Overcome the Xenophobes

The notion of a nation ceases to be,

     when the stories you’re telling don’t include me.

Or when the stories we all know we learned in our schools,

     turn out to be half-truth written for fools.

We can’t have a union, we can’t have a nation,

     we can’t have a country, founded on falsification

               Of treaties and boundaries

               Of land grants cut shrewdly

               in a rush to fulfill our

               Manifest Destiny.

So why do we question the tension we feel?

When faced with each other, there are things we conceal.

There are thoughts we must fight and words we repress.

We’re still in denial, despite our progress.

     For the nigger was born here

     and so was the spic,

     the hillybilly cracker,

     the wop and the mick,

     the Jewish American Princess,

     the beaner or wetback,

     the just minted towel head,

     the slanty eyed-jap,

     the dicksuckinflog,

     bet you never heard that

     but they were born in America

     and that’s still where they’re at.

And when others arrive and come chasing their dreams,

     we’ll invent a new slur and make up what it means,

     slander their customs and trick them with our schemes,

     make them outsiders; make them clean the latrines,

     pay them minimum wage, and force them to convene,

     in the poorest of places, with the oldest machines.

But still in those corners, some will believe.

They will seek their own answers and stop being naïve.

They will learn of the tricks and how they were deceived.

They will take what they know and then start to weave

     a new American story in which they achieve.

Discard of the labels and get themselves free.

Overcome limitations of what they should be.

Contribute a chapter to our history.

     So this nation of notions

     filled with such commotion

     will include we.

© 2008 henry toromoreno


ask anyone who does it

and they will lie about everything

when they do it

or how it comes to them

when they started

and how it feels


for a few, it is a gift, timeless

for others, it is a curse, heavy

for some, it is a job, mindless

for most, it is a chore,

like having to pull splinters

from your abuelo’s feet

          which I’ve done.

© 2008 henry toromoreno