A yellow/orange tinge slowly stains
the hard edge of darkness
and dissolves into day.
18th St. awakens to a jumble
of color and sound.
Bi-lingual signs hawk tequila, menudo and a miracle or two.
Church bells ring their ragged welcome
to the sinner kneeling before his gods;
Chicanos/mejicanos, the Indian race.
with an American face.
all stare in suspicion
on how it all came about,
confessing the confusion
that keeps them apart.
On the street men greet each other,
“Compadre, que tal?”
“Ando un poco crudo como siempre carnal.”
La Jura, la Migra constantly seek.
Politicians, anthropologists prey on the meek.
Down the block the vato locos of Aztlan
search for warriors buried deep
in wood faces awaiting the next Sun.
— Salima Rivera
Born in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, Salima Rivera (1946-2004) was a poet and cultural activist in her adopted hometown of Chicago where she moved with her family as a child of three in 1949. Her first collection of poetry, It’s Not About Dreams, was published in 2014.
Her influence in the Chicago Puerto Rican community is reflected in the fact that when the renamed National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture re-opened its doors in September, Rivera was honored with her own exhibit entitled, It’s Not about Dreams: The Artist and Poet Salima Rivera.
Another Tequila Sunrise was written in 1976 and reflects on life on the main street of the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and its changing demographics in the 20th century from Bohemian to Hispanic. It borrows its title from the 1973 song by the Eagles.