exotic incantations

my accent carries familiarity and intrusion,
tinged with the folklore of aztec ruins
the conquista failed to bury with the relics
your imperialist nature insists you authenticate.
your mask of curiosity and fascination
hides the suppressed desire
to conquer realities blazing with possibility
and to discover the cultural gems we have preserved
by means of fidelity: the devotion to our pasts, our futures,
and our people. the uncovering of the jewels
we fought so hard to defend ignites
your self-led excursion to a realm we call home.
the frantic itch to find the remains of our past
embedded in our modernity troubles you–
to leave without newfound jewels from your
excavation suggests that our culture is lost and
unknown to us, when in fact, it is only
lost and unknown to you.

when i think of you

my mother’s stories trace the edges
of your modest mountains and
knead the bumps of your dry, flat lands.

my mother sighs. cuando era niña,
preparabamos la masa para las tortillas
desde las cinco de la mañana.
these mornings
crept behind my grandfather,
who wore straw hats and plaid button-up shirts with
a shiny, silver belt buckle that reflected
the stars. my mother recalls
when he bought her those
zapatos de cuero. the ugliest shoes she’s
ever had, she says.

méxico. where my mother laughed for the first time
like the way fire crackles beneath el comal. méxico,
where her mother sung lullabies in the darkness
and waited for mi abuelo to come home. méxico,
where drunk men cry together at parties because
los borrachos siempre dicen lo que sienten.
méxico, where women like Layda Sansores
don’t give a fuck and boldly stand before oppressors,
sin miedo.

méxico, this happens when i think of you.

spanish interpretations:
cuando era niña, preparabamos la masa para las tortillas desde las cinco de la mañana: when i was a young girl, we would prepare the dough for the tortillas since 5 o’clock in the morning.
zapatos de cuero: leather shoes
el comal: cast iron comal
mi abuelo: my grandfather
los borrachos siempre dicen lo que sienten: drunks always say what they feel.
sin miedo: without fear.

un cuentecito / a little story

mi papá me llamó–las lágrimas de su niñez corriendo por las
arrugas de su carota de seis años. un niño
con los cachetes inflados porque tuvo miedo
subirse al avión y volar por los cielos vacíos.

se entierra bajo las montañas de california,
bajo la luna oscura de sus sueños. cuando llora solo,
oigo sus gritos y la tierra tiembla bajo mis pies. me recuerda
que soy una hija de las montañas y no de los cielos–
no fui creada pa’ volar.

te quiero papi, te quiero
más en retrato que en foto.


*english interpretation*

my dad called me–his childhood tears slipping through the wrinkles
on his chubby six-year-old face. a child with
swollen cheeks who is afraid of getting on an airplane
and flying through the empty skies.

he buries himself under California mountains,
under the obscured moon of his dreams. when he cries alone,
i hear his screams and the earth trembles beneath my feet. he reminds me
that i am a daughter of the mountains and not the skies–
i was not made for flying.

i love you daddy, i love you
more in a portrait than in a picture.