Ocupando Mi Voz: A Poem by Carmen Tafolla

by    /  May 29, 2012  / No comments

Carmen Tafolla Reads

Carmen Tafolla reads in front of the Alamo, at a rally in support of the Librotraficante caravan.

Dr. Carmen Tafolla is an author and the first Poet Laureate of the City of San Antonio. She has published over twenty books of poetry and prose for both children and adults. In March 2012, along with Tony Diaz, she participated in a rally hosted by Librotraficante. She is currently writing a biography on civil rights organizer Emma Tenayuca.

In April, following our interview with her about the Librotraficante Caravan, Tafolla sent us this poem celebrating “the power of words.”

Ocupando Mi Voz

A spreading of full-bodied wings
moist with afterbirth and heavy, unfolding stiffly,
shedding dark pasts and cramped confines
That’s what the rebirth felt like,
a jubilation of our voices’ singing flight.
Behind us the blood-in-our-lungs taste of conquest,
the silencing of tongues, mutilation of spirit,
the victor’s spoils sign branded on our foreheads,
visible on our skin, in our names, on our lips.

But oh the dance of liberation sprouted from our very core
From every line our history bloomed
The power of words to re-define our lives
The power of story to reclaim who we are
what we can be

It was only thirty, forty years ago, this renaissance
hardly enough time to lay these bricks of books along a path
And then, the dry dust of conquest settles once more
in the hollow of my throat
Shadows of silence scream with no tongue
The ownership of what was ours
has passed into new hands.

Yet those new hands should know
we will not bend our backs and fade into the branded scars
for we have occupied our voice
our bodies
our being
burnt the deeds of ownership
sung the dance
and spread the wings
We have occupied the books, the hands, the eyes, the lines
and we are there forever, around you,
invisible and loud

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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