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.
Beautiful and powerful and staggeringly vivid! Thank you for sharing, Susana….
Susana, I want to read your poems over and over. Words are powerful and rich in your skillful, artistic hands. Pearce is an ass who should be ignored by all, but because he won’t be, how wonderful to start the fight with words that express the beauty he refuses to see. Thank you for sharing these beautiful poems.
These poems are amazing! I agree with Sherry & Re. You have a beautiful way with words.
Suzy, beautiful work!
I really like both of these for different reasons. The first because it exposes what Russell Pearce is doing. Like you he has chosen his words very carefully: ‘anchor’, ‘drop’, – words for things, not people, and then ‘illegal’ ‘racket’, ‘alien’ – words associated with criminality and wrong doing. Then also he uses words like ‘baby’ and ‘mother’ mixed in with these negative terms. Usually we think of mothers and babies in terms of nurture and love; people we want to protect. But describing them in terms of things and not people, in terms of criminality and wrong doing moves us away from wanting to protect and nurture them. Your poem beautifully addresses that imbalance, takes his skewed thinking to its logical conclusion and calls him out for what he is really saying. Thought-provoking with some very powerful images.
The second poem touched me for its beautiful, poignant imagery and language – and for offering more with a second and third reading.
thanks so much for sharing these!
I love Clare’s beautiful comment, and agree that your poem counteracts Pearce’s use of “thing” words for people. Not only that, but you invoke the wrongs of history to paint an alternate picture of immigrants as people who persevere, and contribute, in spite of all the ways they’ve (we’ve) been abused since — and before — arrival in this country.
I agree; and invoking those wrongs of history also paints an accurate picture of the so-called “patriot” who doesn’t want his country “abused” even though “his country” has truly abused so many innocent people of other countries, in so many cruel and barbaric ways.
Truth comes through powerfully in “Our Children Are Not Anchors.” I especially felt the line, “They become. They bloom. They unfurl like lavender flowers and protest signs under desert sun.”
Thanks again for sharing your work.
Thank you all for sharing your reading of my work. The poem was initially inspired by anger and disgust, but like the end of the poem, writing it evolved into a declaration of pride for the struggle and journey of people, my people, who make beautiful lives for themselves and their children despite the ugliness of the history that bleeds into today’s politics and poisonous rhetoric. Again, thank you.
Good job! I specialy like la despedida?
That was beautiful Susie:-)