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STRIVE Prep SMART Speaks! Vol. 2 Cafe Cultura Community Speaks Project #11 Xpress Yourself Workshop Participants


STRIVE Prep SMART Speaks! Vol. 2 Copyright Š 2014 by Xpress Yourself Workshop Participants All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.


To the students at STRIVE Prep SMART, who move forward with dignity in order to leave the world smarter than you found it.


Acknowledgments Thank you to STRIVE Prep SMART staff for your continued support as we work together in providing your scholars opportunities to tell their stories. Shout out to all Xpress Yourself workshop participants for sharing your intelligence and creativity with us. Your words are truly inspirational. Keep writing! “It’s our responsibility and choice to express ourselves and lift our voice, together building unity, leaders in our community. This is how we tell our stooorrrryyyy!”


Foreword In reflecting upon this second volume of spoken word poetry from STRIVE Prep SMART scholars, it is clear that society has much to learn from this/your generation. We humbly offer this collection of stories from high school freshmen as a reminder of our collective potential. We hope you enjoy the poems presented here and use them as examples of how you too can express yourself and tell your own story. For those who do not know about organization: Café Cultura is an award-winning arts, culture, and youth development organization in Denver that promotes unity and healing among Indigenous peoples through creative expression while empowering youth to find their voice, reclaim oral and written traditions, and become leaders in their communities. Café Cultura has been providing positive, creative, and engaging community spaces for the Denver metropolitan area for more than nine years. The idea for our organization emerged during the summer of 2004 with the passing of respected elder and veteran poet Abelardo “Lalo” Delgado. At that moment, we realized and accepted our responsibility to continue using our oral and written traditions to provide opportunities for creative expression not offered in schools or in the larger community. Café Cultura also drew inspiration from the movements connecting Indigenous people from throughout the Americas. In that spirit of Red/Brown Unity, we hoped to use creative expression to unify people representing southern Indigenous nations, known by terms such as “Chicana/o,” “Mexicana/o,” and “Latina/o,” with those Natives of northern nations, referred to today as “Native American” or “American Indian.” Café Cultura’s most well-known event has found a home at the Denver Inner City Parish/La Academia, where we consistently


attract 150 to 350 people the second Friday of every month. In fact, we host one of the best open mic venues in the Denver metropolitan area, and the only space focused on family and youth. We take pride in featuring amazing poets, musicians, and visual artists from the Denver area as well as those from outside the state. CafĂŠ Cultura also conducts highly engaging and culturally relevant spoken word/poetry workshops for underserved youth throughout Colorado. CafĂŠ Cultura partners with select organizations and schools to facilitate an intensive workshop series, publish youth poetry, and organize participant showcases. In an effort to develop young leaders within our community, we also coordinate a youth leadership program for Indigenous youth. If you or your organization is interested in collaborating, feel free to contact us. We hope to see you the 2nd Friday of every month. For more information: info@cafecultura.org; 720-394-6589 www.cafecultura.org; www.facebook.com/cafecultura


Table of Contents Personal Pride by Juan...........................................................................1 My Mom by Marina ...............................................................................2 The Haunting Past and History by Yamiled ......................................4 My Parents by Tania ..............................................................................6 A Kid by Joyce........................................................................................7 Unstoppable by Osiel ............................................................................8 Cape by Victor ..................................................................................... 10 Memories by Samantha ...................................................................... 10 My Second Home by Dylan .............................................................. 11 Change by Fred ................................................................................... 12 Just Because by Fred........................................................................... 13 Voices in the Cup of Atole by Lesley ............................................... 14 Zacatecas, Mexico by Ana ................................................................. 16 My Mom's Enchiladas by Cecilia ...................................................... 18 The Best Mom by Claudia ................................................................. 19 Flauta by Jennifer ................................................................................ 20 Just Me by John ................................................................................... 20 Remembering by Alvaisela ................................................................. 21 Who I Am by Dianey ......................................................................... 21 Chicago by Fernando.......................................................................... 22 Molcajete by Aldo ............................................................................... 23 When I was Little by Miriam ............................................................. 23 I Am by Gisel....................................................................................... 25


Mole by Jose ......................................................................................... 25 Tamales by Mauricio ........................................................................... 26 Me by Miriam ....................................................................................... 26 My Uncle by Omar .............................................................................. 28 All of My Strength by Jordan ............................................................. 28 Road of Broken Dreams by Rose ..................................................... 29 Ana is a Lifestyle by Sofi .................................................................... 30 Mi Querido Durango by Alondra ..................................................... 32 Life by Evelyn ...................................................................................... 33 Change to be me by Cherokee........................................................... 34 The Path by Maria ............................................................................... 35 Home by Max....................................................................................... 36 A Part of Me by Janette ...................................................................... 37 My Life by Jailine ................................................................................. 38 Fakes by Jason ...................................................................................... 39 Ode to a Soccer Ball by Jason............................................................ 40 Who Am I? by Jordan ......................................................................... 40 This is Who I Am by Rose ................................................................. 41 Denver by America ............................................................................. 43 This Generation by Valeria ................................................................ 44 Home by Clara ..................................................................................... 44 I Am Mexican by Jean......................................................................... 45 Marine by Danny ................................................................................. 46 My Culture by Micheel........................................................................ 46 Harvey Park by Jiselle ......................................................................... 47


I Am by Andy ...................................................................................... 48 Let Me Be by Jennifer......................................................................... 48 My Momma Bear by Reyna ............................................................... 50 Home? by Daniela............................................................................... 51 My Ring by Vanessa............................................................................ 52 Who I Am by Jorge............................................................................. 53 My Story by SaVaughn ....................................................................... 53 Untitled by Luis ................................................................................... 54 He is the Chicano Bill Gates! by Giovanni ..................................... 56 Tamales by Adelaid ............................................................................. 57 El Cafe by Rebeca ............................................................................... 57 My Dad by Grecia ............................................................................... 59 Untitled by Miriam .............................................................................. 61 Piece of You by David ....................................................................... 62 My Culture by Antonio ...................................................................... 62 Keys by Gabriel ................................................................................... 64 Where I Came From by Alma ........................................................... 65 Symbols by Paola ................................................................................ 67 Who Am I by Sofi ............................................................................... 68 Standing in My Life by Ximena ........................................................ 70 Untitled by Jeremy .............................................................................. 71 Who I Am by Erbin............................................................................ 72 World's Ideals by Luis ........................................................................ 73 Mexico by Kevin ................................................................................. 74 Still Going by John.............................................................................. 76


Ode to SS Truck by Ivan .................................................................... 78 Struggles by Gerardo........................................................................... 78


Personal Pride by Juan Guadalajara is a place I call home. I was born there. It is where I eat tacos, where my uncle died. I love this place because it never gets old visiting my family. I always smell the sweet aroma of food in el mercadito. I used to eat the food they would give you as samples, going back again and again for more. This was the place I used to call home. Now, I call home a place where I was not born. Today, I just want to say that I will go back to my home and stay there. I miss the tamales, pozole, y los taquitos de Guadalajara. I want to return to Guadalajara so I can relive my dream by making it home again.


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My Mom by Marina Ella es la que se queda despierta en la manana para cuidarme cuando estoy enferma; la que me hace de comer y hace lo mejor para mi; la que se sacrifica por mi y pone mi vida antes que la de ella. No le importa perderlo todo. Lo mas importante para ella es verme feliz. La vida para ella no ha sido facil. En sus ojos, se ven sus penas y alegrias con ese brillo en sus ojos de color cafĂŠ. Pero ella lo vence todo. Tiene las fuerzas que yo quisiera tener pero nunca la voy a igualar. Mi Mama, la que mas admiro, mi joya mas valiosa. Siempre la admiro y pienso que nunca le voy a pagar lo suficiente por todo lo que ha pasado pero ella me ha demonstrado que lo daria todo por mi. Pero con su precencia, me basta y con su delicadez me hace feliz. A pesar de todos mis verrinches


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y todos mis defectos, ella me acepta como soy. Mi mama es mi mejor amiga en la que siempre puedo confiar. Sus palabras son las mas abiles y inteligentes para consolarme. Mi mama, a pesar de todo lo que he hecho y todo lo que me falta de hacer, me ha enseĂąado a ser humilde y sencilla: siempre que no tenga ambiciones ni dejar que el mundo me pare de seguir mis suenos, porque con su sencilles y delicadesa ha demonstrado que es una guerrera de las verdaderas. Y viendola a ella, me ha enseĂąado que nada me puede vencer. Mi mama es el diamante mas brilloso que tengo y que nunca lo perderĂŠ porque siempre va a estar en mi corazon y en mi piensamiento. Su sonrisa y su fuerza de mujer nadie se lo va a quitar. La amo, a mi mama. Esa es una verdadera mama.

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The Haunting Past and History by Yamiled We come from a place of wonders and dreams, a place where we no longer know our history. The past is a dark place that haunts us to this day, even if we don’t think that it comes back to our present. Scars, wounds, and broken bones torture what we have to look forward to into the future. These three ways of life are now forever deep in our minds and hearts. We love the culture where we come from, but the love feels like a war, a war of love. We eat the food our mom makes, whether it be Mexican or Chinese. We are what we eat. We are the food that we once ate. I am el caldo de pollo que me hace mi mama on a cold winter night. I stare at the fire that was once within our cultural fight. We see the pictures of our ancestors and all of the material they once used. We don’t know our history. Why? You want to know where you came from and what your ancestors did to fight for you. All you can do is sit and wonder so many questions that your parents won’t tell you.


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Porque? The one question that always pops into your mind but never is answered. We are fighters, as much as we are dreamers. We dream about a better place to raise our children and to be able to feel free. Fighting has got us in some place that we no longer believe. But, in order for you to fight, you need to learn how to believe in who you are. You need to hold your head up high and say “I am not ashamed of what I do. I am a fighter, and I will fight for my culture and my people!� We all come from a place of wonders and dreams, a place where we no longer know who we are. Who are you? Who am I? I will never forget what we have fought through. Mexicans will always scream, yell, and cry because they no longer think they have what they deserve: rights and freedom from immigration police. I am a Mexican-American girl, Yamiled Sanchez. People will not defeat the things I have to offer. They see me as a way of life

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filled with death. They don’t see what things we have been through since the Mexican War with the United States. Our ancestors were once here, but we might not know our history. Time to start strong and fight for what we want. We are leaders of this world and we will stand strong. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful place, proud to be who I am to this day, a Mexican-American.

My Parents by Tania Inteligentes y ayudantes mis heroes son mis padres. Son los mejores que he tenido. Estuvieron con migo desde el primer día que nací. When I get weak, they help me get back on track and grow even stronger. They hold onto my love. They are unique and delicate but strong like the wind and brave like a tiger. Sus consejos son los mas abiles.


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Apesar de todas las peleas que hemos tenido, siguen siendo maravillosos en mis ojos. Los amo. They are always lecturing me, preocupandose de mi, y poniendome primero antes que ellos. Siguen luchando y ayudandome a salir adelante. En sus ojos, puedo ver a unos guerreros. En su bocas, salen las palabras “echale ganas,” mis jollas preciosas. Le doy gracias a la vida por darme unos guerreros maravillosos, mis padres.

A Kid by Joyce I’m the kid with unspoken words of pain and hatred. The suffering and labor remains unwritten. I’m a child of pure happiness and true joy, the hate staying hidden behind a curtain.

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Home is an island that is distant to me. The taste of revenge is like the sweet tostones that my mama would make. The pain of not knowing what your own family is about, trying to figuring out what you’re made of on your own. The decisions between life and death are decided whether you WANT to or you HAVE to. I don’t know who I am.

Unstoppable by Osiel In my life, there is no good or bad. I fight and survive. They try to knock me down and tackle me. They try to make me feel low but I make myself feel high, for I run through them with my power. I maybe short


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and browner than that tree you see. I still run with a low-center gravity, ready to run over or knock down those words, sending them back to those who make me feel low and treat me like I am no good. My brown is my pride. My culture is my book. My life is the evidence that disproves those who don’t believe in me. I am the one who is meant to be seen but not as the rest. I am going to be like the one they have never seen. I will be cheered by all. Kids will finally know that you can do anything, even if they say you can’t. This could be clichÊ, but nothing can hold you back if you believe you can. Every day and night I struggle with all the negative. I don't let that stop me from going beast mode and breaking those walls that keep me labeled as a minority. I am no minority. No one is. We are all the same. Until we all understand that and stop treating others unfairly, I will keep moving my legs like a NFL running back

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that has never been seen. This 5’6� Mexicano is going to be unstoppable. I will keep going, even if I have to crawl like a soldier at war.

Cape by Victor I am a person who is curious about things that are new to me like the cape that my grandma made me when I was a kid. It will be remembered as something special. I will take care of it and will always keep and pass it on.

Memories by Samantha Pictures on the walls are filled with unforgettable memories. Laughter, tears, anger, and stress linger though the walls. Every imperfection, scratch, dent, and broken object somehow brought us unity,


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even though we are anything but united. There were times when we walked hand in hand. When you decided to let go, we all fell in the black hole. We tried to climb out. When we finally did, you pulled us in once again. No longer did we try and help you climb out because you accepted being there.

My Second Home by Dylan San Francisco is my second home. I go there almost every year. Every time I go, it is a whole new city. Two things that I love the most are the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf. There are a lot of different people from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. San Francisco is known for its famous architecture and many exciting landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, cable cars, etc. If you are ever there, you can visit Fisherman’s Wharf and eat a bread bowl with clam chowder.

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Change by Fred I am a boy who hides in the shadows and lays in the depths of white society, trying to lay low. I wasn’t forced to come in America. Nor did I have a choice. I come here to make a difference, a difference that changes my family’s life. My friends wouldn't understand the challenges I go through, but to me, changing this world is a ride or die. Either live to accomplish or die trying. Deportation isn't necessary. We all come here trying to make a difference for our family. America esta cambiando quién soy, matando lo mexicano que soy. Cada dia hablo con mi padres diciendoles, “who am I?” ”quien soy yo?” Me dicen cada dia: “eres lo que tu quieres ser…you are who you want to be.” I question, “should I be the American, like my brothers?” “Or should I be the Mexican in the family, living out my race,


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thinking and following my heart, knowing that no other race can take my heart’s place?” I am the boy who hides in the shadows, hoping that someday I can have the spotlight and change society's mind.

Just Because by Fred Just because I'm Mexican doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams. Just because I'm Mexican doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. Just because I'm Mexican doesn’t mean I am thug thinking about robbing a white man. Just because I'm Mexican doesn’t mean I came here to take your job. We come for a better life. Just because I'm Mexican doesn’t mean I won't accomplish anything. I will follow my dreams no matter what, proving that we don't live in a white world, but in a colored community that works together for peace. Just for being Mexican, there will be changes.

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Voices in the Cup of Atole by Lesley I am the cup of atole that brings family together and creates cherishable moments. I come from way back, originating from Aztec roots. I am made on chilly nights to satiate the emptiness of a craving soul. The steam from the atole ghostly rises into the air and flows from ear to ear, allowing the whispers of the ancestors to be heard. I hear the cries and struggles coming from their voiceless voices. I see their worn out, rough hands being rubbed against each other trying to calm down the pain of arthritis. They work so hard to bring enough money home, but don’t have enough to buy a loaf of bread. You sit down frustrated and angry at the world because everything seems just so unequal. You start hating yourself for being the race you are. You hate your brown skin and that strong accent you have. You start to blame your parents for making you the way you are! You start screaming in your mind, wishing you were white and had the perfect house, the perfect eyes,


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the perfect hair, the perfect car, the perfect life. . . Everything would be so much easier if you were white, right? Well let me tell you something. Your parents work hard every day to try to give you what you need. It’s a struggle for them too, but they do a better job at hiding the frustration. Be proud of your race and your skin color because we all created something new when we came into this world. “Immigrants,” what supposed “citizens” call us, while discriminating against us for being the way we are. They call US the immigrants, when they were the ones who first decided to come and colonize this Native land. Everyone, except Natives, are immigrants, not originating from this land. The ones who were here first had their land and culture taken away and mutilated. We need to view each other with respect. We’re all humans.

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We were all created equal. All of our destinies were written by the SAME hand.

Zacatecas, Mexico by Ana Zacatecas, for me, means home. My parents met and got married there. The love that I have for Mexico is more than the love that I have for my boyfriend. It is my world and home. My dad works hard every day, wishing to see his sweet home again, but how? It is hard to get back. Life is hard and will stay like that for all time. My home belongs there. I miss it. Let’s go back! But wait, not without my parents. They miss their home country. Zacatecas is where my hometown can be found. I love the fresh smell of mole con tortillas. I miss the old times,


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like history misses the past. I wish my parents could go. The food is so delicious, the tortillas so soft and tasty. Fresnillo, Zacatecas is the most beautiful place. It is amazing! The lights at night are so brilliant. The people, we are all in unity. My people work every day. My dad works with a disgraced face, working like a slave. He works extremely hard, my lovely, damn tired father. Mucho trabajo que lleva el pobre. But I still love him with all of my heart, even during those cold nights when we cannot even sleep because we feel like frozen snowmen. Zacatecas has a very beautiful city. There are animals, including cows and chickens. My abuelita’s dog is like a family member. Oh, how I love him! It’s just like the old times.

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The smell of fresh tortillas is the best kind. My abuelita’s house smells so great. We can’t get enough of it. Its aroma reaches all the way to my tia’s ranch. I can still remember her kindness. When the sun rises, we can see and feel the morning, los gallos diciendo, “ya levantense! ya es tiempo!” The breeze comes through the window, fresh, Mexican air. That’s what I want to smell every day.

My Mom's Enchiladas by Cecilia I am the roots of Morelos and Denver, represented in the enchiladas my mom makes. They are the ones everyone seems to love. I can be that amazing cheese people savor, or the chili that some love but others can’t handle. I am Mexican American. I am my mom’s enchiladas. I make the house cheer up just like when my mom calls out, “Dinner is ready!” But I can also give horrible heartburn. I am your heartburn as well as the warm fuzzy feeling


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you get when you taste the melted cheese. I am my mom’s enchiladas. I am the addiction you feel when you take one bite, you can’t help but to take another.

The Best Mom by Claudia I struggle to make the best out of myself, to see you smile for what I’ve accomplished. I don’t deny you being there since day one. Instead, I thank you for being the one to bring me into this universe. Your hands resemble the hard work you’ve put forth. You’ve been there through thick and thin. You’ve suffered so much, but still manage to smile. You hide your tears from me and my brothers. You stand strong, even when you’re down. When I’m sad, you make me grin. Once again, I learn from you. Our sorrows are disguised with that of a smile. I will never hurt you or make you feel pain. You are my mom and I love you to death. And that will continue until my last breath Love, Claudia

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Flauta by Jennifer I am that hard tortilla made with some oil and sweet, juicy chicken served with a side of beans and sour cream, not caring about all the fat and calories. All I know is that it reminds me of Mexico. I will always remember the restaurant where my grandma took me and all the memories we made. Flautas are the best food ever.

Just Me by John They said they can’t see my heart. I told ‘em to feel my pain and look again. No father figure, and I am still able to be the man. I’ve been down and lost a lot but honestly, I don't give up and I'm still able to win. It doesn’t matter if I’m not the best at showing love, at least I’m trying. I swear I'm doing better than my father did. I swear I'm there for you way more than any one has been for me. I’ve been speaking the truth and laying out my heart with every word that I speak.


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I don’t care about whether or not you like me. My goal is elevate the world and get this generation to think. I speak the truth and hope you understand what my motive is. JUST ME AND MY INK.

Remembering by Alvaisela I am not another stereotype. I come from the nicest family ever. I will always remember that I came from a caring dad and mom that never denied me anything. I will never forget about where and who influenced me to be the person that I am. I am 1/2 Mexican and the other 1/2 American I come from proud Aztecs that were defeated but yet stand proud of what their culture has inspired all over the world.

Who I Am by Dianey I love my beautiful house, enjoying the sight like I never been in it before. I smile like I never did, looking at my house glowing like the sun in the sky. I love the smell of my house,

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the aroma like flowers in the summer. I grew up in a Mexican community, which I’m proud of! I learned to act like a woman y ser responsable de mi misma. I learned to dance since the day I was born. Mi ama me dice que yo estoy lista para ir a un party todo las dias y porque no estoy lista para limpiar la casa. But I know that she is just playing around with me just to give me a hard time. I still love her no matter what. I love to eat mis tortas de pastor. I love to hear cumbias, norteñas, y pasito satevo! That’s my passion. It runs through in my blood. This is who I am and I'm proud of it!

Chicago by Fernando I rep’ my city Chicago. I'm not from here in Denver. This doesn’t feel like home. Home for me is Chicago, not here. I really want to return to my real home. It’s good and all having friends here, but it’s not home. Nothing can replace the feeling of home. It’s something you can't change.


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Molcajete by Aldo Yo soy el que trae a la gente a la mesa, para comer. El chile y el tomate estan juntos adentro moliendose y dรกndole sabor, a la comida y orgullo de ser Mexicano. Yo doy el sabor que quema la lengua, y que da un sabor fuerte y sabroso. Las tortillas estan calentando en el comal casi listas para comer. El molcajete es mejor que la licuadora, como antes lo usaban nuestros abuelos nada de lo de hoy. El molcajete es importante para los mexicanos de tener y reunirse con la familia y comer juntos y feliz.

When I was Little by Miriam When I was just a little girl, I thought the whole world was a mystery. I would hide from the moon because I thought it was following me. Each cloud was an animal looking for its owner. Factories made clouds. Moms were superheroes in disguise. When I went to middle school,

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friends weren’t my first option. I would hide behind my books, away from mocking faces and hurtful words. Each laugh would be directed toward me. My mom cared, telling me to be her, a little less me. When I got to high school, 69 was no longer a number. Cool kids sat where they wanted, everyone else had to choose a designated place. My mom would bark any chance she got. When I was young, the only thing I wanted to be was an adult. Now, there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to make myself naive and have everything just roll right off of me. The little girl inside me is still there. I had to grow up fast. To be me, I had to become them. I am hiding behind a smile, but the tears are breaking through.


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I excuse myself every time one gets over the brick wall of a smile. When I was young, I never imagined it would be this hard, this cruel, this bad.

I Am by Gisel I am the person I see in the mirror every day. I am the perfect daughter my parents want, who were born and raised in Durango. I am Gisel. I am the spicy tamales my mom makes, the happy, shining light that helps my family. I am polite and kind, a volleyball player hiding behind a smile. I am a future FBI agent I am.

Mole by Jose My grandma creates mole with love, always on Christmas day. It brings my family together, in Mexico. When I eat mole, it makes me love my family more because it’s the best time of the year.

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You’re with the most important people you could ever be with. It has the taste of love. I hear the chisme of the aunties while eating the delicious mole that my grandma makes. We eat as a family, together. Even if the table is already packed, there will always be a spot for a family member. There's no other important thing than the family because they're always going to be there for you through the good and the bad.

Tamales by Mauricio I love the taste tamales, as they bring the flavor of joy. Making this food is fun, especially with my family. In the end, the taste reminds me of how special my family is.

Me by Miriam Tell me the many years of history, how we rose from the ashes of the ruined city; how we put a cast on our broken heart,


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wanting it to eventually heal; why we wish for it all to be the same. Show me the wrongness of it all, how history needs to make us you, while we’re forgotten. The pictures in history books show THEM as the winner, and US as evil. Prove to me that this so-called great nation didn’t grow on oppression. or how we are made warriors on OUR free will. Make me the skin and bones of the conquistadores, but the soul and heart of our warriors. Hold me accountable for what THEY did, not for what WE made. That when I say I’ll rise to the top, I don’t mean climbing on the ashes; on my promise to stay FREE, to be ME not to become THEM,

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in the land of the BRAVE. Read me like a history book made from OUR side, not the many years of lies. Build up. I can be what I want to be, not what you want to see.

My Uncle by Omar I always wanted to be what my uncle saw for me. Since he is gone, it feels like he is still here with us. Everything I do reminds me of him. He would be proud of me. I’m doing what he always wanted me to do and become, doing the good, not the bad and trying to live up to the expectations.

All of My Strength by Jordan I can only work for a limited amount of time because inside, I have a weakness. Everyone has weaknesses,


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you just need to find them. Some of these people think I can do it all, but I need some help from my teammates. There is no “I” in team, I heard. Well, let’s not use that word. Let’s use the word “we.” We need to work as a team. It seems that we can be a family. If we work alone, we won’t become as strong. If we come together as a community, we could do so much. We’re like twigs. When it’s by itself, it can just snap. But if there are more than one, it can stay just as strong.

Road of Broken Dreams by Rose I have a dream to be an artist, a dream to teach people how to draw. But that all got destroyed when my life went to hell. I got bullied all my life and it has never stopped. There was so many times I have tried to change the way things were, but it just made it worse. I almost ended my life about a year ago. I had people screaming things at me that to this day, I will never understand. They made me think

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that I was only invisible, that I did not belong, that I was another made up person in this jacked up world, a person that will never amount to anything. But I proved them wrong. I became that person who does what I want to do, not what they told me to. Now, when people see my art, they know that I am not invisible and that I do belong.

Ana is a Lifestyle by Sofi People say, "she has a hot body," not knowing that, that hurts as she starves herself, cuts her wrist, and weights herself every day to see if she hasn't gained, but lost. She looks in the magazine, Writing, "Ana is a life style," looking in to the lying mirror, showing her what she sees as ugly. The girl next door is no different. She weighs more than 200 pounds She admires the girl next door, looking in the mirror,


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hitting her hand while demanding it to stop grabbing food. She calls herself names that others uses against her. She falls and cries. They both say, "thin is beauty," both wishing that they were as thin as Barbie. They don't dare to eat the poisonous apple, pulling the rubber band when thinking of food, while punishing their minds with dirty words. Soon she weighs 98 pounds and she weighs 168 pounds, feeling happy not knowing they shut down every day. Her mom and the doctor say, "you lost weight!" She feels happy and says, "Ana is a lifestyle." Her parents find out she weighs 98 pounds. They make her eat, not knowing that she pukes it afterwards. She looks at the food. She wants it

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but only looks at it closely, like those expensive clothes you want but can only see. In less than a year, she has a tube up her nose. She can't control her balance anymore. But feel happy, boys are after her. She is now 110. She has gained 10 pounds. She grabs a knife and cuts her stomach. "Ana is a lifestyle!" She is done with treatment, remembering the young neighbor next door. She knew that the neighbor wanted to be like her. She walks in, looks at the walking skeleton, grabs her hand, and says "Ana is not a lifestyle."

Mi Querido Durango by Alondra Mi querido Durango es donde puedes disfrutar de las largas lindas noches. Es donde crecí como niña, donde me enseñaron a darme a respetar, porque soy mujer,


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no un objeto. Mi querido Durango es donde aprendí como montar caballo, donde me pasaba las tardes con la familia ayudando cocinar. Mi querido Durango fue donde mis padres se conocieron, se enamoraron y me tuvieron a mi, a mi hermano, y linda hermana. Es donde murio mi tio, y donde cada año visito su tumba. Las noches en la plaza son inolvidables, comiendo sabritas con mis primas y primos, escuchando música, y paseandonos en los motos todo el dia. Este es mi querido Durango, y siempre en mi corazón estará.

Life by Evelyn Life is a struggle. It will never be easy and it will never be hard. You have to struggle through many things. Some people will let you down and you will be disappointed. You have to always be careful on who you trust. There are many fake friends but you will have those who are always there for you, no matter what.

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Sometimes family is all you need. They will always have your back. They will help you through the thick and thin. You can always trust them.

Change to be me by Cherokee I will try my hardest but the world around me has to let me do my thing. They can stand there and hold me back. Just let me be me. I am odd. I am strange. I am me. I am me. I am me. I can be odd. I can be strange. I can be me. I will be odd. I will be strange. I will be me. I will be me. I will be me. I will try my hardest but the world around me has to let me do my thing. They can stand there and hold me back. Just let me be me.


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I can improve. I can succeed. I can change. I can be me. I will improve. I will succeed. I will be me. I will change. I am improved. I am success. I am change. I am me. I am me. I am me. I will try my hardest but the world around me has to let me do my thing. They can stand there and hold me back. Just let me be me.

The Path by Maria As I walk, as I see, I kind of understand I don’t need you. Your promise is broken Your trust, take that with you. Things hurt, yet the scar will heal.

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Don’t promise too much, don’t trust too much because that too much can hurt so much. You‘re not alone. Take my hand. Come with me, I’ll show you the path. You’ll be with me. Stay with me. I promise to love you till the end.

Home by Max Denver is my home, my country. I was raised here with the urban culture. I love the foods, the holidays, everything about it. I love Denver. It’s amazing. The cultures are mixed, which makes everything beautiful about it. I left el barrio to live a better life. Drive-by and death, you see that in the hood. It’s your choice to move if you want to succeed and call a place a home.


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A Part of Me by Janette Teacapan, Sinaloa Teacapan is a part of me, the town my family was born. I’ve been there many times. It’s a small town with a population of 1,300 people, humble people. I am half Mexican and half American. In the night, you feel the breeze of the Pacific Ocean, in the morning, the smell of handmade tortillas. You also hear the sound of people selling things, “vengan y agaren su queso fresco!” Everyone knows each other and yells, “Adios!” or “buen dia.” You can easily walk from one side of town to the other. Most of the streets are of sand or pebbles. Everyone wakes up early for school or work. Buses come all the time to take you to another place. You can go fishing and there’s easy access to seafood. I may have not been born there, but it’s still a part of me. I have learned from the people there and that has affected how I am today.

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My Life by Jailine I love my family I love the place where my family comes from. Everything they do creates me. I come from a strong family. That’s why I am strong too. All of their food, their traditions show in my face They are what I remember every day, because my family showed me. From the day I was born till the day I die, I will be proud of my family, my home, and my culture. I love everything, everything that comes from my family. The red, white, and green empowers me every day. I value everything that was taught to me by my parents. Mexican roots are in my blood and I will always be proud of where I’m from.


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Fakes by Jason The area of this prison is very big. It can cause an issue for me to try to escape. Oh, no, why am I always facing these problems? This big problem takes my friends and my life apart. We live in a world of fakes, not reals. Trust, can we do that again? I don’t think so because our world is full of fakes Will we make this world more fake or more real? Instead of being helpful to each other, we hate on each other, talking stuff behind a person’s back. Ene, meni, myni, mo, which of you can I trust to tell my secrets and the truth. Oh, wait, I can’t trust you because you are just going tell everyone and then they’ll make fun of me, not you.

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Ode to a Soccer Ball by Jason The first day I saw you at the store, you were so beautiful and lonely. I was in love with you. I got you to be mine. You came to my house. We played for hours and hours Wh together. We took pictures together. It was a better love story than Twilight, but you had leave to the neighbor's house . I really miss you.

Who Am I? by Jordan Who am I? I am the teenager who defends his dream of being a rapper and producer. I am not what you say I am. I can control who I am. Don’t worry about me. You should worry about who you want to be. Bro, I’m like a lion. I keep on fighting for what I want. Do you see me crying? I’m working to the best of my ability, y’all can see my agility


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from when I started. I’ve always wanted to be departed in a life, in a successful career. I didn’t think I’d be this far in my life, and it’s clear. I am where I want to be. Three more years and I’m going to be, a famous rapper and producer. I want to become something and not to be a loser. Of course, I’m an African-American, but don’t be fooled. It just cooled down up in here. But that’s just who I am.

This is Who I Am by Rose The smell of tacos remind me of the times I’ve spent with my friends and family. The taste brings me back to when I had my first taco and how happy I was eating it for the first time. The texture makes me think of myself because the outside is always something different and the inside always the same, never changing. I am like the taco, the delicious taste that makes your mouth water, the taste always making you come back for more, the taste that the reminds you of the first time you had one. I am the smell that I love. The mountains are almost like a second home to me. I go to see the wildlife that lives there.

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I go to see my grandpa, I go to just be myself. I can really connect to the mountains because just like them, I am strong. I know I can be who I want be when I am up there. I can just let go, and up there, I know there are no problems that I have to worry about. When I visit the mountains, I look down at Denver and see the place I know. I call home the place where all my problems are, the place where I feel I don’t belong. I am beautiful. I am Native American, French, American, and German. I am the person who will change my generation, the one who will help fix this jacked up world. I may look like nothing but I have the power to change the world. I have the power to be my own person. I don’t have to be what society tells me I need to look like. I am my own person and that will never change. I am the little delicate feather. You can hurt me but when you try to step on me, I become as strong and hard as a rock. I am the feather that sits on the head of a warrior, the one that is going to fly to new places and new heights. I am the feather that will never back down or fall off.


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I am the wolf and its strength to take on fierce warriors. They are like the bullies that try to bring me down, trying to kill me. They put an image in my head that they keep reminding me about. The image is now lodged in my mind and now it is a part of me. They made me believe that I am the wolf trying to kill them when really they are trying to kill me. I have the strength of the wolf to overcome what they say, to leap over it, and find a way to kill it. Now that I have the strength of the wolf, I know I can overcome anything.

Denver by America Denver is the city where I grew up, where my memories were made with different kinds of people, going downtown. Memories flow in and out. People come and go. So many have left, very few have stayed. They change. It makes me realize nobody is really there. The only way out of all the pain is to remember where I from and where I’m going.

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This Generation by Valeria This generation has changed all of us. It seems to be one of the worst generations out there. But why is that? We blame society, but little do we know, we are society. We blame who we think we’re not just to comfort ourselves by not blaming ourselves. Kind of selfish don’t you think?

Home by Clara I enjoy my home, the way they talk like no other; the way all that effort is put to be able to be yourself and not be judged like society does. All that love is shared like that of an old man and his old wife having been together for years. Once you step into the house, you feel like the world has stayed outside that white door. No more horrible words that bring you down. No more rumors and judgmental sayings. It’s like you just fit right in because they are the one thing that nobody was able to be. They are your greatest partners. They are the greatest best-friends.


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That one home where I have lived for all my life, is the home I want to be able to grow up and say, “My childhood was the most amazing thing throughout those years.” and “My parents have tried their hardest to give my siblings and me the best home there can ever be.” My home is that one home that I will never forget because it has brought me so much joy and love. I will never take that back for anything.

I Am Mexican by Jean I am the old adobe house, sharing two rooms, twice the people. I come from dirt roads and dirt mounds in the distance. My guardian angel will be above me. I’ll always be watched over, whether it be from the skies or my family, there is no difference. My Rosario will always be near. I come from the hands of a craftsman. I am the fruits of the labor from generations past. I come from the fields to you. I will remember rising from the anguish of so many predecessors.

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I am a bracero. They were braceros. We all were braceros. I come from la madre Mexico. My dreams will be burned into my future. I won’t soon forget the heat of injustice. I am Mexican Ciudad Chihuahuha is my heart. I will never forget those dirt roads.

Marine by Danny I am a future MARINE. Just as many in my family before me, I am a future defender of this country called America. If I am to fall, I’m glad I didn’t go out as coward but as a MARINE. Those who endure with me to the end shall forever be my brothers. I am a future MARINE “SEMPER FIDELIS” always faithful to the corp. I am a future MARINE.

My Culture by Micheel I come from the place where you can smell the deliciousness of tamales. The smell of Mexican food makes me happy. It brings us together, united as a family in my house to celebrate Christmas, an important holiday in my culture.


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I can feel the love as I walk around the house, little kids running, waiting to open their presents, family loving and hugging. The smell of menudo makes me more hungry. I enjoy those special moments being with my mom. She worked hard to make our dinner and to have everyone together. I appreciate and love her. No other woman will take her place. Every year we represent our culture together as a family. We laugh and cry together. We are always there to help each other out. My family and my culture will always be in my heart.

Harvey Park by Jiselle Harvey Park, I have embraced it for ten years. I’ve seen the white and pink flowers blossom in spring and the white landscape of winter. The smell of warm posole rises in the early morning. The sunset sends warmth to one’s heart with the pink shot

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of sky. The dazzling stars whisper sweet songs to your soul. It’s seen me grow. It’s seen the smiles and all of the pain. It holds the secrets that no one has heard and experiences that all have shared. Harvey Park, I have embraced it for ten years and hope to embrace it for many more.

I Am by Andy I am the workforce of my ancestors, the hands that plowed the soil. I am the people who fought for justice, a mirror to the constant battle of right and wrong. I am myself. I am my ancestors.

Let Me Be by Jennifer I am the spice and sweet covered person. I am a mix of the two flavors


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creating the best. I am my own person, a different spice to everyone else. I am weird. I come from the people. I grew up speaking English and now try to recover from losing culture because a country doesn’t like for me to be me. I am the change. I like banda and corridos even if corridos are only supposed to be for guys. I step away from these dumb stereotypes. You don’t ride with me. You don’t know me. You don’t watch me grow, so let me be. I am my own person, different than my family. Yes, I’m weird yet you shouldn’t care who I am. I write my own stuff, you shouldn’t care. I am my own person like you are. You start saying things, yet don’t like people to say anything about you. I am my own thing. I am Jenny. I care but people like you messed up my personality.

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There will be a point when I will not care. I will walk over you if you shall not let me be.

My Momma Bear by Reyna My momma bear has light brown hair like me. My momma bear taught me to always be the best I can be. My momma bear has dark brown eyes like me. My momma bear taught me that hard work will always pay off. My momma bear has light skin like me. My momma bear taught me that being different is good. My momma bear has small, delicate hands like me. My momma bear taught me that life is short, so I have to make the best of it every day. My momma bear has a kind soul like me. My momma bear


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loves me no matter what. I love my Momma Bear!

Home? by Daniela I know where I was born. I know where I was raised, two different places, conflictingly enough. Memories of snow and tall buildings have replaced those of the sun and warmth. I can no longer remember the hands that carried me as a small child. I’m always asked, “did you spend time with your relatives over the break?” My answer is always the same, “I haven’t seen them or talked to them since I was one.” How could I remember the words and traditions when I wasn’t given much to memorize? I’m missing something important, I know I am. But, the challenge of remembering and keeping gets much harder, much harder, when those ancient traditions are in the process of being replaced. Where am I from? Is it Denver? The place I’ve lived in for so long? The place I’ve created the most memories in?

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The place I was raised? The place I met my friends? Or is it Mexico? The place my bloodline began? The place my family lives? The place I was born? I don’t know what to do for I’m only a canvas smudged with confusion. The beautiful colors of my past have nearly faded.

My Ring by Vanessa Oh, that ring on my finger, I love so very much. 15, the symbol of womanhood for me and my culture. Some may exaggerate the meaning, but it’s beautiful to me and all the little things that came with it. It makes people stop and stare for a while making them go, ah ah ah ah at its beauty, indeed. I don’t understand why some people are ashamed. My culture is beautiful, it is mine indeed. I’m not afraid to yell to the world, yeah,


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I’m from Durango and Chihuahua, and I'm very proud.

Who I Am by Jorge I am Latino and very proud, still remembering the sweet smell of my land, still have the marks of when I was in my land, still remembering the food that I eat. The rain runs down the house, wetting all the land and helping the corn to grow. There is pain in having to leave the land, coming to a new country, looking for new opportunities, and seeing people who think I am strange because of my skin color. One day, I will go back to my land, the one who saw me grow.

My Story by SaVaughn I will never forget that I’m the main character of this story. My story and life will never be forgotten. My descendants will tell of my life and legacy, my rise and my downfall.

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I honor my ancestors and will tell them what I’ve done to make them proud. I may have forgotten their appearance but not their memories, they live on through me and my actions. Without me, this world may or may not be a peaceful place. But there will be a difference in many people’s lives. Some say that I’m weird, but that’s the beauty in being different in life. I’m different from everybody else, not just the same person day in and day out. I’m not a robot but a young man trying to understand life and people. My ancestors consumed corn, chicken, etc. which has always been a part of my heritage. Modern society may have changed but my family heritage will always stay the same.

Untitled by Luis Muriendo (dying), en mis manos (in my hands), his lifeless body, getting colder as the clock struck 1 am.


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What was I supposed to do? What could I have done? Down federal, turn alameda, he’s bleeding everywhere! His blood covers my hands and face, even steering wheel! Shaking so much, I'm scared to make the wrong move and kill us both. What will Damaris say? Y Pedro? Y Omar? Y Juan? Insecurity runs through my veins as time flies by. I can feel his blood running down his chest. I can feel tears running down my cheek. We stop in front of Damaris’ house. I drag his body, muscles aching with pain, screaming for me to stop. Once we get inside, his body turns white. His dead somehow. I sit next to him and cry. There’s nothing to do. Esa es la vida de el angel que calló.

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He is the Chicano Bill Gates! by Giovanni He was born an American but raised like a wet back, a “green” certificate giving him an advantage over his parents and brothers. He was the rising maiz created by the American farm. He consumes the GMOs, while losing the culture his grandparents left him. The struggle wasn’t real, the decision to avoid them was! The first step is to embrace the real culture and the real maiz behind all that corn, before you realized that life was a real struggle. Now, he is leading the way, many Mexicans following. It's a leader arising but for the gringos, he's just a college graduate. He's leading the revolutionary movement. I must leave my barrio and come back to make it a better place. This Mexican Bill Gates will create this change!


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Tamales by Adelaid Tamales represent my culture and are made by the hands of my mom, my aunties, my family. I love the way that we all come together to celebrate. There is not a lot but enough to show that we will stick together. The food is the connection that will always be there. The laughs, the work to create it, make it even more special. My food is me.

El Cafe by Rebeca Yo vengo de el cafĂŠ de un mundo de fe. No todo esta bien pero luchamos por nuestro bien. Busco una salida del mundo de fracaso. I work for my future with the sweat of my ancestors. Their struggles brought me here and now it is my turn to make it through. The scars on their hands only help me realize not everything is easy.

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I imagine my life as a rich white person, but I'm proud to be a poor Chicana drinking coffee instead of rich red wine. The smell of coffee fills every room with the story of our people. The sweet taste of cafe con leche with pan dulce changes the mood. The lost generation, I hear it all the time. They say we no longer have what the others had, that we are lost in a world of drugs, alcohol, and disobedience. But that is just a generalization. I know it is because if you get to know me, my dreams are my drugs. I get crazy, thinking about all the things I can be and do. I am obedient because I don’t want to bring more problems to my family than we already have. My alcohol is the food that you can say I chug, thinking that it might go away. The food speaks to me, telling me the stories of those who first ate them. If you ask me, some of us know.


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Many of us take pride in who we are and I know that I’m proud to come from el cafe. I’m also la canela que calientan, trying to make the water get its color. I can be myself and show my true colors. Both the canela and the coffee bring warmth within our families. I am that warmth. I bring that happiness and that love to them. I am also proud to say that coffee has so many untold stories that others don't bother to share because those that drink it don’t see the great value it has. They both help us forget the bitter moments that we have had throughout the day, The sweet sensational taste goes down your throat like a snake. Yo vengo de el café, y nunca perderé mi fe ni mis ancestros.

My Dad by Grecia He’s made of steel and talks like a volcano. He knows the future and fights for freedom, knowing the way

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to heaven or hell. I’m an image of his appearance, the flowers admirer, the tamales, pozole, y menudo that bless the air with beauty. The rain and rainbows cover his spirit like cloth. The antiques that he brings back make my life blossom with pride, like the flower made into a necklaces of gold that connect to the pain of the Mayans, while bringing hope and light to the world. I come from a place of dignity and respect. The cool breeze and warm days only bring joy and happiness. Love and curiosity are in the land when all you see is dirt and smoke. Not only is the place poor and ruined but somewhere in the dark, you can find light. The food that melts my ice is within you. You only know what's best for you but you never realize that sometimes bad is good.


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The smell of good food is bad but only as the cause for our death and disease. Not only do they tell you, don't eat it, it’s poison. But they say that it’s not the kind to live and die for.

Untitled by Miriam My beautiful brown skin glistens in the sun, as a reminder of my people, mi cultura. It is a reminder of where I came from and the struggle that got me to this country. Every time I look in the mirror, I remember mi ciudad Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. I will never forget those afternoons chilling with my grandpa before he departed and taking care of his garden. The roses began to die at the same time that he began to get sick. Las rosas se machitaron. I will always remember him and carry his beautiful words when he called me, “mi muñeca.”

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Piece of You by David There is that one piece of your soul. It’s the one piece that’s cooked up in the kitchen of the body that acts like a key into the mind. It’s the food that we love. Each of us has it, but each of us have different experiences. There is also that one place where you have had all your memories, the one place where you have always loved your family. These things always make who and what you are.

My Culture by Antonio My culture is like no other from another mother. We come from the dirt and see the sky darken. But we stay strong and don’t complain ‘cause the cries would be in vain. We have forgotten how to live, the simplicity of the land covered with a layer of cement. We set out for a future


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no one can predict ‘cause they have eyes covered with phones. We no longer smile ear to ear but through a screen that run our lives. We can no longer dig in our yard or walk a block without being judged. There are people who have more than enough to eat while their neighbor is working for less than a dollar a day. We rather exploit the poor to become richer than bringing each other up. We don't care anymore and the doctor kills more than weed. I wake up at six to live an unhappy life because I forgot how to live. Let the horizon rise and allow me to breathe the toxic breath of contaminated land. Let’s pick each other up, believe in ourselves rather than technology. Love your neighbor. The love is contagious. Don’t dream when you sleep and live like it’s heaven on earth.

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Keys by Gabriel I am the bolded letters in an article, the black keys of the piano in the store that I will never afford; the author of a book that won’t even make the shelves. I come from a legacy that I can’t live up to, expectations never met, goals never reached, and prophecies never foretold; from Shanghai to Dublin; from rice with everything, on the side, to potatoes as a main course. I am chopsticks before forks, and hands before that. I am a mutt by breed, but still by choice. I am the blank canvas left behind when you combine twenty cultures. Skin too pale to look Mexican, legs too long to be Chinese, eyes too dark to be German. I am nothing, but the black keys on the piano in the store that I’ll never afford.


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Where I Came From by Alma De las raíces de Mazatlán, yo vengo acostumbrada del olor a quemadura: humo aqui, humo alla. Con tortillas en el comal y frijoles en la olla, estoy sentada en la mesa para cuatro, disfrutando el saboreo en mi boca: tortilla, queso, salsa roja, que asco sentir el desmoronado, blanco, riquese, orosco olor del queso. Soy Mexicana con unos defectos pero de buen humor, como todos los Mexicanos tienen que ser. De las raíces de Mazatlán, yo vengo acostumbrada a compartir la casa entre una dos tres familias. El viento baila hacia las ventanas, ventanas que no usan vidrio. Si no, hay toallas que necesitamos para nuestra propia salud. Mi madre duerme en la sala que aun sea convertido en su propio lugar. Las paredes no son blancas. Si no,

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verdes, rojas, amarillas, coloreadas de crayolas porque no hay papel para dibujar para expresar o sentir. Y no lo tomes mal. Mi casita no es hecha de diamantes o de rocas que alumbran el país. Mi casita es mi niñez, mi abrigo. De las raíces de Mazatlán, yo vengo. En las mañanas me levanto mirando millones de caras, pero me encanta mirar la sonrisa de mi abuelo. Me agarra y me pone a bailar, su cachete en mi cachete, expresando la suavidad de la música que surande la sala. Dejo mis rizadas que se oigan porque mi abuelo esta contento. Pero ahora, ahora que hay? Oigo los llantos de mi abuela por el telefono. Aun, mi abuelo se ha ido. Se fue sin un adiós, sin una sonrisa, y sin una mirada


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El cielo se ve brillante azul y me hace pensar. Será que mi abuelo me esta mirando? De coraje, pregunto porque fue asi. Pero el coraje destruye. De las raíces de Mazatlán, yo vengo. De memoria y experiencia crecí. Estoy viviendo una nueva experiencia, con dolor y felicidad. Pues, trabajo para no ser una pobre mujer, como algunos de ustedes llaman “Mexicanas.”

Symbols by Paola I am the symbol of love. I come from the roots of Mexican food. I will always remember my people and those who raised me. I will never forget the place that saw me grow. No one will ever take the place of those in my life. From now until the day I die, I will value the red that represents power, the white that empowers peace,

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and the green that shows the earth we come from. Mexican roots are in my blood. We all belong to the same god. I love all my family because they are always there for me.

Who Am I by Sofi I come from a Mexican mom and a Mexican dad. I’m from Denver, Colorado. I am supposed to like corridos that talk about drugs and killing my people. Then there is Paulina Rubio, who is the most girly pop singer, sonidera with its catchy songs, but talk about men being heartbroken. No, that’s not me. I am a Little Monster, a Lady Gaga fan, knowing that I can relate to her. I’ve always been seen as something that it’s not valuable, by how big my stomach is, by how I don't have that pretty fake Barbie face, by my music. Gaga is to me, that one person


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who was there for me in 8th grade, when no one was. I knew I had my familia but still felt abandoned. “God makes no mistake. I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.” That made me feel happy and I wonder, “Why does someone who doesn’t know me make me feel accepted, and the people who know me make me feel like crap?” My stomach is big. I have stretch marks. I freaking hate it. I think that they are so disgusting. I always cried ‘cause every girl I knew had a soft, clean stomach and I have those things. When they tell me that I’m fat, I know. Don’t you think that I see it every time I wake up, every time I change my clothes, when they don’t fit me because I am an XXL, when my favorite store doesn’t have my damn size!!! I KNOW. Sometimes I feel like I am not worth it.

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I am. I really am. I’ve learned to accept me for who I am, even if it hurts. I may not be the ideal skinny girl, but I am me. God made me like this. People love me for who I am. My life is good now. I need to leave the past where it is, even if it is still present.

Standing in My Life by Ximena I am the one who stands back up when everyone brings her down. I am like my momma’s enchiladas, When I can’t handle someone anymore, you can see the fiery side of me, just like the redness of the enchiladas. I come from Mexico, proud to tell the whole world that I am an immigrant, achieving my dreams set from the moment my feet stepped on U.S soil. I will always remember all that trust I had, all the good moments spent with you, all the times that I called you


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“Best Friend.” I will never forget how you turned your back on me, how I saw you change from the person I knew to the person I feared. I will never forget. The sun is coming down, the afternoon gets quieter. You feel the peace between humanity and nature. The fireflies accompany us as we see the sun trade positions with the moon. It is a peaceful night, up by the hill where we last stood together.

Untitled by Jeremy Family is first, girlfriend after, and friends after that. Choices make your mind burst. It’s like choosing your favorite food, it puts you in a bad mood. This is not much of a poem but still shines more than rap. It sticks like glue just like family and the girl I call boo. Friends disappear but the ones I love, I keep them above, above the fakes. This is my poem.

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This is what I think and I’m going to always think the same thing.

Who I Am by Erbin I am Erbin Reve, coming straight up out of Denver raised here, not born, so my main land is remembered. Blame my roots for my boots, blame my roots for my favorite foods. Now that y’all asking me which of ‘em they are, I need to list ‘em to you: tamales, menudo, posole, tortillas de harina, y unas quesadillas, thats my favorite food. Hamburgers, pizza, hot chocolate, french fries, Chipotle I’d say, but it wouldn’t be the truth.


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World's Ideals by Luis The funny thing is we want things we don't have the money for. We want things we don't need, only to show off what we have. We don't take the time to see what we have around us, to appreciate what we have right now. When we lose it, then we see how important it was to us. We are what the world tells us to be and do, in order to get what we don't have. So we hustle to get the brands and only end up broke. It’s better to not do what the world wants. Be smart and stay with what will last forever: family. You can't buy or sell family because they aren't an object. Once you die, all you had stays and the only thing that’s left is family.

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Mexico by Kevin My home, Mexico, it’s more than a drug war and kidnappings. It is a place where people, hard working people live. Sometimes I wonder, why doesn’t the U.S help Mexico? They helped Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. But the people of Mexico have been waiting for a helping hand. Mexico is not what people say it is. It used to be a beautiful place. People say that we crossed the border. In reality, the border crossed us. I will always remember the struggles I have gone through, just for being Mexican. I will never forget when my mom used to tell me, when I was a little Mexicano, that just because I was Mexican, did not mean that I crossed the border. It meant that I was a special human being and that no matter what the world threw at me, I will always overcome it, staying who I will always be. People in America have cheeseburgers, chips, and all the foods that everyone in the U.S. eat. My family will never give in to the Dark Side.


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My family will always be on the Light Side, which is full of our delicious food. What does this have to do with me? My parents, without them, I would be out in the streets drunk on alcohol and all. I see all the agony and pain they have gone through just so I wouldn’t go through the same. They are my Batman and Robin. They came from a small pueblo in Chihuahua, the very same place I came from. They have lost loved ones, from my dad’s father and mother, who will always live in my family, to my mother’s brother who I never had a chance to see, only photos. My parents are gods to me. They always make me and my brother smile, but we never get to see them smile. Work takes out their energy, but somehow, they seem to not be affected at all. My family, our food, and my home country, it makes me who I am me now. I wouldn’t change a thing. Their learnings flood my blood cells. I am Human. I am Mexican. I am Kevin Parga.

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Still Going by John I show a fake smile, tell everyone everything is okay. Funny of you to think I'm straight. I recently lost my way, made a U-turn in life and going straight. Sad that straight is nowhere fast, bringing out my past. My past is like my dad’s even though it didn't ever involve him. He left and turned his back, the method I have recently used to solve my problems. So now I'm bringing out my past. I was doing good but good things don't always last. I reminisce on the start and where I am now. Mistakes on my mind all they do is build up. I keep trying hard, mess up harder, and then give up. I show you a smile and tell you that I’m cool. I’ve been getting hit with so many obstacles, blood, cuts, tears, and the pain can't seem to stay away. No one ever told me this so I’ll say it, “it’s amazing


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how you keep a smile on your face.� Every night and day is show and tell, it just matters how much you share. Been keeping in a lot, now I'm letting it all out. Everything is a game to me in your eyes but in my mind, I'm just waiting to do my thing. I've been lost in this life I live and recently been looking at my old route to get me through this pain. My old route involves drugs, court charges, and not giving a chance to myself or my future. Sad to say, I felt happy and right now, that feeling has slipped away. Everyone has their dark days, but how many days do I have to endure. It’s just me and my ink. This paper has my soul, even when it feels I lost it. This paper has my life and story, even if it looks like I forgot it. I am my writing and my writing is me. Life is like show and tell and this writing is the way I speak. Writing is the way I express myself and be me.

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This pen and paper has got me a long way and this is just another verse about my history and how I'm on my way.

Ode to SS Truck by Ivan That ss truck, that one truck that goes “rum rum!” down your street. It’s going 100 miles per hour. You can’t beat that sexy truck, can’t beat that sexy truck That black paint shines in the night or day, driving down your street with the homies. You can’t beat that sexy truck, can’t beat that sexy truck.

Struggles by Gerardo Going through changes, it’s tough how you try so hard to change into a better person. I look back and I see the old me, the person who was an asshole and always found his solutions with a blunt.


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Today, I try to get away from it. You can change yourself, but not people’s memories. That’s why I try to always stay silent, hide myself from everybody, and not cause any attention. I’m not trying to impress people anymore. It seems the more I try to forget, more memories come to me about my past. I still remember losing my best friend in third grade. I stayed up that whole night crying. Sometimes, I wish he was still alive ‘cause I really need a friend in times like these. I go and visit his grave, still blaming myself for his death. Sometimes, I even imagine him sitting next to me, even though it’s only my imagination. Last Sunday was the worst day of my life. My friend Ashley couldn’t take it anymore, so she did the unspeakable. Her mother found her hanging in her room. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Ask me what it’s like to find out your friend committed suicide, all because society couldn’t accept her for the way she was. After two weeks of her death, I’m still sitting in this classroom thinking about her. Sometimes, I want to bring her back, so she knows how much she meant to me.

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Everybody’s always asking, “why don’t we ever see your mom at school?” I don’t answer ‘cause I’ll be too busy crying thinking about it. The truth is that not everybody grows up with both of their parents. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and I still wish I could’ve given her flowers when she was alive. I want to visit her grave, but if I do that, I won’t be able to come back. That’s why whenever someone mentions Mother’s Day, I start to cry. I begin to reflect on all the stress that I’ve been through and all the bad things I used to say to myself, because these jerks kept saying them to me. Knowing myself and the mistakes I made is the reason why I have self-esteem to spare.


STRIVE Prep SMART Speaks Vol 2  
STRIVE Prep SMART Speaks Vol 2  
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