La Migra

by José Antonio Rodriguez

 

The grownups sat on their long chair called couch

And talked of the weather, the dew of the blossoms’ morning,

And what might happen to us, the children.

Mom said don’t leave the house, not without

Papers. Do I dare speak of the papers hoarded

In corners? How many more poems can you write

About a face spackled with fear before

It holds you? The reader aiming, too.

Let us find a charcoaled corner, you and I,

Where we will lay these words. Leave children

To sleep in windowless rooms. The mother

biting a prayer. The country weaving a tomb.

Poems to Keep: Poem For The Young White Man Who Asked Me How I, An Intelligent, Well-Read Person Could Believe In The War Between Races

(by Lorna Dee Cervantes) 

In my land there are no distinctions.
The barbed wire politics of oppression
have been torn down long ago. The only reminder
of past battles, lost or won, is a slight
rutting in the fertile fields.

In my land
people write poems about love,
full of nothing but contented childlike syllables.
Everyone reads Russian short stories and weeps.
There are no boundaries.
There is no hunger, no
complicated famine or greed.

I am not a revolutionary.
I don’t even like political poems.
Do you think I can believe in a war between races?
I can deny it. I can forget about it
when I’m safe,
living on my own continent of harmony
and home, but I am not
there.

I believe in revolution
because everywhere the crosses are burning,
sharp-shooting goose-steppers round every corner,
there are snipers in the schools…
(I know you don’t believe this.
You think this is nothing
but faddish exaggeration. But they
are not shooting at you.)

I’m marked by the color of my skin.
The bullets are discrete and designed to kill slowly.
They are aiming at my children.
These are facts.
Let me show you my wounds: my stumbling mind, my
“excuse me” tongue, and this
nagging preoccupation
with the feeling of not being good enough.

These bullets bury deeper than logic.
Racism is not intellectual.
I can not reason these scars away.

Outside my door
there is a real enemy
who hates me.

I am a poet
who yearns to dance on rooftops,
to whisper delicate lines about joy
and the blessings of human understanding.
I try. I go to my land, my tower of words and
bolt the door, but the typewriter doesn’t fade out
the sounds of blasting and muffled outrage.
My own days bring me slaps on the face.
Every day I am deluged with reminders
that this is not
my land

and this is my land.

I do not believe in the war between races

but in this country
there is war.

Poems to Keep: A Poem for Jesse Romero

by Yesika Salgado 

When they found you Jesse, I understood why you ran

who hasn’t been afraid of the cops these days?

who hasn’t panicked at the sight of their guns drawn on sight?

what brown and black boys haven’t been called weapon before being called boy?

how many mothers faces haven’t we met on the 11 o’clock news, tear streaked and tired?

 

my cousin and I drove down highland park the other day

the police had two brown boys against a fence

I said your name like a prayer, Jesse

you, the new patron saint of who we want to come home

 

I have loved so many boys like you before

beautiful brown boys with names they trusted their city to hold

their aerosol cans rattling in their pockets or backpacks

they all just wanted to live forever. I know you did too.

 

your Mami says you were a good boy

and I believe her

the city does too, Jesse

we’ve been saying your name

we’ve been asking for justice

we’ve been holding all the fourteen year old boys closer

kissing them good morning and goodnight

hoping

your face

lives somewhere amongst them now

 

I have a nephew your age

his name is Andrew

the last time I was over,

I listened as he talked about a recent trip

he hugged his mother as she walked by the couch

he let his little sister lean on his lap

 

I wanted to cry the whole time

 

Jesse,

is there a word for the grief

you feel

when all the bodies

being murdered

look like the people

you love most?

 

I don’t know the things I used to know anymore

 

all I can offer

is this poem

this votive candle

with your name

 

I’ve been told your mother is still waiting for your body

that the money isn’t enough

that she never planned to bury her son

 

and my heartbreaks all over again

 

what is the word for loving someone past

tired and murdered and angry and injustice

and helpless and tired again

so tired again

 

Jesse,

you must be that word

 

sweet boy,

you are.

 

 

 

 

Appreciation: Tuscany

I met Tuscany in June 2014, at our freshman year orientation. We were in the same O’Group.

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So, lemme tell you- it’s not an exaggeration to say that Tuscany said whatever came to his mind. He also introduced himself as Tickles that summer and the subsequent first semester. He wore a Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends T-Shirt, and it seemed completely in place.

The Tickles thing, the outbursts of whatever was in his head- sure, that made some people shy away from Tuscany, and I could understand why. However, I was ecstatic to be meeting so many new people during orientation, and Tuscany and I even sat together when Charles Swanson spoke to us in Mayer Theater (you ever notice how everything seems so large before you get to know it? Mayer seems so tiny now, as does campus).

Tuscany was very enthusiastic and energetic and so so ready for college it seemed like.

Anyway, I don’t know if Tuscany is usually someone I would have been friends with, but I was just excited for college as he was and so it was a good match in that way. Energy was high.

At the second orientation, which took place the weekend before school actually began, my mom flew down with me. There was an In-N-Out picnic thing on Sunken Gardens which we went to and she got to meet Tuscany then. Still, very very energetic. He actually even cursed in front of my mom, and surprise, she found it funny. Normally, that wouldn’t be the case. But she liked Tuscany immediately, and that honestly says a lot about him.

Throughout the semester, Tuscany was easily identifiable by the things he said, and his continuation of introducing himself as Tickles. And throughout the year, I realized more how much I found Tuscany endearing and appreciated him.

The main basis of why I appreciate Tuscany so much is how at orientation, he didn’t pretend to be anybody else. He was Tuscany, through and through. And that’s who he remained.

As college students, we’re all going through some rough times, and Tuscany is no exception. His personality has changed somewhat as a result of difficulties, and I know he misses who he thinks he used to be. But what’s been constant is how loving Tuscany is. He truly gives his whole heart into what he does and the people he surrounds himself with. So open and so caring.

I spent one of my final nights in Los Angeles with Tuscany, and we picked up food from Lucy’s in Midtown, drove to Boyle Heights, and sat on the roof of my car and ate as we looked out at the city. On top of the roof, Tuscany proved to me that he really is an amazing friend (which I already knew, but this drove it home). He gave me a side hug and said that he thought we’re the kind of friends who’ll be friends for the rest of our lives, even if we went months without speaking, and that we’d always pick up where we left off. That was something that I really needed to hear from someone, and it definitely made me cry. But made me even more appreciative that I’ve got Tuscany in my life.

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Much Love bb, now and forever,

APP.