poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Abel Salas



Palabra de mis primos pimas
cuz'ya know cuahuiltecas
y mexicas came for trade
and water from the black
creek like a diamond snake
simbolo de parientes y
decendientes de quetzalcoatl
so what if your paranoid
rancheros who fled San Joaquin
and a stormtrooper, rabid
dog sheriff akin to Himmler
whose name is on a page
next to the governor who
signs the legislation that
labels you all forever as
paranoid neanderthals
will soon be unable even to
communicate with your
own grandchildren for
fear of a bilingual nation
brown and proud, a nation
that honors the apache
warriors who fought hard
and fast for a desert
homeland security you
could not nor would not
fathom because the rocks
and the mesquite did not
welcome you with love.
Inside your own hearts you
know the brutality which
you feel you must inflict on us
to protect a way of life
that is a vapor slowly fading
Oyeme bien arizona, mas que
tu mitad es mi brazo y mi
herencia. My familiy has
harvested cotton in Casa
Grande for as long as I
can remember. And my
father's nephews have
made camp and compromise
with your redneck yahoo
truck stop regulars for near
half a century. That steel
sprung mixteca standing
alongside a zapoteca and
a maya who are willing to
work from sun up to sun fall
are the clave to your only future
but you have become so
dimwitted and angry you can only
answer with violence and
reprimand, take away the
books and the platica that
will make your young ones
free and full. We do not seek
an overthrow or a coup, çuz
we know how to share. We've
been doing it for 15,000 years
in Tucson and across the two
continents you invaded with
bloodshed and greed from
across an ocean like pillagers
in your storied viking plunder
pride legends, the same ego
that made some among you
imagine a master race and
liquidate artists, truthtellers,
singers and sacerdotes who
were not like you. Be assured,
Arizona es nuestro and your helpless
hold on a reality that evaporates
more each day is the epitome
of lo precario. I wish I could feel
more sympathy and empathy
but I'm too busy learning and
teaching ethnic studies by virtue
of my simple existence. Nuestras
voces se unen y no nos puedes
callar aunque te parezca una
pesadilla de las peores.
Welcome to 2012, where we
will wait with a warm cup of
xocolatl just for you in the
name of peace and harmony


Abel Salas publishes and edits Brooklyn & Boyle, an arts, literature and community journal based in historic Boyle Heights, on LA's Eastside. A poet and journalist, he also co-founded Corazón del Pueblo, a Los Angeles community cultural arts center and collective. He has taught creative writing in LA County juvenile halls and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, Latina Magazine,and The Austin Chronicle. Born in Houston and raised in the cities of El Paso, Los Angeles and Austin, Salas has read poetry across the Southwest, in DC, Havana, Cuba, Toluca, Mexico and Mexico City. He is the author of chapbook Lone Oak in December/El Encino Invernal (1998) and the monograph Hija de Guadalupe/Child of Guadalupe (2007).


Published in Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 2012.