…we are the children of bridges, bridges made from our backs, our tears, our sacrifices,
and from all the ones who never made it across with us…. Junot Díaz
low tones solid as her father’s sweet bread
high notes sing the vibrato of son jarocho
of a woman near tears but speaking still
words deep within the memory of cells
the cells are theirs
the lengua is theirs not mine
I can’t presume to speak their truth
yet their indomitable vigor lifts me up
fills with me with a sense of solidarity
a feeling of common purpose
and feelings need not be truth
but are still facts
the strength of la gente bears me up
out of the inundation of hate
their strength through persecution
through the suppression of truth
their unbroken backs carry me
across the chasm seen between us
a bridge between fear and resolution
inspiring me to be a revolution
this bridge called their backs
when I slip and fall I see shoulders and arms
rise up from where knocked to the ground
and those hands reach out to steady me
stand me on my own feet and take my hand
the gift of strength from one heart to another
a kind word from one tongue to another
the gift of memories not mine but shared
like the voice of a cane flute
calling out to the stars
Read at the Librotraficantes event in El Paso, Texas on June 22, 2017
Susan Hawthorne’s comment on the back of The Tongue Has Its Secrets
“Here is a poet who tongues the language of birds, delves into the minds of sybils, explores connections with animals. She tests the boundaries of nothingness and somethingness. Donna Snyder’s poems are like Nüshu: secrets cast skywards like a cipher for those who know, to read.”
– Susan Hawthorne, poet and author of Lupa and Lamb
https://www.redfez.net/redfez/embed/workembed.php?p=undefined&i=undefined Read on Red Fez | Read Later
The cruelest month
In memory of Jesús Guzmán
April winds rage in with a renegade posse of dust,
weather’s bad boys intent on stealing a body’s air.
And one cruel April, Jesús was killed on Easter Monday.
Day after resurrection Sunday, he fell from Jacob’s Ladder.
It was the sudden stop that killed him.
Undoubtedly ¡Ay cabrón! frozen on his lips when he hit the ground,
a tiny blood red rose quivering alone in the wind-blasted dirt.
Jesús killed, an angel fallen from the heavens.
Declared dead on the scene, mad scientists shocked him
until his heart resumed its beat, like all fallen angels
determined to return to lost paradise.
Declared dead at the scene on Easter Monday.
Declared dead in ICU on Tuesday afternoon.
Then on the third day they took away his tubes and wires,
and his heart beat for another hour.
He fought Miss Death until they declared him dead
all over again.
except in the memories of children he taught to be poets,
or the minds of workers who crossed the borders
from there to here.
He crossed over from this life to the next one,
neither from here nor from over there.
And the mesas crashed onto the freeway like waves.
The spring night bled teardrops like falling stars
because he’s still cheated of air.
Cheated of words.
Cheated of life.
The world cheated of him and his corazón, too soon.
Jesús was killed on Easter Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday.
His heart tan fuerte it took three times to kill him.
His death scene punctuated by the street’s beat
and the lullabies of the bereft.
Now the world is so cold and lonely in April,
when the winds carry the spirits of dead vatos to remind us
just how cruel a month can really be.
Published in Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press, New York 2014)
The Yellow Chair Review Rock the Chair challenge
I came here on the back of an extinct crane Its slender neck Wings fierce and gilded with the feathers of the north wind I heard the needs of the people and the tormented world I fled the other pla…