Report from the Temple of Confessions in Old Chicano English

-- after an installation by Guillermo Gomez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes

Se cruzan canyons     en el templo de confessions.
Language lies     across the barbed lines,
piles of its bodies     pireced y pinchados.
No one evades the     essentialist evangels,
the Other who offers         his objectified body
to the river rats who     ride his wetback,
the coro de coyotes     who crave his flesh,
the wheyfaced who whisper        their sin in his ear,
the translators who trap    and trade his tongue,
la raza who receive him,     la raza who repel him.

In this chamber the chill     of chicken flesh --
pollito mojado     picoso y picado,
the black body     bag of the repatriated.
Here the distorted words     of debutants y do-gooders,
of know-no-betters     y neo-nazis,
of Beowulfs and other     born-again beasts,
of sandaled sombreros     sleeping under cacti,
of Machiavelian     mentes y mouths
of anthropological     autoethnography,
of pretend pachucas     peeling their layers,
of preachers and poets     with puckered lips
of the misused multi-     cultural machinery,
of the Hispanic hodgepodge     hiding their Indio,
of the Quetzalcoatls     concealing their conqueror
de la migra meando     marking its turf.

Here the hemistitched     hemispheres blend,
a vacuum of voices     absorbed in the velvet
paintings of slick     y sexy santos,
of the Aztec icon     at the altar of Aztlán
tripping and turning     transvestite warrior,
of the cyber-Cholo     stripping down -- Simón!
The Vato loco's liquid     eye lures us
over borders, their blurred     tumbling barriers,
calling us to come     stare into the cage --
jaula de joda     aquí juntándonos --
the table turned     and tacked to the wall,
lit with votives         licking our luscious
breakfast bowl     of cucarachas on their backs
squirming to free         their feet and fly.

- Brenda Cárdenas