Do we have to go to war in an unknown land and fight for our country in order to prove our patriotismo? Do we have to risk our lives against soldados we know nothing about, except that they, too, are fighting to defend their country? Will this war change the world? We ask of all the wars. Nuestros padres, nuestras parejas, los hijos, los hermanos. Tienen que sufrir our absence while we prove our patriotismo? El patriotismo no nomas se demuestra en la Guerra, en una tierra extraña, contra soldados que no conocemos, or that we personally have nothing against. Patriotismo se demuestra when we served in the military even in the face of discrimination. When we are only allowed to scrub the deck or paint the ship. O, trabajar en la cocina peeling the potatoes y lavando los trastes. We went and defended our country, in spite of this. when our troops were separated by color, like when you do the laundry.
One war receiving 45 sons from Hero Street, Illinois, sending them to the Philippines because of their Spanish tongues only to be silenced when they returned to their homes. Patriotismo is watching your child going off to war and your heart is heavy and your spirit cries because it does not know if there will be a reunion embrace. The neighborhood of Edgewood in San Antonio losing 54 to another war, with 2 of them still M.I.A., 10 of them graduating in the same year from the same high school. Yet, “We’re a very patriotic family,” said Gloria Carson, sister to one of the 54. Many of our returning soldados never honored until after death Or, the families of those we lost in the battles, esperando años para recibir el Honor to be bestowed on their loved ones.
Patriotismo is knowing you have to drink from a different water fountain and enter through the back door. Yet, we do not hesitate to take up arms to defend la poquita libertad que los permiten. “Foreigners in our land” quizas, but it is our land. Y a pesar de todo, we are orgullosos of our Patriotismo. Patriotismo is not just defending and sacrificing in times of war. Patriotismo is forming The American GI Forum, to serve and assist the needs of our veterans and their families. And fighting for our veterans’ rights, who are American after all.
Patriotismo is leaders like Cesar Chavez, who fought at home and sacrificed for the dignity deserved to all. Patriotismo is fighting in our own land upon returning home, not with weapons of mass destruction but with weapons of words and fearless leadership. Patriotismo is encouraging people to vote, organizing them as a community, empowered with the knowledge that they are all capable of accomplishing the impossible regardless of circumstances.
Patriotismo is Believing in equality for all and achieving civil and labor rights with nonviolence. Marching so that men, women and children have access to decent wages, education, decent housing and food to eat. Patriotism is holding the country you sacrificed for, accountable to fulfill its promise of equality and freedom for all people.
Patriotism is collectively believing what Cesar Chavez once said: Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”
Patriotism cannot be taken away because we ARE this Tierra and Patriotismo is US.
San Juana Guillermo, Texas-born, but raised in Chicago Heights, Illinois, where her migrant family had settled out to raise a family, arrived in San Antonio in 2015 from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she had moved and raised her own family. Grandmother to 14 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, she wrote her first poem at age 60 and has been published in several San Antonio-based zines and chapbooks by Jazz Poets of San Antonio and Voces Cósmicas. San Juana is active with local writers’ groups and at public readings. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
is a special little corner in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
Benediction: Three Poems
By Eric Morales-Franceschini
My loss I call “isla” my teacher, too for to fall prey to it is to forfeit every right to grow old with the devil And say, yes, this is what it is to be sated with life
But woe to this trigueño body and to every hymn that conjures a love lost on nearby shores, borne on tempestuous waters
for memory holds at this and every other lonely hour —innocent of all history bound to a desire more fecund than Atabey, less merciful than Juracán
for it defies all names and, thereby, all tenability walks across warm sand, a mother’s smile, and a century older than blood the scent of rum
nor does it know any end, sees only the color flamboyán and blossoms every nightfall, as does the coquí’s coy song
if only I knew other names —less sublime indeed: less generic to keep at bay this perversely welcomed hour
If only I had the decency to say no and heed to a reality as dry as bone
If only, that is, the Virgen would make me righteous just this once and let me say, with impunity: I miss you
The tongue is a peculiar and amnesiac foil which forgets that not all is bound by the color spic
for flesh and its miscellanea do speak loudly
but a logic older than the corpus knows that even the ventriloquist is no rival for the criterion of the “native”
who, after all, could afford to loiter about in editorial time or seek asylum in the quintessential and the vulgar when all must be said here and now
inevitably a stutter confesses, “I’m a fraud” and you are laid bare to a world that knows not how to listen for a new canto
either belatedly, or hastily we fall prey to a grammar older than coarse mahogany and a fetish that cast spells as earnestly as does a cliff’s edge
but this lengua I embody naively believes that forgiveness is imminent in every breath that whispers, “La bendición…”
A dissident etymology
there are dialects that conjure wounds deeper than the Sargasso Sea and its cryptic waters
for words are an index in which every last breath can echo a biblical curse or hail a tree’s limb
yet horizons come alive anew in dissident etymologies that speak their endearments in black
black is that enigma, after all, by which our beloved are beckoned, and a quiet audacity held dear
for words are an index, too in which every last breath can whisper a secret or hail a boricua’s kiss
Eric Morales-Franceschini was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico and raised in southern Florida. Eric is a former day laborer and US Army veteran who now holds a PhD in Rhetoric from UC, Berkeley and is Assistant Professor of English and Latin American Studies at the University of Georgia. He writes and teaches in the fields of decolonial studies, Caribbean literature, Cuban cinema, and liberation thought in the Américas and is at work on a scholarly manuscript, Epic Quintessence: the mambí and the mythopoetics of Cuba Libre, and a prose and poetry manuscript titled Post Festum. "Isla," "Benediction," and "A dissident etymology" are his first published poems.