America, You Tease, I Love You by Isabel Quintero


                 —after the many who left their bones along the way and Allen Ginsberg 


America, I am the daughter of immigrants deserted in deserts.
Brown flesh left out for coyotes to chew, quench their hunger, and shit our bones.
Save me America!
It’s those damn Mexicans!
Amidst saguaros and chollas,
strewn about like some bloody trail,
bloated and sun-split bodies pave the way home.
We have guts to spare, or didn’t you know?
Or maybe we just like the taste of your honey;
either way, it’s liberty or death or something like that.

America, open wide—
I’ve got mouths to feed and so do you.

America, here is the love note that you sent.
The one that reads, 
“Will look the other way—when it’s convenient. Kisses! See you soon!”
I know what it says, I can read; I went to your public schools.
You flunked me three times, and then I lost my accent! Don’t you remember?
America, do you still dream in black and white?
Of course you do.

America, my father built your housing tracts and
on Fridays you called ICE.
America, you’re frugal! 
My mother ground her bones in kitchens
and bedrooms, washing pots and wiping old lady ass.
America, it happened. You called for them!
I picked up the phone and you romanced us in Spanish.
America, you had us coming in no time!

Deep in the coals of Arkansas my grandfather spent the revolution and lost his hair. 
This is the first story of despair I heard growing up—a war, a cave, and a bald man. 
America, you buried his locks in the rubble along with some friends who may have been

America, tip your 40, you’re being disrespectful!
America, your street lights are powered by their bones. 
Green energy at its best!
America, you love recycling! Don’t you?
And then, when it was strawberry season,
you sent a train for him, luxury class,
gave him a pot to piss in and a bologna sandwich,
then said, Mush! And he mushed! He mushed for you!
America, do you remember his name? 
How could you forget the hands who’ve fed you? 
You must remember, now!
America, you do not have Alzheimer’s!

In the sixth grade we had to sing “I’m Proud to be an American” for two weeks straight and Guillermina Sanchez sang it in Spanish in protest. She was a bad bitch, America, but she always had detention and then she disappeared.  
She is some sort of number now.
America, is that what happens when you question whiteness? 

America, you mean business.
America, the Minute Men.
America, the butt of rifles, three cracked ribs, and a gunshot to the head.
America, We speak English-only! Aqui no Espa[n]ol.
America, how rude of you.
America, Operation Wetback didn’t work! You need to try harder! 
Aren’t you a patriot? Don’t you believe in yourself? 

It occurs to me that I am America, too. 

Oh, America, you beautiful broad, God how I love you.
America, tickle our funny bone like we’ve tickled yours. 
We love the way you make us laugh. 


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Contributor Notes

Isabel Quintero is a writer and adjunct faculty instructor who resides in Southern California’s Inland Empire. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who made that journey for a better life many, many years ago. She likes carne asada tacos and ice cold beer. In addition to writing poetry, Isabel also writes fiction, her debut novel, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces from Cinco Puntos Press, has won the William C. Morris Award for Debut YA Novel, and the Tomas Rivera Award. Her poetry has appeared in The Pacific Review, Badlands, The Sand Canyon Review, As/Us Journal, The Acentos Review, and Xican@ Poetry Daily.