Thursday, March 17, 2011

Poem of the Week: Rich Villar

Always Here

lacking a proper entrance

into a poem

about Arizona Senate Bill 1070

prompts me instead

to tell you

about the flamboyanes blooming

in Doña Yeya's mouth

every time she speaks

about her children,

or the pasteles that do not

wrap themselves

until blood is offered to the masa,

or the boys she sent to Germany,

who came back headless

and quoting Bible verses

or the girls

with thirteen years of bruises

at the hands of those same boys

who were told asi es la vida

without the slightest sense of irony

who shouldered Nuyorican babies

dutifully to Bayamón

dreaming about a nation

under which they cannot

legally claim citizenship

or parrandas of gold stomping

flat the Jersey snow

forgetting that coquito never meant

cold weather

or the act of forgetting

beneath every aguinaldo,

because civil cafesito

and politics cannot coexist

and we do not question

our birth certificates

unless we are agents of Homeland Security

because we were born American citizens

and as such are eligible to die

at a higher rate

in exchange for houses in Orlando

that we do not own.

There are Puerto Ricans

in Arizona and New York and Nebraska and,

I promise you,

good gente, it makes no difference

if your grandmother conjures

Michoacan or Mayaguez

in her flowered breath, it makes

no difference

if you bless the four winds

or pray to San Juan Bautista,

to those who only see papers

and brown flesh, who cannot

locate your cities on the maps

of conquerors or conquered,

you are a threat,

and if this is the case,

gente, I say,

be a threat. Unquieted,

bloom where you are not permitted

to bloom. Disjointed,

walk anywhere you please, stumble

if you must, but be present.

And when they ask you

where you keep your company,

tell them here, here,

always here.

-Rich Villar

Used by permission.

Rich Villar is the executive director of the Acentos Foundation, a Bronx-based organization fostering audiences for Latino/a poetry in the United States. His poetry and prose have appeared in MiPoesias: The American Cuban Issue, Ocho, Rattapallax, Latino Poetry Review, and the chapbook series Achiote Seeds. He is the fiction editor for The Acentos Review and lives and writes in New Jersey with his wife, poet Tara Betts.

Villar was on the panel Radical Diversity: The Presentation of Poetry as an Agent for Radical Change and was part of the Aqui Estamos: A Sampling of Poetry From the Inaugural Acentos Poetry Festival reading at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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