Hello again, my friends, and welcome, all, to “The Z-Line,” a monthly feature highlighting poems by our current Bushwick neighbors and/or natives.
For July’s installment, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight a poem by the former curator of this column, Emanuel Xavier. His poem, “Madre America,” stands out to me as it is caught between what we as a nation consider to be our Independence Day this month, and the current crises that are plaguing our own borders. Without further adieu.
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.
If I were to give myself to you completely,
would it matter that I didn’t come from your womb?
I have been thrown out of homes and abandoned by fathers
looking for a place to settle
and offer what little is left of this spirit.
I speak your tongue and share the beds of your sons.
I would fight in your battles
if considered man enough for you.
The dead eyes of innocent faces
will not haunt this empty soul.
Would you be my motherland?
Would I be allowed to bathe in your oceans?
without drowning in your oil spills?
Would you hold me when I die?
and grant me a final resting place?
Madre, put down that newspaper and look at me closely,
I much resemble your first kin before you were raped
I have tasted your tears and washed myself in your sorrow
Madre, would you grant me sanctuary from my sin of living? Of loving?
Your children do not want me to be part of your history.
Your daughters do not care to heal these wounds.
Madre, remind them that I have kept you strong
I have cleansed you, fed you, and kept you warm.
You made me who I am today
but still unworthy of their affection.
You were always full of love for all of us.
You raised us the same
even when we took your splendor for granted.
We may not have the same blood but we are all connected.
I don’t want to lose this family.
This heart belongs to you.
America you have been my mother and my father.
The autumn leaves are falling and it is only summer.
Do not let them keep me from coming into your arms.
Do not let them imprison me with lies.
Do not let them kill me
for wanting to share in your devotion.
Remind them that our differences
is what make this home more beautiful than any other.
I am nourished and wise because of you.
I look out the window
and I’m not afraid of the wilderness outside.
I only fear not finding my way back.
Madre, I want to stay here with the others to protect you.
I want to read musings and hear your stories.
I want to stare at your skies at night
and lay on your lands.
Madre I know it is not you, but they,
that are jealous of our bond.
Madre, educate us all to understand
more than one language.
I want to write poetry to someday teach in your schools
Peace belongs to all of us because you, Madre
America I will always be your child.
Emanuel Xavier, an LGBTQ History Month icon and Gay City News Impact Award recipient.
He is author of the poetry collections Radiance, Nefarious, If Jesus Were Gay, Americano, Pier Queen, and the novel Christ Like, celebrating a 20th anniversary with a recent reissue.
If you would like to be included in this monthly series, send 3-5 poems (10 pages max) to [email protected] with the subject “The Z-Line Poetry Submission.” Poems should be attached as Word documents, 10 point, Times New Roman font, double spaced and formatted as they should appear on the site if selected.
Poems can be about anything (not exclusive to Bushwick), but contributors must live within the greater Bushwick area or be a native to the neighborhood to be featured. Please include a brief 3-5 sentence bio and your personal relation to Bushwick. If submitting previously published work, please include appropriate publication credits. You’ll only receive an email if your poem is selected for publication.
Submissions are due by the first of every month, and the selected entry will be published in the final week of the following month. The next deadline is August 1.
Cover image courtesy of Travis American.
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