Thursday, June 11, 2009

Identity in Two Parts -- 2 Poems

Woodcut by Maria Arango (c)

(When I was twenty-five.....)


In this dream,
I am whole.
I am no longer
saving other people’s stories,
scavenging their words;
sifting thru their remains.

In this dream,
my fingers run
thru Frida’s hair.
In this hair, I plait
dark flowers
the color of blood.
She tells me
the jaguar comes
to bring me power.
The medicine
to end this pain,
the food for this hunger.

In this dream,
I have made magic
from the mud of the Rio Grande.
Wrapped in corridas and ranchero music;
are spells
and incantations
to undo
the age of forgetfulness
and indoctrination.

In this dream,
I have a lover
whose face is stone;
ancient as a temple marker.
His mouth is full,
his eyes half closed.
He whispers:

“Come to me, mí índia,
mí pequeña perdida.
Remember who you are
Remember who you are.”

(And twenty years later...)

iridescent electric pink
line the boulevard
next to where
someone’s pissing
right in the middle of the day
yesterday’s pozole
slick and greenish
stains the street
around the corner
from the Monument to the Revolution
where a golden angel
looks down on prostitutes
with imitation Chanel bags
and taxis are
green and yellow beetles
carrying sour businessmen
who ask the teenage pimps
how much
the cross-eyed
boy in the Lucha Libre mask
stares at me
and runs past barefoot beggar children
in clown makeup
but the clowns never smile
and they’re on every corner
they block the path
of women going to work
wearing not quite
put together
cheap copies
of clothes they saw
in Vogue or Cosmo
but nothing really matches
they always wear
white heels
or a belt with a giant buckle
and the requisite miniskirt that makes
their ass stand out
so that the pesero driver
with one gold tooth
always holds their change for just that extra second
I don’t get the shits
but baby-faced doctors run IV’s in both arms
for migraines and food poisoning
the fat man who served me
chiles rellenos
laughed at my buzz cut
and winked
when he slid me the plate
outside the ER
stand private guards
with tight lips and clenched pistols
working their job
they scowl at the howling sushi delivery boys
on motorbikes
who rush to the bar for a quick one
in between deliveries
inside the Museo Bellas Artes
I see the outstretched arms of Rivera’s peasants
and refuse the outstretched arms
of the Indian sitting at the bus stop
I clutch my postcards
with Frida’s self-portraits
the one with the red dress
the one with the hammer and sickle body brace
down the street from my favorite helado stand
the one with flavors like
guayaba mango cajeta
a man grabs my crotch
to see if I have any balls
I almost knock over
a tianguis stand of charro Barbies
the seller’s daughter
a girl with an olive oval face
blinks her long lashes in disbelief
What is this American doing here?

From Raw Silk Suture/
Floricanto Press/2008

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