Poetry by Sarah Gonzales – The Feminist Wire

Poetry by Sarah Gonzales

fairy tales 2


I wish I could spit rhymes

with the ease of a liberated tongue,

relay my stories

minus the empty hours of self loathing

plus crumpled re-starts.

maybe its true

the birth of a poem (like much else in this world)

means more

with scars

of a worthy journey.


At an anti-racism conference in North Carolina, I got scars.

my tongue fumbling

dropping history

in their laps


earnest reply

wrapping my thorns

in band-aid smiles.


“Know what’s great? Those experiences have made you who you are. Congratulations.”

lipsticked words dripped heavy

burst levees in my chest

drowning her

with the flood of a thousand poorly swallowed excuses

meant to appease me when the teacher made fun of my culture

meant to keep me quiet when that man

then that one

another one


shattered the wholeness of my sexuality with a broken stare

rough hands


meant to make me pay for upsetting false family norms

when I fell in love with her two spirits

meant to dilute me with sexist commentary about my big ass, my “NICE TITS!”

my feminine incompetency

meant to put me in my place where my brown skin belongs

just below the authority of a boss’s white lies.


Flailing in the waves

lipsticked pleas gasped

“B-B-But…you made it.”


Im ashamed

my hands

minds of their own

held her head


til her echos bubbled silence.


The finality of being labeled


I cant stomach it

as if the fight is over

lay down my weapons

let my defenses rest.


I’m saturated

in emotions

choking on my thoughts.


Who might I be

if whole parts of me

hadn’t been ripped away?


If a racist teacher was replaced by Ethnic Studies

teaching me to refute the ugliness the world served up

as an example of my brownness.

Would I have built

a reservoir of confidence

to protect myself from predators

when my own protectors failed me?


Would I then

have spent that time

creating a groundwork for greatness

instead of incessantly clawing

at the evasive tools of healing?


And what of my people?

If x-rays of my girlfriend’s body

didn’t reveal the healed up

crookedness of a dozen broken bones,

each one with a child’s horror story to go with it

Would she now be leading her people as two spirit

would they

having not been kidnapped and raped

in the name of civilization,

hold her in high esteem

instead of banishment?


Would we have made it?

puddle reflections of us

wild berry stained fingers


walking towards home through the high grass

Would it now be a river of a shared life?


Who would each of us be

if we were all afforded the same opportunity

for life, liberty and the pursuit of fucking happiness?


answers float just out of my grasp

I suspect

I would lay down my weapons

let my defenses rest

and stop drowning people with my anger.




My Father and I


my father

battle scars decades long

stretch across his brown skin.

he used to always grab me by my arm




at 15

he was king of the barrio

in San Antonio

ruling the streets

with fists and fear

50 years later

they still bow to him

when we go there

he points out dilapidated buildings

bustling avenidas

and unchanged bus lines that mark his memories

like he marked those territories.


stories like lectures

to form me

but in college

I schooled the poli sci professor

on the politics of a cease fire

see even the streets whisper,



his silver streaked mustache twitches now

as he recalls the poverty

steel green government trucks

kicking up dust

as they delivered

monthly commodities


brown eyed children

pause in their play

watch their mamas curse.


right on time

pig farmers would cruise on


scoop up these welfare


everybody knew

only their pigs

could put them

to any good use.


children suddenly feel too old for games

discrimination whispers,


my father’s got 65 years of stories

just like those

resting on these

narrow shoulders.


I’m here to tell you

there is a hefty price to pay

for all that learning,

he still wields a gun

his mouth shoots words

like bullets

I can’t seem to dodge.


I’m holding on to this idea

our futures

are not sealed like our histories

I’m walking through doors he kicked down for me

with my brown skin

I have climbed to the top

of these very ivory towers


I still believe

knowledge is power.


so I’ll take it

his life,

my experiences,

your dreams,

our aspirations,

so we may understand

that all of it

all of this…




saritaHeadShotSarah Gonzales believes the intersection of art and activism is a critical place for community survival. After years of engagement in community work and youth organizing on racial justice in Arizona, she founded her own national social justice consulting company, TruthSarita, LLC which supports building collective power to dismantle inequity. Sarah also serves as Codirector of Spoken Futures, Inc developing programs including Tucson Youth Poetry Slam and Liberation Lyrics which creates space for youth to process and address issues such as the school to prison pipeline, LGBTQ rights and migrant justice through spoken word poetry. In addition to facilitation, training and youth organizing work, Sarah is an extensive haiku writer, fierce dance floor occupier and a trickster performance artist whose recent work landed her in 6th place in the Arizona US Presidential Primaries in 2012. She loves horror movies and hates peanut butter.