Ransom Notes | Day 1 April Poetry Month Chapbook

Identity

Who among us is a beast
that never dies?
Who among us is a lover
that never cries?
Who among us is a dreamer
that always lies?
I am your wound
I am your eyes
I am your bed

(I am your shadow
that runs across
the ground
and no obstacle, no rock
no chasm, no mountains
can keep me from being at your feet)

{1 April 2019]

2

To the One Percent

You cannot wash
away your wars
You cannot bury
your crimes
You will never finish
mourning your losses
We will make furrows
over every inch
of the earth
our hands roots that reach
into the tomb of everyone,
called the land
So that everyone we love
every neighbor
every co-worker
every migrant man, woman, child
who is missing
turns the sun inside out into our shadow
The light’s flayed skin wrapped around
the shoulders of the wind
To comfort us from you.
You cannot murder
the sun
You cannot swallow
the earth
You cannot overthrow
the clouds
You cannot.
Our song thunders
in our sleep
Our sleep is an armed movement
Our sleep is serial justice
You die in our sleep
and we wake up to our dream…

[April 1, 2016]

3

Six Sky Resurrection [ancient ransom note]

On the day

8 Ben 16 Kayab

Six Sky of Río Azul

was buried.

Most likely during the year 450

Then in the late 20th Century

Looters took

the vessel

from her grave

Now Six Sky sits under a glass display

(anxiously awaiting liberation)

at the Detroit Institute of the Arts.

The looters kept no record,

but the people will always remember

In December 1985

140 small pieces of

gold

jade

obsidian

and

turquoise

were taken from

the National Museum of Anthropology

in Mexico City | Tenochtitlán

the thieves

sent

a message:

these priceless precious stones

are being held for ransom

Now, the Maya Zapatistas are paying the ransom

freeing Indigenous past and present

from the neo-liberal kidnappers, the grave-baron-land-robbers,

the military industrial complex of generals, soldiers, paramilitaries,

police, battalions, secret police, political parties, non-profits, politicians

and toastmasters of capital.

Six Sky

has been

resurrected,

scattered

between Detroit and Tenochtitlán

Seattle, Oakland, Matamoros,

Chicago, Toledo, New York

Organized into a community army

armed with the colors of the earth

their weapons are our ancestors

who have secretly taken over the underworld

putting ski-masks on the sun and moon

Gestating flesh and blood onto the skeletons of our dreamers

In the butterfly of our women

flutter two banners, two flags, their lips chanting

we shall dream

we shall win

we shall birth

we shall love

we shall shatter

we shall clench our hearts

we shall cry in community

we shall sing off the face of the enemy

we shall batter the helmeted soldier,

laugh at his bayonet

we shall stop the bullets, the bombs, the fires

And the new people

that Six Sky dreamt

in her deep sleep

in the year 450

emerge, rise, fly, speak with an earthen tongue

when we will swallow the sky

to become pregnant with clouds, rain, butterflies, milpas, babies,

chidlren-ancestors, who slept in our arms

and made thunder rise

from the maize, the frijol, the women, the men,

the elders, the still-born, the invaders, the raptors,

who remembered then:

Six Sky was resurrected in the sixth sun….

[1984-2012, unfinished words of mariposas | c.s]

April 1, 2013

4

To be human

If I was human
I would be a woman
Whose fists would be tenderness filled with thorns.
I would worry about nothing except my daughters
I would love freely
The man who would make me laugh at philosophy
The man who would not hurt ants or my tears.
If I was human
I wouldn’t fear unemployment
I wouldn’t fear the distance that keeps me from her
I wouldn’t fear anything except not being able to love in the rain of winters without hope
If I was human
You would be happy, more fearless than you already are
You would be able to live where the sun sets & rises without losing your place.
You would say:
Your wrinkled skin, your battered lungs do not matter
Only that your heart pounds in my hands
Only that your smile is a machete to wield against my darkness
That your scars are the DNA of my pleasure
If I were human
Utopia would be now
Wherever we go, wherever we are…

April 1, 2014

5

Vladimir Mayakovsky, pachuco

Mayakovsky

yo me muero por ti

por el amor

por ella que ha vuelto por mi

liberaremos a la naturaleza

la poesia enjaulada en el futuro

donde eres el guardian de la ternura cuata

que sale de nosotr@s l@s que tenemos que morir

para que no muera el amor

; te pongo una exclamacion de hoz

un martillo para amartillar tus constelaciones

hacerlas

caracoles

conchas

que

explotan

de

mi

lengua

nahuatlizada

mi ruso calo

mis placas y c/s

mi futurismo enraizado em rebeldias

mi corazon amarillo

que uso de broche

y mi lenguaje una corbata inutil

para las que no me entienden

Mayakovsky

hijo y bisabuelo mio

migrante de la palabra amor

pachuco de la esquina

con la Lili, la flor xochitl

de futuro enmaranado en la montana rusa

donde alabo la luz, la sangre y tus rimas eternas

que han renacido en mi

re-encarnado en mi locura por la ternura descontrolada

si me enamoro de ella

con su voz raspada

sobre mi piel tatuajada

mis versos que deshago y destruyo

porque los escribo con la sangre de los que han sufrido

y yo sufro por ellos

para que la sonrisa se instaure como un discurso de victoria

donde las armas se rinden a la poesia

y ella me reconoce

me lleva a ser naturaleza entre sus brazos

llenos de sombras bajo las esterllas

y las serpientes explotan del zacate

serpiente de agua

zumban luz y canto

y nos abrazan para que él viva… 

[April 1 1992]

6

Utopia

Where is hope

Where is liberation

Where is self-determination

Where is our utopia?

My utopia is a root, seeds, wind,

dirt underneath the fingernails

my utopia is my lover, my family

my community of misfits, my people

scattered across horizons that swallow us

in shredded pieces

My utopia is a committee, a poetry

reading, middle school radicals

who are “freakin’ beautiful,” who

know what is right

who abhor what is wrong

who are impatient, important

and most of the time don’t care

about what you or I think about

them

My utopia is a grandmother who lived

My utopia is a grandfather who worked

To death

My utopia is fields of maize, milpas,

migrant laughter, alcoholic Indians

who are the dirt, land and seed

and are trashed every day

My utopia is a jam session with

warehouse workers, hospital aides,

a secretary and a quadaplegic

in a garage in the middle of

a reservation

My utopia is a prisoner named

Gwarth-ee-lass

My utopia is the blues, the

corridos, my sones, my huasteca

desplazada all the way to Michigan

Matamoros and back

to the homelandless home

My utopia is my grandchildren

and ancestors named after them

My utopia is barbacoa with tortillas de maíz

on Sundays after church

with hundreds of cousins, aunts,

uncles, grandma, grandpa, eating,

singing, playing volleyball without

a net or a volleyball

or a wacky game of baseball with spontaneous

rules and homerun zones that excluded

my grandma’s garden of tomatoes, chiles, flowers,

spices and calabazas (if you hit

a homerun into her garden it was an automatic three-outs — so it took skill
to hit the ball)

My utopia is you and I surviving

to share and pass on the dream

of a house where there’s room for everyone

My utopia is now alongside you

And your loved ones and my loved ones

My utopia is the clouded sky,

the dissected celestial canopy

of stars, constellations, swirling

galaxies, the throbbing sun,

the crying woman moon, the gestating

hips and thighs of space.

the crooked Mississippi,

the ancient wound of time-going-backwards-

grand-canyon, río grande, río bravo,

the smoke of the filterless camel cig

that my grandfather puffed on

in the midnight of a Lomas Coloradas

fields of sorghum, a plot of maíz,

frijoles, calabacitas and water-

melon and the abundant

clatter of tasty white-wing

doves that we would kill by the dozens

with a 22 followed

by a shotgun blast

My utopia is

being you,

being

together,

a certain journey of

love and tortillas with queso

or butter dripping down the side

of your hands and forearm,

licking the mixture of hot dissolved

cream and sweat

My utopia is the solitude of being away

from my family and utopia breaks down,

implodes in my language and I

rage against mortality and praise

the pope for declaring that hell and purgatory

do not exist

My utopia is my mother

not in heaven but in earth

My utopia is my grandmother

not in heaven but in earth

My utopia is my grandfather

not in heaven but in earth

Solar, lunar, terrestrial

All on earth

My utopia is the ungovernable

natural world, the land, the soil up-ended,

flayed dust her face

peeled off by the diesel tractor

My utopia is you and I and

our skin, the story of

the longest walk,

the deepest memory,

earth, wind, waters, seeds, plants, natural

creatures, who are still our guides

our utopia of the first kiss

My utopia is in your arms, your

womb, your bitter smile, your

forced laughter, your evaporated

sun, your bones, your skeleton

the scaffolding of my utopia

[April 1, 2014]

7

Utopia

My utopia has been barbed-wired

fenced off. My utopia’s air, wind,

waters, seeds, plants, soil, lands

and the DNA of our big bang are being gentrified

privatized, moved south across

suburbs and borders,

where labor power is cheapened and

hunger deepened. My utopia

is up for sale, the dot-com

new money with the old skin of

racial aristocracy is outbidding

our ancerstors, even buying our way of being,

ridiculing themselves

belittling humanity

one neighborhood at a time

My utopia is illiterate yet is the voice

of all the creation stories

of our peoples

My utopia is carried on the backs

of ants.

My ants carried me into the guts

of the land, fed me maize

seeds and I sprouted human

My utopia does not forget the land

and her peoples, my utopia

is pigmented in dust particles

dancing on the sun-rays of

campesino mornings and south-

west horizons

My utopia laughs at my dumb

jokes and pities me when I

am drunk on despair because

everything has changed and

erased me once again

My utopia is limitless, there is

room for everyone’s dreams and

laughter

My utopia will not forget you

Will you remember

the land?

Do you have

a land?

Do you need or want land to be?

My utopia is the landless

who trample across fields

sowing light to brandish against

the neoliberal garbled night

My utopia is electricity and

salmon resistance, extinguished Toltecs

and refugee Mayans

My utopia is black skinned

liberators,

Zapatistas

and the migrant earth herself

on her own journey, as we

make-believe ours…

[April 1, 2015]

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