Skip to main content

Sharing a Poem: What's Genocide

Found this on Tumblr.

Brilliant.

====================

Carlos Andres Gomez, What’s Genocide
[content warning: internalized racism and self injury]
their high school principal
told me I couldn’t teach
poetry with profanity
so I asked my students,
“Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the Holocaust.”
in unison, their arms rose up like poisonous gas
then straightened out like an SS infantry
“Okay. Please put your hands down.
Now raise your hand if you’ve heard of the Rwandan genocide.”
blank stares mixed with curious ignorance
a quivering hand out of the crowd
half-way raised, like a lone survivor
struggling to stand up in Kigali
“Luz, are you sure about that?”
“No.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Carlos—what’s genocide?”
they won’t let you hear the truth at school
if that person says “fuck”
can’t even talk about “fuck”
even though a third of your senior class
is pregnant.
I can’t teach an 18-year-old girl in a public school
how to use a condom that will save her life
and that of the orphan she will be forced
to give to the foster care system—
“Carlos, how many 13-year-olds do you know that are HIV-positive?”
“Honestly, none. But I do visit a shelter every Monday and talk with
six 12-year-old girls with diagnosed AIDS.”
while 4th graders three blocks away give little boys blowjobs during recess
I met an 11-year-old gang member in the Bronx who carries
a semi-automatic weapon to study hall so he can make it home
and you want me to censor my language
“Carlos, what’s genocide?”
your books leave out Emmett Till and Medgar Evers
call themselves “World History” and don’t mention
King Leopold or diamond mines
call themselves “Politics in the Modern World”
and don’t mention Apartheid
“Carlos, what’s genocide?”
you wonder why children hide in adult bodies
lie under light-color-eyed contact lenses
learn to fetishize the size of their asses
and simultaneously hate their lips
my students thought Che Guevara was a rapper
from East Harlem
still think my Mumia t-shirt is of Bob Marley
how can literacy not include Phyllis Wheatley?
schools were built in the shadows of ghosts
filtered through incest and grinding teeth
molded under veils of extravagant ritual
“Carlos, what’s genocide?”
“Roselyn, how old was she? Cuántos años tuvo tu madre cuando se murió?”
“My mother had 32 years when she died. Ella era bellísima.”
…what’s genocide?
they’ve moved from sterilizing “Boriqua” women
injecting indigenous sisters with Hepatitis B,
now they just kill mothers with silent poison
stain their loyalty and love into veins and suffocate them
…what’s genocide?
Ridwan’s father hung himself
in the box because he thought his son
was ashamed of him
…what’s genocide?
Maureen’s mother gave her
skin lightening cream
the day before she started the 6th grade
…what’s genocide?
she carves straight lines into her
beautiful brown thighs so she can remember
what it feels like to heal
…what’s genocide?
…what’s genocide?
“Carlos, what’s genocide?”
“Luz, this…
this right here…
is genocide.”
from Rattle #27, Summer 2007

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Subway Journey Home

by The Urban Blabbermouth. Comments are welcome! ~ There is a ritual to theNew York City subway system. Once there, you lose your humanity.  You are transformed into a savage, brutal and selfish automaton.  Savage in that you push and shove other riders out of your way to get into the subway car.  Brutal in that you never excuse yourself for any atrocities that you commit to get in the subway car.  Selfish in that you never give up your seat to anyone, no matter how crippled or old or pregnant they are.  Automaton in that you never look at any one else as a human being.

Now there are certain strategies that you can employ to be a successful subway rider.  You can stand by the door and obstruct the way just to be selfish and ornery.  That strategy is designed to increase your standing with your fellow passengers by impressing them with how vicious you can be pushing back at people trying to push into the car.  Whenever I see this strategy employed, I immediately piggy back on it.  I move …

Gone Shopping

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Dracula escorted his newly created undead aide into the store.

"...and you need to sleep in the daytime," he explained.

"But what are we doing here in Sleepy's Mattress store?" asked his aide. "I thought we slept in coffins."

"We are modern now," replied Dracula. "We use a mattress like anyone else. I tell you, after two hundred years of sleeping on rock and dirt, this is a joy. So much more comfortable and you don't have to haul it around from place to place."

"Amazing," said the aide.

"For a newbie like you, maybe you want to go traditional. Sleepy's has a Posturedic that will fit inside a coffin."

"What do you use?" asked the aide.

"I have a sleep-number bed. I love it. Mrs. Dracula can toss and turn and I don't feel it on my side."

"Now that you mention the ladies, I think I will skip the coffin. A moo…

I Swear!

by Vol-E

I've lived in the south for over 30 years. Having grown up as a New Yorker, there were some changes to get used to once I crossed the Mason-Dixon line.

Language was a big one. My parents were well-behaved in public, but behind the closed doors of our home, they taught me all kinds of interesting vocabulary words, as they took their everyday frustrations out on one another. "Jerk" and "bastard" were two of the earliest ones, but by the time I was about eight, I knew pretty much every one of George Carlin's pet no-nos.

It was only in college that I met people who were outspokenly offended by swear words. The ones that raised eyebrows initially were related to religion. I began to think twice about using "hell" and "damn," and was politely informed one day that "God's last name is not 'dammit.'" So I gradually began censoring myself a bit, which was probably a good thing, once I joined the work force. Macy…