Scotland, but it’s slowly becoming home. Originally, I am from America, specifically Florida. Mostly, I find myself writing political poems, but for this submission I’m more focused on combining ordinary behaviors of each day to an in-depth meaning. Whether the meaning is political or not, it doesn’t matter as much as capturing ordinary moments and bringing out beauty that readers might have never envisioned. Seeking the thrill of the ordinary is what I’m after.'