Body on the Border by Eric Eztli

Am I Mexican or American?

You see, here in the land of the free,
I’m a greaser
a beaner
a wetter
a wetback,
yet when we travel down south
I’m a gringo,

I’m a traitor
in this country
for advocating immigration reform,
and I’m a pocho
in Mexico
for stumbling on Spanish words.

“Go back to Mexico”
bigots tell me
when I speak Espanol.
I’m splitting
in cultures
and language
so I must confess:

I’m too Mexican
for America
and too American for Mexico.

Not enough of one,
too much of both.

So where do I fit in?
Where do I go?
What do I say I am?

I can’t turn my back
on my roots
like millions of others have.
I know what blood runs in my veins,
but I also know which land
has allowed me to be who I am

I’m the convictions
of Zapatistas
and Martin Luther King,
the pasos of Mexicanos
crossing to flee
from poverty.

I am the first generation
army of immigrants,
striving to succeed
as my parents see me live
in this new world
of fear
and opportunity.

I am
the sweat
of the people of the sun,
picking your tomatoes,
your lettuce, your lemons.

I am
the courage
of the civil rights movement,
marching to break
the suffocating chains of racism.

and I add my own flavor
spice and soul
to this enormous salad bowl.

I get knots
in my throat
from chants
like “free at last”
to “si se puede.”

My oracion is
“el pueblo unido
jamas sera vencido”
and my voice swells
when I yell
“we are the 99%”
so “give me liberty
or give me death.”

And my mouth loves mole….
on days
when Vicente Fernandez plays
in the background,
and I pound tragos de amargo licor,
singing, “Y Volver Volver….
VOLVER… a tus brazos otra vez.”

But some days my body
rather bounce to the baseline and beat
of Grandmaster Flash,
“So. Don’t. Push. Me. Cuzzzz
I’m close to the edge,
I’m try—ing not to lose my heaadddd.”

Bury my body on the border,
with hyphenated stories
in my heart.
Lacerate my skeleton
like my severed tongue tangled
with Spanish and English
as a child.

Light a vela for my alter,
play the mariachi at dawn.
I am born
from your blood.
on the wrong side
of a rising border I never crossed.

I am the sun burnt hermano,
sent to scrub
your toilets and build your houses,
but with every passing moon,
I grow stronger.

This corazon carries
all of the promesas
that are yet to come
the aguante
to survive
all that has passed.

With these chants in my heart,
I rest.
Si se puede.
Free at last.

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