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  • Night Before Immigrant Rights March, May 29, 2010, and: If You Can't on Mission Street, and: Lopez Family Map, 1962-1984
  • Cathy Arellano (bio)

Night Before Immigrant Rights March, May 29, 2010

for all the folks who were on the road to Phoenix, Arizona that night

moon sits on horizonlike a fat catready to shove in one more

low cloud shrinksbright orb to halfan orange slice

lightning claws fieldson both sides of highway 26like ICE in the middle of harvest

dip in roadabracadabras final moon shavinginto darker than chocolate

Border Broncos warn usto turn back, scatterwhile stars show us the way

a few hours laterluna returns in full majestyher blaze louder than any drum [End Page 185]

If You Can't on Mission Street

if no one asks you for moneythe time, a dateif no one asks you to buy alate night-late night, fast pass, passport

if the savvy entrepreneur doesn't stop youwhen you pass the paperback booksof his crack mart spread on a tarpbetween the falafel place and roxie theater

cholitas with cleopatra eyesdon't maddog youhomies parked on 19th or 24thdon't ask, what you claim?

the tamale lady doesn't nod to her coolerwhen you rise from the BART cavethe flores lady doesn't wave a bouquetwhen you're ordering at la taquería

if a little boy on a swing at mission playgrounddoesn't ask you to push him higher! higher!a little girl on the merry-go-round at dolores parkdoesn't ask you to spin it! spin it!

if the cristianos don't alleluia youinvite you to their storefront for salvationhand you a free watchtoweror awake magazine

the viejo selling yerbas para los hombresdoesn't nod'n'wink at youthe hombres huddled 'round the old hunt's on 20thdon't say, oye mija or mijo(well, consider yourself lucky)

the palatero doesn't ring his bellwhen he passes youthe fruit lady doesn't offer elote, mangowhen you pass her [End Page 186]

if the cd sellers don't let you look through their casesand blast a sample on their boom boxesthe dvd vendors don't sell yesterday's new releaseat today's special price

if a señora doesn't accept your offer of helpwith her bolsas of foodor the lady with a babydoesn't take your seat on the 14

the young multilingual latinadoesn't stop folding clothesthe asian or palestinian store ownersdon't watch you when you walk in

the man with the red-painted facedoesn't smile at youthe woman with baby-powdered eyelashesdoesn't blink at you

the filipino man who smokes invisible cigarettesdoesn't salute youas he marches up and downthe coolest street in town

if somebody passes by and doesn't speak to you in englishmexican puerto rican cuban or south american spanishspanglish caló a dialect of mayan quiché quechuatagalog vietnamese cantonese mandarin samoan

then you've had your last shoe shinetake the stuff stolen from usthat you were trying to sell back to usat ten times the price

delete all the photosof little, brown children and adultsyou took without anyone's permissionburn your notes for your study

go kill time before grad school somewhere elsegive notice at your jobthe one that supplementedyour trust fund monthly deposit [End Page 187]

i suggest you suggestsomeone who actually knows the communitygo save another at-risk peoplethe folks back home, your home

jump on a buscall a cabrun don't walkand don't think of ever coming back! [End Page 188]

Lopez Family Map, 1962-1984

797 Valencia
Nana and Grandpa moved to a flat off 19th after they lost the house in Pacifica and returned to the City. There's a photo of the uncles left to right: skinny Uncle Mickey smiling innocently before shipping out to Vietnam, Uncle...


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