As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Antonia Alvarez—Poetry

Do dat do dat

I’m told I have one of those voices

Like the kind of voice that can seem a little too

loud/strong/much.

When I’m speaking my truths—

passionate/profane/unapologetic–

(and it’s only worse when I’m sharing the truths of Others).

But I’m also told you need my voice – you want my voice – my voice matters.

My voice speaks for generations of voices.

My ancestors ride on the “and”s and “but”s—

My histories weave through “we’s” and “us”.

There’s a little ooooh-ahh-oo-oo-ah

And some do-dat-do-dat, do-dat-do-dat

And a BOOM, uh uh, BOOM, uh uh—

chhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Yes, this voice can wail! This voice can rock.

I sing of pancit and chupetas,

of QTPOCS and mokes–

Trans*gressions, response-abilities, suicide, hope.

So when I write it’s all curves and hips

It’s all edges and bumps—

And when I talk it’s all licks and riffs

It’s all gonna show up.

And when you say “code switch”

I think you’re moving from a PC to a Mac.

You must be talking some techno-jargon of dots and lines—

You can’t be talking about this voice of mine.

You can’t be suggesting un-queering, un-browning, un-doing

My stories—

Speaking to my “audience”

The academy

The men—

Removing the grit

The years

The relationships—

Hiding/reframing/minimizing

My body

My fears

What I know in my gut—

Y’all can’t think that “translation” doesn’t come with a cost—

Can you?

Code switching hurts, yo.

Cutting out my tongue and asking it to return to me when you decide my voice is needed—

Again.

 

And what will you miss?

 

The voices in this soundscape

Echo from the borderlands—

They are healing

They are strong.

These voices bring my people to their feet

Fists raised

Tears in their eyes

Hearts porous,

ready.

 

Which reminds me—

I’ve got a movement to get back to

Stories to tell

Songs to sing

A revolution to dance.

 

It might not be in your language, but

You’re coming, right?


Antonia R.G. Alvarez, LMSW, is a queer feminist Mestiza Pinay scholar in the doctoral program at the University of Denver. Antonia is committed to liberatory research and community-based practice with LGBTQIA/Two-Spirit/Mahu communities of color. Using arts and culture-based interventions, her work emphasizes healing and protecting from suicidality.

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Issue 3February 14th, 2014
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