Volume Four, Issue 4

Ramon Jimenez

They Called Themselves Navigators

They called themselves navigators, innovators and explorers
boasting about how they gave the world civilization.

Textbooks call it an encounter and exchange,
and so, what was exchanged?
Culture, language, religion, and small pox?
Silver, chocolate, corn and free labor?

They speak about how they reformed us
when they stitched shut our mouths
anytime we tried to utter words in our tongues.
Hanging us out in the open for praying to our gods.

They accused us of backwardness, sin and dirt,
when we too mastered the elements of civilization,
cultivating fields more abundant
than the misery of their fallow snow laden lands.

Pyramids, cities, canals and irrigation systems.
Poetry, philosophy and science more advanced than their alchemy.

And maybe some sacrificed souls to please their gods,
but, they murdered entire tribes in the name of theirs.

Overflowing Glasses of Wine

Savoring golden fritters of salted fish
on overflowing glasses of red wine
inside of bright aqua blue buildings
that are carefully designed with azuelejo.

Like hunting hounds
sniffing around for the smoke of a spliff.
A cocktail of hash and tobacco that raises bodies
up to the outer edges of Lisbon.
Only coming down for shots of cherry liquor,
cold beer on tight cobbled stoned alleyways
and vaguely remembered conversations with locals.

All around the city,
the streets tell stories.
The beautiful white marvel statues
dedicated to kings and navigators,
boasting of conquest
and body snatching across continents.

The carefully painted murals
on the back of buildings
showing the fast fall of a mighty empire.
The unarmed protesters,
charging at the sharp bayonets of soldiers.
The colonized,
armed with AK-47s,
taking back their dignity and diligence.

We spent the last days
speaking our broken Portuguese.
Befriending Angolans and Brazilians.
Swapping stories, cracking jokes,
sharing wine and smokes.
Laughing at the colonialism that surrounds us
like the rotting stench of sun kissed fish guts.

Ramon Jimenez: "I am a writer and educator who resides in Seattle, Washington. I teach language arts and I run a summer youth poetry program. I write poetry that focuses on immigration, culture and travel. I am interested in exploring locations and how they connect to memories. My poems are published in Rigorous Magazine and the Anti-Languorous Project."

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