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10 May 2010

My Roots (Michoacán)

Juan and Santiago Jaimes,
The Jaimes Brothers
(Great Grandfather)

The legendary Fortino Jaimes,
Santiago's son, my maternal
grandfather, was assasinated
while sleeping under a

My mother's mother, Aurora Ramírez
de Jaimes, mi abuelita, never held me
in her arms, yet she remains my pillar
of strength.

My tío José Eliseo Gutiérrez,
my father's brother, always sang and
played guitar at family reunions.

My tía Alicia Gutiérrez, my father's
sister, has a mighty singing voice.
In her youth, she had a mano a mano
with the famous Lucha Villa.

Tío Raúl and tía Elvira Gutiérrez,
father's brother and sister.

My father, Francisco Gutiérrez and my mother,
María Estela Jaimes (María Estela Jaimes de
Gutiérrez; Estela Gutiérrez for short).

08 May 2010

"Arizona Dream Shoes" for Poets Responding to SB 1070

I. No Man’s Land

I saw a tennis shoe lying on the
side of the road to América,

Half sunk in the heaviest of desert sands—
shipwrecked, pillaged by the winds
and blazing sun.

II. Childhood Lessons
At age two, she knows what illegal aliens
sound like—she’s been listening since birth.
An illegal alien lullabies her to sleep: “Duérmase
mi niña. Duérmase me ya porque
su mamá se va a trabajar.

At age twelve, she’s learning what illegal aliens
look like—she’s been trained since birth.
She overhears the neighbors: “Look at their shoes.
Illegal aliens wear non-brand tennis shoes.”

(Not like Americans. Real Americans
can afford Western gods—real American
products—the battlefield and victory
looming at their feet, Nikes manufactured
by Koreans, Taiwanese, Chinese
and Viêtnamese.)

III. The Art Project

For $215 dollars, she sells you a pair
of Brinco Crosstrainers, so you can display a pair
in your living room? So your neighbor
can see them—like the white progressive
couple serving a Wetback Salad
at their wedding.

If you want to cross the comal of death,
she hands you a pair of tennis shoes for free,
equipped with a map and pain
killers … to begin the trek of
senseless deaths with
a thousand crosses,
mounds of rocks to
pave the road like
a North Star.

IV. The Wanderer

He walks in heat like a blazing
match with a gallon of
water to quench the dry
lolling tongue.

A pair of old socks and
tennis shoes melt on his
feet like gum on a
pulsating asphalt.

V. Arizona Dream Shoes

I will hand you a pair of Arizona Dream
Tennis Shoes blessed by God,
the Presidents, and the Virgin
Mary herself. These tennis shoes
will make your feet tireless
like our ancestors, treading these borderless lands,
now painted and encaged
by law-abiding US citizens.

(May 8, 2010)

01 May 2010

“UR 1070” for Poets Responding to SB 1070

You tell me you are not a racist.
You are an Arizonian in your own right—
in your white flawless rights
in your white lawless plights against
the native skin you single out, marring your high-class
etiquette—your Forefathers’ land, your America,
the land of the free, where vigilantes
in invisible white hoods
terrorize me in Georgia, in
Texas, and in California.

Look at me. No, really, look
at me—directly into my eyes.
But without the sunglasses, without the gun,
without the handcuffs, without the whip, without the
wooden or metal baton, without the water hose,
without the DDT, without napalm.

And when you look at me, notice
that you see me through borrowed memories
of our ancestors, haunting your present twisted
state of mind—suffering
from that pathology called
race that in your eyes makes me
look perfectly inhuman.

You are the germinated grandchild of Slavery . . .
of the Trail of Tears . . . of the Chinese Exclusion Act . . . of
Operation Wetback . . . of Viêt Nam. . . of Japanese Interment
Camps, Proposition 187 . . . Operation
Gatekeeper . . .Weapons of Mass Destruction . . .
the Patriot Act . . . of SB 1070.

You want to believe in your own
fantasy—your own twisted logical
fallacy—you are América, “The Beautiful.”
¡Y sin acento!

You always write words that make
you look as the victimized—always the
victim—in a muddled pond of
racist rhetoric: “White revolution
is the only solution.”

But who is really stealing your
job? Your money? Who is really shattering your
American Dreamland?

You are 1070—a legacy of hate. You
relish and smirk when you see your
labor: when the handcuffs click
and the jailhouse locks,
when you single out and say, “Hey you!
Over there!” and label and then tag colored people.
Selective seeing and hearing
has made of you a simpleton
who wears blinds and carries
a magnifying glass like
Georges Cuvier.

“Round them cowboy!”
childhood play’s not over for
you. Your cowboy and Indian
patterns never left you! You are the good guy,
the self-righteous ambassador and protector of Arizona—
of your country—my world, from
sea to shining sea. I am the son,
the daughter, the father, the mother,
the grandmother, the sister, the teacher,
the carpenter, the gardener,
the architect, your potential
son-in-law or daughter. I am as free
as the air that you breathe.

reduced me to a thing—incapable
of feeling emotion like a shipped and caged
African slave—unconnected to this
country that serves you
on a silver platter, so you can see
those shiny white teeth reflected
in silverware before you
take a bite in your sweat-picked
tomatoes and lettuce, USDA Grade A
meat from those “illegal aliens,” mis paisanos,
working in Colorado and then you think:
life is good. Then you toast and sip your California

Yes, of course Arizona I’m
beginning to see your master
plan brewing. No illegal immigrants (other
than white-complected ones,
preferably of European decent),
no ethnic studies, no accents.
POOF! Como los judíos.

(April 29, 2010)