1 Language = POWER… …Our words = Our POWER How do we CHOOSE to fight? 7th Grade English Language Arts RESISTANCE THROUGH POETRY Name: We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 2 I Am Not My Hair by India.Arie Little girl with the press and curl Age eight I got a Jheri curl Thirteen I got a relaxer I was a source of so much laughter At fifteen when it all broke off Eighteen and went all natural February two thousand and two I went and did What I had to do Because it was time to change my life To become the women that I am inside Ninety-seven dreadlock all gone I looked in the mirror For the first time and saw that hey.... India.Arie, singer-songwriter, is a Grammy-award winning artist. She wrote “I Am Not My Hair” as a message to her fans that women should not be defined by their looks. She explained that, “"As a Black American woman, a lot of your integrity is dictated by how you wear your hair," she explains. "The concept for the song was sparked when I decided to cut my locks, and all the different attitudes people had about it. This is my hair and it's my life. I'll choose how I express myself." I am not my hair I am not this skin I am not your expectations no no I am not my hair I am not this skin I am a soul that lives within Good hair means curls and waves Bad hair means you look like a slave At the turn of the century Its time for us to redefine who we be You can shave it off Like a South African beauty Or get in on lock Like Bob Marley You can rock it straight Like Oprah Winfrey If its not what's on your head Its what's underneath and say hey… Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person? Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity? I am expressing my creativity. Breast Cancer and Chemotherapy Took away her crown and glory She promised God if she was to survive She would enjoy everyday of her life ooh On national television Her diamond eyes are sparkling Bald headed like a full moon shining Singing out to the whole wide world We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. Questions to Consider: 1. What is the THEME of India Arie’s song, “I Am Not My Hair?” 2. What do you think hair symbolizes for India Arie? 3. What do you think skin symbolizes for India? 4. Define Integrity. 5. What did India have to do before she came to her understanding about her hair? 6. What is “her crown and glory” in the last stanza? 3 Power by Audre Lorde The difference between poetry and rhetoric is being ready to kill yourself instead of your children. I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds and a dead child dragging his shattered black face off the edge of my sleep blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders churns at the imagined taste while my mouth splits into dry lips without loyalty or reason thirsting for the wetness of his blood as it sinks into the whiteness of the desert where I am lost without imagery or magic trying to make power out of hatred and destruction trying to heal my dying son with kisses only the sun will bleach his bones quicker. Audre Lorde, Caribbean American poet, writer, and activist, was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Born in New York City, Lorde writes primarily about conflicts in difference and multiculturalism. Lorde challenged feminism to include the experiences of women of color, confronting racism within the primarily white movement. The policeman who shot down a 10-year-old in Queens stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood and a voice said "Die" and there are tapes to prove that. At his trial this policeman and in his own defense "I didn’t notice the size or nothing else only the color." and there are tapes to prove that, too. Today that 37-year-old white man with 13 years of police forcing has been set free by 11 white men who said they were satisfied justice had been done and one black man who said "They convinced me" meaning they had dragged her 4’10" black woman’s frame over the hot coals of four centuries of white male approval until she let go the first real power she ever had and lined her own womb with cement to make a graveyard for our children. I have not been able to touch the destruction within me. But unless I learn to use the difference between poetry and rhetoric my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire and one day I will take my teenaged plug and connect it to the nearest socket raping an 85-year-old white woman who is somebody’s mother and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed a greek chorus will be singing in 3⁄4 time "Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are." Questions to Consider: 1. Name two different places the events in the poem take place. 2. What is the mood of this poem? Support your answer with details from the poem. 3. Define rhetoric. 4. Why is the poem titled “Power”? 5. What do the following lines symbolize: “corrupt as poisonous mold/ or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire” 6. What is one reason that “desert” is an effective setting to evoke? 7. What does the 37-year old white policeman symbolize? We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. MOTHER TO SON by Langston Hughes Well, son, I'll tell you: Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. It's had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor - - - Bare. But all the time I'se been a - climbin' on And reachin' landin's, And turnin' corners, And sometimes goin' in the dark Where there ain't been no light. So boy, don't you turn back. Don't you set down on the steps 'Cause you find it's kinder hard. Don't you fall now - - For I'se still goin' honey, I'se still climbin', And life for me ain't been no crystal stair. Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement that challenged racism through literature, art, and music. His poems, plays, and stories frequently focused on the African American experience, particularly on the struggles and feelings of individuals. Questions to Consider: 1. Draw this poem as it is represented to you. 2. What message is the mother trying to get across to her son? 3. What does the crystal stair represent? We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 4 5 I'm Mexican, Chicana, y Tejana by Marybel Louise Ortega I'm all of the above, I worship Dios and pray to the Virgen, I live my life as everyone should, Todos they put us down because we are brown, Y no nos dejan en pas, They say we should stay in the fields, Like all we do is piscar vegetables, Working in the fields should make us proud, We work hard not to let out familias down, Our traditions we keep to show our culture, and our familias we raise to be respectful, Our familias stick together like glue, and never turn their backs on each other, Our origins are from great people, Los indigenos son nuestros ancestors, Ellos eran fuertos and smart, They made us who we are, Though we originate from Mexico, Todavia somos Americans, They won't take away our lives and the land we got, Eso no se vale we’re not different by a lot, We are important to this land, People no pueden ver nuestra importancia because they chose not to, We show them everyday we are strong, Y they think que nos pueden controlar, The battle has surely ended, Pero la guerra is about to start, We won't stop till we’re the ones with the freedom and the rights, Y no nos paramos till we win this fight, I'ma tell you now that I won't give up, and we won't let our lives get all messed-up, Me and my familia are proud to be Mexican, because being who I really am means I know I can. Questions to consider: 1. 2. 3. 4. Why does this author choose to use Spanish and English together in this poem? What are some themes of this poem? What does the author mean by “because being who I really am means I know I can.” Is it possible to have more than one identity? The author is Mexican, Chicana, and Tejana. What identities are you? We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 6 We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 7 Untitled by Sanjana Bijlani Performed: February 23, 2012 at CalSLAM Grand Slam Finals **CalSLAM is the UC Berkeley spoken word poetry organization, and the Grand Slam Finals were to decide which 5 members moved on to CUPSI, the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, a national college competition. There is an unspoken rule that hung heavy In the hallways of my high school, Weighing down our heads, As we passed each other again and again. We looked like different kinds of same, Our hands were likened to coffee cups our friends carried Brimming with chai teas, ginger mochas, and caramel lattes, The saccharine stab of untold stories still wedged in our memories, We released our necks to hang like broken toy soldiers, Only raising them, when the final bell sounded. We walked by each other, passing for forgotten friends, Or maybe just lost brothers and sisters. Released into the parking lot like songbirds The radios came alive in the afternoon sun, With songs that never told our stories, But had words that sounded more honest Than any I ever said. You see, I walked through hallways, I folded my stories into letters I stored in my voice box, Placed it on top of a moving train, The one I used to take to get to my grandparents’ house, The one that pulses through my veins Asking me when I’ll catch the next one home, Back to the beginning, So I may understand how I got so lost. I came here with a smile on my face, With a smile on my face, an embrace in arms, trying to forget That I cried at the end of a dance when A boy wouldn’t come near me, Afraid of my color running outside the lines, Staining the white fences of his arms held away from me. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 8 I came here thinking something would change, But I still roam around in circles, Hoping to find someone who will look at me, Burning coals in back of their eyes, Whispers escaping their lips, like the last breath of fire, They know the sound of shame ringing every time I say my name. When I introduce myself, I remember the way my parents Used to sing me to sleep with melodies falling from their teeth, Like honey and promises, my mother stayed up to watch The night give rise to a girl, Every day, believing in sweetness and trust, That this world is hers. It doesn’t belong to me, Not when I keep my head hung low, My voice a little lower, It took me seven years to find the pieces of the mirror I broke, when I first changed my name To fit tongues slithering to spit out seven letters Never second-guessing if this is the way they fit together. Sanjana Bijlani is a sophomore studying English and French at UC Berkeley, where she writes and performs poetry as a way of creating community and finding new ways to stay rooted in the idea of home. Home is always changing but she finds it on stage, in writing workshops, and in the company of friends and family. She believes in the strength of words to bring together communities and offer validation of our identities and experiences. For Sanjana, writing poetry is about learning to love completely and wholly, with no shame. She believes that we can use our words to offer ourselves the ultimate affirmation of who we are. We were supposed to find each other In cafeteria crowds, see the same loneliness In mashed potatoes that don’t have enough spice, Laugh at the way our voices slow down where others’ speed up, We grow tired of running from the sounds Of those who came before us. But there is no familiarity in the way You pour the tea in your hands over mine, Waiting to see if it will darken my skin, Because my parents loved across state lines, Found each other in a crowded classroom, Stayed together because they loved in a world of rainbows, They chose colors like love, fear, loss, Held together with hope and a light breeze. On those nights I tried to wash away your inquisition of my skin, I heard my grandmother’s voice sparking through Telephone lines that run alongside the trains in my veins, We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. Questions to Consider: 1. Why does Bijlani write? 2. Who is this poem intended for? 3. What is the “unspoken” rule in the first stanza? 9 The complexion of love is always changing. I have been waiting to see what that that looks like, One day I hope to look up And see you standing there, long after the final bell sounds. Come talk to me, together we can remember What we have always known. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. Strange Fruit by Lewis Allen 10 Southern trees bear strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Pastoral scene of the gallant south, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh, Then the sudden smell of burning flesh. Here is fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop, Here is a strange and bitter crop. Strange Fruit is a metaphor for the many, many hangings (or lynchings) that occurred in the south prior to the 1930s. White men would hang black men, women, and children because of their race. Questions to Consider: 1. What words in this poem hint at the fact that “fruit” is really a human body? 2. What is Lewis saying about these hangings? 3. Why is the fruit strange? 4. Why is this poem set in the “southern breeze”? The song “Strange Fruit,” most famously performed by black jazz singer Billie Holiday, was penned by a Jewish teacher named Abel Meeropol (professional name Lewis Allen) from the Bronx. The song exposes racism in the United States, particularly the lynching of AfricanAmericans in the South. In 1999, TIME Magazine called it the “song of the century.” We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 11 I Cry by Tupac Shakur Sometimes when I'm alone I Cry, Cause I am on my own. The tears I cry are bitter and warm. They flow with life but take no form I Cry because my heart is torn. I find it difficult to carry on. If I had an ear to confiding, I would cry among my treasured friend, but who do you know that stops that long, to help another carry on. The world moves fast and it would rather pass by. Then to stop and see what makes one cry, so painful and sad. And sometimes... I Cry and no one cares about why. In The Depths of Solitude by Tupac Shakur The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's law is wrong it learned to walk with out having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping it's dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared. California-born American actor and rapper Tupac Shakur wrote frequently about violence and hardship in inner cities, racism, social problems, and conflicts with other rappers. Influenced by the highly political rap of the 1980s, Tupac became one of the first socially conscious rappers from the West Coast. i exist in the depths of solitude pondering my true goal trying 2 find peace of mind and still preserve my soul constantly yearning 2 be accepted and from all receive respect never comprising but sometimes risky and that is my only regret a young heart with an old soul how can there be peace how can i be in the depths of solitude when there r 2 inside of me this duo within me causes the perfect oppurtunity 2 learn and live twice as fast as those who accept simplicity Questions to Consider: 1. Why do think it’s interesting that a rapper admits that he cries? 2. What “duo” is Tupac struggling with? 3. What does Tupac mean when he says “peace of mind”? 4. Why does no one care that Tupac—a man from the ghettos of Cali—cries? 5. What does “a rose that grew from concrete” represent? 6. What theme do all three poems convey? We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 12 To live in the borderlands by Gloria Anzaldúa To live in the borderlands means you are neither hispana india negra española ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed caught in the crossfire between camps while carrying all five races on your back not knowing which side to turn to, run from; To live in the Borderlands means knowing that the india in you, betrayed for 500 years, is no longer speaking to you, that mexicanas call you rajetas, that denying the Anglo inside you is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black; Cuando vives en la frontera people walk through you, wind steals your voice, you're a burra, buey, scapegoat forerunner of a new race, half and half--both woman and man, neither-a new gender; Gloria Anzaldúa was born in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, in 1942. She wrote primarily about her experiences in the “borderlands” as a bilingual, bicultural woman. She was a leading scholar in the field of Chicano studies and women’s studies. As an author, poet, and activist, Anzaldúa radically shifted the educational landscape of the United States. To live in the Borderlands means to put chile in the borscht eat whole wheat tortillas, speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent; be stopped by la migra at the border check points; Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle, the pull of the gun barrel, the rope crushing the hollow of your throat; In the Borderlands you are the battleground where enemies are kin to each other; you are at home, a stranger, the border disputes have been settled the volley of shots have shattered the truce you are wounded, lost in action dead, fighting back; To live in the Borderlands means the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart pound you pinch you roll you out smelling like white bread but dead; Questions to Consider: 1. Why does the author write in both Spanish and English? 2. What are some of the “borderlands” in this poem (besides the physical border between Mexico and the US)? 3. Does this poem connect to your experience of living in the Valley? 4. Define “the borderlands” as Anzaldúa describes it. To survive in the Borderlands you must live sin fronteras be a crossroads. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 13 West LA Downtown by Erik L. Standing outside, hearing sirens pass by The sounds of children playing, their laughter which you could hear around the block. The smell of the air, the shattered glass from last night’s beer bottles. Pictures of innocent people. At night you can see the candles glimmering from far down the block. Graffiti on the wall, one writing over the other one trying to claim its turf. Abandoned homes where homeless people sleep. This is my community Or should I call it a Graveyard? Parents looking at me walking down the street, destroying my own community. I can change all this if I myself change. There’s another side of me, a happy teenager, seeking for a better future not only for me but for my family. I’m a smart, wise boy I just choose the wrong choices. Lord Take These Shackles Off Of Me by Aikili M. Lord, take these shackles off of me I’m in camp when I wanna be free People wanna take advantage of me So lord take the shackles off of me I’m locked up, my girl is missin’ me No communication but the letters she getting from me That ain’t enough, I just wish my PO could see That he’s takin’ all of what’s left of me I’m 18 and they took me off the streets Now my next step is the penitentiary And that’s a life I don’t wanna see So I ask Lord, take ‘em off of me Questions to Consider: 1. Name the tone in each poem, and explain how you know. 2. How does Erik L. see himself? 3. Why does Aikili M. repeat “Lord take these shacks off of me”? 4. Why does Cesar A. write a poem to his father, who will never read his writing? 5. What does it mean to be a father? To My So Called Dad by Cesar A. I guess you were never really there to watch me grow up But yet you had time to always be locked up We didn’t ever get to spend a full day together like father and son Cause all you ever cared about was pulling the trigger to your gun I can’t tell you how much I hate you for not being with me and my mom when we needed you Oh and hey, I just want to tell you congratulations you’re about to be a grandfather even though you never showed me how a man is supposed to grow up and be a father I remember staying up at night waiting for my mom to come home It was like she never had a chance to spend time with me cause of her job But unlike you, she didn’t ever make me feel unloved Mom, unlike you, each and every chance she got she would spend time with me She even bought me the bike you promised to buy me My mom’s love was one of a kind It made me happy and alive all in my mind I guess I hate you for making my mom struggle day and night You weren’t there to tell me what was wrong and right You were just there as a sign of hatred against my dad I got into boxing to keep me busy and let my anger out ‘cause I was afraid of physically hurting someone the way you mentally hurt me I’m about to turn seventeen but yet you never called me to say happy birthday Aikili M., Erik L., and Cesar A. were three of Ms. Wai’s students in Camp AfflerblaughPaige, a boys’ probation camp in East Los Angeles through a program called Borrowed Voices. She taught slam poetry to middleschool and high-school age boys. These poems were part of the final publication, the result of a semester’s long work. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 14 Still I Rise by Maya Angelou You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Maya Angelou, born April 4, 1928 as Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, was raised in segregated rural Arkansas. She is a poet, historian, author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. Popular themes in her writing include racism and civil rights. She actively advocates for Africans, African-Americans, and women all around the country through spoken word. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don't you take it awful hard 'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines Diggin' in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history's shame I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Questions to Consider: 1. Describe the tone of this poem, and justify your answer. 2. Why does Angelou repeat “I rise”? 3. Who is the speaker of this poem (or rather, who does the “I” represent)? 4. Who is the audience of this poem (who is the “you” in this poem)? Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. Untitled by Adriel Luis, aka subSCRYBE no id what am i? can somebody please tell me what i am? am i asian or man or a combination? i glare in the mirror and picture a figure of vibrancy beyond comprehension and by extension just a guy with a lot to say which is irrelevant since whatever i utter will just be followed by the question WOW! CAN YOU SAY THAT IN CHINESE TOO??? as much as i struggle to reveal my true self to you unfortunately all attempts to model the image of myself as a man up til now have been tainted with the stereotypes i’ve been brandished with so don’t act so confused when i ask what am i? because society has lied to me and blinded me to the point where the 9-digit label it cursed upon me once convinced me that i actually had social security and i was convinced that since i was spawned from american soil nourished by american resources and taught in american institutions that american racism would never bear its ugly head to bring down what it brought up because i was so convinced that that made no sense and i was convinced that everyone knew that that made no sense but see, i’ve learned since then i learned since then that i wasn’t’ just another kid with the loose teeth but instead i’m a crude geek that’s unique i’ve learned that though i have a defined skin tone in this world it seems it’s my skin tone that defines me but most of all i’ve learned to be angry because of that sadly i have this fury instilled within the very depths of my being that I even have to prove myself to you to get beyond your illusions of dropkicks and chopsticks to make my true self seen with even a hint of logic and you need to realize that though my eyes are slanted and half-closed i see your prejudice crystal clear We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 15 so now even though I’m aware of what you mean when you ask WHAT AM I? I choose not to feed your prying curiosity so what am i? i’m the epitome of the very reason you find it necessary to water down my rich culture in your melting pot so don’t get mad at me because i choose to be that crazy yellow-skinned nightmare admist your amerikan dream. after all i’m just trying to answer your question And i’m having a hell of a time doing it 16 Questions to Consider: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Why does Luis write “i” in lower-case form (and sometimes in upper-case form)? Who is Luis addressing in this poem? (Who is the “you” in this poem?) What do you think it means to be “a man”? How does the audience see Luis? How does this differ from how Luis sees himself? The poem addresses issues that face the Asian-American community, but what themes in this poem connect to your own life or your own experiences? 6. What does Luis mean in the last two lines when he says “i’m just trying to answer your question / and i’m having a hell of a time doing it”? 7. Does this poem effectively convey Luis’ message? Adriel Luis, aka subSCRYBE, is a writer, spoken word artist, and graphic designer from Northern California. He frequently writes about racism from an AsianAmerican perspective. He blogs for the popular progressive site, change.org, advocating for racial equality, educational reform, and human rights. Luis also helped found the spoken word youth group called iLL-Literacy. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. It Happened in Montgomery (for Rosa Parks) by Phil W. Petrie 17 Then he slammed on the brakes— Turned around and grumbled. But she was tired that day. Weariness was in her bones. And so the thing she’s done yesterday, And yesteryear, On her workdays, Churchdays, Nothing-to-do-I’ll-go-and-visit Sister Annie Days— She felt she’d never do again. And he growled once more. So she said: “No sir…I’m stayin right here.” And he gruffly grabbed her, Pulled and pushed her— Then sharply shoved her through the doors. The news slushed through the littered streets Slipped into the crowded churches, Slimmered onto the unmagnolied side of town. While the men talked and talked and talked. She— Who was tired that day, Cried and sobbed that she was glad she’d done it. That her soul was satisfied. That Lord knows, A little walkin’ never hurt anybody; That in one of those unplanned, unexpected Unadorned moments— A weary woman turned the page of History. Questions to Consider: 1. What is this poem about? 2. Does this story differ from other accounts you’ve heard? Why or why not? 3. Why does Petrie capitalize the “H” in “History” (last line)? 4. Why do you think Petrie wrote this poem? We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. Phil W. Petrie is a freelance writer and former book publishing editor. He lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, and has written articles for numerous publications, including Black Enterprise and The New Crisis. 18 The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Questions to Consider: 1. What is the main message of this poem? 2. What does the “sigh” tell you, the reader, about how the speaker feels? 3. What do the “two roads” symbolize? Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim Because it was grassy and wanted wear, Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I marked the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost (1874 – 1963) was one of America’s most popular twentiethcentury poets. For much of his life, he lived on a farm in New Hampshire and wrote poems about farm life and the New England landscape. His apparently simple poems, however, have many layers of meaning. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 19 Oranges by Gary Soto The first time I walked With a girl, I was twelve, Cold, and weighted down With two oranges in my jacket. December. Frost cracking Beneath my steps, my breath Before me, then gone, As I walked toward Her house, the one whose Porch light burned yellow Night and day, in any weather. A dog barked at me, until She came out pulling At her gloves, face bright With rouge. I smiled, Touched her shoulder, and led Her down the street, across A used car lot and a line Of newly planted trees, Until we were breathing Before a drugstore. We Entered, the tiny bell Bringing a saleslady Down a narrow aisle of goods. I turned to the candies Tiered like bleachers, And asked what she wanted Light in her eyes, a smile Starting at the corners Of her mouth. I fingered A nickel in my pocket, And when she lifted a chocolate That cost a dime, I didn’t say anything. I took the nickel from My pocket, then an orange, And set them quietly on The counter. When I looked up, The lady’s eyes met mine, And held them, knowing Very well what it was all About. Outside, A few cars hissing past, Fog hanging like old Coats between the trees. I took my girl’s hand In mine for two blocks, Then released it to let Her unwrap the chocolate. I peeled my orange That was so bright against The gray of December That, from some distance, Someone might have thought I was making a fire in my hands. Questions to Consider: 1. What is the symbolic meaning of oranges in this poem? 2. What is the mood of this poem? 3. What does Soto mean when he writes, “I was making a fire in my hands”? 4. Does this poem remind you of any of your experiences? 5. Why do you think Soto writes about such a seemingly simple experience? Gary Soto was born in Fresno, California, in April, 1952, to working-class Mexican-American parents. At a young age, he worked in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley. He was not academically motivated as a child, but became interested in poetry during his high school years. He writes primarily about the daily experiences of Chicanos, and has won several awards. His influences include Pablo Neruda and Robert Frost. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons. 20 United Fruit Company by Pablo Neruda Translation by John Mitchell When the trumpet sounded, everything was prepared on the earth and Jehovah parceled out the world to Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda, Ford Motors, and other corporations. the United Fruit Company reserved for itself the most juicy, piece, the central coast of my land, the delicate waist of America. It rebaptized these lands Banana Republics, And over the sleeping dead, over the unquiet heroes, who won greatness, liberty, and banners, it established an opera buffa: it abolished free will, gave out imperial crowns, encouraged envy, attracted the dictatorship of the flies: Trujillo flies, Tacho flies, Carías flies, Martínez flies, Ubico flies, flies sticky with Submissive blood and marmalade drunken flies that buzz over the tombs of the people, circus flies, wise flies expert at tyranny. With the bloody flies, came the Fruit Company, amassed coffee and the fruits, in ships which put to sea like overloaded trays with the treasures from our sunken lands. Meanwhile the Indians fall into the sugared depths of the harbors and are buried in the morning mists; a corpse rolls, a thing without name, a discarded number, a bunch of rotten fruit thrown on the garbage heap. Original Cuando sonó la trompeta, estuvo todo preparado en la tierra, y Jehova repartió el mundo a Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda, Ford Motors, y otras entidades: la Compañía Frutera Inc. se reservó lo más jugoso, la costa central de mi tierra, la dulce cintura de América. Bautizó de nuevo sus tierras como "Repúblicas Bananas," y sobre los muertos dormidos, sobre los héroes inquietos que conquistaron la grandeza, la libertad y las banderas, estableció la ópera bufa: enajenó los albedríos regaló coronas de César, desenvainó la envidia, atrajo la dictadora de las moscas, moscas Trujillos, moscas Tachos, moscas Carías, moscas Martínez, moscas Ubico, moscas húmedas de sangre humilde y mermelada, moscas borrachas que zumban sobre las tumbas populares, moscas de circo, sabias moscas entendidas en tiranía. Entre las moscas sanguinarias la Frutera desembarca, arrasando el café y las frutas, en sus barcos que deslizaron como bandejas el tesoro de nuestras tierras sumergidas. Questions to Consider: 1. Why does Neruda write this poem? 2. Trujillo, Tacho, Carías, Martínez, and Ubico were all Latin American dictators supported by the American government, who profited off of their rule. Why does Neruda call them “flies”? 3. What is the tone of this poem? 5. Do you think the translation is accurate? What meaning gets lost between the original (in Spanish) and the translation (in English)? Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was deeply involved in politics and the fight for social justice and equality. He wrote “United Fruit Company” in 1950 to bring attention to current political issues. The poem’s purpose was to bring attention to injustices brought upon the native populations of Central and South America We will use our POWER not of weapons. that wereasatools, result American companies (and the U.S. government with the help of the CIA) and dictators throughout the region who exploited their labor and forcefully suppressed democratic movements. 21 Mientras tanto, por los abismos azucarados de los puertos, caían indios sepultados en el vapor de la mañana: un cuerpo rueda, una cosa sin nombre, un número caído, un racimo de fruta muerta derramada en el pudridero. We will use our POWER as tools, not weapons.