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Puerto del Sol

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A Prayer to Ek Chuaj

March 30, 2018

 

 

oh heavenly Ek Chuaj[i],

the earth aches for your feet

the ground, riving at our every footprint, shuns us

spits back our steps like watermelon seeds

the land flinches   when we walk   worried we will weigh of wounds, woefully

i feel for her pulse, cup my hands, incise these

fingers             autopsy-like

unsure if i am more   \ clamshell / or  / reseeding \ or

if i am just etching        playing   in the soil

burrowing graves             for my rupturing fragments to dwell, my plucked breaths, my

skin     excoriating itself, unlatching free, unraveling loose like an old cast

 

beloved Ek Chuaj[ii],

give me the heart         of ancient traveling tradesmen

            & the memory that hustlin’ has always been holy  like us[iii],

bearing offerings of our ephemeral existence daily

drifting  sacrificially  migrants  despite the precarity

despite the bigots and nationalists

despite the thieves who chew at our names and history[iv] their way into our pockets  and

debate whether the Belgians make the best chocolate, or the Swiss, or the Germans

¿& what jingles are sung of the cacao bean?  – only our names[v]

which often fit me like a wrapper, neatly folded with a tantalizing shine

today, mine[vi] tastes more of the processed contents

   flesh[vii] betrayed by the recipe          

recollecting what it might have meant to be raw cacahuatl[viii]

                                                  hanging on                an evergreen tree   in Santiago Nonualco[ix]

                                                     like a child              untroubled   by the dirt below,

                                                                                                its appetites and insatiable rumbles

the future often instills a rotten

feeling             before the

pod is even macheted open,

instincting omens of dissolving at their words

melting in their mouths

sometimes in their hands;        Lord, those hands…

Ek Chuaj, have mercy on        those blaspheming hands,

deporting[x] your kin     in mass

they want us gone, Ek Chuaj

     se empacharon, Ek Chuaj

como siempre, socorrenos[xi], Ek Chuaj

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

[i] God of cacao

  intimate knower of how branches can synchronically serenade the heavens and soliloquize self-love

  versed in these songs that tamed time to tick through claves

 

 

[ii] God of pilgrimaging merchants,

  also the ones suspended in stillness, soldierin’ the corners

            calibrated only by unfamiliar ghosts

  ever-pendulating between harvesting and rotting

 

 

[iii] the day I learned how to tell time using the length of songs on the radio
   I realized I was not actually 17 years old:
            I was 12 baktun, 19 katun, 14 tun, 16 uinal, 1 k’in

 

 

[iv] if you papercut a crevice of your toe enough times

   it, too, can infect          without proper attention

   and make the country beneath you a neverending source of pain

 

 

[v] naming as a coping mechanism for coloniality

   syllables remixed to alterego our praying altars;

   these many names always translate the same though:

      geneses, ineffable, archived amnesia...

 

 

[vi] the r rolls

   itself like a scroll unfurling       only to unveil the secrets

   half burnt from the pseudoart of lighting one flame from another:

   Bishop Diego de Landa’s fire has made a moth of me

 

 

[vii] flesh that gluts desert plates

    flavors tongues of a sun-drenched crop

-ped self-portrait,   more palatable sweet or bitter

   depending on the caña, the machete,

   and the fleshy things

   stomaching us

 

 

[viii] gift from the sacred mountains

    a bouquet that stretched for miles, professing the gods’ love;

    or maybe it was a bribe             preemptively paid to cross prophesized borders &

live forever worshipped on our tongues, even if it is as “chocolate”

 

 

[ix] where we learned to make shakers out of hourglasses           make dying musical

    1833, in a rebellion against the landowners          the leader was beheaded and displayed as a warning

   I carry this violence

like an epigraph

                       everywhere I go

 

[x] we who have been scarred by lineages of missionaries

  do not understand this languaged borders   in the same way;

  we have come to distinguish between demarcated prison walls and the loving arms of a home

            based not on the ambiguity of coordinate points

            but whether the territory speaks to our soles more in eulogies or prayers

 

 

[xi] “que Dios nos socorra” is my mother’s ritualized oratory

    an unbombed hogar I, too, seek refuge in

    whenever my body-temple flounders to stay relevant

in the offshore shallowed annals of time

 

 

[i] God of cacao

  intimate knower of how branches can synchronically serenade the heavens and soliloquize self-love

  versed in these songs that tamed time to tick through claves

 

[ii] God of pilgrimaging merchants,

  also the ones suspended in stillness, soldierin’ the corners

            calibrated only by unfamiliar ghosts

  ever-pendulating between harvesting and rotting

 

[iii] the day I learned how to tell time using the length of songs on the radio
   I realized I was not actually 17 years old:
            I was 12 baktun, 19 katun, 14 tun, 16 uinal, 1 k’in

 

[iv] if you papercut a crevice of your toe enough times

   it, too, can infect          without proper attention

   and make the country beneath you a neverending source of pain

 

[v] naming as a coping mechanism for coloniality

   syllables remixed to alterego our praying altars;

   these many names always translate the same though:

      geneses, ineffable, archived amnesia...

 

[vi] the r rolls

   itself like a scroll unfurling       only to unveil the secrets

   half burnt from the pseudoart of lighting one flame from another:

   Bishop Diego de Landa’s fire has made a moth of me

 

[vii] flesh that gluts desert plates

    flavors tongues of a sun-drenched crop

-ped self-portrait,   more palatable sweet or bitter

   depending on the caña, the machete,

   and the fleshy things

   stomaching us

 

[viii] gift from the sacred mountains

    a bouquet that stretched for miles, professing the gods’ love;

    or maybe it was a bribe             preemptively paid to cross prophesized borders &

live forever worshipped on our tongues, even if it is as “chocolate”

 

[ix] where we learned to make shakers out of hourglasses            make dying musical

    1833, in a rebellion against the landowners          the leader was beheaded and displayed as a warning

   I carry this violence

like an epigraph

                       everywhere I go

 

[x] we who have been scarred by lineages of missionaries

  do not understand this languaged borders   in the same way;

  we have come to distinguish between demarcated prison walls and the loving arms of a home

            based not on the ambiguity of coordinate points

            but whether the territory speaks to our soles more in eulogies or prayers

 

[xi] “que Dios nos socorra” is my mother’s ritualized oratory

    an unbombed hogar I, too, seek refuge in

    whenever my body-temple flounders to stay relevant

in the offshore shallowed annals of time

 

 

 

Javier Perez is a Salvadoran-American poet, teaching artist, and M.A. student at the University of Cape Town. He is co-founder of Swarthmore College’s spoken-word collective OASIS (Our Art Spoken in Soul), project manager of the Cape Town-based collective, Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement, and co-founder and Executive Director of the CYPHER (Cape Youth Poetry Hub for Expression & Rhythm). Javier's work appears in Acentos Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Apricity Press, and many more. Javier's manuscript was selected as a finalist for the Center for the Book Arts' 2017 Chapbook Program and he is the recipient of the Thomas J Watson Fellowship (2013-14), Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (2012-13), and Roosevelt Institute Fellowship (2013).

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