top of page

Jordan Muscal: Poetry Collection

Childhood self portrait with bike, Twinkle Toes and a little Paul Simon

First swimsuit, a cousin’s, 

that clung like an old woman 

who’d been promised retirement and instead 

given baby fat, the faint stench 

of urine. 

The fabric was goosebumped 

and thinning, so light it’d slip off the drying rack; 

a diver, tan and lithe. 

Front teeth missing, and proud, 

wearing tulle so starched I almost forgave it. 

Beat up Twinkle Toes that I paired 

with my Dorothy costume, tapped my toes 

instead of heels— 

diamonds on the soles of her shoes 

Paul Simon says, somewhere. 

I rode a bike for the first time 

and tasted metal, cheeks hot 

with strange achievement 

as the neighbor’s dog panted at my training wheels. 

But I’ve reason to believe 

we all will be received in Graceland 

on the radio of a passing car. 

Childhood is a globe to spin in the dark, 

Day-Glo ceiling stars crooning 

Nina Simone, Cat Stevens, Hey, Jude;

a train of thought so long 

you lose sight of the caboose. 

In 5th grade, I stood in the back row

of the class portrait, dead center, looking

wringed out, stretched 

taller than all the boys. 

Sang Bridge Over Troubled Water

at my elementary graduation with

all the conviction I could pull 

from between my shoulders, 

all the conviction I could shake

from these asphalt and stardust wings.

Like a bridge over troubled water 

I will lay me down, 

Like a bridge over troubled water 

I will lay me down 

I sang 

off key and sincere.

at the foothills of mt lemmon 

bobcats pace the low, stucco fences,

faces bony, stretched thin 

like gossamer 

time doesn’t exist here 

the rooftop tiles curve their spines,

arching towards the sky… 

the stars prick the dark with cactus thorns 

my grandparents’ pills 

are assorted candies, remind me 

of my grandma’s mahjong tiles 

with their painted-on characters &

glossy coatings 

we water down the sweet tea this year,

pale orange & frothing over the glass,

the sun spooling itself a few more hours 

a javelina we find in the driveway, 

a pigeon we can’t keep from nesting

in the casita rafters 

my grandmother, sun-screen slathered,

nails a soft pink, speaks of her father,

the boat from poland, the house in pittsburgh

& it sounds like lore

a landline that sounds at early hours,

an antenna-ed TV that buzzes, constantly,

my grandma’s flip phone ringing

from deep within her handbag 

my sister dives into 

a green swimming pool, 

back straight, taut, 

that half-second 

where she is half 

submerged, half dry legs & pointed toes 

here, every grocery run is an “outing”,

my grandfather’s dark humor 

startling us like a pothole or roadkill

my grandmother swats him lightly

but laughs too, hand over lipsticked mouth 

at every restaurant, we tell the waiter

it’s my sister’s birthday, they bring

a slice of tres leche & we sing off-key,

three generations in the desert once again

About the Author:

Jordan Muscal is a sophomore in the creative writing department at Kinder High School

for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas. Her work has been published in

Octopus Ink, Buzz Magazines and Youth Be Heard. Besides writing, Jordan enjoys

hyper analyzing her favorite books and film, thrift shopping with her sister and trying

new foods.


bottom of page