Where Do Brown Boys Go to Die?

A poem by Sarah Gonzalez

where do             brown boys
go to
when you bury a homie

where do you bury
the fury
the nagging indignation where
is the space on
the altar
for the howling
of day old bones!

i do
not know
but i know
i want you
to see your ancestors
dancing between the letters
of your last name
to not hide
its syllables and
accents slathered
and slaughtered by north american tongue.
i know
the war
waged on

i want
you to find your grandmother
in the shades of your brown skin
to not hide
from your brown skin
i want you to hold the softness
your mother
or any other
brown woman who
speaks your name gently.
with our mouths wrap your stories around our heart.
no more need for sign language.

our love
has no color scheme. no hand signs.
no bird calls.
i want you
to look at other brown bodies
and see a mirror reflecting your heart beating
to seek healing instead of vengeance when brown boys see colors
and their pain paints

the barrel of their gun on 21st street & Wood would you please
see the planets that orbit your insides
the planets named after boys buried
by their brown mothers it was never
supposed to be this way the games we play
as children
toting toy guns
& robbers
we are robbing
our humanity when
we sink our broken teeth into brown esh
of boys
who look for fathers
on street corners caressed by rotting
in this
fragmented rainbow
of colors
that bursts bullets
that always
find their way

to our hearts.

so where do brown boys
go to die?
what does heaven look like
for those of us who come from South side cook outs &

our grandparents sipping micheladas under moonlight.

what if heaven
has shimmering low riders
that bounce to cumbia!
what if heaven has tented garages
with house parties where
it’s just too fresh for there to be alcoholism. what if heaven holds every father
who gets a second chance
at being a father.
what if the fathers
who told you that you wasn’t nothing
get a chance to welcome in their new sons at the gates
serve them Carne Asada
as they walk in
I can only

Sarah Gonzalez is a Xicana-Indian writer, poet, and educator from Chicago but with strong roots in the Los Angeles area of Califaztlan. She is on a journey of deep heart excavation work, which requires her to write down memory constantly in an effort to preserve. She lives and teaches high school English in her community of Pilsen, and she fervently believes in the brilliance of Black and Brown youth and transforming generational trauma into resilience. She is particularly interested in working with young people who are gang-involved because of her own family background, and seeks to co-facilitate spaces for storytelling, identity-building, and archiving of young people’s personal histories in an effort to have a space for healing. She is not anti-gang, she is PRO-YOUTH POR VIDA!

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