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Poem-A-Week

Pride Like a Prayer
by Ali Blanco

My grandparents didn’t just come from Mexico. 

     They came with Mexico in them; 

     and sang it into us like a prayer, 

          and we danced on a patchwork quilt 

               of generational, 

                    cultural 

                         divides, 

                              trying to make the green look blue, 

                              and the reds less bloody. 

Until I went to school drawing a striped eagle 

clutching a star-spangled snake. 

 

I am the wrong kind of Latina. 

 

I’m not sexy enough. 

     I’m not the comedic relief. 

          There are no Hollywood moulds that I can squeeze into, 

          no representation. 

               There’s an audible disconnect in my speech, 

               my accent is dripping with White Validation. 

 

I try to reconnect to my heritage through food, 

wishing that I had stayed in the kitchen with my grandmother, 

instead of fleeing outside to throw a football

(always preoccupied)

constantly tongue-tied with boys and girls 

who don’t speak Spanish

 

Now I am the kind who buys whole grain tortillas from Trader Joes. 

I cry when spice touches my lips, 

what kind of Mexican are you? 

 

I am a mixed breed in America, 

meaning that I am 

     (both) 

          first generation, 

               and

                    (also) 

                         descendant of the U.S. plantation. 

And no matter which side of the fence I stand on, 

there are histories of colonies at war in my blood, 

broken treaties beneath my skin. 

I can’t pay back this debt. 

     Maybe that’s why I stutter over nationality; 

     because my papers boast, “American,” 

     but my father is back-stamped “immigrant.” 

          How can one be born so guilty? 

 

What is it called when in an attempt to assimilate, 

you forgot the way your name sounds when it’s pronounced correctly? 

 

There’s a hand-made purple poncho collecting dust in my childhood closet, 

still in good condition, 

because as a kid I was too embarrassed to wear it. 

     I’ve learned to fit into my grandmother’s earrings, 

     and now I appreciate the beadwork 

     and the culture. 

          But am I too late? 

          Will you take me back? 

          Write me an identity that I can belong to. 

               It’s lonely out here, 

               on the outskirts of legends. 

                    They say that to put an X at the end of Latin

                    (Latinx) 

                    is to be more inclusive, 

                    maybe I can slide in

                    (unnoticed). 

 

What is it called to be apart of and apart? 

 

Hola, me llamo Ali Blanco.                        Hi, my name is Ali Blanco

Y todavía estoy buscando por mi lugar.      and I am still looking for my place.

(Por mi país).                                           (For my country). 

Puedo sentarme contigo?                          Can I sit with you?

Puedo vivir en esta idioma que amo?         Can I live in this language that I love?

Que siempre he amado?                          That I have always loved?

Déjame entrar estas palabras.                   Let me enter these words. 

Déjame en este espacio,                           Leave me in this space,

compartiendo una historia,                        sharing a story,

compartiendo un amor.                             sharing one love.

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Ali Blanco is a queer Latinx writer and performer. She hosts various artistic events and shows, and aims to be a supportive, hype-womxn extraordinaire. Mother, student, teacher, and humxn rights activist, her poetry often consists of themes in mental health and intersectional identity.