I’m tired of writing memorials to black men
whom I was on the brink of knowing
weary like fig trees
weighted like a crepe myrtle
with all the black substance poured into earth
before earth is ready to bear.
I am tired of holy deaths
of the ulcerous illuminations the cerebral accidents
the psychology of the oppressed
where mental health is the ability
knowledge of the world’s cruelty. ”
Audre Lorde, “Eulogy for Alvin Frost” The Black Unicorn (via eljotitodeperris)79
I’m an ugly woman, weedlike,
elbowing my way through the perfect
grass. The best of what I am
is in the gravel behind the train yard
where obsidian chips lodge
in the rocks like beetles.
I burrow and glow.
—from “Beetles” by Lorna Dee Cervantes
the only lesson I’ve learned
is that the leaves of the apple
are finally turning. Everything
has let go. There are days now
that go by without a sound.
I could be anyone.
Once I was a person
who loved you.
—from “Cafe Solo” by Lorna Dee Cervantes
On a night of the full moon
Out of my flesh that hungers
and my mouth that knows
comes the shape I am seeking
The curve of your body
fits my waiting hand
your flesh warm as sunlight
your lips quick as young birds
between your thighs the sweet
sharp taste of limes.
Thus I hold you
frank in my heart’s eye
in my skin’s knowing
as my fingers conceive your flesh
I feel your stomach
curving against me.
Before the moon wanes again
we shall come together.II
And I would be the moon
spoken over your beckoning flesh
breaking against reservations
my hands at your high tide
over and under inside you
and the passing of hungers
the moon speaks
judging your roundness
Audre Lorde - The Collected Poems, 1997
(in memory of José Antonio Burciaga, 1947-1996)
We are chameleons. We become chameleon.
—José Antonio Burciaga
We are space between—
the black-orange blur
of a million Monarchs
on their two-generation migration
south to fir-crowned Michoacán
where tree trunks will sprout feathers,
a forest of paper-thin wings.
Our Mexica cocooned
in the membranes de la Madre Tierra
say we are born zacuanpapalotls,
mariposas negras y anaranjadas
in whose sweep the dead whisper.
We are between—
the flicker of a chameleon’s tail
that turns his desert-blue backbone
to jade or pink sand,
the snake-skinned fraternal twins
of solstice and equinox.
The ashen dawn, silvering dusk,
la oración as it leaves the lips,
the tug from sleep,
the glide into dreams
that husk out mestizo memory.
one life passing through the prism
of all others, gathering color and song,
cempazuchil and drum
to leave a rhythm scattered on the wind,
dust tinting the tips of fingers
as we slip into our new light.
A Chicano Poem by Lorna Dee Cervantes
They tried to take our words,
Steal away our hearts under
Their imaginary shawls, their laws,
Their libros, their “Libranos señor”s.
No more. They tried to take
Away our Spirit in the rock, the Mountain,
The Living Waters. They tried to steal
Our languages, our grandmothers’ pacts,
Our magma cartas for their own serfs.
They razed the land and raised a Constitution,
Declared others 3/5ths a human being,
Snapped shackles, cut off a foot,
Raped our grandmothers into near mute
Oblivion. They burned the sacred codices
And the molten goddesses rose anew
In their flames. They tried to silence a
Nation, tried to send The People back
To the Four Corners of the world. They drew
A line in the sand and dared us to cross it,
Tried to peel off our skins, Xipe Totec
Screaming through our indigenous consciousness.
They tried to brand “America” into our unread
Flesh, the skull and crossbones flying at
Half-mast. They tried to put their eggs in
Our baskets, tried to weave the Native
Out of us with their drink and drugs, tried to
Switch their mammy-raised offspring, beaded and
Unshaven, as the colorless pea under our mattresses
In a cultural bait and switch, hook and bait.
They tried to take our words,
Give us the Spanish translation for
“Pain,” serve us the host of fallow fields on a
China plate, stripped us of the germ and seed,
Fed us in a steady diet of disease and famine.
Where is the word for tomorrow to the dead?
When is our kingdom come? They claim our
Reclamations; our reparations, a thing of our
Imaginations. I discover this truth
To be self-evident: In the beginning
We were here.
I declare us here today
Lorna Dee Cervantes
(to be read aloud at The Alamo for Librotraficante and against HB 2281,