A Space for Women of the World
I didn’t really understand the 1980 prison riots
until I shed blood at the Level 3 facility in Clayton
and I didn’t know my father until my first O.D.
Although my wrists tell a tale of abuse that
my body is too shy to share,
my heart beats these words
my despair will introduce you to the drunken man
sitting at a bus stop somewhere on Central
and my temper to his brother in the cell next door
I am red and green chili and salsa-n-chips
I am the Tiguex Park Tri-Centennial Festival
I am Old Town Elementary and two hand touch at La Washa.
I am lowrider cruising on a Sunday afternoon and the
Monday morning traffic jam at the Big-I
I am San Gabriel Park and 25 mph through Tingley Beach
If my grandfather hadn’t raped my mother,
she might have been a doctor… maybe not
What I do know is after 8 miscarriages and
countless conjugal visits
I am a dresser drawer for a crib.
I used to go crawdad fishing in the ditch
under the cottonwoods.
My first real war was fought with “tetones” the little cotton
wood seeds in the Bosque against the other Lulac kids in the
Sunny Acre Projects.
my next war has yet to rear its ugly face,
but I am armed
I first met beauty through patience
Humility through my son.
And the first time I saw my own reflection
was after beating their mother to a pulp in the broken glass
on the bathroom floor
that is when she introduced me to forgiveness
I am Fort Sumner on a trip to Lubbock
I met Billy the Kid when I scribed my name
on his tombstone out in the back of the
museum there, P.A.L.S
I met Pat Garrett in Las Cruces
and broke his laws in Deming
I learned the value of a penny on the old tracks
in Grandma’s back yard
In God We Trust smashed flat by the Santa Fe Rail train
I used to love watching the trains race the tumbleweeds.
when we buried my grandmother I failed to watch
one last time.
I believe in the end the tumbleweed won
for the train rolls on into eternity
… and the mass bell rang
For ten years we were the mayerdomos of a church
the size of a small home
as a child I would sneak communion chips into my
shirt pocket and sip wine.
My Grandpa would simply smile and say
“Hurry on before Grandma catches us.”
He would kiss and wipe the baby Jesus before returning it
to its shelf up high
I am the procession to nowhere
I am the annual fiestas to celebrate familia
the family I replaced in the alley ways of Barelas
and the streets of Down Town
I am the one ways streets of Coal and Lead
the route to the Rio Grande Zoo
the peacocks drown out the sound of traffic
and the monkeys remind us that we are late for school
I thought I knew sin at an early age until we
were reunited recently. As I looked into the bloodshot
half dead eyes of a beaten rapist
I couldn’t help but look admirably actually stare at the
man who beat him silently thanking him for retribution.
I fell in love with food in middle school
after gang fights at Mary Fox park me and my friends would
celebrate victory with a Dog House chili dog with extra cheese
and onions and throw tater tots at one another
When I learned to drive the bucket I stole from mom
enough times till she finally said “keep the fuckin’ thing”
we cruised West Central and filled our youth with Bob’s Burgers
taco burgers and Frito pie
I can still remember the day I learned to fly
I was on a roof somewhere in Old Town and a Hot Air
balloon passed where I was sitting. as it did, it carried me
away with it. I still don’t believe I’ve returned since
then. So each year when the Annual Balloon Fiesta
comes to visit. I look for that boy. But he is gone
gone like the sins with Zozobra in September
Gone like the depths our river once cut and
the plentiful crops it once bore.
gone is that boy of yesterday.
My words flow like the raging Colorado River
They cut through my soul
Leaving open wounds
And I bleed
My blood pours into mother earth
Feeding the cottonwoods of tomorrow
And just like a newborn’s first breath
So new is my desire to write
To share with the world my spirit
My past drifts into the ‘cequias of time
My childhood bonds with the four winds
And blows through the leaves
Of San Gabriel and Tingley, Barelas y Atrisco
And my innocence leaps
La Plaza Vieja where the luminarias of my future
Light up the night
And when my casket calls out my name
I cry out No!
I will not die
I will never die
Today I am alive
Today I write
Testament to the rise
The rise of the Mestizo.
The chicanismo of yesterday
Y el sueno de manana.
Viva la Vida.
If life is but a dream
And death the reality
Then let me dream.
(photo credit: Diahndra Grill)