Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The winds chopped down our cherry tree
littered the ground with the infant fruit

Splintering the erections of man's efforts
where will we go when the wind stops?

Children climb limbs like monkey bars
if only shelter could they give

Elegant designs and power lines
weighed down beneath the trunk of it

This is but the calm, 
before the one that wants to claim us

Gather near, dear ones,
stretch this house of skin

I will weather this tempest and keep you from it
though mothers are not made of stone

This poem was my contribution for One Shot Wednesday
If you be of a poetic persuasion come and join us!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cultural Contradiction

I didn’t know you were Hispanic!
She said, as if it were to my detriment.
My Mom was white, my father Spanish,
I explained grinding together my back teeth.

In my ribcage I feel the war rage.
behind my carefully handled breath and words
I remember when my Grandparents
struggled to speak English well just to get a job.

No accent in these generations,
nor color in my skin.
This, I say to the woman,
is the product of cultural blending.

And so I no longer have a heritage.
Confused and diluted,
blood lines blurred,
now etch my existence.

Or so they say.

She still calls me her hijita,
smothers my plate with chili rojo,
rolls tortillas on the fat of her hands,
and tells me about her childhood in New Mexico.

It is here that I am home.

Those pendejos  beyond the threshold
Have no power here!

I wish I could speak her words that still whisper in my veins,
The oppression and struggle through ignorant lands
The border crossed over our family,
Westward expansion they called it.

Hijita, she tells me
We have lived here for more than a hundred years.
Mi familia, with deep roots.

Fled during the war My Mother says.
My Great Grandmother's voice belonged on the Opera stage
Grandpa would tell me, his eyes wide,
distantly remembering the voice of his Mother.

He would smile and tell jokes just to draw my lips upwards
Her journals still written in her native language,
hidden in a trunk, lost among her descendants.

I can’t read German.

My Great Aunt,disowned my Mother
when she married Him.
That man that was too dark.

I smiled when she came to my wedding,
knowing she’d avoid the other half of the room.
You see, I married a white man.

My skin not so dark, eyes not so wide.

When my Grandmother told me,
"Mi hijita it's good thing you look like a white girl."
when I moved to the south,
because the ignorant people wouldn’t understand
I thought she was wrong.
The south had changed and
after all it’s a new century.

Until one day, sitting in her living room,
glancing momentarily in my direction,
as her friend whispered the usual slurs,
ignorance dripping from haughty lips.

I listened,
my eyes straining,
desiring to stretch my skin,
to become a filter,
over the ears of my children.

She whispered and insisted,
we didn’t belong
in a pure white south.

The woman smiled and nodded,
and then met my eyes.

I didn’t know you were Hispanic!

She had to tolerate me
Relation by marriage,
but not my choice.

Though I’m just white enough to fit,
and speak just enough Spanish to pass
I still have enough Latina in me 
to know when not to.

I’m the most ethnic friend most of mine have
and they don’t even know it.

Culture fading in the grey scale.

I am an American.
A Latino, Anglo American.
And no one can tell me my heritage no longer applies.
That my life has been too far blended to see the truth.
I know the places where I feel safe again,
the places where the earth breaths
setting my feet upon the paths my grandmothers walked.

She walks again,
not as strong as before,
and her eyes,
heavier than I last saw them.

Ojo feliz, beneath the aged flesh
Mi Abuela,
welcomes me home again
and in her arms I find strength
and in her eyes I take the fear she has
for her children and grandchildren
and take it back with me
to ignorance once more
into the dying world
to educate the uneducated masses
who have been blinded by the white.

It’s time they see me,
see us all
in living color.

Not gray lines across the census page.

This is my America,
my culture,
my color,
my life,
and their future.

The new has come,
and the old... well,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sprawling Childhood

This poem is filled with fun memories of books, songs and poems that I read to my daughter when she was small. She's visiting colleges now, and these are some of the things she clings to. See if you can pick them out ;) 

The Big Red Barn,
and Goodnight Moon,
Runaway Bunny, gone too soon
I will love you forever

hungry caterpillar
that through my skin crawled
and very hungry, drank of my life
until a butterfly you became.

One, Two, One, Two
and through and through,
this flesh, this life
and with it run into the present light

Transparent  like the dawn
Paper wings unfolding
through chrysalis of adolescence,
you were only waiting for this moment to arrive

silhouette through paper in fire
blinking to glimpse with vision obscure 
One day, dear one,
I will learn the art of weeping

Like the mad one that I am.
It’s midday now, and sun hot upon my skin.
I see your wings barely
through squinted eyes.

Breathe, just breath
release this day.
Sunken eyes now see,
you have taken broken wings

and learned to fly.