“Violent Epidemic” by Sarah Degner Riveros

04 December 2020 on Poetry  

When the neighbor kid
shows up on the porch,
clutching a flannel
pillow, dressed in sweat
pants and a t-shirt,
shakes his dreads,
stutters, “Hi, Mom,
is John here?” You
set down the phone,
say “Come in, son.”
He’s staying. You
make chamomile
tea, no sugar, as he
squats on the stairs
beside the sink.
“My sisters got
in a fight,” he says.
“During lockdown?”
you wonder—stop.
“Shhhh,” your instincts
say. “You’re fine
here.” John is out
on a bike ride.
“The cops came,” he
says, “Mom’s
at the casino.”
You heat a griddle,
fry up some
hash browns
in butter, eggs
over easy, like
nothing else in
life really is.


Sarah Degner Riveros was born in Chicago and grew up in Texas; she studied at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Universitat de Barcelona, and Columbia University in New York where she earned a doctorate in Spanish literature. She is on faculty and a student at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she is currently working on an MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work is forthcoming in Sonora Review and Vassar Review, and has appeared in Spanish, English, and Spanglish in Willawaw, Bearings, Porridge, Brain; Child, Mothering, New Beginnings, Murphy Square Quarterly, and Azahares. She teaches Spanish Language, Literature, and Writing and Cross-Cultural Studies at Augsburg University; she is a single mother of five children.

Photograph: "Boundless Rooftops" by Chloe Chin.

Chloe Chin is from Maui, Hawaii and currently attends Northeastern University. She has won several short film awards, including the Bow Seat Silver Award and the Wild and Scenic Student Filmmaker Award. She is passionate about both photography and theatre. You can see more of her creative work on her Instagram account: @csquaredcreativity

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