Monday, October 08, 2018

¡Xicano!


A poem by Daniel A. Olivas

It began as a cruel 
Jibe (so the etymologists say) 
Because the descendants 
Of the great, fallen 
Moctezuma could not 
Purge their mouths of 
The indigenous sounds of 
Nahuatl, their mother tongue.

They worked the fields, 
Almost slaves, but not 
Quite, and called themselves 
“Mesheecanos”—and the
Bosses laughed.

Can’t say Mexicanos? 
Your tongues can’t wrap 
Around that, eh? Well, 
Can you pronounce Chicanos? 
Ah! So you can!  
That’s 
What you are!

Yes, that’s what we are. 
And guess what? We 
Embrace it. And we can 
Even dress it up further 
By spelling it with an X 
To bring us closer to 
Those who came
Before us.

¡Xicano!

How does that sound to 
Your ear? Does it hurt? 
Does it make you shiver? 
It does? So, sorry! 
We don’t mean to offend. 
Please accept our apologies. 
Have a nice day.

["¡Xicano!" is featured in Crossing the Border: Collected Poems (Pact Press).]


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