Thursday, January 12, 2017

Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience – Joe Amaral

Close up image of a microphone on a stage. The audience that is facing the microphone is blurred, appearing as a myriad of colors (red, white, green, yellow, etc.)
As the incoming administration builds its agenda of attack on marginalized people, on freedom of speech, on the earth itself, poetry will continue to be an essential voice of resistance. Poets will speak out in solidarity, united against hatred, systemic oppression, and violence and for justice, beauty, and community.

In this spirit, Split This Rock is offering its blog as a Virtual Open Mic. For the rest of this frightening month, January of 2017, we invite you to send us poems of resistance, power, and resilience.

We will post every poem we receive unless it is offensive (containing language that is derogatory toward marginalized groups, that belittles, uses hurtful stereotypes, etc.). After the Virtual Open Mic closes, we hope to print out and mail all of the poems to the White House.

For guidelines on how to submit poems for this call, visit the Call for Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience blog post


The Invisible Minority
by Joe Amaral

My mother is one hundred percent


descended from the Azores Islands.

In grade school she was considered


Lumped as a minority
and treated as such.

When I applied for colleges
I proudly/jokingly
stated my ethnicity as

                                                Other: Azorean

I was categorized

a generation later despite
being a pure-blooded                       

Apparently my immigrant status
joined the

who created the first ghettoes
and forgot the new life opportunity
their ancestors eked out for them.

My great-grandparents died in their thirties
as slaves to asbestos in Massachusetts
cotton mills- nobody lasted
more than eight cancerous years
before their diseased lungs filled up with fluid
and drowned them.

My grandparents spoke our native tongue fluently-
my mother too- but then she was told
only to speak English in school.

Mom completely lost
the old world language
she was born and inherited into.

I only experienced my culture
in snippets and short stories
from the age-burned scroll
of my sheepherder grandfather’s memory.

I am foreign the way food may be spicy-
not red hot, not even medium.
I am mild salsa, no hint of fire.

I struggle with my perceived
social status, my class allotment,

but I refuse to fall under
an all-inclusive

banner symbolizing anything but peace
or hubris, as if my being a privileged

                                                White American

gives me the power
to pretend I am above
the poor races

who picked up
the tools we dropped.

(published in Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora in the United States and Canada: An Anthology by Boa Vista Press, November 3, 2015)

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