Two Poems by Luis Lopez-Maldonado


Luis On Being Accepted

I was born w/ the name of my dead uncle, w/ darker skin than my brothers & sisters. I look borrowed— But mí mama calls me a tune of faith & esperanza— born overdue, blood covered eyes! Growing up I played hide&seek w/ my cousins, eenie, minni-miny-moe & used to stare at my mother’s milky complexion & drool over my fathers blue blue eyes, but heart beat in the dark a breath held in the mirror & I take baby powder & cover myself in it, Nivea cream on brown face like mask, smile into the reflection of beauty la belleza. I run through fields of uncut wheat to ask my mother, “Do you love me now mamí?” But only shivering smile comes from her maybe some tears my father blushes & laughs: Hermoso he says, though a man would not use that word.

SouthBend, Don’t Love You, Indiana

After Joel Salcido’s Phoenix don’t love you
Children of the Sun, skin the color of cinnamon and cajeta, our grandmothers
grandfathers cultivators of dried lands, blooming
cornfields, rosas rojas, the callused hands of our Mexican women,
       SouthBend Don’t Love You
Descendants of the Azteca Empire, your fading gold crowns with a thousand feathers, jaguar teeth around neck, jade and turquoise
pierced through ears and nose and chest, tattoos galore, but you
are invisible to the white kings and queens, you’re hung from trees,
homes burned, children raped, land stolen from our brown hands,
       SouthBend Don’t Love You
Abuelitas holding your hand in their lap, the smell of baby lotion
and talco and Vaporu coming from her hair and armpits and earlobes
and caved chest, her tired warrior eyes turning grey, listen she says,
te quiero mucho, and she dies and you live and you become the warrior,
       SouthBend Don’t Love You
Our men clustering around in front of the Home Depots across
California across country, waiting illegally to work illegally for the legal white
legal bright legal privileged thieves, our men bent over away from the stars and
into the grounds history, picking strawberries and tomatoes, picking grapes and
dates, picking everything displayed in fancy grocery stores in fancy
neighborhoods in fancy fancinessness,
       SouthBend Don’t Love You
Mayan blood Inca blood Azteca sangre, silk flowers spilling over us at cemeteries,
wooden crosses and altars with flickering saints marking what we once were are
will be, rosaries hanging from our necks and hands, and cars, stickers of Obama
and Hillary glued to the back window windshields, our women in rebozos selling
flowers on the corners of busy streets,
       SouthBend Don’t Love You
Families ripped torn raped apart, fathers and mothers arrested deported like
animals, thrown over the line boarder back to Mejico, only to come back the next
day in the trunk of a white woman’s Mercedes, children bullied in las escuelas for
being brown fat weird ugly short dumb, for not having the trending skirt shirt
shorts skin, bright colored tamal de oja cheena dolls, La Virgen De Guadalupe in
the front yard and back yard and restroom bathroom kitchen and garage, our
prayers floating up into blue,
       SouthBend Don’t Love You
Gay brown boy from Santa Ana ratted out at age 8, mother lunchlady heating
stiff chalupas and frozen pizza, kids pointing at him me for running like a girl,
kicking like a girl, hanging out with girls, the way he now wears long dangling
earrings with sik Adidas, long dark half-curly hair resting on broad shoulders,
magnet to gay straight bi men, threat to white men, teaching English classes to
white men, but brown boy looks in the mirror and shatters it, pieces of cultura
and tradicion sprinkled on the floors like dead colored bodies in 2016,
       SouthBend Don’t Love
LuisNovia-Edited-4_editedLuis Lopez-Maldonado is a Xicano poet born and raised in Orange County, CA. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California Riverside, majoring in Creative Writing and Dance. His poetry has been seen in The American Poetry Review, Cloudbank, The Packinghouse Review, Off Channel, and Spillway, among many others. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in Dance from Florida State University. He is currently a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame, where he is a poetry editorial assistant for the Notre Dame Review and founder of the men’s writing workshop in the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center; he is also co-founder and editor at the The Brillantina Project. Photo credit: Melissa Artieda Photography

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