We’ve got something that they don’t
And its in the way we trrrrrill,
Our tongues, tastefully like our sweet and viscous honey dishes.
Our mouths forever speaking caramel candies, pirulí, that you wish you could stomach.
They’ve called us exotic, well we think you are
Strange, in the way you never learned how to purrrrr,
And in how you pervade language so beautiful with drawling accents
Into our Spanish-Indigenous-African words without accrediting the luscious lips that spoke them first.
Mud water is your game while we exfoliate our thick skins with salt
From oceans and lakes that rrrrrripple in waves,
Blanketing our shores in nutrient crystals imbued within
The lands you stomped your muddy feet onto because you’ve always known your selfishness was never enough.
So you tried to steal our gifts and found that you could never stomach such quality beings. Because we are made in all colors of the rainbow and in the ancestral darkness that within illuminated secrets rrrrrelished by humankind. With your malicious intent you excluded yourself from the only race that ever existed and I can’t even call you extraterrestrial. It’s not about “us versus them”, but I’m showing you what its like to appropriate your language like you did mine.
I want to be INFLUENTIAL, to let the wealth of my knowledge flood every aspect of my life. I want my family to see that their sacrifices achieved their version of an “American Dream” that did its best to push them out of the system. I want to BE that dream, breathe it, exude it, and foster it. A life of wealth in all regards of the word to show people that the people from my island are stronger than the oceans surrounding us. We use adversity to our advantage by surging over the waves towards our goals if we have to. Crumbling structures don’t keep us back, they simply provide us an escape from the jail that is the government. When treasure is buried deep, we dig it out and give to our loved ones their fair share. We learned sacrifice early on; my mamá sacrificing herself for me by fattening me up as a baby while her muscles shriveled onto her bones from lack of food. Seventy-six pounds is what she weighed when she had me. Six of those pounds were me so when they told her she made only a small ripple in the river she uprooted the whole Earth to show that she and I were the entire ocean making waves. Our mothers sacrificed their education, our fathers did as well all for a generation that they believed in. Our grandparents did the same. We are children loved with souls as powerful as the universe and spirits made bolder by the santería we practice. We put soul into the world by giving soul. My parents don’t know how to put it in words yet, but I’m MORE than the American Dream. I’m the CUBAN dream.
Old structures by the sea are beaten down into broken pieces of concrete and tarnished walls. Fires raged, leaving their mark throughout the infrastructure of this hydroelectric plant. Everything back home feels like buildings decapitated of their souls. The comandante and his delivered promises of success lacked derision at first, while all were brainwashed with the hopes of days yet to come for a freer Cuba. Lies rotting out of the eyes of the politicians, one of my grandfathers lied too—after falling into the trap of a skewed version of equality. Little did they know they should have looked towards equity, maybe then our homes and workspaces would still breathe life into our people.
Overgrown with grass creeping over cement walls, our buildings decompose like the living beings that performed their lives’ work within them. Steam stacks don’t spew steam anymore, but the invisible souls of my people float onward, upward, towards a heaven of blue skies and turquoise oceans that wail against the rocks separating our buildings from it. My people have drowned in that ocean as they try to escape crumbling structures like the Cuban government, once and always full of corruption and disguises. Old TV screens are housed in each building because at least all people deserve a TV, better to brainwash them with.
One day the fifth floor will destroy the fourth and the only way to go from there will be down… and down will my people go. Down will fall my soul with every cracking piece of wall like the breaking heart encased within my ribs. I’ll just sit here across the ocean staring at Jupiter’s raging storm in my coffee as I ponder origins and family trees nonexistent, forever forgotten in history like the structures I speak of.
Image by V. Ariosa taken in Santa Cruz del Norte, Provincia Mayabeque (previously part of Provincia Habana). Electric Plant.
She has long and pearly features—a statue made out of stone. She’s all cheekbones that stab the air around her, breaking the tiny wind currents. Upright, she transforms into a scare and a cube when encased within herself. Those hips will never be able to encase the world in her womb. With narrowed eyes she glares at her wood-colored friend without warmth. Her eyes are icy blue and shatter bone. She maintains her “friends” in chains—those very same ones she pretends to “save.” She has a smile that never reaches her face, much less her eyes… That smile is too busy… Dying in her imagination. I asked her, “Comrade, did you learn nothing from your mother?” I referred to the cruelty of the planet she lives in, and the diversity of features and thought that seems to seep into this world from a heavenly outer space. This is just another work focusing on the oppressor rather than the oppressed.
Military style is how we think they learn. Sound a beep that plugs them into work like those sedatives used to restrain a “crazy” person. These kids are treated as if they were lampposts, only to be used for illuminating the way for the higher members of society.
I see the frustration in their eyes and with every moment they feel betrayed by the system. I’m just standing there telling them that I believe in them and they can do it, but that won’t be enough. I tell them and they’re momentarily defeated, but some of them want lift their heads high and say that they are NOT merely cogs in the system.
Fight for your lives, my little troopers. You mean the world to me.
My kids are exhausted like magnolias falling off of the tree.
School to prison pipeline
Kids as criminals because they live in a white-male dominant society pushing them off of the corners of the college ruled paper that creates legal systems.
It’s insane to think that the very system that is supposed to educate us perpetuates systems of oppression. The system pushed kids out and the few honestly good teachers are insufficient to outrun the rate of isms.
We live in a society that connotates a humanitarian movement–feminism– as negative because of an ending associated with beating people down. How can we teach our children to analyze the world around them if in our instructional methods we make ignorance fact.
Be revolutionary and seep into an unfair system to destroy the foundations that place one group above the other. They can only keep you down if you don’t fight.
We all sit quietly on the bus. Today we worked, worked, and worked. I considered what my feelings meant– those of reservation and wont of solace. We’re in this beautiful place given so much power to bring forth the amazing values that the children of our nation hold dear.
Sometimes I feel like the long piece of pink polyester, likely the remnant of an inflatable, tumbling through the highway streets. I call it the urban tumbleweed flailing its extremities uncertain how to contain all this new knowledge. Each second is a learning experience, a challenge I cannot give up on. We work for something beyond us. We work for them.