On December 15, New York's Loisaida Center hosted a poetry reading in which current and former fellows of the national Latina/o poets workshop CantoMundo read from their work in solidarity with ongoing protests and mobilizations in and around Ferguson, Missouri, and the College of Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Mexico. NACLA is publishing a series from the event.
When life gives you strange fruit
how do you make lemonade?
When just to rent a business stand
you have to pay in spades.
Obesity is an epidemic,
too much sugar in the blood,
so do you instead just let the strange
fruit juice dry up?
Then eat its dried flesh like you do
sweet raisins in the sun?
Or do you let it hang there,
ripe and plump, for the crows to pluck?
Do you let its juices ferment into wine?
Swill it around in your glass and watch
its legs run down the side?
Do you bottle it up for sale?
Transport it in paper bags?
Use masking tape and blue pens
to make your own price tags?
And when that cop comes up to you,
Do you offer him a cup?
Do you think that would be enough
for him to not charge you
with possession of illegal drugs?
When white boys are chugging
and keg-standing this shit?
When white girls are crying
to get another hit? And even
their parents are addicted to it.
You selling? The cop asks before,
uninvited, he takes a swig.
When he drinks he tastes ambrosia in the brew
and sees that he could pull the trigger
and make the same out of you.
What will you do then when the cop shoots
to drain your strange juice?
Will you let the bullet wound fester like a sore?
And when he keeps your blood on tap,
then will you not take it anymore?
In this Eden, where
a darker-the-berry state of mind
was our founding, is our fall,
will a sweet tooth lead to you
splattering a wall?
~ After Langston Hughes
Darrel Alejandro Holnes is from Panama City and the former Canal Zone of Panamá. He studied creative writing at the Universities of Houston and Michigan, the latter from which he earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree. His poetry has been published in Poetry Magazine, The Best American Experimental Writing Anthology, Callaloo, The Caribbean Writer, The Potomac, MEAD, Lambda Literary, Assaracus, Weave Magazine, The Feminist Wire, The Paris American, Kweli, featured on The Best American Poetry blog, and elsewhere in print and online. He is the co-author of PRIME: Poetry & Conversations (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014). He is a proud Cave Canem and Canto Mundo fellow. Read his work here.