reading and writing the poetry and stories of our people and places

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Queer Coming Together

tired from bending over

row after row of the fields

black eagle drops his hoe

finds a cantina

orders a cold one

bartender slides it down

black eagle catches a look

just enough to make him

cough into his hand and smell

he smoothes his feathers back

pats his pompadour

lifts out his collar’s wrinkles

taps his beak

thumbs his cheek


pink triangle has seen it all

in the mirror

next to the register

with her back to him

she quickly smiles wide

looks for leftover lunch

she pulls out her lipstick

pats a quick coat

onto each half of the open pucker

licks her middle finger

slicks down the pelitos

halo-ing her forehead

cups her perfect breasts

pushes them up

undoes one more button

so where you from?

he finally inquires


right here, right here?

yeah, down the street


i’m from here too

Where here?

los filles

they take in the other’s information

as if they didn’t already know

wanna get some dinner?

i’m working

i know

i meant after

it’ll be late

i know

you close by?


and you?

you don’t have to get back to los filles?

ain’t they gonna miss you?

i brought them with me

he pulls out a handkerchief

from his jacket

opens it

the brown-brown dirt

fades into the bartop

she laughs

me permite?


she puts her first finger in the dirt

brings it to her mouth

and opens

he reaches for her wrist

and guides her to him

he pulls her closer

until he feels her hardness

on his leg

just as his hardness is on her leg

she starts to jerk free

he holds her

she looks at him


he reaches

for his car keys

let’s get outta here

i’m already there

I designed and cut this papel picado. This image came to me years ago. I have felt drawn to the UFW eagle since I first saw and learned about it and the United FarmWorkers' union as a kid.

In my early years of coming out, the pink triangle became very popular. I wore a hat with a pink triangle for days at a time. I respect folks' resurrecting the symbol from Nazi hands, but the pink triangle didn't grab me the way the eagle did.

About ten years ago during a workshop where we had to draw a symbol that meant something to us, I drew what had been simmering within: an eagle with a large triangle in its center. When I saw it, I felt comforted like I had found something I had been searching for. I wanted to do something with it. Honestly, I hoped someone else would do something with it since I don't draw or paint. I knew I should throw away this piece of paper along with thousands of other "notes" that I have yet to do anything with. I didn't. I set the image aside.

The UFW's eagle symbolizes raza for so many of us. (I know that UFW members have not been and are not only raza. Also, just like any union, organization, or group, they're not perfect, but I'm not trying to address those issues here.) I wanted to claim the eagle, but I felt I had no right cuz of my queerness. I do not intend to indict the UFW for homophobia. I am trying to point out that the UFW eagle means raza and that attracted me; and some of our raza are homophobic and blame "tradition" or "traditional" aspects, such as the UFW, and that repulsed me.

Earlier this summer, I took a class with Catalina Delgado Trunk, una gran maestra de papel picado. Catalina explained that due to structural reasons, I could not keep the one large triangle. I traded it for six smaller ones. With Catalina's help, I was able to manifest my dream image. Now, it's not the UFW eagle; it's not the Nazi pink triangle. It's something new from the old.

I wanted to write a poem to go with my papel picado. I wanted to write about two forces coming together. As I started writing, I was writing "he" and "she." It didn't feel queer to me. Then I thought, maybe this is a butch-femme dyke couple. But that didn't feel quite right. Then I realized that these characters are a tranny and her man. They go together like peanut butter and chocolate, like eagle and triangle. Now, I want to write about the fruit of the two forces together not the separate forces.

Earlier, I accidentally typed "heart" instead of "triangle." I thought it was a mistake; I don't anymore.

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