Monday, November 21, 2016

Y Volver volver



Y volver volver
VOLVER
con la opresión
otra vez.
Llegare hasta donde estés
yo se perder, yo se perder
pero jamás me venceré.

History repeats itself
spins like a 45
but then there’s the
scratching
a needle trying to stop time.
I keep coming back
to the same place- like
literally. Like a poem
about writing- writing itself.

I teach at Cal State Dominguez Hills
Toro Pride Tuesdays
burgundy and gold horned
students, learners and spiel-lers
of knowledge, ideas bouncing
off those 70s concrete walls,
between the Japanese gardens
bonsai trees growing little
and back to CAMS, the high school
I went to when I was just a little
9th grade girl
from Compton, which started to feel
little for me so I knew I had to go.
Looking for an alternative and CAMS high
landed on my map- my route on this road
less taken but now I’ve started a path.
CAMS is on the campus of Dominguez Hills
and back in 1990 I never fathomed
that in 2014 I’d be
back in my old English classroom, spinning another
story as “Prof. Rodriguez and Students Breaking
Down the Gender Binary, and Other Ideas Crossing
Like Intersectionalities.”

History repeats itself
It’s just like heaven
reincarnated to be
hovering up above
over you, I’m so over you.
You, you my prop
I do whatever it takes
to rule over you.
Have rules over you
to strap you down
got rules on how to rule the masses.
It’s my privilege
white, male filthy rich
giving me my privilege
why I do it to you
I stick it, twist around my stake
you’re cooked my little brownies
die.
Everyone claims to be on my trail
I don’t lose track of the ones I’ve laid.
They call it rise to power for a reason. 
Now come over here -fluff me up,
you with your misdirected anger
and misinformation the economic pressure
you feel it on your lomo, that’s what the bad hombres
call it, when they put their back into it.
And you my chickie with your liberal views
your attraction to standing by all voyeuristic
as the position we’ve inherited
all the way to our veins wrecks havoc.
Too funny to turn away?
Like how I tell it like it is?
Get a good look in the mirror. 
See the ghosts of oppressions past
it’s a hate that will not concede….
Yes there may be lots of people that hate me
but there’s that one kid who doesn’t.
Come here and fluff me up
my desire is magnetic- like a yuge
magnate- cause opposites attract

Together, bonding, they stick together
through their fear of a brown planet.
That’s what they sound like, like they’re
from another planet, this isn’t a turf war
we’re not gonna be smudged out,
Here WE come, marching through the streets
come get your smudging!
We blow a smoke screen against your hurt,
your broken place- your broken
place in society. You have us
pockets of macro-classes spinning our
lives like a saucer on a stick 
stuck in between our teeth
but we still speak out against your lashing out
your white panic.
You didn’t break but you are broken
and you get hurt at the memories we conjure up
cause we do it like Ouija speaking to our spirits
ending the vicarious pain, memories I have of you
nightmares I call them. So I stay woke
I’m alive
I survive
(take deep, slow, breaths) Please join me if you feel like it,
please join me so we can feel like,
alike.
Close our eyes
lets focus on our breath,
just our breath
our breath,
our breath
breath.
I open
my eyes and I see my people
I see women who stay lit
I see Blacks who stay lit
Latinx who stay lit
Queers who stay lit
Immigrants who stay lit
Muslims who stay lit
like a bomb fire, healing those cracks with our
breaths, we’re not done filling in the gaps
of what you call history,  one you wish
to forget cause it hurts.
You feel unliked, not wanted?
Welcome to the nightmare. I’ve been holding
my breath waiting for the day that I can
finally say ‘They’re here”
“Woke white folk they are here”

History repeats itself
and I am here today
and I know I’ll be here again
some tomorrow that our attraction
for each other, through our breaths
is a magnate for positivity, 
so that we can turn back some negativity
that has been spun out into our communities 
our United States. 
Just like  Superman back in '78-
RIP Christopher Reeve
flew around the Earth backwards,
pushing against Earth's inertia
we push back too
hopefully Our Breaths
none bigger than the other, none smaller
are pushing forward  humanity, decency, love
and respect. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

An Altar the Size of Chichen Itza Part 2

Xipe Totec Aztec god associate with rejuvenation and Spring time

Anastasio couldn’t believe he did it in 2 weeks, he got all his shit out of that place in just 2 weeks. Not sure how many trips, at all times of the day back and forth between East Los Angeles and Korea town he made but he did it. 2 weeks before his lease ended too. He knew he was lucky, very lucky; things could be worse. He wasn’t crashing on someone’s couch or worse back at this mom’s place. Stop, don’t go there. It’s not like that at all. Anastasio loved his mamacita to death, she was his “homegirl” he’d tell all his friends. But his mamacita lived in a one-bedroom apartment that was already way too “cozy” cause his homegirl was a bit on the pack-ratty side. Plus he knew he couldn’t fully mourn with his mom around, he couldn’t get all loca descontrolada and go on benders that ended with some hot tail in his bed, or get lesbian locked down drowning in the wails of Mazzy Star, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos and them. And getting high and watching porn in in his underwear for those “I need to purge you outta me,” moments was absolutely out of the question. He didn’t want his mamacita to worry, which he knew she would. She’d pace anxiously around her boxes and piles of stuff, the same way she did whenever he got sick as a child. He knew she’d see him, her brown eyes pierce through his happy-go-lucky façade right through his sparrow chest to his little corazon and start to pace wondering que tecito she could make him that would take away the gunk in his alma.  Then she’d dig through her record collection and play something like:
“guitarras lloren guitarras 
violines lloren igual 
no dejen que yo me valla 
con el silencio de su cantar,”[1]
and ask him to dance, the way she used to whenever she tried to help him shake off his bout of depression that like acne stuck around all his teenage years. He couldn’t get mad at her for trying but he really needed his space and he felt way too tender to brave through a Cuco Sanchez marathon. I mean come on….
“Anoche estuve llorando
Horas enteras
Pensando que sólo tú eras
Toda la causa de mi sufrir,”[2]

Tell me this isn’t just asking for a big sob session. Anastasio knew it was coming, and he was looking forward to that day cause he knew that deep down in his chest would feel clean, like an L.A. sky after rain. But right now he knew he couldn’t take care of his feelings and his mamacita’s. He knew he was lucky “Fuck, thank you, thank you Big Al,” he muttered almost in prayer as he headed down Normandie Ave. to catch the 10 freeway east. He was almost brought to tears thinking how Big Al, his BFF of all BFFs, whom he’s known since first grade and instantly fell in love with her when they built that 100 piece outer space puzzle together and she let him put in the last piece. Even after so many years she was still helping him put things back together. Big Al, who’s real name was Alexandra, and her partner Oliver owned a home, a duplex and it just so happened that their back unit became free so of course Anastasio got first dibs on that rental.

The Gods and Goddesses only push us as much as our spirit can take, just to wake our spirit up and remind us that we are descendants of warriors and can overcome any hardship.”
“Oh shut up, shut up,” Anastasio tapped as his right temple with his finger to silence Kal’s voice reassuring him in his head. “You don’t have that right anymore you’re the last person I need encouragement from.” Anastasio was stopped at a stop light and the lady on the corner waiting to cross stared at Anastasio almost unsure if she should cross in front of his car. Anastasio stared at the light waiting for it to change when suddenly he felt parched and decided to pull over at the liquor store on the corner to get something to drink.
He had been coming to this corner store for years, it your was your typical corner store that sold a little bit of everything including a little bit of old produce- onions, tomatoes, avocados some bananas. A corner of the refrigerator, that wasn’t reserved for tall boys, six packs or carbonated drinks, stacked a few dairy products. It was the kind of space where you stopped by for something to drink and something to snack on; every kind of fiery, lemony chips lined the aisles. The same ol same ol borrachitos hung around either on the parking lot or inside chatting it up with the owner Mr. Hoang.
“Hola Stas, como estas?” said Mr. Hoang as soon as he saw Anastasio pop into the store making the door entry chime go off.

“Aju jal , gamsahabnida,” replied Anastasio in his most perfect Korean accent both to make Mr. Hoang proud but also to really convince him that indeed he was doing “VERY well.”  Throughout the years Anastasio and Mr. Hoang had taught each other a lot of phrases in their respective native language. But the truth was that Mr. Hoang was the star pupil, in fact he knew Mexican, Salvadoran and Guatemalan slang. While Anastasio mostly managed to recycle “Good morning,” “I am Mexican and like spicy,” and “Where’s the beer my friend.”

Anastasio flashed a smile and walked towards the back of the store to where the coolers were, he grabbed his favorite sport drink, red flavor, to wet his throat now dry from the move and the sporadic crying. He didn’t even wait to pay just snapped open his drink and began to pound. Such a desperate act he thought.

“Donde esta Kal? Mucho tiempo que no lo veo,” Anastasio heard Mr. Hoang asking about Kal from the front of the store.

Suddenly Anastasio didn’t have that homesick feeling he had about moving away, he knew this was not his neighborhood anymore. He started to feel hot, then nauseous, he rushed out the store and immediately threw up on the sidewalk, nothing but a big red splatter, his guts shuddered as he realized the red flavored drink was the only thing he had put in his body the entire day. He was running on fumes basically. He wiped off the slobber with a crumbled up tissue he found in the pocket of his jeans.  He felt the sun beading against the back of his neck, and could feel the sweat sliding across his forehead. He leaned against the store wall, closed his eyes and took deep, slow breaths. He was inhaling and exhaling to a nice rhythm, enjoying the sound of the traffic around as it mimicked the ocean when he heard Mr. Hoang’s store bell going off and before long he heard Mr. Hoang saying “Here drink this.”  Anastasio opened up his eyes and reached for the cup Mr. Hoang handed to him.
            “What is it?” asked Anastasio looking down into the clear effervescent liquid.
“Sal de uvas, to settle your stomach,” said Mr. Hoang.
Anastasio nodded and sipped the all too familiar Picot antacid, dang that Mr. Hoang’s Spanish was better than he thought, he was even down with his people’s remedios. Anastasio drank the rest of the medicine in silence, not wanting Mr. Hoang to ask him any questions; he felt like any slight emotional jolt would send him retching again.   But Anastasio could see it in the way Mr. Hoang  wrinkled his brow that he was very curious and that his quivering lips were fighting back the urge to say something but didn’t.
“Thank you Mr. Hoang. How much do I owe you for my drink?” Anastasio reached for his wallet in his right back pocket.
            “No, it’s ok amigo. My gift to you.”
            “I really appreciate it Mr. Hoang, everything, thank you. I better get going don’t want to hit traffic.”
            “You sure? You can wait in my backroom for you to be better,” Mr. Hoang expressed his concern and put his hand on Anastasio’s shoulder.
            “Nah,” Anastasio flashed the best smile he could muster up “I’m good Mr. Hoang, I’m good.” He insisted.
            “Stas, just remember bien ama quien nunca olvida.” Said Mr. Hoang with every bit of compassion he had.
            “Mr. Hoang, you sure you’re not Mexican?” Anastasio giggled a little bit surprised but not surprised that Mr. Hoang would know some Mexican proverbs.
            Mr. Hoang shook his head and laughed, “Just some things I learned from an old novia,” he gave Anastasio a mischievous smiled and headed back into his shop. Anastasio took a few more breaths just to make sure he was indeed fine then headed back to his car.





[1] “Guitarras Lloren Guitarras,” Cuco Sanchez. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkH7o16X7Tc
[2] “Anoche estuve llorando,” Cuco Sanchez https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEbBeYGP1qU