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Two poems by Bobby LeFebre

February 23, 2011

Poem #1 Juarez

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico has been named the most dangerous place in the world

outside of declared war zones.

 

They used to at least wait for moonlight

 

Now car bombs ignite

the morning sky like sunrise

 

The dust has no time

to settle between blasts.

 

Semi-automatic weapons sing in thunderclap

raining across the desert

 

Thousands of lost souls mask themselves as the wind whistling in tortured soul

rendering this border city a ghost town.

 

The Virgin Mary’s inbox is full

 

Missing person’s fliers wallpaper graffiti the metropolis’ skin

 

The local newspaper

is longest picture book obituary

you will read

 

Soldiers in camouflage fatigues fail to chameleon;

lining urban streets like robotic litter

 

Militarization lingers as heavy as fear does

 

College students don’t cross the border

for cheap tequila shots anymore

 

Local businesses are closed and boarded up unable to pay the fees of extortion;

tourist markets stand as graveyards do.

 

Help is a dead end road when the officials

are as crooked as the question marks at the end of the people’s

why’s and when’s.

 

Why is this happening?

When will it end?

 

Gone are the days

these killing fields harvested only young women.

In this drug turf war everyone is considered a cash crop.

 

Right now, somewhere in the shadows of La Santa Muerte’s protection,

the Sinaloan and Juarez cartels dance to Narco-Corridos glorifying their names.

 

These drug ballads play like gangster rap with accordions

 

The line between entertainment and reality

is as blurred as the one separating the drug lords territories

Ciudad Juarez is been held hostage

 

Social order has been bound and gagged,

civil liberties have been held for ransom,

believe it or not,

this is where I chose to ask my wife to marry me

 

True story

 

Bent on one knee

like a local crippled by economic crisis

I asked her to spend forever with me

in a place tomorrow is never promised

 

I promise our story is more romantic than it seems

 

It is from these streets she came to me

 

Childhood memories flutter butterfly beautiful in her heart

She remembers the peace-

of her grandmothers hands

grinding maize

shaping gorditas

and the woman she’s become

 

Times she awoke to the rooster’s cry and not the people’s

 

When the streets were silent enough to whisper Hail Mary’s

with the curandera who coached her catechism,

back when people still prayed to god and not fear.

 

She remembers better times

 

When streetlights were an extension of sunrays

meaning more time to play, not a warning to run inside,

but now,

nightfall is a black hole that even the most innocent of stars get sucked into

 

She remembers better times

 

Like reciting the words of the pledge to the flag in elementary school

wearing a uniform like a badge of honor.

Te prometemos

ser siempre fieles

a los principios de libertad y justicia

which makes our homeland, the independent, humane, and generous nation,

to which we dedicate our existence.

 

She remembers better times,

but times in her homeland have changed.

 

Now our visits are more house arrest than homecoming.

There is nothing generous about being confined in worry.

Nothing humane about children being comfortable with cadavers

 

Ciudad Juarez,

you are

and are not

as bad as they say you are.

 

I see your spirit in your children

whose steps are still too light

to grasp the gravity of their surroundings

 

I know there are flowers blooming underneath your rubble

 

The dust will settle eventually

and the devils responsible for your demise

will burn in hell.

 

Hold on.

 

Don’t let your chipped teeth stop you from smiling

 

Destruction is always the first step in rebuilding.

 

Good will is your bricks

love will be your mortar

whatever you do

never forget your heart’s chamber

is bigger than their gun’s.

 

Poem #2  Ambidextrous Tongues

Ambidextrous Tongues

 

My existence does not rely on one language to tell its story.

Off my tongue, two cultures dance Merengue for the right to be heard.

In a world that is Black and White, sometimes Brown is the color of the sore thumb.

 

I remember listening to mis Abuelitos code switching like computer passwords between idioms.

English, when talking to us,

Spanish when talking about us,

my ears were trained to the tune of two languages.

 

Songs of survival sing from my Grandmother’s accent,

wisdom passed down en los dichos de mi Abuelito.

We have been taught to serve as the hyphen between two lands,

our roots, we hold onto in the palms of our hands,

as assimilation attempts to shake one.

 

Our influence, like our presence is evident.

Our culture, like our people is crossing over,

and our language, like good memories is here to stay……

In a nation that preaches multiculturalism,

but teaches it mono-lingually,

we are linguistically well-endowed.

 

Ambidextrous tongues slinging Spanglish leaves sectors of society skeptical.

It’s como like, sirens ring out from our syllables as we’re speaking bilingual sentences.

 

I, like Jehovah’s, have witnessed people rolling their eyes

at the sound of us rolling our R’s as they ask the age old question……..

”Can you speak English?”

 

Realizing that their use of the word “can” connotatively asks the question

“do you have the ability, we reply……

”yes we CAN”!!!!!

….pero a veces preferimos hablar en Espanol porque,

my existence does not rely on one language to tell its story.

 

They continue….eating their enchiladas in which they ordered in English because,

to order Mexican food in Spanish would just be weird right?

 

We Latinos have learned that Spanish is not America’s favorite subject.

Mathematics is.

And they are attempting to use it against us.

Lately it appears that America wishes to divide our multiplication by adding a wall along the  border with the hope of subtracting our numbers because we are now looked at as the square root of America’s problem where Maria2 + Jose2 = America scared.

 

We have replaced terrorism in the scope of America’s gun.

Aim has shifted from one Brown people to another,

from kufis, Qur’ans and praying to the east,

to “illegal aliens”, and wetbacks poisoning, and the Southwest.

 

We don’t need bullets bearing the face of hate shot at our feet to dance,

we will do it anyway.

We don’t need their permission to speak,

we will do it anyway.

So I ask mi abuelita to tell me a story in the spirit of the past so that is does not die.

She replies,”Mijo, it will only perish if you choose to murder it”.

 

So I speak of the past in present terms so my people will understand me.

Rotating between hip hop slang in English,

and Calo en Espanol.

 

 

Our existence is far to complex to place us in any boxes,

we still refuse to mark the one that says “White” on our applications.

 

We are burning in the melting pot.

Mi poesia es mi grito,

an SOS in the sands of two languages,

porque,

 

My existence does not rely on one language to tell its story.

 

Bobby LeFebre is an award-winning spoken word artist, actor, and social worker. He is a two time Grand Slam Champion, a National Poetry Slam Finalist, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, and has been a member of three National Poetry Slam Teams. Bobby is managed by Layman Lyric Productions for performance poetry booking.  www.facebook.com/bobby.lefebre

Cross-posted at In Xochitl in Kuikatl

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