Somos Spring 2017

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Spring 2017


Representing Latinxs and Latinx Culture Through Poetry, Non-Fiction, and Visual Art



Letter from the Editors Art does not exist in isolation from the world that we live in. The reality that surrounds us inescapably shapes the universes that we mold through our creativity. While art is subject to social realities, reality is no less subject to our art. We can effect change by sharing creations that move us emotionally and mobilize us politically. The writers and visual artists that we have published in this semester’s edition of SOMOS have answered the call of this moment to create against the grain of silence and to raise their voices, their pens and their brushes against indifference. They poignantly express the abiding power of love for family, community and humanity that both drives and reflects their commitment to working towards a better future. We are grateful to those individuals who shared their creativity with us for having the courage to reflect and for inviting us to reflect with them. SOMOS is proud to provide a medium for members the Latinx community to express themselves and to challenge the status quo. We are honored to collaborate with our community’s ongoing struggle to eliminate inequality and to fight oppression. Our diversity unites us and our unity strengthens us.

Staff Jacob Mukand Alejandra González Ayleen Sánchez Daniel Duarte Perdomo Eliany Domínguez Alan Mendoza Gustavo Márquez Jorge Sibaja Manuel Ávalos Andrea Vega


Editor-in-Chief Head of Outreach Spanish Editor Spanish Editor Spanish Editor Spanish Editor English Editor English Editor Senior Portuguese Editor Contributor

Jacob Mukand Eliany Domínguez Daniel Duarte Perdomo Ayleen Sánchez Alan Mendoza Jorge Sibaja Manuel Ávalos Gustavo Márquez

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Table of Contents Yo seré Globalization No me quería salir de ti Cocinando The Castle (CW)* Chicago En tiempo de lluvia Canal Sad and Spicy There is no people Mi español Instructions for Everyday Life Él y yo María in the Black-and-White Room Second Panel: Expatriations Tenochtitlán Buscando mi verdad Tortillas pa’l hombre Cruelty-Free Mexican Food Ya no vayas a Guatemala (CW)* Del mar y el sol Your New Life

4 5 6 7 8 10 14 16 18 20 21 22 23 24

Laura Muñoz Mateus Picanco Andrea Vega Ayleen Sánchez Casey Orozco Poore & Manuel Ávalos Samantha Savello Ayleen Sánchez Casey Orozco Poore Natalia Bermeo Andrea Vega Estefany Delgadillo Ayleen Sánchez Kevin Madoian Edwin Alanís García

26 28 29 31 32 34 35 36

Edwin Alanís García Jorge Palacios Silvino María César Bernal Manuel Ávalos Esmeralda Mami AnaSofía Velásquez Rudy Torres

* Content Warning



Yo seré

Laura Muñoz

Do you know my accent will never disappear and it’ll continue to be “so cute!” until the day I can speak no more? Do you know I will continue to use my two tongues because one does not suffice to express all the sueños, frustrations, and thoughts inside my head? Do you know that spicy is an adjective to describe food and not women who are lightyears ahead of you, whom you’ll never understand, whom you’ll never touch? Do you know that when you expect me to translate, I expect you to grab a dictionary? Do you know I don’t have to dumb myself down? Do you know no matter where I am, how you look at me, eyes up and down, up and down, appalled and confused side glances you think I don’t notice, but I of course do, no matter what you say, I will still be Mujer Cubana Unapologetic Loud Too loud Hands moving too much when I talk “It doesn’t sound the same in English”


I will be Soñadora Sin frenos Inteligente Inteligente Inteligente Penosa Fuerte Fiel In every inch of my body In every breath I take In every thought that runs through my head Every sigh of desperation Every sigh of relief Every tear of anger Every tear of elation Every hello and goodbye Every decision I mull in my head over and over as I make scenarios that are impossible but that will still manage to consume me Every opinion Every moment in which I exist. I am. I will be. Yo soy. Yo seré.

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Globalization Mateus Picanco

“Can I have your name, please?” “Mateus” “Jace?” “Mark” Dispensa-me o café amargo, porque mais ainda é o meu nome recauchatado nesse bordão de sede vespertina. É que todo dia eu largo meu espírito da floresta em favor do sonho americano. E ele falha, bem como a estrutura agrária e a política rala de meu país. Eu entro no limbo da falsa identidade para desfazer o exotismo.

A ignorância é crônica quando ela viola as fronteiras. E cá estamos, no estágio mais avançado de um capitalismo selvagem, E há quem chame de globalização a detenção da identidade. And I just wonder when Word will stop trying to correct my name, and when globalization will become more than just a demand for everyone to learn English. “A 12 oz latte, please.”

Porque tudo de diferente é exótico por aqui, certo? Eu pinto a asa do norte nessa terra fria e de repente eu vou à escola de canoa e tenho uma onça de estimação. 5


No me quería salir de ti Andrea Vega

“no te querías salir de mi” is what my mami always tells me when i ask her about my birth. her womb was the first ocean i ever knew— mi país natal. my abuelo was a bone doctor. his radiografías revealed what i could never figure out on my own. he had mastered the science of holding the core of my family together.

my abuela’s now shaking hands once helped me cross the street once taught me how to paint once held my fragile abuelo once carried a family. now forget.

who will remember my irises? or where i hid my poems? or the way my skin perspired under its native sun? 6

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i don’t know how to love without loss. nací en un país adicto al olvido. i am my hermanito’s laugh. abuela, sujétate de mi. i am the shifting tides del mar Caribe— unforgetting. isla, please remember: no me quería salir de ti.

Cocinando Ayleen Sánchez

Guayameo, Guerrero, México 7


The Castle

Casey Orozco Poore and Manuel ร valos

To keep the castle clean designate every object as masculino o femenino. Separate the difference. Build around the husband and wife. When mami left Mexico Cuando mi mamรก se fue de Nicaragua she came with 60 dollars, a sweater, a temporary visa and a language with a set of rules: The kitchen, La cocina Is a designated Female space Go outside to the field, El campo, Like the hard-working Man you are La ropa the clothes need cleaning needs cleaning Los frijoles the beans need harvesting 8

Wring out the rags las toallas Bring home the bacon el tocino Keep out the intruders The faggots Gender is separated At home And in Spanish. It has always been this way. it is as natural as Adรกn y Eva man and woman. When I came out to my mother she tried to scrub me clean, wring the queer out of me. In Nicaragua Nonbinary people assigned female at birth are given husbands, not acceptance. When I came out to my mother she told me to go back to the fields maybe that would make me a man queer men in Mexico are stoned, raped, castrated.

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Queer Latinos are removed to keep the castle clean. Y por eso soy sucio, that is why I am dirty. When I came out to my mother, I felt my sexuality bleed from my skin, settle in between the kitchen tiles, a dirt that cannot be removed from the family name. Queerness was never meant for the castle. Stay in la cocina go out to el campo Stay with the objects that pertain to your assigned sex at birth If you do not gender objects properly, You are not Latino. You do not belong in the castle You do not belong in the family. I can only understand my love in English.

I know how to say “I’m gay” in Spanish, But I wasn’t taught to say “I am a normal person” I can only feel the warmth of his hand in English. Queer, gay, lesbian, nonbinary Are where I find a home. Our mothers only know “LGBT” As the justification for a murder. The only words we were given to explain our love are Joto, faggot Manga larga, dyke Maricón, faggot Cochona, dyke Cochina, dirty, Sucia, dirty Mugrosa, dirty. Mamá, am I allowed to know what love feels like in Spanish? 9


She hands me a tongue, calls it survival calls it loving me the only way she can calls me inside the castle. M’ija/M’ijo you will be safe here. But it is not safe for me. I cannot live there. I must build my own home now even if it means building it with English because I could only write this poem in English

I will forge out a hybrid tongue. Instead of Latino Latina I will call myself Latinx. Construct a home with English bricks against a Spanish frame I will build a home Of my own.

Chicago Samantha Savello

“I don’t have a grandpa.” I’m eight years old and sitting in a circle making flower crowns with a bunch of my classmates as we discuss stories about our grandparents—or as we like to call them, “the old people.” The girl on my left, Erica, looks at me with wide eyes. “Did they both die?” she asks, frowning slightly. “Both of mine died.” I nod at first, but then shake my head. “One did,” I tell her, readjusting my crown. “What happened to the other one?” she asks me. “I don’t know,” I reply. That day when I get home, I march right up to my mother, pig-tails bouncing, and demand answers. “Why don’t I have a grandpa?” I ask her, cocking an eyebrow. My mother drops the frying pan she’s taking out of the cupboard, sending a loud clatter through the air. “What do you mean?” she asks. There’s a distraught look on her face as she pushes loose strands of hair away from her eyes and picks up the pan. “You have a grandpa. He’s in Chicago.” Chicago. I’m not quite sure I even knew what Chicago was at that point in my life, but I 10

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was just happy I had an answer for the girls in my class. “He’s in Chicago,” I told Erica the next day during recess. She nodded and dug her hands into Play Dough. From that point on, Chicago became the reason for everything, the answer to all of my questions. “Why don’t we ever see Grandpa?” Because he’s in Chicago. Chicago is far. “Why is he in Chicago?” Because that’s where he lives and works. “Does he miss us?” Yes. “Can we go visit him in Chicago? Or can he come visit us?” No. It’s too far. For a while, Chicago was enough. But as I grew older and contradictory evidence began piling up, it became harder and harder to accept that as the sole excuse for my grandfather’s absence. When I was ten, Google showed me that Chicago was only a two and a half hour plane ride away, ruling out the distance issue. At eleven, the mysterious minute-long phone call that my mother received late one night from “Unknown”—and her subsequent whispers saying “I’m doing fine, Dad”—showed me my grandfather was purposely being secretive. And at thirteen, the card on my grandma’s dresser written by him from Atlantic City, New Jersey showed me that Chicago was probably fiction. Yet, even as my confidence in the story eroded, I didn’t question Chicago - I figured there must have been an important reason for it. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I decided to ask the truth. I was sitting at the kitchen counter, examining a carefully written birthday card for my mom from “Angel Santana” sent from an address in Atlantic City. “Where is he?” I ask her. “And don’t say Chicago.” My mother let out a heavy sigh, her face dark and eyes somber. For so long, she had been fighting to hide this information from me. “What do you want to know?” she asked, looking at the floor. Her shoulders were visibly tense. “Everything. Why hasn’t he seen his family in the past ten years? Why don’t we know him? Where is he? Who is he?” My mother took a deep breath, tilted her head back and unleashed nearly thirty years’ worth of family history she had been withholding. Ángel Santana, my grandfather, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the 1950s. He lived in the “bad part,” apparently. The barrio. His dad was shot and killed on the streets when he was just a kid, so he started working as a shoe-shiner to make ends meet. During the 1960s, he moved to New York with his mom and three sisters and got a low-paying job to support the family. He learned English and got educated, eventually working his way up to an engineering job. A few years later, he married an Italian-American girl ­— my grandma and had two daughters. What was so bad about that? I wondered. As my mother told the story, I was anticipating some sort of incriminating event that would explain why she had to cover up his entire life with the 11


Chicago lie for so long. So far, he had a clean record—in fact, he seemed like a good, hard working person to me. “After I graduated high school,” she told me. “My parents got divorced.” I nodded. I knew this part. My grandpa lived in Chicago and my grandma lived in New York because they were divorced. “My father met someone else, a Latina. They moved in together. But she was crazy,” my mom went on. “Insane.” This part I hadn’t known about. My eyes widened and a look of awe began to spread across my face. “What happened?” I asked eagerly. My mother sighed and continued the story. When my grandfather got serious with his new girlfriend, she told him that he had to make a choice. “Puede ser yo o ellos,” she had said. “No puedo escoger,” he had told her. I can’t choose. My mother doesn’t need to say more. He did choose—and he chose her over the family he shared blood with. “She made him choose,” my mother explained. My grandfather’s girlfriend did everything in her power to sabotage any of his attempts to be with his family. The most notable instance took place a few years before I was born, when my mom’s sister, Michelle, was in the hospital getting surgery. My grandpa’s girlfriend told the secretary that she was Michelle’s mother, and she was let into the room to “visit.” Once inside, she tried to mess with the IV—and possibly kill Michelle, who was sedated at the time. Security was notified and my grandparents were contacted. “Puede ser yo o ellos.” My grandfather packed his bags the next day and moved away with his girlfriend. Now, Angel Santana didn’t live in Chicago. He had lived there at one point, for a few months on business, but for the past fifteen years he had been residing in Atlantic City, only a two hour drive from New York and three hours from where we lived on Long Island. There was no reason that he hadn’t come to any family events in over a decade—and hadn’t even met my youngest cousin—other than the pressing demands of his mentally unstable girlfriend. “It’s for the best,” my mom assured me, but I could see a look of despair in her eyes. For a while, I was silent, still absorbing all the information that had just been thrown at me in the past twenty minutes. “So why did you lie to us?” I finally asked. “I’m not proud of what he did,” my mom said coldly, avoiding eye contact. “Do you hate him?” I asked. She shook her head and left the room, her back rigid and both arms stiff at her sides. Soon after she revealed my grandfather’s identity, I began to wish I had never asked. It was too painful to know that I had a relative out there who barely knew me, and had no intentions of ever reaching out. I felt bitter, frustrated, and hurt. How could 12

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there be this person living on the periphery of my life, bound by blood, but disconnected by choice? This question ate away at me for years. …………………………………………………… As time has passed, I’ve started to rethink my relationship with my grandfather. As much as I want to forget he ever existed, I know I can’t. The thoughts don’t go away, even when I try to push them down. Every time I see an old man on the street or my friend mentions her family reunion or I learn about Puerto Rico in my Spanish class, I think of him and the heart wrenching story my mother told me years ago. I think of him holding his girlfriend’s hand shortly before turning his back on the people he loved. I think of him eating dinner with her in their small condo in Jersey. And I wonder if, as he lies next to her in bed at night whispering to my mother through the phone receiver, he ever regrets what he did. The truth is I didn’t know him. I didn’t know if he was charismatic, stubborn and generous like my mother or selfish, and cold like his actions made him out to be. I didn’t know if he felt proud or guilty about what he did, satisfied or miserable about his choice to leave behind his family. I didn’t know if he ever thought about me at all. I didn’t know if he loved us. I didn’t know if he cared. But I do know that despite the pain he has caused me, there’s still a place in my heart for him—even if there’s not a space in his heart for me. A few weeks ago, I went into Manhattan to visit my cousins in their uptown apartment. “Does Gavin know he has a grandpa?” I asked my grandma, who was baking us chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. “Of course he does, sweetie,” she said, as if it wasn’t something to be questioned. I nodded and handed her a spoon. Later that day, I approached Gavin, who was playing with his Legos on the carpet. “Gavin, you know you have a grandpa, right?” I asked him quietly. “Yeah,” he said, not looking up from his Legos. “He lives in Chicago, right?” I stifle a grimace, but I don’t correct him.

“Yeah,” I say. “He’s in Chicago.”



En tiempo de lluvia Ayleen Sánchez

Guayameo, Guerrero, México


Spring 2017

Guayameo, Guerrero, México




Casey Orozco Poore

Headline reads: Mixed babies promise end to racism. When brown earth and white man meet woman cracks down the middle to let in the ocean. I was born from floodwater. Headline reads: Mixed babies promise end to violence. My dad smashes his white hand against kitchen cupboard tearing through the house, through us, through time itself. When he drinks like this, he fancies himself conquistador. Maybe my mother never left him because she knows that white men always make playgrounds out of foreign bodies. Maybe my mother knew that her latinidad was dirty, that the stench of warfare from her foreign mouth 16

pushed my dad away. To make space for him, she opened her body so wide that parts of him began to grow out of her. I have my father’s charm y los ojos de mi mamá. Headline reads: Mixed babies promise utopia. Nicaragua, the waist of Central America had always been desired for her potential to birth a canal, to profit an empire Napoleon was the first to try cutting her in half. The Nicaraguan canal was never built. Because of the hurricanes, the floods, the earthquakes the country’s body shouting “Get off of me!” Now, half-built canals

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are scattered through the country like scar tissue carved out from white hands who tried loving a land through abuse.

is not a substitute for love.

Headlines Reads: Mixed babies promise post racial society My mother bundles my little brother into her arms. Rivers streaming down her cheeks She cried “I cannot do this anymore I need to leave I have to leave” But she still came back the next morning, because she cannot survive without her abuser.

She tells me to keep the mountains to myself, and hija, hija please do not let him enter you. do not let parts of him grow out of your womb Do not let him own you.

My mother teaches me how to be an ocean. How to drown a man.

Because to love a land is to let the vines grow Because she is in debt to my father. over the borders to let the floodwater heal Because as long as Nicaragua the scar tissue is in debt to the American empire to let the century old trees there will always be reach the sky brown women searching for salvation before you do in a white man’s arms. To love a land Headline reads: love conquers evil. is to love without My mother tells me this is bullshit. asking her to give parts of herself away. My mother teaches me that a greedy Gringo mouth To love without abuse. 17


Sad and Spicy Natalia Bermeo




Spring 2017

white girl, these hoops are mine.

who are you looking at like that?



There is no people Andrea Vega

there is no people without a nation memory collective abuela, te quiero decir que me duele mi patria. tú entenderías. pero me quedo muda. you understand what it means to be muted. understood. now ink decomposes, sharp edges soften, and cut-out pictures end up out of your fragile hands and in your daughter’s and in mine. memory mine now. dislocation. you hold each other. hold us. en un país adicto al olvido es fácil darse por vencido. but you are fighters. lovefighters. this fossiltrace residue lingers in my chest – a hollowing cavity. abuela, no puedo creer que te han robado de esta memoria. careful incision, cut-out pictures that you cannot retrace. remember. the severance of a person. i remember how afterlife-cold you were when i touched you, abuelo. beating running blood veins flowing life no longer. flesh no longer. debecoming. the open casket cut through abuela’s mist. re veiling. we consecrated your dismembering corporeal. your incinerated flesh: holy. but we did not consecrate your illness, abuela. your dismembering deemed unholy. the whispers occupying your mindspace bloom and yield a mist so thick you lose track of your value. you live in a strange suspension. inalcanzable. your heart: a séance. re claim our histories. flesh. we are not dead and cry for what for who we want to preserve. un dust. be come our mothers, abuelas and re claim memory. re member. 20

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Mi español Estefany Delgadillo

Camino por la escuela y escucho el español de mi gente, El español de hijos cuyos padres vinieron a este país antes que naciesen. Escucho ese español y me da esperanza, Esperanza de que un día todos los sacrificios que han hecho mis padres valdrán la pena. Camino por la escuela y escucho otro español también. Escucho ese español y me da vergüenza Un español que viene de estudiantes hispanos, Cuyos padres hablan un español avanzado, Cuyos padres han vivido una vida mejor que la de los míos. Ahora hablo español raramente, porque el español que yo hablo no es apropiado. El español que yo hablo no es mi español. Es el español de mis padres, quienes me lo enseñaron. Es el español del rancho donde se criaron, donde no fueron a la escuela. Es el español que nunca maduró o mejoró al llegar a Estados-Unido. No es un español que discute los problemas del mundo o que entiende ese tipo de lenguaje. No es un español que platica de gobierno o de negocios. No es un español que contiene palabras de lujo. Mi español, como la juventud de mis padres, sólo contiene lo mínimo, lo esencial. Sólo aprende lo que necesita para sobrevivir. El español que yo hablo no pertenece aquí Y a lo mejor, yo tampoco.



Instructions for Everyday Life Ayleen Sánchez

The unmistakable rumble of the garage door opening is your cue: as soon as it begins, your time is limited. Get up, pick up your books, backpack, shoes… everything. Move it all into your room. Pack your backpack for the next day, put the dishes in the sink and tomorrow’s lunch in the fridge. Change into pajamas. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Quickly. Finish all this while he’s still trying to park the truck in reverse in the driveway. By the time he’s maneuvering his intoxicated body out of the driver’s seat, and through the garage towards the kitchen door, you should be kissing your mother and sister goodnight. And as soon as he sets one foot into the house, your bedroom door must be shut and your lights off, safely encasing you in darkness.

He’ll think you’re sleeping.

He won’t bother you.

Once the door stands between you and his beer breath and bloodshot eyes, you can slow down. You can take a deep breath. Calm down. You can kneel and pray slowly, taking your time. Give thanks for your blessings – your mother, your sister – and pray for change. But sometimes his steps are more rampant. Sometimes something inside him expands with the liquor – growing repulsively and exponentially – pushing him to seek out confrontation. Sometimes he wants to yell and argue senselessly until your teeth start aching from clenching your jaw, from trying not to give him what he wants: your tears. In these cases, pray quickly and get in bed. Cover your head completely. Breathe deeply, breathe slowly. If he opens the door, be still.

He won’t bother you.



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Él y yo Kevin Madoian

A él, al otro, es a quien le obsesiona la opinión de los demás. Él se puede reconocer inmediatamente por el suéter gris irlandés y esa barba bien recortada – y los ojos tristes. Yo canto dentro de la ducha, cantando mal sin preocuparme por lo que me parece una eternidad, pero él siempre me detiene después de unos minutos. Y yo lloro encima de la cama azul que compartimos al sonido irritante de ese reloj despertador que él pone cada día a las seis. (Siempre me voy tarde durante la mañana, tembloroso a los gritos internos de él, que se ha vestido desordenadamente con su bufanda verde). Aun así, sería una exageración decir que él es dictador: es más como Hamlet, fingiendo ser Hércules. O Prufrock, habiendo bebido demasiado café. A veces, cuando es aceptable, yo sueño: sueños de una Navidad que nunca termina, y de unos besos en las mejillas de mi madre, con el mismo capítulo de Spongebob Squarepants marchando al fondo. Pero admito que también hay pesadillas – llenas de reglas desobedecidas – y que esa Navidad interminable, ahora, me parece perdida, imposible en primer lugar. Hace ya tres años que mis lágrimas han estado deslizando sobre la cara recién afeitada de él – pero son fantasías, todas, para él. A mí me gusta la nada, que se forma del descanso y de días ocupados sólo por los videojuegos de Pokémon. Y mi deseo más secreto: fantaseo siempre con vestirme de traje con estampado de pavo real, uno que compararía a los de Gatsby. Sé que él – el otro – comparte estos gustos (especialmente éste último, aunque nunca lo admitiría), pero los ignora, todos, casi olvidándolos – y ni él ni yo sabemos por qué. Es algo inexplicable. A él no le importa ni la luz ni la oscuridad, todos los días marchando a sus deberes con un ritmo tan rápido y una expresión molesta en la cara, dado que las personas delante de él caminan con tanta tranquilidad. Marchando a lo arbitrario, a lo insignificante, como si fueran la única realidad... Yo fracaso, y él lo esconde. Siempre va escondiéndose, y maldiciendo a los otros, como Holden Caulfield. Ha resultado que nos parecemos en que la única manera de reconciliarnos – para ser una sola persona – es a través de la soledad. Allí yo lo he tratado de convencer de que todavía soy muchacho, a pesar de la barba; pero obviamente él no me cree. Evadiéndome, escribe esas listas interminables de cosas que debe hacer. Un día yo le pregunté por qué él no había escrito nada sobre el papel amarillo, y me respondió: «Es que he olvidado cómo escribir.» No sé cómo ni cuál de los dos escribe esta página. 23


María in the Black-and-White Room

(After Remedios Varo’s Les feuilles mortes, and Frank Jackson [1982], and Plutarch) Edwin Alanís García

Color, like consciousness, is real unless the bedroom curtains are down, and they always are, though she’s forgotten if it’s to keep others from looking in, or to keep herself from looking out and believing the sailor is somewhere without her on the shores of Athens or Cancún.1 During day she insists night, though pitch reflected in a mirror is tautologous. She concocts songbirds and Minotaurs; the bright flock rushes out, fleeing the tenebrous monster, fleeing him, as he’s fleeing her. She waits at the doorway of his promises, which are formulated thus:

1.) “Maria knows all the physical facts.”

2.) “Maria doesn’t know all the facts.”


3.) “The physical facts do not exhaust all the facts.”2

1 Case study: Leonora Carrington as a template for abandonment and the subsequent reveries it produces. Carrington, wishing away the walls of a mental hospital in Santander, strapped into a bed, the bolts of Zeus coursing through her brain, and fed an ambrosial cocktail of cardiazol and Luminal, ceaselessly gazed out the window and wondered when her lover would return. But Señor Ernst, having long fled the Nazis, was in the arms of an heiress halfway across the world. And yet Sra. Carrington just waited for someone to rescue her. She just waited. 2 See Chalmers, David. The Conscious Mind (1996), pp 103-4. See also Nagel (1974).


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His absence, her stagnation, resets the world in monochrome. She paints her objects by pretense, la oscuridad necessitates filling in the blanks: On the table is a ________ book. In her hands is a ________ ball of yarn. Along the ceiling are _______ vines. At her feet is a _______ garden. Out the window is a ________ world. The philosopher contends she truly doesn’t know the sailor’s touch if all her prior lovers are merely semantic, lines filled with typos and moral errors, like these words.3 Sentenced to the black-and-white room, she reads sonnets, and waits4, writes love letters, and waits5, unsure if she should hum aubades or serenades, so she gathers a menagerie of chimeras to keep from composing odes, or dirges.

3 I’ve been mixing metaphors again. It’s as though I’m circumventing the subject by intellectualizing it. The painting’s subject and I suffer a similar affliction. Imagination is the poet’s prison cell. We get invited to parties and let hours perish while we look out the window and wait. A Beloved might be there, but we experience the Other in rehearsal only. Retroactive excuses compile as time passes, as counterfactuals and possible worlds succumb to dusk. Yes, the sun is still up but it could a trick. So we wait. If the dying sun reminds me that the party is in fifteen minutes, I’ll wait fifteen 4 See: esperar, v., to wait. 5 See: esperar, v., to hope.



Second Panel: Expatriations Edwin Alanís García

The ekphrases of Mexican art in these pages is misnomered (from the Old French Verb mesnommer; mes- (wrongly) and nommer (to name)). The term ‘ekphrasis’ is apt. The label ‘Mexican’ has fuzzy boundaries: Carrington was British, Varo was Spanish, Rahon was French, Horna was Hungarian etc. They are expatriates (from the Latin expatriare; ex- (out) and patriae (native country), a pretty way of saying one who sneaks out after dark to play in a poorer person’s house. But that is also a misnomer. ‘Expatriate’ was initially a verb. It became a sexy lexical shift when ‘immigrant’ came to denote a categorical specter, the inescapable and ubiquitous fabrication of gringo cognition: the landscaper or cleaning woman; the fear of para español, oprima dos; the Cinco de Drinko! conglomerate of massacred brain cells; Speedy González. UpshotExpatriate: neologism as symbolic violence. Immigrant: euphemism as neuroviolence. (These inconsistent conceptual categories are scalpels picking apart brown-skinned grey matter. New campaign slogan: “Make lobotomies great again!”)


Spring 2017

There are proposed rectificationsExpatriate, a definition: One who goes to another country and kicks up their feet. Immigrant, a definition: One who goes to another country in search of a better life. Both misnomers. E.g., Carrington fled persecution from her family and her fractured psyche. But she’s considered an expat. To contrast, my parents are immigrants by virtue that neither were pretentious avant garde-ists, nor came from money. But they couldn’t have come for a better life, as life was much better in rural Nuevo León than it was/is in rural Illinois. Perhaps they were running for oblivion’s sake, carrying the Void’s children into the EE.UU.’s rancid gullet. An updated definition: Expatriate: One who goes to another country and buys belonging. Immigrant: One who does not belong anywhere. These terms, primed for moral catastrophe, will continue to evolve and annihilate, like world borders. Further research and destruction will be necessary.




Spring 2017

Tenochtitlán Jorge Palacios

Envisioning an alternate history for the indigenous city of Tenochtitlan while also playing with the ignorant misconception that supernatural forces provided a means for the “primitive” native peoples of the New World to create the large structures and cities that laid the foundations for this continent. My family is from Mexico City, and as a child I remember seeing ruins uncovered next to concrete structures side by side. Every time I go back, there is a sentiment of memory that lingers in my blood as I walk through the remnant infrastructure of Tenochtitlan much like the embedded indigenous culture that sits vague but familiar within my Mexican identity. I may have lost my true mother tongue through colonizing forces that perpetrated throughout generations in Mexico, but my own mother continues the indigenous craft of cooking with maize flour and sauce making with a molcajete. As I move forward in my studies as a physicist and astronomer, I intend to acknowledge indigenous knowledge as comparable to the western scientific paradigm for reasons like preventing false notions that poor primitive savages needed some fantastic outside force to aid them in their technology and survival. In this painting, I want to argue that my culture and indigenous heritage is not mutually exclusive from science and innovation but that it is science and innovation.

Buscando mi verdad Silvino María

He aprendido que el proceso de escribir es inventar. Buscarse en el otro aquel que en la imaginación ha de formarse. Tratar de ver las musas en la esquina y al final inconcluso intentar de descubrir una salida. Me invento casi todo, aunque las mentiras siempre tengan algo de verdad. Si la ficción es una mentira pensada que convence, en tu mente se vuelve realidad. Hay que idearse una vida paralela. Abrazar cada letra.

Dejar que las posibilidades sean infinitas. Tómatela sin malicia, que las pesadillas se hagan trizas, y viaja sin visa. Ando recordando. Nadando, casi ahogándome. Dándome golpes de pecho, más son sólo en vano pues la mano que los da sólo ha escrito lo que otros han hecho. Si escribir es ir al cielo y regresar hecho pedazos, cada trazo en mi folio se convierte en un óleo de santos y herejes, sueños y placeres 29


buscando mi verdad entre las tantas que aquí llueven. Si escribir es sacar agua de donde no hay y el que lee es quien quiere beber un poquito más, llegue a mi planeta, habemos pocos seres pero nunca se olvide de dónde usted viene. La imaginación morirá cuando muera el inconformismo. No es lo mismo apropiarme de lo que no me corresponde, que estar pa’ ti sólo dime cuándo y dónde. Responde a las locuras del subconsciente. Las mejores ideas ocurren de repente. Busco adentro mis temores y dolores los convierto en mis cañones. Camino en versos. Vivo en estrofas. Como poemas, entre otras cosas… Si hemos sido capaces de inventarnos dioses y en sus nombres hemos enterrado niños, mujeres y hombres… somos capaces de sentir que no hay fin 30

que no podamos evadir. Y que sin ti yo no existo, pero mi verdad se queda, si la divido en este aguacero. Si escribir es ir al cielo y regresar hecho pedazos, cada trazo en mi folio se convierte en un óleo de santos y herejes, sueños y placeres buscando mi verdad entre las tantas que aquí llueven. Si escribir es sacar agua de donde no hay y el que lee es quien quiere beber un poquito más, llegue a mi planeta, habemos pocos seres pero nunca se olvide de dónde usted viene.

Spring 2017

Tortillas pa’l hombre CÊsar Bernal

Acrylic on corn tortillas 31


Cruelty-Free Mexican Food Manuel Ávalos

To the woman Demanding “cruelty-free food” at Pedro’s Restaurant: Thank you For making the food more socially aware. Thanks to you The menu now reads: Organic mild salsa, Blue corn tortilla chips, Chilaquiles with cage-free eggs. Thanks to you, Pedro’s Restaurant is Now the finest place to demand cruelty-free. In historic San José, California, Valley of the Heart’s Delight, Where Mexican farm workers used to pick fruit, Weigh their shoulder pain Against their pay, Weigh the cost of complaining Against their job, Against a meal, Against eating the very food they pick. Is this what cruelty-free looks like?


Thousands of farmers flee As orchards disappear, As white coders move in to Silicon Valley. They discover the fallen seeds of my culture, Demand a plate of food. We hand them a hot plate, We go back to the kitchen, Back to the fields, Back to nannying their children, Scrubbing their floors, Growing and preparing their food. They ask for a low price, But forget about the human tax for Back breaking labor. Bars like a barricade on our windows. Cage-free food doesn’t mean shit when you live in one. In 1519, Hernán Cortés reaches present day Mexico The Natives invite him in, offer a glass of hot chocolate. The Spaniards smuggle chocolate back to Spain, Sell it for three times the cost.

Spring 2017

They force the Aztecs to pick off bean after bean, Raise sugar plantations from the earth, Blowing Aztec temples and homes out of the way. Today, Mexico still grows cocoa beans and sugar for the US At Pedro’s Restaurant We invite Americans in, offer hot food, and sell it for only a third of the human cost. We clean up dish after dish, As Americans raise Silicon Valley high rises, Blowing Mexican neighborhoods out of the way.

With carne asada and chile. Her tender mouth now Dripping with her own blood. This food is too spicy. How could this possibly be cruelty-free? So we take away her plate, Take back the chocolate, Uproot the sugar fields, Burn down the high rises, Kick this customer out of our neighborhood. How can you demand cruelty-free And not expect the taste of blood?

At Pedro’s Restaurant A customer finds the cook’s blood on her plate. She demands an explanation. We offer the thorns from our hands, Bruises on shins, Pesticide in eyes. We wipe the blood off her plate. Our calloused hands replace it



Ya no vayas a Guatemala Esmeralda Mami

Cuando tenía diez años, me dijo mi mami que siempre quería tener una hija. Hoy habló ella conmigo.

Yo esperé que fuera Solamente una fase, Que volverías a casa y que se te habría Olvidado.

Una pesadilla Una vida triste Siempre serás hombre Tus hombros Tu altura Tus manos Tu voz

¿Si quieres senos, por qué lo ocultas de mí?

Nunca volverás a Guatemala. Espera. Vas a tener una vida tan difícil, Ningún hombre te va a querer. Mejor ser homosexual, lesbiana, Cualquier cosa, pero no eso. Es horrible. Creo que si rezas y eres fuerte de mente Puedes decidir no cambiar. No tienes que hacer nada, Admiro a las personas que ocultan Su identidad y se casan, Y viven sus vidas así, sin sufrir. No sabes lo que haces. Eres demasiado joven. Espera hasta que tengas trabajo Y dinero 25, quizás 30. 34

Le voy a decir a grandpa. Tengo que decírselo. Él merece saber. ¿Cómo nos ibas a decir? ¿Cuándo? ¿Nunca? ¿Pensaste que yo no iba a notar? ¿Por qué no puedes ser gay Y seguir viviendo con el cuerpo que tienes? ¿Por qué tienes que cambiar lo que nosotros te dimos? Te estás alejando de todos. No te vamos a dar ningún centavo para eso. ¿Cómo esperas encontrar trabajo? ¿Como hombre? ¿O mujer? Si eres hermafrodita El momento que te escuchan la voz Vas a ser el raro, Se escucha de una vez La voz funny. Siempre serás hombre Te estás mintiendo

Spring 2017

Nos haces mentir Yo te oculto. Ya no sé lo que decir Cuando preguntan de ti. ¿Por qué ni me hablas? ¿Por qué no me abrazas? ¿Por qué no me miras?

¿Por qué no me dejas tocar tus nipples? Muéstrame tus calzoncillos: ¡Esos no son de hombre! Ya no puedes ir a la piscina. Ya no puedes ir a Guatemala. Ya no te van a querer. Ya no.

Del mar y el sol AnaSofía Velázquez

Abrazos de sol, Besos de mar, Madre que cuida a su hija sin fallar. Padre que trabaja para darles todo bien. Parejas que se quedan aunque se sean infiel.

Donde todos son familia y los amigos se convierten en hijos. Políticos por boca, Opiniones heredadas, Chistosos sin filtro, Todos se ríen a carcajadas.

Católicos por nombre, Tradicionales clasistas, Alegres cantantes, Los únicos que tienen esa chispa.

Boricua Puertorro Los del coquí Los encantados de la vida Los de la tierra en que todo es feliz Abrazos de sol, Los que en el frío dan abrazos de sol Besos de mar, Que todos se dan cuando se van a saludar. Los que en la montaña dan besos de mar Donde todos se conocen aunque sea por Los que se hacen sentir por donde quiera que van. apellido, 35


Your New Life Rudy Torres

You gave those city streets color, An incandescent blend of fuerza y fe. And when you leave, these streets will long for your light For what is LA without its greatest angel? You dished out love like a call and response, You brought peace to toxic places, You left traces of your spirit in the memories of my heart, The pieces of your care and smile and ways. Oh, take me back to the days of a $1.50 Costco dog and a drink, Christmas specials, Target adventures, and all you can dream, Those were better days.


And though it hurt to love sometimes, You never held back. It was all you ever did, Even when it broke you. The bruises in your heart, The sadness in your eyes, The places where anguish hides Erode away the wings you used to carry us all this time. When you’re ready, We will fly together, Transcending broken dreams and wasted time. We will begin again. Your new life starts today.

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