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Solidarity Baby

I’m just a solidarity baby

don’t know what it’s really like.

Played on fire escapes and danced on rooftops

Making fortresses out of boxes and paper plates

My first march I rode above the crowd

In a yellow baby backpack with a metal frame.

Even then quiet and observant

I didn’t cry or complain

‘Cause mami and papi were planning solidarity baby

organizing dreams, taking on telling the truth

Running the Central American Underground Railroad

thru my living room

My second-hand clothes given third-hand with first-rate love

Giving the little we had to those who had less

This is my inheritance

While all I did was play with office supplies

And draw pictures of ET with highlighters

And learn to break dance in the halls

between the offices in front of Macarthur park on 7th

Drawing aliens playing with friends with aliases

Wearing huipiles for solidarity baby

This one’s for you Uncle Sam we don’t want another Vietnam

This one’s for you Uncle Sam we don’t want another Vietnam***

I’m just a revolutionary honee

A product of an international relation.

Imaginary Guatemalan, porque Guate no existe

Mistaken identity: undercover gringa-chapina-alemana-mestiza

Coming from a long line of resilience

Mamá, Papá, companeros de los centros de información

Extended family of activists

Raising rebellious daughter

Never doing as I was told

I understand now that you being ahead of your time means much suffering from it

But it’s beautiful to love the world with eyes that have not yet been born.*

I remember hiding under literature tables

listening to proud mayan woman

mujer de maíz

using the conquerors language to testify

while mami interprets

I used to curl up on my fathers lap

while he debated what lay between the lines

Chapín Spanish booming from his chest


I used to get names of dictators and leaders of the people mixed up:

Samoza and Sandino? Rios Montt and Otto René Castillo?

Farabundo, Romero, Roque, Asturias, Menchú?

Banana Republicans, Cold warriors, Contras quien?

I’m just looking for my place

Am I a CENTRAL American?

Si pues, soy del EpiCentro.

So what have I ever done for revolution, honey?

But entertain thoughts of clandestine self-righteous militant explosions.

Si el poeta sos vos que tengo yo que hablarte?**

I mean its just a revolution honey, why they getting so crazy?

I’m just trying to stay away from letting them impose their guru on me.

I don’t have to prove who’s more down, I’m just trying to keep my head up.

But, what have I ever done??

But survive race riots in high school

Picking up the pieces using translator techniques

But get through college when the high school counselor said it couldn’t be done

But tell stories on a microphone,

possibly just touching one.

Companeros mios yo cumplo mi papel luchando con lo major que tengo.*

With the best that I’ve got.

No one knows my secret plans

Documentary dias, radio nights, printed palabras

What I am capable of

Practicing storyteller strategies and messenger maneras

Holding the door open for the little ones who are coming thru

What I am planning to do

Its part of my dynamically undisciplined destiny

To observe what is not obvious

Risking reporting truths untold

Campaigning and complaining for the silent

who carry this country on their back

Layering laughter between tears

Unless we document ourselves we are invisible

There is so much left to do.

I’m taking on telling the truth.

I’m just a revolutionary mama,

Solidarity! Baby!

Otto Rene Castillo *Before the Scales, Tomorrow: ,**Viudo de mundo
***Song by SABIA


by Maya Chinchilla

First published Spring, 1999 La Revista, UC Santa Cruz

Centralamerican    American

does that come with a hyphen?

a space?

Central        America



Las   Américas

Español chapín

black beans and white rice

tortillas de maiz almost an inch thick

refugees and exiles

as playmates

movies with trembling

mountains, bombs and

gunfire raging in my heart.

black lists and secrets.

Huipiles and mysterious people

passing through my home.

Where is the center of America, anyway?

Are there flowers on a volcano?

You can find the center in my heart

where I imagine the flowers never die

But today the volcano explodes in the way

it has every day for 30 years.

No it is not a sacrifice it desires,

for we already have sacrificed too much,

They want us out of this country

they say we don’t belong here

vamos pa’ el norte

they tell us the American dream is  the truth

but that our stories of escape from horror are not.

When can we rest from running?

When will the explosions in my heart stop

and show me where my home is?

Are there flowers on a volcano?



Where is the center of America?

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