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Madari Pendas

Called Out of My Name


Ghetto Names
On resumes,
Get guffaws
& sashayed


Glorious, dulce,  sublime, entrancing, foaming Ghetto Names.

Waiting on foreign devils
To attempt,
To mimic,
To pronounce.

                                                        [Glorious White God
                                                        Kiss this Ghetto Name’s forehead]


But I bow,
I accept their version,
Their re-naming.

I nod to it,
I respond to it,
I abscond with it. 


                                                        Because I am a mispronounced word. 

The Foreigner

The joke is explained,
Dissected, recitated
Languidly, over enunciated,
Lips sprawling, stretching,
You expect them to splinter,
Teeth & gums bared,
A snarl sporting a smile,
Long after the laughter 
Has ceased. 
Your silence comes
At their laughter,
Your laughter
Punctuating their silences,
Mistimed, lagging existence;
An immigrant is never
In synchronicity. 
The phrases are calculated, 
Memorized, choreographed,
You deviniate the ebb & flow 
Of conversations and prepare,
Repeating your responses
Into a nonsensical loops
Of glottal stops 
And guttural utterances;
Even you travail 
To understand yourself. 
Then the conversation
Weaves into unknown
Places, estranged terrain,
And you unravel, waiting
For a familiar, for Charon,
But you've lost this battle,
Your pauses and asks
For clarifications,
Jar, impede the flow,
You plead for more
Time as you work
To put the words together,
Assembling, making
demands of your memory,
But they're done, 
No one wants your burden,
They roar on without you,
Once participant,
Now spectator,
A visage between shoulders.
They think you're stupid,
And maybe you are,
It's stupid to immigrate
And expect acceptance,
It's stupid to think 
They'd allow you
Into their warm enclave.
It's stupid to think
You could be anything
Other than other. 
You attempt again,
Despite the fear 
And preciousness
They have towards
Their language,
But they barely 
Glance you're way,
One person,
mercifully nods,
While the rest
Don't even bother
Asking you
To repeat yourself.




Slumming It Up

They take tasteless
Selfies with the ruins,
Lauding their spanish,
Photographing barefoot children;
They re-write our stories,
Interrupt, interject, 'correct'.

The gringos tell me about their fun,
I tell them about my grandfather.

Deaf because of the palizas,
Teeth false because of torture,
Emphysema from the filth of the jails.
He cannot hear, but his porous bones
Tremble with the remembrance
Of firing squads, fusilamiento,
'It's so very fast," he recalls,
"It's like God is blinking,"
Killed in the blindspot
Of his vigilance. 

I tell them because otherwise 
Who would remind them?

The land they holiday in
Gagged their people 
With patriotism
Until they either
Choked or swallowed.

"It's beautiful" they say,
The poverty romanticized.
We are a sweaty, simple,
Kind of people.
Not people, 
the way their people,
Like foreground & background,
Never colliding or intersecting,
Impossibly far away,
Nebulous and unknown,
Beautiful in it's distance. 

They leave before the electricity
Goes out, before the hunger hurts so bad
You sleep to forget, to fill your gut
With the bougainvilleas and cowrie shells;
They leave without being called 'gusanos',
Never wondering which neighbor 
Is the designated spy for El Comité. 

"Get over it," they say,
"Not everything is political."

Are they right? 
Is it my burden to forgive
With apologies in my palms?
Am I like Cuba?
Frozen in an impenetrable past?
Unwilling to open to the future,
Unable to forget, defined 
By my traumas? 
Maybe healing
Is forgetting, 
And forgetting
Is disavowing. 

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