Street Performer in Barcelona

Thinking of La Rambla; written after reading Sandra Cisneros’ poem “Mexican in France”

You 
are just one among many
in a lineup of beggars
with tin cups and buckets 
clinking from loose change
tossed in by passing snickers and idlers,
whose hyena cries
release falling dominoes
through the growing crowd.

And the phones, and the recorders,
and the plastic, yellow, two-dollar,
drugstore cameras venture out
of the pockets they were hiding in
to preserve the memory
of this cheap thrill obtained
not from singing or dancing,
or performing some sort of odd trick,
or revealing a wonder of epic hilarity,
but from you simply standing there
on a low pedestal,
wearing a poncho, sombrero,
and fake, dark mustache.

And the chuckles and giggles and snorts rise!

Look at the archetype they have elected

to represent a people
who break their backs
to survive!
Never resting,
refusing to close even one eyelid
lest they miss a chance
to gain a minute’s work,
who keep going
despite the knowledge
that they will encounter countless others,
who bask in the wake of the shame
they anointed upon them,
a proud people,
a hard-working people,
my people.

And yes,
they will try to silence us
with ridicule,
the Alpha initiating
a desperate attempt
to stay on top.

Meanwhile,
la raza does everything possible
to give their children
a right to thrive,
which they make every effort
to shoot down
with a snapshot
and maniacal shrieks.

But time ensures
that those pictures and awful sounds
will fade, eventually,
towards the sunrise
of a happy ending.

And I haven’t
reached mine yet.
And I know I will not find it
in a country
where everything that made me
who I am is reduced
to the butt of a cruel
joke.

-M. Sanchez

 

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