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

Saturday, May 15, 2010

End of an Affair

Good-bye United States

It’s clear you don’t want me

Today the mayor of Albuquerque

Proclaimed sanctuary for ICE officials

In the city’s jails

Good-bye U.S.

Arizona’s cancer is spreading internally

First that sheriff gets to play like he’s a federale

then we gotta show papers for being brown

Now we can’t teach our young people our history

And you know if you don’t know where you come from

You don’t know where you’re going

Isn’t that what you always told me?

It’s been ovah since before Arizonah

Yes, U.S., I knew you embraced

That Colorado politician full of hate

You thought I didn’t hear you cheering him on

While you watched FOX news?

U.S., I knew it was over

When Nevada’s economy tanked

and you went there

told all the “foreigners” to go home

Oh, U.S., truth is

I knew it was over

Back in Cali

that love—lust?—cradle on the coast

you wanna send my children

who’ve grown up there

to places they’ve never been

or don’t remember

I should’ve known years ago

When I found the numbers

187, 209

I knew there were more

The writing was on the wall

I just didn’t want to read it

Basta Ya! No Más!

I know you don’t like it when I speak Mexican

You studied in Spain

“Where their Spanish sounds like French or Italian”

Where they look French or Italian

I’m tired of having a second class accent

In your ears, U.S.

Yes, mi amor, it’s over

Don’t try to talk me out of it

I’m not going to change my mind

I see it in your eyes

you know it too

don’t pretend

Since it’s over

Since we’re done

Through with each other


I’m not going to

Make your children avena con canela in the morning

Blow on mugs of chocolate

Walk them to the neighborhood school

Take the baby to the park

Come home

Bathe the baby

Throw some laundry in the wash

Go pick up the big ones

Teach them Spanish

Well, my Spanish

Help you prepare dinner

Clean up

I’m not going to do it

Don’t look so sad

Just cuz you wanted to break up with me first

Don’t look so surprised

That I’m standing up for myself, cabrón

Okay, of course, you can look at me any way you want (you always have)

They’re your eyes

I’ve spoken to my family

The ones who build the houses

Tend the yards

Clean the pools

Just so you know

My brothers told our cousins

The ones who pick all that delicious produce in the fields

the ones who work in the slaughter houses

And you know I talk to my sisters every day

They’re waiting at their sewing machines

Our aunts and uncles are standing by their vacuum cleaners

And shampooers on the office floors

My nieces and nephews have stopped asking,

You want fries with that?

Our barbers, hairdressers, and stylists

Are holding combs, clippers, curling irons, and blowdryers

Our teachers are at mid-word at the chalkboard

Our lawyers are at mid-sentence in the courtroom

our small business owners have fingers on cash register keys

Yes, they’re waiting



Why the long face?

Lump it or leave it


That didn’t come from me

This is our border

you might say

Between our past and our future

No one can say we didn’t try, U.S.

We almost made it to our 250th silver anniversary

I know, I know

Our history goes back more than 500 years

But you don’t want me

Going over those first 250

If I had focused on those first 250

We would’ve never made it this far

Don’t worry, U.S.,

We won’t make you swim home

We don’t hold you to the same standards

We hold for ourselves

Our shipbuilders

Crafted a fleet

That will carry you

your funny hats

ruffled shirts

black shoes with big, brass buckles

your guns

your diseases

our taquería workers

have wrapped all your stuff

up in a huge tortilla

so you have a snack for your journey

U.S., look on the bright side

They got democracy and religious freedom over there now

the two things you came here for

Consider yourselves: Mission accomplished!

Come on, U.S., let’s not part on bad terms.

Tell your people we said hello.

And another thing,

Before you go

You should know that

we learned something from you:

In the future

If you ever want to get together

Call first