Monday, January 13, 2020


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!  
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.


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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