IN OUR OWN VOICES
My Name's Not Rodriguez
It is a sigh of climbing feet,
the lather of gold lust,
the slave masters' religion
with crippled hands gripping greed's tail.
My name's not Rodriguez.
It's an Indian mother's noiseless cry,
a warrior's saliva on arrow tip, a jaguar's claw,
a woman's enticing contours on volcanic rock.
My real name's the ash of memory from burned trees.
It's the three-year-old child wandering in the plain
and shot by U.S. Cavalry in the Sand Creek massacre.
I'm Geronimo's yell into the canyons of the old
I'm the Comanche scout; the Raramuri shaman
in a soiled bandanna running in the wretched rain.
I'm called Rodriguez and my tears leave rivers of salt.
I'm Rodriguez and my skin dries on the bones.
I'm Rodriguez and a diseased laughter enters the
I'm Rodriguez and my father's insanity
blocks every passageway,
scorching the walls of every dwelling.
My name's not Rodriguez; it's a fiber in the wind,
it's what oceans have immersed,
it's what's graceful and sublime over the top of peaks,
what grows red in desert sands.
It's the crawling life, the watery breaths between
It's taut drum and peyote dance.
It's the brew from fermented heartaches.
Don't call me Rodriguez unless you mean peon and
unless you mean slayer of truths and deep-sixer of
Unless you mean forget and then die.
My name's the black-hooded 98mm-wielding child
in all our alleys.
I'm death row monk. The eight-year-old gum seller
in city bars and taco shops.
I'm unlicensed, uninsured, unregulated, and
I'm free and therefore hungry.
Call me Rodriguez and bleed in shame.
Call me Rodriguez and forget your own name.
Call me Rodriguez and see if I whisper in your ear,
mouth stained with bitter wine.
Luis J. Rodríguez
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