Confessions of a Pseudo-Chicana
Forgive me Our Lady Virgen of Guadalupe
for I have offended you.
It has been eight months since I last lit a votive
or ate a bowl of menudo. These are my sins:
I didn't taste chile until I was 18.
Mama raised us on Hamburger Helper and macaroni & cheese.
She never even made a pot of beans.
I learned how to make tortillas from Mrs. MacDougal
in Home Ec.
Mama still has the recipe.
In high school I bonged with Allman Brother
and rocked out to Lynyrd Skynard
instead of suavecitoing to Malo & El Chicano.
After dancing at forty-nine weddings
I still don't know what the lyrics to Sabon A Mi mean.
(I can't even speak fluent Spanglish.)
Most of my friends who carry green cards
flew in from the blue-eyed countries.
The closest I got to a protest march
was rushing the gates at the Lilith fair.
My biggest sin -- I buy grapes. But only
organically grown from Wild Oats.
Forgive me Madre Maria.
I was brought up by a mama who thought Chicana
was a dirty word, and a grandma
who claims she's Italian.
Help me from turning into a vendida with blue contacts.
Help me remember that great grandpa's sweat
glistens on the metal of Santa Fe railroad tracks,
that good old boys brand and corral my cousins
like cattle they own and slaughter,
and inside a malquiladona Nina's
stitch arthritis into their fingers,
Tio's skin, eyes, lungs get fumigated with pesticides.
Madre Maria, instead of kindling candles with your image
to look cool,
I'll light the wick in remembrance of them.
My current approach to writing poems: I went through the
my-man-don't-love-me poems, sex poems, feisty Latina poems,
I've-had-a-hard-life poems, and abstract imagery poems. Now I
write poems that my teenage nieces will find engaging, poems
with content I feel comfortable sharing with them. My influences
for these types of poems are Gary Soto, Ted Kooser, and the
poems on Kooser's site: "American Life in Poetry."Śliz gonzÓlez,
liz gonzÓlez' poetry, fiction, and memoirs
have appeared in numerous publications, including Heliotrope, Comet,
So Luminous The Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets, ARTLIFE,
Luna, Brzjula<>Compass, and The San Francisco
Chronicle. Beneath Bone, a volume of her poems,
was published by Manifest Press in 2000. She teaches writing at the LBCC
Pacific Coast Campus Writing and Reading Center and creative writing at
UCLA Extension Writers' Program and
at UCR Extension.