I have always been conscious of my battling tongues,
of being too assimilated
to speak my mother’s language,
the rejection of English because of my brown skin.
Sometimes, I want to refuse
refuse my mouth movement;
conscious, it might be too ugly for either side to hear.
I remember something Celia Cruz once said,
in all her colorful outfits,
with sweet courage of AZCUCAR!
“My English is not very good lookiiiing
but I am very glad to say that.”
an unapologetic accent.
Her English is not very good looking.
In one brave line,
her less than classic beauty
has no pity
the ganas to be a good looking pure badass mami.
Esa muxer tiene tumbao!
And for all the Spanglish—
can’t find the correct words in Spanish/English
Celia speaks to us.
Porque si tenemos tumbao!
“Wow, you speak English really good!”
“Do you know why Spanish is so important?”
“Shame on your mother for not teaching you Spanish.”
—No te jodas con eso—
Check them with:
Yes, I speak English well, not good,
to answer your grammatically incorrect statement;
I’m not trying to be anyone’s token.
Yes, I know Spanish is important,
my skin is a constant reminder
that language is always trying to e r a s e m e
and my mother was trying to preserve me,
don’t shun her for showing me how to survive.
Our broken tongues do not need to fall apart
because of pinche pendejxs.
Our language lives in-between
constantly being misunderstood
and lost in translation.
No, I will not apologize for my incorrect Spanish,
I am reclaiming what was taken
and wounds take time to heal.
No, I am not trying to be white,
English was my first language,
so don’t call me a coconut
like it will crack me open,
find me hollow.
See me like Celia—
rolling off my tongue.
Mixing sugar and salt to recreate flavors
trial and error.
Celia, I want my tongue to be good looking like yours
—porque mi español no te mires bien tambien.
there will always be people
not wanting to hear
how good looking we are.
— "Good Looking," Raquel “Raqui” Torres