If I were to turn myself into a poem

Briana muñoz

I’d give myself a pair of legs
so that I could travel to 
Santiago, Chile, 
the place of Neruda’s death
and backpack to Borges’ Buenos Aires.

If I were to turn myself into a poem,
I’d bring with me,
in my transformation,
all of the heartache,

the way my mother’s gentle body 
laid atop a pull-out couch 
next to dad’s hospital bed, nightly,
or the way my father never climbed back 
into his leather-worked saddles.

I’d bring with me 
everything I still have not allowed 
my heart to write about.

If I were to turn myself into a poem,
I’d be an erotic poem,
slithering around the neck, the fingertips,
and into the optic nerve of the reader.
They would shut their door
to safely consume me (as a poem).

If I were to turn myself into a poem, 
my format would consist of hilltops and flatlands
and it’d appeal to all five senses.
In reading the poem,
you’d pick up notes of sin and sacred sage. 

If I were to turn myself into a poem,
I would flow like the Snake River of the Pacific Northwest.
I’d move sly and easy.
The reader would close their eyes 
and put their hands on the waist of the poem,
dance and wrestle and even tongue kiss the poem. 

If I were to transform myself into a poem,
I would unlearn the language of
all white, male poets
taught to me in grade school.

Instead, I would be 
a Mother Earth poem,
a sacred soil poem
a floricanto poem.

If I were to turn myself into a poem, 
the poem better be no saint.
That poem’d be a chain smoker. 
play dominoes in back alleys, 
the poem’d have a thick accent like Tio Chuy 
and a gut from pork chicharrón dishes.

If I were to turn myself into a poem, 
I’d be a melting pot of all poems, 
21st century poems, 
poems that I’ve read and reread 
and involuntarily released a gasp,

poems that I didn’t want to end,
that I wanted to live inside of,
poems that I’ve read and shouted to the page,
“Oh you clever, clever bastard!”,
and the poems of all of the poets we have lost

and in my body of a poem
they resurrect and reincarnate
as poets are immortal,
clinking glasses of champagne, 
amongst libraries and bookshelves.

“50th Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium: A Poem”

On the 50th anniversary 
of the Chicano Moratorium,
Indigenous Mexika dancers 
gather in ceremony
at Atlantic Avenue Park

with Brown Berets,
student activists,
and community organizers.

Their heads
adorned by copillis with pheasant feathers
or animal skins worn 
like Aztec warriors 
ready for battle

and Copal burning skyward 
toward Creator,
calling for the cleansing of a 
racist system.

Through the prayer,
of their drum and dance, 
they say 
no more killings
of our people.

The procession moves
toward historical Whittier Blvd.
against this heat of a 
Southern Californian Summer.

On black asphalt, 
their feet are wrapped by musical Chachayotes 
and release a chant 
of painful remembrance.

50 years ago, 
3 were killed including Ruben Salazar,
a Mexican-American martyr of journalism,

during this same pilgrimage: 
a march for peace 
met by the countering 
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

This time is hardly different,
where the same slogans are used
on cardboard signs,
even after half of a century has passed.

“Stop Killing Us”
“We Will Not Be Intimidated”
“Abrazos No Balazos”
“Stop Chicano Genocide”

How to Reimagine America

Turn back to its origins
Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire, 
Call it by its name (Turtle Island)
Ask its pronouns
Ask for consent
Listen to its trees and bird songs and 
Realize that there are many Americas (North, Central, South America)
And that simultaneously we are one America
Rid it of its pipelines and its oil-train terminals
Undress it like you do your lover in hushed bedrooms
Start at its colonial border-wall, 
Watch it slowly bring it down like a pair of 
Victoria Secret panties
Then move your attention to its prison system
Better yet, uncage everyone
Remove its monuments of white supremacy 
Like we’re having a “Store Closing” sale
Replace them with more trees.

Briana Muñoz is a poet, author, Indigenous traditional dancer, and literary event coordinator from Southern California. She is the author of Loose Lips, a full-length poetry collection, published by Prickly Pear Publishing (2019) and of Everything is Returned to the Soil, a bilingual full-length poetry collection, published by FlowerSong Press (2021). She has performed poetry in places like UNEAC (The National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba) by invitation from the International Poetry Festival of Havana, Cuba, the CECUT (The Tijuana Cultural Center) by invitation from the 2015 Festival de Poesia, as well as in Quito, Ecuador by invitation from the XXI Congreso Internacional de Literatura y Estudios Hispanicos, and beyond.

                                                                  Take a gander at Briana’s Instagram to enjoy more of her poetry!

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