Wednesday, April 1, 2015

NaPoWriMo: ERASURE POEMS

April is National Poetry Month, and the annual NaPoWriMo marathon - writing a poem a day for the entire month - is underway.  I've tried this before - mostly made it - but I know that the timing is rough: the end of one academic semester, finals week, spring break, and the beginning of our intense four week spring term.  I don't want to set myself up for failure, so I decided to give myself this challenge: one erasure (black-out) poem per day. 

And to make it even more fun, I challenged my wife (the fabulous Margo Solod) to take the plunge with me.

Starting today.

-->
“In Truth”

I must be a
spooked horse.
I dropped the
skull and bones,
of course.
It is time to go
block the sharp sunlight.
The day abruptly
followed the narrow
wing of thick velvet,
waved eloquently,
not even capable
of hard work.
The faint reverberation
of colliding hands
emanated
mutely.
The bright lights
picked up
a slow, deep wave
and myriad sparkling
eyes whispered please.

Deborah A. Miranda 


"Crowns"

          crowns            spring
by                       starting
                                 desire.

                            Please call.

          We are unable to

                           remember
                                              we cannot.

Margo Solod

Monday, March 30, 2015

6:16 a.m.




6:16 a.m.

At dawn the songs begin again, as if never sung before, as if the jet stream has not wandered from its path, as if the Arctic ice shelf is not melting at an accelerated rate, as if Sudden Oak Death does not leapfrog across the continent; Shenandoah Valley songbirds lean into the indigo air as if two thousand snow geese did not fall from the sky in Idaho, as if ten thousand sea lions are not washing up dead in the Channel Islands, as if a train full of chemicals has not crashed into the Kanawah River’s waters in West Virginia, as if California’s Central Valley agriculture is not pumping twenty-thousand-year-old water out of ancient aquifers that cannot be refilled; these song warriors pitch morning as if the territorial calls of robins are prayers that keep disaster at bay, as if crows stitch the morning together with their black beaks, as if mockingbirds know the secret combination of notes that command God’s ear, as if the low purr of mourning doves weaves a feathery comfort; they persist as if pine warblers, bits of gold along the treetops, coax the sun up by degrees, as if these musical notes don’t know the word extinction, as if, knowing it, the silvered melodies would insist like the yellow warbler: sweet-sweet-sweet; little-more-sweet.

Deborah A. Miranda


My beginning poetry workshop students are working, this week, on "research poems" - poems that incorporate facts and/or statistics, yet make the leap into poetry with them.  Poets do this frequently, but I wanted my students to be conscious about it; to look around them for all the potential poetry waiting to be found.

Then, this morning, this poem found me.  I've been reading the news, albeit reluctantly; I thought I'd been turning away from the ugliness of it, admitting that I couldn't bear it, but at night I've been dreaming of apocalyptic worlds.   

Saturday, March 28, 2015

DONATE TO OHLONE-COSTANOAN ESSELEN NATION'S PROTEST AGAINST JUNIPERO SERRA'S CANONIZATION


NEW!  DONATE $50 OR MORE AND I WILL SEND YOU A SIGNED COPY OF MY NEW BOOK, RAISED BY HUMANS.  It's so new, it isn't even in the bookstores until April 15th!



You can read more about Raised By Humans here and here. 

As I've mentioned elsewhere, the impending canonization of Junipero Serra by Pope Francis is an extremely offensive act in the eyes of California Indians, especially those affected by Spanish missionization. 

On April 5, 2015 American Indian Movement-Southern California, The Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of the Greater Monterey Bay Area, and The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band will jointly lead a protest and educational event at Mission San Carlos (Carmel).  This is an important historical moment in which the descendants of those who survived missionization speak out, with our allies, against the continued lies, misrepresentation and romanticization of genocide and crimes against humanity on the part of the Catholic Church.

As the host tribe, OCEN would like to provide food and water for those joining us in the protest on our homeland.  Tribal Chairwoman Louise J. Miranda Ramirez notes that this is a large expense for a small, unrecognized tribe.  Any donations to help us fulfill our hospitality obligations are deeply appreciated!  See donation button below.




 
NIMASIANEXELPASALEKI
THANK YOU!
 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Report From the California Indian Think Tank



Report from the California Indian Think Tank
 
Taking our leave of one another is hard. We’ve tended old friendships, founded new relationship with other nations, given words a sovereign space, fed the future with dreams.  Old songs and jokes and endearments rained on us in languages of home: over books, over coffee, over salmon.  A clapperstick gave elderberry voice in the heart of the city.  Testimony and story flowed in and out of time's basket.  Good words, hard words, necessary words, tender words.  Lists made and lists recorded, resources shared; sacred anger sometimes lit up the room, and laughter invited laughter to dance.  We've shed a few tears, admired canons transformed into cannons, given and received blessings; irreverence, thy name is James!  A long-legged spider came out to witness our warp and weft; observed intently, then, satisfied that we had potential, went back to her business in the next universe.  Abalone and pine nut and acorn and clamshell beads created an Indigenous choir in the background.  Ancestors emerged from our mouths, shifted inside of our cells, reminded us that survival takes innovation, risk, compassion, courage.  Yes it does.  Yes it does.  We'll remember.


[for those who asked about the poem I read:]

Rosary


Put me on a train, let me ride all the way from San Diego to Sacramento.  Let me watch the lands I love unroll like a scroll, a story that keeps opening and opening, rich and full of sky, sand, oaks, hills, ocean, pines, snow.  Let me drink in the old voices living there.  Let the old knowledge seep back into me.  Feast my eyes?  I am a glutton!  Unable to turn away, not wanting to sleep.  Let the train rock me back and forth, jostle me over a rough spot in the track; let the steel wheels beneath the floor whine and sing. 



Let the long slow grades ease us down from the mountains like a snake on a summer day, silver scales sparkling in the sun.  Put me on a train; let the world shrink down to this one ragged coastline.  Let this narrow corridor become the only world that matters. 



Rumbling through Los Angeles, I’ll look for the dry cement banks of the river we have never forgotten, see homeless souls living in the mouths of drains that haven’t seen a drop of water in months.  They know what they’re doing: blue tarps over the entrance, a battered lawn chair – would I manage as well?  If I knew how to pray, I would pray for them, those people who never pray for rain. 



San Juan Capistrano, San Fernando Rey de España, Santa Barbara.  Let me pass by the adobe missions, the ridiculously renovated, the melting rubble, with tender thoughts for the souls of my ancestors. Like clay and stone, we transform: that is the string of miracles I follow.

Deborah A. Miranda (forthcoming in Raised By Humans, Tia Chucha Press April 2015)

Friday, February 20, 2015

THE CARTOGRAPHER READS HER OWN FORTUNE (and what I'm doing in California this week)


Yesterday I flew from Virginia to Oakland, from a 7 degree morning to a 55 degree evening, from east coast to west coast.  Along the way, I saw this landscape, and wrote this poem.

The Cartographer Reads Her Own Fortune



At first, just the slim shadow

of a line in the center of my palm.  Just

an intention, a crack in the façade

of flesh.  Then, waking at night,

I hold my hand up to my face,

see a faint glow, a thin sliver

of magma creeping along,

salmonberry-bright.  One morning

I wake to fine fissures feathering out

from the blossoming fire,

molten rivulets and streams spidering

like the veins of the Rockies

seen from forty-thousand feet -

that’s when I give up maps,

that’s how I glimpse my true destiny:

inking a million impossible pathways,

every one of them a promise, a test.

Deborah A. Miranda


I'm here in California for the week (my university has a "February Break") to attend a Heyday "think tank" gathering on California Missions from an Indigenous perspective - be sure to order your copy of the latest News From Native California, which is a special issue, "Surviving the Missions" - click on the link to see a list of articles, poetry and news ... this is a phenomenal collection that is going to sell out fast...


and to give a reading at UC Santa Barbara, where Bad Indians is being featured in 200-student seminar this semester ...


and finally, to speak at UC Davis for their Social Justice Initiative Mellon Project event, "Indigenous Performativities"  along with the brilliant Alice Te Punga Somerville (Māori)!

 Margo and I are enjoying a respite from the 7 degree weather we left in Virginia.  Heyday has put us up at the lovely Berkeley Marina, and we spent this morning roaming the hills of Cesar Chavez Park above San Francisco Bay.  
 
The Queen of California surveys her domain...


Walks With Egret

NOT Virginia anymore!

...And dang happy about it.  What? No seven layers of clothing to go outside?!



 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Serra the Saint: Why Not?


 

Serra the Saint: Why Not?

We are told that Junipero Serra is being canonized because he brought Christianity to California Indigenous peoples. If that were all he had brought to us, perhaps I could find it in my heart to forgive Pope Francis’ decision. If Serra had brought us the choice of Christianity – with no punishment for choosing to remain faithful to our own religions – perhaps I could understand the Pope’s decision. But Serra did not just “bring” us Christianity; he imposed it, he forced it, he violated us with it, giving us no choice in the matter.

Missionization, for California Indians, was more like indoctrination in an abusive cult than spiritual grace. Natives who resisted or refused conversion were beaten, imprisoned, starved, exiled or driven from their homelands – usually by soldiers, at the behest of priests. Catholicism was the stealth weapon of Spanish colonization; a “moral” reason for conquest, to protect lands Spain wanted for itself from Russians moving south from Alaska. In addition to Christianity, the Spaniards brought disease, including their own special brand of syphilis that not only sterilized Native women but caused birth defects, blindness and death. A pre-contact population of close to one million dropped to 250,000-300,000 in less than 70 years. These numbers, these statistics, are human beings. Our ancestors. Our relatives. Our families. The missionaries’ efforts directly caused generations of Historical Trauma to California Indians from which we still have not recovered (loss of indigenous religion, culture, languages, art, land, health, psychological well-being and sovereignty were direct results of Serra’s missionization efforts).

In other historical contexts, this kind of abuse of power is called genocide, a crime against humanity. It is certainly about as far away from sainthood as anything I can imagine, and the Catholic Church’s stated intentions to honor Serra with canonization indicates that it has learned nothing, and does not understand that it needs to learn: violently enforced religion is not missionization, it is terrorism.

Why, then, is Serra’s canonization seemingly imminent?  After the church rape scandals in the past couple of decades, Serra may be seen by many in the Vatican as someone whose reputation is above all of that, having lived prior to and not affected by the legal cases still going on. And this canonization is definitely seen, within Vatican circles, as having taken too long already - Serra was beatified in 1988, which raised protests from Native peoples and, along with the then-necessity of a second miracle – may have put things on the back burner till now. Meanwhile, Pope Francis' participation in the fast-tracking of the double canonization last year (of his predecessors, Popes John Paul XXIII and John II) should serve as a red flag, indicating a lack of judgment and sensitivity toward the suffering not just of Native Americans and their Ancestors, but of Catholics themselves, particularly those who were sexually abused and whose Church covered up the crimes.  As Barbie Latza Nadeau writes, Pope John II not only protected one of the priests involved (“Legionnaires of Christ founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, who sexually abused seminarians, fathered several children and even abused his own son”), but actually rallied around him.  In addition, “In many ways,” says Nadeau, “John Paul II laid the groundwork for his own fast track to sainthood back in 1983 when he dismissed the office of the advocatus diabolus, or devil’s advocate. Until then, all causes for saints had to be scrutinized by a canon lawyer, called the Promoter Fidei, who studied each saint’s worthiness. John Paul … would not likely have made the cut based on his record on the child abuse scandal."  Indeed, with the new rules for sainthood no longer requiring two miracles, Serra’s canonization does seem very likely to happen soon.  

Serra, many of his his supporters have argued, was simply "a man of his times." In other words, colonization happens, and we should not blame those caught up in it. But that has a flip side to it:  if Serra was, in fact, “a man of his times” in 1769 when he founded the first California mission in San Diego, he should have known better: Bartolome de las Casas knew better in 1552 when he published "A Brief History of the Destruction of the Indies," and spent his entire life working for the freedom of Indians and return of their lands (a wealthy man, a priest, and former Indian slave-holder); a document Serra and all priests in training would have read and debated. Padre Antonio Horra knew better in 1799 when he protested soldiers' rapes and beatings of Indian converts at his California mission.  The Church officials in California and Mexico sent poor Padre Horra home saying he had gone insane from the stress of missionization and his inability to deal with the hardships of The New World. Mission websites state that "Padre Antonio de la Concepcion Horra (1767-?) became a problem almost from the very beginning. Then-President of the missions, Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, assigned Padre Horra to work with the experienced missionary Padre Buenaventura Sitjar, for the founding of Mission San Miguel. Less than a month after the July 25, 1797 founding, Padre Horra began showing signs of insanity … 'Two surgeons at Monterey examined Horra and declared him insane; the governor made it official, and Horra was returned to Mexico. From there, Padre Horra was returned to Spain on July 8, 1804." This is from the Mission San Miguel website.    

However, there is another, rarely heard side to this story:  “The treatment shown to the Indians is the most cruel … For the slightest things they receive heavy floggings, are shackled, and put in the stocks, and treated with so much cruelty that they are kept whole days without a drink of water,” Horra wrote in his own defense, adding that charges of insanity were false and brought against him because of his serious charges against of cruelty by priests and soldiers, and mismanagement of Church resources (Bancroft 587).  In closing, Horra asked to be sent back to Spain because he feared for his life – not because of wild Indians, but due to his own Franciscan brethren.


Many letters, diaries and records of others traveling in California during Serra’s tenure and afterwards left behind testimonies of the brutality brought on by the missions.  In 1786, French explorer
Jean-François de Galaup de la Pérouse observed that during his visit to Mission Carmel a mere three years after Serra’s death, “Everything reminded us of a habitation in Saint Domingo, or any other West Indian slave colony. The men and women are assembled by the sound of the bell, one of the religious conducts them to their work, to church, and to all other exercises. We mention it with pain, the resemblance to a slave colony is so perfect, that we saw men and women loaded with irons, others in the stocks; and at length the noise of the strokes of a whip struck our ears.”  Other visitors in the same era noted that Indians were even beaten with a whip or cane when they did not “attend worship” -  not simply going to services, but actually paying attention to the service and necessary responses. These people saw through “the eyes of their time” and what they saw disturbed them deeply.  Serra knew, too. 

In 1988, the last time canonization of Serra came up, protests from California Indians was loud and immediately.  ``He is as responsible for what happened to American Indians as Hitler was responsible for what happened to the Jews,`` Jeannette Costo told The Chicago Tribune

This comparison is often dismissed out of hand as hyperbole, yet there is something to it: when Serra supporters write that “he was a man of his times, part of an inevitable colonization and expansion of European powers,” I often wonder, would we accept that as an excuse for Hitler, as well?  Wasn’t he just another power-hungry European leader who went to war for more territory?

More recently, retired Bishop Francis A. Quinn apologized to the Miwok Indians  during a Mass at the Church of St. Raphael in San Rafael California;  Bishop Quinn admitted that missionaries "took the Indian out of the Indian," and imposed “a European Catholicism upon the natives."  He also admitted that mission soldiers and priests had raped Indian women and enforced missionary rules with brutal and violent punishments. Perhaps most stunning, Bishop Quinn agreed with what some of us have long known: that Indians were civilized, had forms of religion, education, art, governance and agricultural knowledge long before the Spanish arrived bent on conversion and their own version of civilization.  

And still more recently, Bishop Richard Garcia asked forgiveness from the Diocese of Monterey (in December 2012) when he offered a formal apology for the abuses of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of Ohlone/Costanoan Indians, one of several tribes taken into Mission Carmel. 

A clear thread of protest from within the Catholic Church itself runs parallel to the protests of California Indians, although each has often been in danger of erasure by the powers that wish to control the narrative.

So is it any wonder that California Indians, and many of our allies, feel that Serra’s canonization is a mistake that will only cause further damage to our struggle to return from the aftermath of genocide – a struggle which in large part depends upon our ability to challenge and expose the Mission Mythology that supports past injustices?

As I write this, my mind is already leaping ahead to the hate mail and comments sure to follow.  In the comment section of a November 2013 issue of an article about Junipero Serra in The Guardian, I saw this typical thread:



The sheer inability of people to do their own research, or lacking that, to critically examine the arguments of the “research” they do read (or imagine they read), stuns me.  Obviously, our California Indian Ancestors not only survived “the ravages of Mother Nature,” but had a deeply spiritual connection with the cycles and our responsibilities to the beings around us; we did not need a “refuge” “against” nature, because we had spent thousands of years working with our world and understood what was required for an equitable relationship.  I’ve seen far, far more vicious threads in the past few days.  On the NYT comment section after an article in which I was quoted (along with two other California Indians), someone named Richard M wrote, “I hate to be blunt, but it must be said: ‘Prominent Native Americans’ here equals ‘usual handful of professional left-wing activists.’”  I replied with my academic and tribal credentials, gave him a few hard facts about missions, and told him to educate himself.  I refrained from his own brand of blunt simply because, as an Indian, I’ve learned that I cannot stoop to the level of haters without losing what little credibility I have.

So I don’t fool myself into thinking that I am going to change the minds of haters, or of the people who think this debate is highly amusing and not worth their time, because “it’s all water under the bridge now, just move on.”  But I do feel strongly that as one of the few descendants of the Indians who survived the missions, I have a responsibility to my Ancestors and to my own descendants to speak up and try to create a clearer understand about why Junipero Serra’s canonization would be another historical flogging of California Indians.  No, Serra was not the only one involved.  Yes, he was part of an intricate machine run by the Spanish Crown’s political desires, the Spanish military’s might, and the Vatican’s multiple ambitions to convert and acquire both souls and wealth.  But Serra was also a man who, like many before him, was faced with a choice: go along with the program, achieve his own personal goals, and ignore the larger crimes – or take a stand against inherently inhumane and unchristian acts against a people who were obviously vulnerable to diseases and technologies far different from their own.

Serra made his choice.  And in my eyes, that choice does not make him a saint, or anything close to it.  Why not canonize Mother Teresa?  Why not Archbishop Romero, who died defending indigenous peoples from poverty and injustice?  Why honor and elevate a man who allowed himself to close his eyes and continue to head an organization that was clearly destroying souls faster than it could "save" them?  This is what I want to bring to the attention of those who are willing to consider the more difficult sides of this debate: when we believe in Mission Mythology, or even simply just allow it to continue to exist, unchallenged, we accept that cruelty and injustice is allowable, inevitable, and profitable.

But that will come back to bite you, and those you love, one day.

Deborah A. Miranda
See also:  "Junípero Serra's road to sainthood is controversial for Native Americans"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Call for Teaching Tips & Event Updates




HAVE YOU TAUGHT MY BOOK, BAD INDIANS: A TRIBAL MEMOIR?  My publisher Heyday Books and I are putting together a list of teaching tips for the book – actual writing assignments, discussion points, activities, critical materials – anything you’ve used successfully in to engage your students.  Field-specific ideas are welcome (for example, Women and Gender Studies, Native Studies or Literature courses, Sociology, U.S. History, Creative Writing) but we are also looking for creative “ways in” that you may have discovered or designed.  I know that many universities have assigned the book (I’ve visited and Skyped with quite a few!), but many educators have asked me for teaching materials and I thought I’d ask for contributions.  We’ll credit you on the final document, of course, and may be able to do web links as well if you have online materials.  Please email your ideas and links to Deborah.a.miranda@gmail.com (and feel free to pass this call for teaching tips around to others who might be interested) Many thanks!

Recent news for Bad Indians:



·      In Fall 2014, at UC Santa Cruz, Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir was chosen as one of three texts for the Merrill Core Course (the other two were Cristina Garcia's novel Dreaming in Cuban and Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down)


·      Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir has been chosen (out of 30 nominations) as the Core Text for a new 200 person lecture seminar launched by English Department at UC Santa Barbara.  I will visit the seminar on February 24, 2015.


·      Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir was awarded a Gold Medal (Autobiography/Memoir) by the Independent Publishers Association in May 2014.


·      Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir was a semi-finalist for the William Saroyan Award in 2014.


·      Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir has been nominated for possible selection as the 2015-2016 One Campus One Book reader on the University of Central Missouri campus. An important aspect of One Campus One Book program is an author’s lecture on campus in November 2015.


·      Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir was mentioned recently in the New York Times in an article about protests of Pope Francis’ decision to canonize Junipero Serra


Upcoming Events:


I’ll be participating in “Saying Our Share: Surviving the Missions,” a two-day invitation-only symposium hosted by HeydayBooks at the Heyday Building in Berkeley on February 20-22nd



On February 24th, I’ll visit the 200-person seminar course at UC Santa Barbara to speak and read from Bad Indians.



On February 26th I’ll take part in a poetry reading at UC Davis, and the following day I’ll be at The UC Davis’ Mellon Research Initiative “Social Justice, Culture, and (In)Security” project.  Other guests include Natalie Diaz and Alice TePunga Sommerville.



On March 2nd, I will give the first John Lucian Smith Jr. Memorial Term Chair Lecture at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia (8:00 p.m., Northern Auditorium).



I will also be at the Associated Writer’s Program Conference in Minneapolis on April 9-11th, signing my new poetry collection, Raised By Humans, at the Tia Chucha table in the Book Fair.  I’d love to see you, friends!



Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Dreams, New Medicines

 
NEWS!  You can now donate on New Dreams, New Medicines (click on the name), a blog specifically set up just for this purpose.  You will also find donated items up for exchange there: books, art, jewelry donated by those who love Linda. 

The donation buttons here on Bad Ndns are still active and go to the same account. -- Deborah

Linda Hogan
-->
“New Dreams, New Medicines”: CALL FOR DONATIONS OF ART, BOOKS, & OTHER TREASURES



Dear Friends of Linda Hogan:



As you have heard, Linda Hogan, Chickasaw writer and environmental activist, is in South Dakota helping her granddaughter deal with the sudden, unexpected death of her 8-year-old daughter Jayla (Linda’s great-granddaughter).  Kim Shuck and Deborah Miranda are putting together a blog for donations to help Linda cover her expenses both in South Dakota and back home in Colorado.  Linda recently lost her job and has been taking writing students and literary reading/teaching gigs, but right now she’s unable to make or keep those kinds of commitments.



We realize that many people want to donate to Linda but are short of cash.  If you are an artist or writer and have something you would like to donate on the blog for others to receive in exchange for monetary donations - with ALL proceeds going DIRECTLY to Linda Hogan - here is our proposal:



1.     Take a clear photograph of the item.

2.     In an email, write a brief description of that item & suggested donation amount in dollars (no more than 50 words, please)

3.     In your email, state that you want to donate this item to benefit Linda Hogan

4.     send photo as email attachment to: NewMedicines4Linda@gmail.com

5.     Be prepared to mail that item anywhere in the U.S. (i.e., you donate postage).



Suggested donations: signed books, handmade jewelry, small paintings/collages, small carvings, baskets, CDs … keeping things to an easy-to-mail size is key for this to work.  These items don’t need to have been made by you; there are no restrictions; these are just ideas.



The blog, “New Dreams, New Medicines,” is under construction right now.  The name is taken from Linda’s novel Solar Storms: 



"We had to believe, true or not, that our belated victory was the end of something. That one fracture we had healed, one crack mended, one piece back in place ... we had thrown an anchor into the future and followed the rope to the end of it, to where we would dream new dreams, new medicines, and one day, once again, remember the sacredness of every living thing" (351).



We hope that this small project will put some cash in Linda’s pocket for expenses, bills, travel, animal care, and the innumerable things that come up in times of loss.  It would be wonderful to have a stock of items ready to post on the blog when it opens (probably Tuesday, November 25).



Nimasianexelpasaleki, Deborah Miranda, Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation



Wa-do, Kim Shuck (Tsalagi and Goral)


A temporary PayPal donation site is here!  We'll move this over to the new blog as soon as the blog is up.



Friday, November 21, 2014

Yarzeit

This morning I lit the yarzeit (memorial) candle.  My mother, Madgel E. Miranda, died on November 21, 2001.  She was only sixty-six years old by the calendar.  If we counted years by pain and hardship and grief, she was much much older.

Even though it has now been thirteen years since Mom passed on, I still find references to her in genealogy forums on the internet.  “New” messages, or new to me, as I retrace her research for my ancestors, still pop up, and it seems that everywhere I think of to search, Mom has already been there.  I kind of love that.  Love that our minds follow the same paths, that I am following behind her.  It makes her feel closer, as if she hasn’t really been gone more than a decade.


Things My Mother Taught Me


Wear your silver and turquoise to knead tortilla dough;
baking soda polishes rings bright again.
Four paths to payday: beans and rice, flour, Crisco.

If hamburger’s sparse, cut with stale bread or a potato.
Take in strays.  Pay the vet.  Say amen.
Wear your silver and turquoise to knead tortilla dough.

Look the clerk in the eye over food stamps, as though
survival and revenge are close friends.
Four roads to payday: beans and rice, flour, Crisco.

Weed the garden when angry; kneel in each long row.
Zucchini’s one thing you don’t have to defend.
Wear your silver and turquoise to knead tortilla dough.

Drop everything and pick when the blackberries glow.
Write letters of protest.  Root for underdogs.  Like alone.
Four ways to payday: beans and rice, flour and Crisco.

Bring your mother home to die so your daughter knows
love is stronger than what cannot be forgiven.
Wear your silver and turquoise to knead tortilla dough.
Four paths to payday: beans and rice, flour, Crisco.




(Deborah Miranda, The Zen of La Llorona)