I Believe in Living

 

i believe in living.
i believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.
i believe in sunshine.
In windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs;
And i believe that seeds grow into sprouts.
And sprouts grow into trees.
i believe in the magic of the hands.
And in the wisdom of the eyes.
i believe in rain and tears.
And in the blood of infinity.

i believe in life.
And i have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the earth,
sculpting mud bodies in its path
i have seen the destruction of the daylight
and seen bloodthirsty maggots
prayed to and saluted

i have seen the kind become the blind
and the blind become the bind
in one easy lesson.
i have walked on cut grass.
i have eaten crow and blunder bread
and breathed the stench of indifference

i have been locked by the lawless.
Handcuffed by the haters.
Gagged by the greedy.
And, if i know anything at all,
it’s that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.
It can be broken down.

i believe in living
i believe in birth.
i believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.

And i believe that a lost ship,
steered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided home to port.

By Assata Shakur

Dyke

You can call me Alex or Alexandra

The first time I said I liked girls my voice broke
Everyone turned to me as if I had cursed at the dinner table
My mother told me to go take a shower and think about it 
But mom, you can’t wash off who you are
And yes, I have been thinking about it
A lot

In a small town news spreads like wildfire
I was the walking disappointment in the middle of town square
I had been reduced to it till I was purged of this evil that threatened to claim my soul
No one would sit next to me in class
And everyday after the assembly I was taken aside and told I would burn
Hell had no mercy for those like me 
But people, you don’t tell a sixteen year old child that she is possessed by the devil

And the other day when I went to get my hair cut
They loped it all off
And they said there you like to fuck girls now you can be a man
But a bad haircut doesn’t make me a man 
And all the abuses you can throw at me won’t change who I am
And I stood there with their glares digging daggers into the back of my head
The old man cursed dyke, and the parents covered their childrens eyes
As if I had a disease they would catch if they looked for too long

And they threw a burning stick in my front yard and said burn you deserve to burn
So i did
I burnt
I burnt myself piece by piece till there was nothing left but ashes
But remember you can burn down one Alex, one dyke, one unholy sin but 
There will rise another and another and another 
Till this world will have to change and then 
There will be a dyke at every street corner and 
I will look you in the eye and say how many will you burn?

LIAR!!!

LIAR!!!

You call yourself an activist

Fighting for injustices

You say you’re in touch with your feminist side

YET………

Behind closed doors you’re a lying, cheating, whore

You cruelly lie and pretend

You play games

You claim to be a hard core Xicano

Fighting for OUR cause

How is it then….you can bring a fellow comrade down

You deceive and lie about yourself

Pretending to be into me

Only to let me down

Lied about having a girl friend

Lied about being available

Lied about your calls and texts

You made me promises you didn’t keep

Then excused yourself behind a woman

You are fraud

You are a jerk

Disappointing in so many ways

You have fooled not only me

But many more too

Narratives of Silence

I fail to fear the consequences of exclusion, for those who cannot
deal with the fact that I spit truth and fire with my tongue, were
never meant to be a part of my life

In the battlefield of narratives we can make a conscious effort to
tell truth from our perspective or alter it in our private interest.
The narrative is always in relation to the past and it continuously
reaffirms our identity no matter how tarnished it is. Meaning that in
order to survive, find strength, or safety, we modify the reality of
our past to fit our present needs. However, in modifying our narrative
we oppress and silence those who lived the same experience, never
getting to express their truth–reality as they lived it.

Therefore let us not prioritize the importance of individual memory
but that of a collective memory, preserving the voice of those who’ve
been forced into silence by those who fail to include and/or to listen
to their narratives. Narratives filled not simply by the conjunction
of words, but composed by lived experiences.  And in the face of truth
and justice, if we rely on a single story we become more likely to
rely on those who alter narratives in their private interest to
reflect their present needs because their past in relation to truth
and reality at some point became unbearable enough in the necessity to
lie–a careful and intentional alteration to distort truth for their
own benefit.

The past holds an intangible sense of space that continuously
reaffirms our present identity, but always in relation to others;
therefore creating spaces that are nevertheless highly affective.
Spaces that are shaped by feelings in conjunction to those who once
shared and lived an experience with us, part of a collective truth,
but now choosing to exclude collectivity and asserting power by
imposing silence.

In choosing to silence those who at some point shared a sense of space
in collective truth we transform the past from an intangible space to
one of a reality. The detriment in the pervasive power to exclude
narratives is one that relates to historical erasure based on a
hegemonic stance to maintain power by unmistakably avoiding discussing
truth in a collective manner. And those who are willing to inscribe
into a false consciousness and internalize what they hear as truth
without ever questioning its factuality become manipulated into a
false past and actively participate in the exclusionary visions of
truth for the sake of support, but rendering into false assumptions.
Such narratives might be met with support or resistance. And
resistance usually comes from those who have been silenced and framed
as antagonistic, while support will more than likely come from those
who assume an imaginary neutral position and fail to actively seek a
desire for collective truth.

In the act of unquestionably accepting someone else’s story we are
actively participating in the silencing of someone else’s lived
experience that becomes othered. And if we agree that silencing the
other is an act of violence, the act of failing to listen to a
collective truth is an act of violence itself. There is no neutrality
in the battlefield of narratives, just like there is no neutrality in
the battlefield of social justice–either we chose to oppress or fight
against it. Now ask yourself the following question, how do you
actively participate and perpetuate the cycle of silence?

Re-imagining the Home through Conscious ways of Healing

Like Anzaldua I have attempted carrying home on my back but sometimes carrying home includes carrying a lot more, to the point that it becomes overbearing. I have been divulging in the words of Eden E. Torres the Chicana academic who brought us Chicana Without Apology; however, her words struck me when she began talking about the difficulty in maintaining mental health. And I wondered, what happens when home becomes a threat to your mental health?

I’d like to start with a quote by Friedrich Nietzche—“the most spiritual human beings, assuming they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies; but it is precisely for this reason that they honor life, because it brings against them its most formidable weapons” And what does that mean to a queer Chicana who has struggled with mental health issues from a young age?

Let me take you back. I suffer from a history of mental health issues and I have to protect myself in a way that I am able to maintain my wellbeing not only for myself, but for those who share a home with me too. It is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable first to stop ourselves from perpetuating trauma within our home through conscious acts of healing. That we must learn to heal to make good use of our pain and our coraje in order to continue fostering loving relationships within the home and for our community.

It is difficult to live within a home where situations or persons continuously harms us through their actions—actions that create a hostile and dehumanizing environment within our home. A part of healing includes being able to set boundaries for our own protection—away from pain. Unfortunately, we have become accepting of pain enough to live with it and re-create it even within our own home. A part of healing and allowing others to heal is a part of setting boundaries to protect ourselves even from the ones we love and the ones that say they love us but do not show it through their actions.

Like Eden Torres states, it is crucial to protect ourselves against overwhelming pain. We would rather become numb to pain—separating us from that experience that brings us so much trauma.

Through these years of pain and suffering I have found music and art to be healing. But I have noticed that I have been coping in ways that numb that pain within me, ways I would prefer not to engage in but because I more than often find myself unable to reach out I’d rather maintain that grief within me. But like Eden states, grief held within is a wound that will not heal and more so now that a normal mourning process has been interrupted by the ordinary need to survive.  And thus I push my grieving behind, thus I push my mental health to the side because I would rather not talk about these issues. Thus I now come out with my story to reach out to other women of color who also struggle with maintaining mental health while striving to construct loving homes and maintain family.

As a graduate student of color in a white-dominant university, I have to maintain my mental health to make sure I wake up everyday to put on my warrior mascara, a mascara that yells CHINGONA as I walk through those halls knowing that people assume I do not belong there. That mascara along with my warrior botas give me strength. Although there are days I would rather not show up to lecture and instead I would rather rage, yell, and scream, which is in itself a form of healing, but I also need to make sure I show-up to work in order to pay my way through graduate school. I do not want to go back to being the person I used to be before a series of years of intense therapy and counseling. I do not want to go back to being that depressed and suicidal person that believes running away from her problems is an easier route.

So I ask you all to be mindful of your mental well-being as well as of others. To those who have attempted to foster a loving home for me, I am not running away from you or our familia, but I need to define those boundaries for my own well being, for my mental health, and simply so I can continue striving rather than just surviving.

Know that I am not pushing anyone away. If anything I hope this serves as a lesson that pushing away the people you love will not create any meaningful change, but if that is your only option then by all means do what is best for your situation. However, I would like to point out that it is not fair to push people that we once loved away from our corazon. That if we are to create family and community we need to accept that people are within their own journeys. That we are not here to judge (which is different from holding someone accountable) but embrace one another for our fortaleza acknowledging that living and waking up everyday is strength passed down from our ancestors. And that the legacies within us, the histories we have endured are not meant to harm one another.

Let us celebrate our existence; look at the strength it has taken us to survive this history and our current situation(s). Look at the strength it has taken people struggling with mental health to continue being here, living. If anything our ancestors embraced both life and death, but we more than often forget to embrace being alive and we would rather continue living as dead, but let us not forget about one another, let us not work against one another. Let us begin to embrace one another through conscious ways of healing. And as Anzaldua states, may we continue dancing in the face of our fears.

I Swore My Heart Away When I Was 14

I Swore My Heart Away When I Was 14.
I remember lying in bed rogandole a la virgencita to please keep my dad safe from harm
hoping for a call I knew I wasn’t gonna get.
Praying I wouldn’t get a phone call that he’s been found dead by some dumpster.
I remember a night in particular when I got tired of praying for him
So I prayed for me.

Le pedi que me isiera no quererlo mas
Que lo sacara de mi corazon

I cried big heavy tears that soaked my pillow and mixed with bugers and saliva.
I woke up the next morning disappointed because I still missed him, con coraje, like every other day but missed him still.
Eventually I didn’t think about him so much and I forgot about my prayers I didn’t cry at night and I could sleep in complete darkness
I had long forgotten my pleas and gone on with my life

Three boyfriends and many sexual encounters later I remembered my prayer.
The one where I begged Mi Morenita to take my heart out and lose it in the cosmos
I realized Im 20 years old and have had 11 men walk in and out of my life, use and dispose of my body. Told them I loved them and hated them all in the same breathe.

I didn’t care to notice when they left or how three boyfriends and eight sexual partners who I’ve never even been with long enough to know their last name had gone through me.

My first boyfriend took my virginty because I guess my eyes said it was up for grabs the moment I let him lay on my bed. We dated two weeks, had sex for about 10 minutes, said see you around and I never cared to see him again

I regretted losing my virginity to him

So I told my second boyfriend he was my first. He was older… Way older. Like ‘ready to settle down and have kids’ ready. He saw me as the type to wife up and use my child bearing hips to carry his off spring. I couldn’t stomach the idea of having his kid and having to keep a piece a piece of him forever. So I didn’t. I ran away as fast as I could from that situation by blaming everything wrong with me on him. Made myself unbearable because it was easier for someone to leave me than it was for me to walk away. Even when I can’t love I can’t leave, the guilt of not being able to give back holds me.

My third boyfriend was accidental. We weren’t meant for each other but when it’s so cold out and someone shows you warmth with their own body, one tends to think thats a special trick no one else can do. To have someone want you for sexual favors makes you feel of use or somewhat important to someone and that can sometimes even make you feel special. It had been a long time since I could make a man happy with just a kiss.

I don’t remember how this ended I just know that it stopped.

After him I didn’t want anymore boyfriends. I wanted to keep thinking i was of use. I wanted to feel wanted. But I didn’t want to love. The trick is to always keep your eyes shut.

I thank my dad for teaching me body parts are just as disposable as whole bodies. He removed his daughter to find happiness while I simply removed my heart.

Leave Love Left Where Love Died

Because I thought I could change you with ‘the right kind of love’, I took whatever you gave me.

Because drunk meetings in dark closets and rooms were romantic enough to let you take off all my clothes.

Because I thought that you holding my hair back while I gave you head meant you cared.

Because after spending an entire day right beside you, secret eye signals kept me content.

Because I thought that when you told me stories about your mom and dad, you gave me keys.

Because when you really did give me keys to parts of you, you didn’t want to deal with holding mine.

Because I still reply to your late night text at two in the morning and ask what’s up, even though I already know.

Because I always hope that we’ll have another drunken night like when we laid there and talked about leaving.

Because you can easily say lets stop doing this and ignore me but I can never let go so I patiently wait.

Because I know you’ll call two weeks later using some cheesy pick up line that I’ll call stupid but will still swoon over.

Because ill save your text messages as proof that I’m not crazy and you really do hit on me.

Because when someone caught us you threw me under the bus.

Because I expected better from you.

Because you still think that after three years of being secret nothings, we can still be friends.

Because you really thought that during those three years we were actually friends.

You were never my friend.

Because Love don’t hate.

Because I’m walking away and leaving whatever you wanna call this where it should’ve died years ago.

Because last time I said bye I really meant it.

Stop drunk dialing me, stop texting me, stop pretending we’re still cool,
Leave love left where love died.

La lucha, they say, is no place for love letters

It´s finally sunset on top of the mountain but the shades of red are simply the sky’s reflection of the anger in your words: “I don’t understand how your mind works. I don’t like how your mind works” you said. Between shades of silent frustration, I hear again and again the echo of those words, as I  struggle to ground myself in the poems and tales of those who were abused by their compañeros within the movement. La lucha, they say, is no place for love letters.

 

“I don’t like how your mind works. I don’t like how your mind works”. I try not to silence my memory and reuse my dry seeds to replant ideas of healthy relationships between comrades. I gather my tears and save them for communal sorrows as I repeat a survivor’s mantra: My mind is powerful, my mind is beautiful. Your mind, mujer, is powerful; it´s beautiful.

 

That mind , tan  hermosa, tan coqueta, that seeks  foreplay, excitement and climax in ideas of liberation.

 

That mind where thoughts of conspiracy are being nurtured with the most intense political sense of rebellious motherhood.

 

That mind, that subversive mind, that is never competent with half answers and incomplete sentences. That mind that screams with rage at historical inaccuracies and euphemisms that hide genocide.

 

That mind that can trace the origin of myths and dogmatic perceptions that keep our collective consciousness hidden between pulpits that preach fear.

 

That mind that challenges orders.   

 

That mind that questions power.

 

That mind where gardens of decolonization are watered by  banned books and guerrilla lover letters.

 

That mind where poems are born.

 

That mind where songs are sung.

 

That mind, the engine of this mouth, that chants for freedom.

 

That mind, compañero, that mind that you claim in anger to not understand is where our everyday revolution is consolidated in love.

That  mind that today firmly replies, in my mother tongue, adiós.

Let the revolution continue…

And on that day without plans

We all had agreed that a revolution was the goal

Angela said that a revolution lies in the principles and the goals that you’re striving for, not in the way you reach them. And Malcom agreed with her—by all means the revolution would take place with or without us. But Marcos had the last words, stating that we would always be able to question the means but never the revolution itself. That is when the words of Marx resonated in our heads. I remember him telling us that a revolution cannot be judged by its consciousness, but by its contradictions.

                           

It all made sense now.

 

So when did the revolution contradict itself?

We got too caught up on the revolution’s definitive statement

We forgot we were the catalysts

We forgot we were the tools

 

We didn’t want nothing short of a revolution

But we stopped growing

As soon as we stopped caring

We lost balance

And we stopped healing

We forgot about the process

Unwilling to seek truth  

We chose to not deal with our pain

…no more

And with that we lost sight of the revolution

 

We perpetuated the antithesis that has now become part of our process

To unlearn the tools of the oppressor 

Realizing we were hurting ourselves all along

 

All we have left now is to hold one another accountable

Acknowledge how we perpetuate and contradict ourselves

Admit that the revolution contradicted itself

As soon as we began contradicting ourselves

 

Altogether we lost sight of the revolution because

We forgot about us

We forgot about we

We forgot about you and me

 

It makes sense now

The revolution contradicted itself

As soon as we thought a revolution only took place on the outside

All this time we forgot about the revolution within us

 

Let the revolution continue

Lets remember about us

Lets talk about we

And lets us take care of you and me

Audrey told me that’s a part of self-preservation

 

Lets help one another move beyond survival

To heal

And relearn to love

To be brave

And to see beauty in our existence

 

 

Let the revolution continue

At least within us

Between you and me

With us

together we heal 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting Love In

I caught glimpses of her through sugar cracks in ripe yellow walls.

Her presence makes me want to paint mixed-media murals, on her skin, with found objects.

She said we came from the same cloud.

I’d say the same thing, if I hadn’t already known my semilla sprouted in soil.

She comes with fire & water from the west. Like desert monsoons, she digs rivers out of dry beds and electrifies the night sky.

Our elements intersect like our identities, to teach us lessons we have yet to learn.

Life Lessons, Love Lessons.

like

what it means to love ourselves first.

and

how to love people who look like us.

or

what it feels like when we let love take up the space that fear usually owns.

 

I hope that love squats in these spaces long enough to turn them into homes.

Homes with walls built from earth to protect the love that lives inside, not keep it out.

Where deep roots grow in backyard gardens of kitchens, where abuelitas feed five generations from one olla.

 

When she sings I can hear voices of ancestors we’ve never met.

They make music together with chords that were never played and keys that were never sung.

The spiritual needs no rehearsal. Synchronicity is greater than science.

We see shadows from the smoke of burning medicine under the moonlight, as we dream, dance, laugh, and love.

Mujer, I call you magic and I mean it.