“On Names” by Alan Pelaez Lopez – The Feminist Wire

“On Names” by Alan Pelaez Lopez

On Names


and to think that once,

I thought you were

lucky to trace

trace the maps of your name

to sailors and warriors


where you found honor

we found our owners


where you found

one-third Italian, two-thirds Polish

I found

my great-grandfather murdered by the local Oaxacan government

and great-grandma dead before abuela Belen could learn her name

I found stories of their deaths, but not their lives



sometimes, I imagine no last name

I try to imagine no abusive father

no sleeping next to a dog when I reached the states, undocumented

no rollerblading down the cemetery on the border of Newton and Waltham

attempting to find traces of my sister Michelle, buried only a country away

no eating that red-orange piece of brick across from Leary Field

no punching Luis at 9 on the intersection of Marion St. and Bennington St.

no crying under the panda comforter in Noemi’s 3rd floor apartment




and when my name

gets lost in translation

I will not correct you

because this, this is how I revolt


when the callouses on my tongue are accents

but the burns that do not let me sleep at night are English


 Alan_Pelaez_Lopez-12107853_10153292319373251_1761568393423756460_nAlan Pelaez Lopez is a queer Afro-Indigenous migrant from Mexico. Having been undocumented for sixteen years, Alan writes about the traumas of migration, growing up poor, and queer and trans activism. Alan’s a contributing writer at Everyday Feminism, and has also published pieces in Black Girl Dangerous, Undocumenting, Gemstone Readings, and more. You can find Alan making jewelry, or sipping on tea talking latest hair treatments.