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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Paloma Martinez-Cruz

Stay Down

The moment calls
for humble inventory:
our elders, our ancients
were here before
faced days so hard
they buckled into the madness
fucking and prayer
so greasy, dark and strange
it turned into us
their fight the fist I raise
with borrowed bones
so knuckles up motherfuckers
their stories
do not stay down

Taco Reparations Brigade: MenuFesto

For starters we call for reparations for every brownface taco

modified by the words macho or mucho macho or macho nacho or nacho mamma


We call for reparations for every brownface taco

that suggests something dirty gross or wrong as in

pink taco dirty taco wet taco illegal taco nacho cheese dorito loco taco

hairy biker’s bandido taco chi-chi’s foldables pocket taco dirty sanchez taco

and all things tuesday taco


And you can keep your mission position donations

this is no charity cotillion we’re demanding reparations until all food is fair food

can we get an órale


For the main course we want you to know we are not unaware of your NAFTA flex

it’s not lost on us how only hipsters can afford heirloom grade handmade tortillas

while Indian people die from processed food obesity

brought to you by cheap commodity corn stuffed down Mexican throats

by Monocle Man of the North


Have you left room for just deserts? Fantastic let’s roll in the cart:

we claim maíz as cultural patrimony and enchiladas as intellectual property

we call for reparations until bordered bodies circulate as freely as our burritos

until our children are as beloved as our chalupas

can we get an órale


We call for amnesty of our sacred corn and amnesty for all gente de maíz

not just the ones who have “done nothing wrong”

we want our straight A student but no less or more than the mother

who speaks no English and spells Spanish creatively

as when she switches out the B and the V or the G and the H: a guebo

(in English this means moving toward the egg

but in Chicanish your’re saying by my testicle, yes oh yes)


You see, we want the homie with the felony conviction

the tamalera with her crooked sign

the grandfather with his gray pleather ankle boots from the pulga

tapping up and down the street like it’s 1964


We are not parasites pathogens predators or monsters

we are a nation not an infestation and if you’re a hater our zafa is our placa

we’re glad to serve it here: taco reparations brigade

con safos por vida a guebo


Paloma Martinez-Cruz is an associate professor of Latinx Cultural Studies at The Ohio State University, and author of two academic monographs: Food Fight! Millennial Mestizaje Meets the Culinary Marketplace (University of Arizona Press, 2019) and Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica: From East L.A. to Anahuac (University of Arizona Press, 2011). She is also editing a new performance pedagogy book with Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Saúl García-López titled A Handbook for the Rebel Artist in a Post-Democratic Society (Routledge, 2020). Her prose and poetry have appeared in Nerter, Voces, Palabra, and Dicen que dicen. Martinez-Cruz curates and hosts Onda Latina Ohio, an arts initiative showcasing Latina arts practices that amplifies radical safety through performance pedagogies and artivist interventions, and performs spoken word with Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s La Pocha Nostra as a company poet and literary adviser.

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