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Three poems by Rebekah Martinez-Johnson

January 14, 2010


they said,
ran off with pancho villa
and his army
leaving behind a
barefoot, crooked-haired group
of brown children
waiting around for
tortillas and beans.
where did you go
in this reluctant world?
did you know
you’d have a great-
like me,
revolting against
who knows what,
trading blood for
poems and
ignoring the rooster’s-wake-up
call of the “tortilla star?”*
who married too late
who is still childless
who read books instead of
changing diapers?
forgetting is like
admitting defeat.
so what are you going to do?
wear that name like a scarlet letter, or
remind us what it’s like to roam freely
and alone in the world
and to love and be loved
out loud.

*from Sandra Cisneros The House on Mango Street

mujeres andariegas

real gone, we were
born violet
an army of anger
at our backs.
with pens and
ink stained hands
we purged
the decades of
green hurt,
bruised black and wanting.
rage like knives
in our backs.


would you hold it against me
if I said I didn’t believe in God?
if I culled these poems from the quiet-dark
desperation of apostasy
instead of copping to god and heaven?
you’d make a good devil
on someone’s shoulder,
you said.
and you wear
your church veil long
and your face half hidden
mumbling fervently
in (unanswered) prayers
and I write poems cursing god.
I’d rather be the numbed acolyte
of Tonantzin
wild and worshipped,
than your Jesus
with the tears in his hair
the bloody burs in his bare feet.
why do I only think of you
in stone churches
kneeling beside the trail of blood
because you walked there
on your knees
instead of the bright
laughing star
you really were?

Rebekah Martinez-Johnson is a Writing & Literature graduate student at the Union Institute & University. Martinez-Johnson studies Chicana feminist literary criticism and LGBT Chicano literature. She’s a 28 year old ex-pat Texan living in Wyoming with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.


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