Anthem

We, of the overbearing bosses,
the sovereign bosses
hovering over our desks,
we, just looking to advance our careers,
or seeking guidance, a leg up,
we, the young, the naïve, the beautiful, we, who
misconstrue a dinner or drink invitation
as part of the job, we, good workers,
wanting only to please—
confuse our hope for a genuine bond, or even love,
with a sinful kiss,
a cool hookup,
since aren’t these the precursors of love?

For years, we bury the shame,
we bury our tongues, we
bury our pride, our pain—
until we dredge up memories
from deep in a dark place—
a yeasty smell,
a stained skirt—
we unearth all those hatchets
and clang them together
in cacophonous clatter.

 

Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and blogger. Her poems have appeared in Aurorean, Arlington Literary Journal, Eyedrum Periodically, The Fourth River, Fulcrum, Blue Fifth Review, Cardiff, Common Ground Review, Cactus Heart Press, Gyroscope Review, Ibbetson Street Press, Tree, Silkworm, Solstice Literary Magazine, Submittable, Switched-on Gutenberg, Triggerfish, Varnish, and Weatherbeaten Literature, among others. Her poem, “Wormageddon,” appears as a model poem in The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics, edited by Diane Lockward. Her poem Gum Surgery was anthologized in City of Notions, A Boston Poetry Anthology. She has published two full books of poetry: Intimacy with the Wind (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and Mother, One More Thing (Turning Point, 2014).  Her CB99videos YouTube channel has 2,000,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com, or find her on Twitter or Instagram @cb99videos.

A diaspora gives birth

Like a whisper caressing the back of our necks/ kissing a line connecting sporadic wisps of hair / that’s how we feel it / a promise of a home we ever got to claim / made from bricks the color of earth / as deep and rich and brown as our skin.

We let our hands dive down our curves in waves / mirroring that beaches full of untouched sand / when la luna tickles the bottom of our feet / with her pointed edges on a half-full night / that’s how we feel it.

Swaggering across red white and blue streets / spitting words made from hard sounds / our lives depend on sounding as white / as the stars on the star-spangled banner / ‘cause the home we dream about like as a whisper / isn’t real anymore for our elders / and sure as hell never was for us.

We try to feel the hearts of our gods / who talked to us before another god interrupted / but their hearts don’t beat beat beat for la luna.

In that moonlight the tears of our great-grandmother’s great-grandmother / who can’t taste Tenochtitlan on her lips the way her great-grandmother tastes it / make a space in our young throats like mercury.

It burns us without mercy and we don’t mind / not remembering is half the pain in our lives / and remembering is the rest of it.

We tighten our fists against theirs / ‘til they turn white and white hot / still not lacking enough color to make them believe / that we are part of them like they are part of us.

Defending ourselves against conquistadors is written in our nerves screaming bleeding pain.

 

Alex Luceli Jiménez is a Chicanx writer from the little windy SoCal city of Fontana. Currently, she is a sophomore studying comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Although she moonlights as a poet-novelist, she spends her days as an editor at Berkeley Fiction Review and The Daily Californian, both of which have also published her original fiction and poetry. This is her first poetry publication in a literary journal. You can find her journalistic endeavors at dailycal.org/author/ajimenez and tweet her @alexluceli.