Tag Archives: political poetry

To Expand the Republican Tent

Stop calling people you don’t like thugs.

Stop beating on unions and workers.


Stop saying shit like,

…..“the good old days”

…..“traditional America”

…..“real Patriots”

…..“leeches and parasites”

…..“free condoms”


Stop putting the words

“rape” and “incest” and

“god” and “abortion”

in any combination,

in the same sentence,

anywhere, anytime.


Stop thinking of white picket fences

or white bread or white rice.


Stop thinking of brown people

as white elephants.


Stop thinking that history

is only Greece and Rome

and Jews and Christ

the Renaissance

Chris Columbus

Plymouth Rock

The War of 1776

the Civil War

WWs I & II










Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2012. All rights reserved.

deferring dreams, no more

race is not

just a lie …

but a horrible tangle

that needs be decried


needs be split open

set in the sun

put out to dry

for now it is

a dirty, slimy, rotting knot

of pus leaking snot

of old blood clotted

spotting and spitting

unwitting thoughts and beliefs

leaking into our lives

and our dreams


a cancerous meme

made stronger in waves

and on screens

depicted for what “it”

can mean … but it’s not

it’s a lie


it’s a colorful twist

on how we are made

to survive

a spiraling joke

from a helix

that shows we’re

99 percent the same

on the inside


race, is a lie

and always has been, now

we need wash our hands

and our mind of its sin

we cannot carry

that load,

lest we implode.


Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2012. All rights reserved.

on where our enemies may come from next

our enemies may not come at us in planes

they may come in limousines

our enemies may not come at us wearing sheets

they may come in pin striped suits and cowboy boots

our enemies may not come at us to push their weed or mushroom caps

they may come with pretty pills with tested names like prozac

our enemies may not come at us at knifepoint to steal from our pockets

they may come electronically to take our life savings

our enemies may not come at us to share a drink or toke

they may come to lock you up for moonshine or smoking

our enemies may not come at us speaking little English

they may come unaware that they put a little English on everything

our enemies may not come at us when we’re not looking

they may come in daylight with papers from the state

our enemies may not come at us from outside

they may come from the room next door.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2011. All rights reserved.

Dress Code

 “What?”, asks the principal,

forgetting that I take

my role as an educator seriously …


“You don’t like looking at that?”,

when I mention

that the short shorts

are too too short –

and that it is hot

and about to get hotter.


“They’re children”, I remind him

and he laughs

and retorts the way he does,

by saying, “have you seen,

how some of the teachers dress”?


“That’s you’re job too”, I say

… but everything seems funny

I guess, when you’re a clown.


Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

Gods in Good Standing*

Born of the trails in our minds

marking music and time,

the first gods were known

to have perfect camouflage –

they dressed as the wind and the rain

shook the earth, flooded plains

retreated to the stars above

and slowly grew in our dreams.


What happened next

in that darkness

we’ll never know exactly,

but glean from cave walls

and arrow heads, from beads

and bands buried with the dead

that some in the clan

needed magic and preferred

not to be reminded

of their short stay

and had no other way

to learn of the world … yet.


So instead, our animal brains

adopted incense and gemstones

drew symbols as portals

fell in love with the abracadabra

of magical thinking,

started linking mere chance with a meaning,

and passed whatever the leader was dreaming

as a sign from above.


And little by little

these lies kept infecting

everyone everywhere

while promising protection

from the neighboring gods

and the horde from next door,

while delivering nothing more

than a lifetime of prayer

as salvation from boredom.


What a sickness it was.

Like a virus over time

and across space,

leaving no room

for a question that challenged

what little was known of ourselves

and having to face

whatever the gods were pretending

to reveal to the head of the state.


In this way the deluded

were able to steal the time

and the minds and the work

of the people they fooled

with cruel lies as a tool

to build monuments and

monoliths with the money

they took from those who

were not in on the ruse.


‘Til at last the Truth was revealed

(a little at least) by words

that were spoken by those

who wouldn’t be fleeced,

by people who wouldn’t be sheep

who dared to speak back

about what they had seen

and learned of the world

from eyes and ears that were

keener than those who had

hidden themselves in the spell

whose magic no longer worked

to explain any heaven or hell

or anything ever on Earth.


And now, the only gods in good standing

have slipped back into silence

leaving believers nothing but relics

and rituals that belong to an age

before science.


* Title is borrowed from a Richard Dawkins speech

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

Knowing How the World is Broken

for Haiti after 2010 earthquake


Damage to the Presidential Palace is most obvious,

for it is hard to tell which of the other buildings

were already on their knees when the shaking struck.


In the pictures I have seen,

wide eyes look out

from their black and brown backgrounds

onto a fresh horror that

arrived from deep beneath the earth.


The soil is used to blood in Haiti

and the world is used to watching.


The news reports say the quake registered

seven on the scale,

but the island has been at the epicenter

since Columbus landed with smallpox and crucifixes –

lost but determined to profit.


To rebuild the Presidential Palace,

     where the Tonton Macoutes were born

     where Poppa schooled Baby Doc

          to brutalize in the grandest Western way,

               first in ties and suits and then

              wearing pleated uniforms with

              officers’ hats and a small herd of

              medallions hung from their breasts

              marking where their hearts had died,

postcards will be used for comparison.


In the pictures I have seen

it is clear that the heavens too

turned their backs long ago

just as we do daily here on earth.


Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.


 for the HHS Young Men’s Group, 2009


I know you already been drafted


that you been called to duty

by other armies of the imagination.

I see your uniforms –

skinny jeans below your ass

revealing brand name elastics,

and pretending a connection

to prison cell stories,

where young boys like you

become beautiful concubines

to be traded amongst older men

with truer tales of horror

and nothing left outside the walls

that keep them until death.

I know. They came for me once too.


I know that you been sold

a dream of how to be a man

holding your hands

balled and ready to blast,

that you’ve been promised

a connection to the past

and a key to greater pastures,

because I can read

your feathers and spots,

I know the whys and whats

of your beads and ways and tats

the bandanas that you fly

to mark a space,

the hoods you wear

to hide your face,

colors that will grace

your resting place.

I know. They came for me once too.


They came for me, but I escaped,

and I escaped, only to warn you.


Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

Maid in Hollywood

para Lupe Ontiveros


Now that she is a vieja

with dyed blonde hair

and not a threat to any gringa’s

beauty when she steps into

the frame of someone else’s fame,

you get to know her nombre, hombre.


Lupe Ontiveros

does not roll off your tongue

and she paints no picture

in your mind because

you never knew she

was acting like a star.

You never went to a matinee

looking for her name

or waiting for Lupe to say,

the only lines she always had,

after knocking on the door

and peeking in, “Excuse me,

senior, do you need room service?”


She was a minority detail

in the mise en scene of

the movies we all went to see.

While the stars of film and life

carried on in the foreground

of our attention, in soft light and

perfect make up, with witty

lines and music for the moment,

Lupe was in the background, like us.


But she had a master key

to Hollywood, a back door entrance

that service people used to bring in

the catered lunches and distilled agua;

and when no one was looking,

she was letting otros enter,

making room for dreamers named

Lopez, Alba, Rodriguez, Dawson,

del Toro, Hayek, Mendes,

y para ti tambien.


Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved

For those that come tomorrow

haverhill march

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

This poem was written for the May 9th community event in Haverhill, MA. I want to thank Haverhill V.I.P. for inviting me to their 3rd annual march for a safer, more positive Haverhill. It was a wonderful show of solidarity and an example of self empowerment.