Welcome, radiant fellow beings, to Open Mic Friday!
Today I’m so honored to share two poems from a fellow VONA writer (and gracious soul), Susana De Jesus Huerta. The first poem, “Our Children Are Not Anchors,” has been published in El Coraje, the University of Arizona’s student-led, student-produced newspaper. The paper revives an earlier publication that was first created by students during the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s. Susana selected this poem for today’s Open Mic in response to legislation also introduced today in Arizona.
“If we are going to have an effect on the anchor baby racket, we need to target the mother. Call it sexist, but that’s the way nature made it. Men don’t drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do.”
–Arizona Senator Russell Pearce
Our Children Are Not Anchors, Susana De Jesus Huerta
To Arizona Senator Russell Pearce since you are so concerned about the tactics of domination and because the destiny of dreams and justice will manifest in spite of you:
Our children are not anchors
like the ones dropped in Atlantic waters to
unload African corpses en masse.
We don’t just drop our babies onto this land
the way bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and
The way words and promises are dropped from treaties.
Our children do not drop like collapsed lungs
from small pox in clean bodies under
wool blankets and thick air.
Our children are not the weights used
in that system of pulleys, noosed ropes
over Oak and Magnolia branches tied to
the gravity of brown and black bodies.
They do not fall hard like strong brown
soldiers on front-lines holding
their breath to be made
citizens while pledging patriotism and pride.
Our babies do not keep us
on these furrowed fields of crouching backs
under summer heat the way
threats to hire another force us to stay
even without running water, even without
Our children are not anchors.
They do not fall.
They are already the root,
complex connections centuries old, aflame
with the power of history, knowledge
of collective pain and promise.
They become. They bloom. They unfurl like
lavender flowers and protest signs under desert
sun. Even as seedlings they push through
concrete, poisonous policies, and
the sting of barbwire borders.
Our children are the pulsating sky that sings
thunder and bleeds
to break open and burst forth
like monarch clouds
© Susana De Jesus Huerta 2010
La Despedida, Susana De Jesus Huerta
front row on my altar, between marigolds
the face of you — broken child manlover
empty tequila glasses, sage ash over embroidered
skeletons and lotus flowers
three days from honoring the dead
two years after my opening to you
I released your ruby–lined spirit, let go the religion
you buried in my marooned heart folds
surrounded by nervous winds, still warm with reckless summer
I hung your memory around a curl of grapevine
how easy it was to release you in prayer, let your
grip fall off bone, your voice burn itself into —
concrete murals and cave walls
ancestor songs over steaming stones
to see your face in the mirror now
our journeys, a reflection we didn’t recognize
in the thickness of flesh-
hunger and borrowed time
your dark nature unearthed
my dying light, my sun decimated
your shadows, and together we remember
we are In lak ech, tattooed in blood
out of respect, we erect tumbas to mark
short-lived love until another spring
burying our twisted roots in warm soil
I bow down in gratitude, Susana.
Susana welcomes all feedback, so please keep the comments coming!
Susana De Jesus Huerta knows herself to be a teacher at heart. She has worked with writers of all levels, from middle school to college, and takes inspiration from witnessing them find their own voices. They led her to VONA, which has in turn led her to take her writing seriously and nurture the other writers around her.