April Poetry Month (Day 9): Angela C. Trudell Vasquez #npm15 #wppoets

[April Poetry Marathon 2015 Table of Contents]

angie2Angela (Angie) C. Trudell Vasquez, Milwaukee, is a poet, writer and activist. Her words, poetry, essays and op-eds, have appeared in print and on stage, nationally and internationally. She was a Ruth Lilly Fellowship Finalist in 1995. In 2003, she was a featured poet and performer at Bumbershoot, Seattle’s annual music and art festival held over Labor Day weekend. From 2009 to 2011 she was the featured poet for the Latina Monologues in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has written and self-published two books of poetry, The Force Your Face Carries and Love in War Time, through Art Night Books, her own label, www.artnightbooks.com. Her poems have appeared in Echolocations: Poets Map Madison, Turn Up the Volume: Poems About the States of Wisconsin, Verse Wisconsin, Burdock, The New Verse News, Real Change, Raven Chronicles, Little Eagle’s RE/VERSE, I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos in Wisconsin and Local Ground(s) – Midwest Poetics. She received a Voices Award from Planned Parenthood for poetry she performed at their January 2013 Roe v. Wade celebration event in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2014 she appeared at Fighting Bob Fest as a poet and activist. She was nominated for a Pushcart award for her essay, The Making of the Latina Monologues, in late 2014.

De Colores

Language and borders,
skin color and barriers,
love knows no lines.
Boundaries are drawn
on the shifting sands of time,
war spoils to the victors,
heartache for the people
living there.

The land remains
but the people come and go
different groups fight on foreign lands,
plow the fields, plant the crops,
clear trees for new homes.

This is one blue planet
circling around the sun.
One sun shines down on us all
makes everything grow,
crops flow with the pulse
of a million hands
who put fingertips to soil,
plant seeds, water them
with sweat from their brow,
and feed the world
with their exhale.

There are millions of bent heads
at schools, in office cubicles,
grocery stores and factories
across this vast continent.
People marching for change
seen just over the horizon,
de colores of the sky,
that signify a shift
is about to come for you and I,
and for all living in the shadows.

The time is ripe for us to take our place
at the table and say we’re here,
we have always been here,
and we are not going anywhere.
This is our home.

Change is the only constant,
the ebb and flow of tongues,
cultures, bloodlines, loves.

I believe some day
we will sing about
how it used to be
how we feared
those we loved most
would be taken away from us
walking down the street, driving.

Today we are closer,
but we’re not there yet.
We can see justice
flickering in the distance,
and what has been given
can’t be taken away so easy.
The door is open and it is time
to walk through the day of light,
to stand in the sunshine,
say, I am here, and
I want to contribute.

I believe.
I believe.
I believe.

written for Voces de la Frontera’s annual event November 2014

Wild Things

Twice, I have seen them
coyotes at a distance
from the train window,
hurtling between
Chicago and Milwaukee
at dusk and dawn
in the untamed land between,
at least 200 feet apart
scanning the white horizon,
they stand out
against the frozen tundra
searching for food,
small critters to feast on
or just enjoying the view.
I look for them now,
what appear to be small dogs
but are their ancestors,
stuck between two cities.
How far do they roam?
A couple years ago,
two larger coyotes
were caught on camera,
on tape, outside of
Wrigley Field in the summer
during a baseball game.
I grabbed the pictures
off the internet.
It stirs me now
on my dining room
two wild creatures,
among so many fences
looking confused.
Wasn’t a forest here
just a little while ago?
Or was it the smell
of hotdogs basking
in their own juices
that drew their noses there?
It hurts me to see them,
civilizations are just skyscrapers
of defeat and wild things
are displaced
among so much concrete.

Cousin Betty

She said your Mom was so pretty in high school.
She was hot stuff.
She was a cheerleader you know,
and everyone knew we were cousins.
She fans herself after dancing with a napkin, thinking.
She had lots of boys who wanted to date her.
She was real poplar but when she and your dad met
that was it, they only had eyes for each other,
together they were their own world.
My sister and I look at each other,
because the old people are dancing.
My dad requested a song for my mom
and she, our mother, waited on the dance floor
for him to come out and join her.
It was Annie’s song by John Denver
and before that it was fast one – Hang on Sloopy – the song
he said was for her when they were poor kids
living side by side in Newton, Iowa.
A lifetime ago when my grandmothers got government cheese
and managed to feed and care for their families
with lots of love but little money,
with big gardens and some livestock too.
This is a love story, one that doesn’t end
with me or my sisters, but goes on and on,
love carried into the next century,
dances on the wood floor resonating,
swaying, tapping out a tune.

“Wild Things” and “Cousin Betty” were previously published in Revolution & Reclamation (Art Night Books, 2014).

[April Poetry Marathon 2015 Table of Contents]