Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty Poem

A Poor People’s Poem

©1998 Olga Angelina García
This poem
angry
corajudo
bold
has got
a bad attitude
un genio from hell

and you
you’re afraid
of my poem

afraid of this
deep dark red poem
that bleeds
woman words

you
you’re afraid
cuz even though
this poem
*is*
about survival
it isn’t about
endangered whales
or dying forests

Listen
this is a poor woman’s poem
a Mexicana
Chicana
Mestiza
India
Mujer
Este de Los Angeles
poem

Yeah
this poem’s
got roaches crawling
all over it
and tiny pink mice
nibbling at the edges
and corners of
simple-everyday words

Listen this poem rides the bus
works 12 hours a day
7 days a week
with no medical benefits
and no paid vacations

Listen
this poem
has crossed rivers
and mountains
jumped over
and crawled under
barb-wired fences

this poem
has slaved
in hot-sun pesticide fields
picking
piscando
your lettuce
tomatoes
oranges
onions
picking
piscando
the vegetables
and fruits
that make your meals
nice and balanced

And this poem
has worked all kinds of shifts
in inner-city factories
sewing
packaging
stuffing
cutting
folding
ironing
the clothes you wear
the jeans
the shirts
the jackets
that keep you
in style

Yeah
this is a poor woman’s poem
a brown people’s poem
so you see
right now
we don’t want to talk about
the ozone layer

We
the people in this poem
we wanna talk about where we live
about affordable housing
about how the hot water doesn’t work
and the windows don’t close
about the Never-no-heat-in-the-winter
Sit-u-a-tion

we wanna talk about drugs
about the alcohol cocaine crack heroin
impregnating our communities
making modern colonized brown black slaves of us

we wanna talk about food stamps
about jobs and fair wages
about 12 hour shifts
and working conditions

we wanna talk about the police
about choke-hold
and billy clubs
about busted heads
and handcuffed minds
about sharp-teeth dogs
and shackled freedom
about racist cops
who hate
poor
brown
black
people

we wanna talk about dying
about the river of blood
flowing where we live
about the heads of 2 year old babies
scattered on concrete floors
about the mountain of bodies here
outlined in white chalk

So you see
right now
we don’t wanna hear you preach
about recycling
cuz poor people like us
we’ve always recycled
we invented the damn word
and out of necessity
recycled our papers, cans, bottles
recycled our socially constructed poverty
recycled even our dreams

So you see
we do wanna talk
but talk about lies
about Am er i KKK a
about treaties broken
and lands and people stolen

we wanna talk about
S L A V E R Y
U.S. colonization
Third World penetration

And you
you’re afraid
of my poem

afraid of the East side poem
holding hands
with El Salvador
Nicaragua
Tijuana
Chiapas
Pico-Union
holding hands
with
SWETO
South Africa
South Central L.A.

Yeah
I know
you’re afraid
of this
brown black
poor people’s poem

This poem
pregnant with power
waiting to be born

2 Comments:

Anonymous Armando Vencer said...

angrier than the people's poet, Carl Sandburg, could ever be, though he was of course, 'relevant' enough for his time, and had Olga written this poem this year instead of 1998, she would have proudly added 'Venezuela' to the list, sharing honors with Nicaragua, and one is suddenly shaken out of his/her post-mod induced literary stupor, to realize that yes this is the sort of poetry that should be heard & read more often in this country of bloggarts. thanks, FC, for sharing this.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Pasyon, Emmanuel C. said...

long overdue na ang pregnancy na'to. anyway, nakakapangilabot siguro makita yung performance version nito.

6:52 AM  

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