Rigoberta Menchu- East Los Angeles (Sep. 2008) photo by Mark Gonzales- Peace Jam Summit with Chavez Foundation, Human Writes Project, AIM, & Roosevelt High

Rigoberta Menchu- East Los Angeles (Sep. 2008) photo by Mark Gonzales- Peace Jam Summit with Chavez Foundation, Human Writes Project, AIM, & Roosevelt High

posted : Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Asking Liberty (Lyrics)

Iraqi civilians ask: is this what liberation looks like
Afghani women ask: is this what liberation looks like
Africans in prison ask: is this what liberation looks like
Everybody living ask: is this what liberation looks like 

She grew up underneath crimson skies
watching golden crescent moons reflect off prisms of evening stars.

Now spends evenings counting stars on the sleeves of
a prison guard from behind the bars in Kandahar.

She, Afghan woman, has survived two occupations: U.S. and the Soviet.
To her, there’s no difference between the two for both mass murder Muslims like Bosnians by Milosevic.

She told me a secret, asked me to share it with you:
                   “most Americans don’t know this,
                     but Afghanis, we don’t hate Americans, we hate the arrogance.
     Can’t differentiate between violence and self defense
      and labels everything as terrorist.”

She’s one of the ninety percent of Afghans who grew up without electricity
Friend fortunate few who did have a TV which she
turned on in 1999 just in time to see  children kill children in Columbine.
Thinking:                   “your world is our flip side,
                   here its your government spending money to kill our children
just like they do in Palestine.”

To her, war is just a word for a government hate crime
explodes in your face like land mines
so they can dig lines to build pipelines
redirect fine lines to oil refineries.
It’s a thin line between fascism and democracy.
speak about it, like the Rosenberg’s they’ll slaughter me;
yet its what we ought to be doing.
For right before I left she asked me this question:
  “If American’s don’t claim to condone the killing of innocent civilians
     how come no one listened to our pain until someone blew up a building.”

 Iraqi civilians ask: is this what liberation looks like
Afghan women ask: is this what liberation looks like
Africans in prison ask: is this what liberation looks like
Everybody living ask: is this what liberation looks like 

Thanks to this war some generals make a killing off of
killing on the New York Stock Exchange
We exchange freedom for so called civil liberties.
Yesterday the Statue of Liberty asked me what liberty means when
“liberation’s” just a fancy word for “occupation”
packaged into pretty boxes by paparazzi zio-nazis
who use it to justify the violation of human rights on foreign shores
through foreign wars.
every now and then you have
to look at the world through eyes not yours. 

See what it is to live life through eyes of an Iraqi civilian,
caught up and round up and thrown into prison
cuz someone labeled Islam a demonic religion
for the way Muslim men treat
     Muslim womyn.

Yet right now there’s Muslim womyn being raped
in U.S. prisons overseas by U.S soldiers in fatigues
who torture men just for kicks take digital pics for souvenirs,
so you might see why through their eyes, they’re not really feeling liberated right now.
and if I was them,
I might just want to kill anyone in sight
who bore any resemblance to the man
who raped the woman who resembled my wife.
Cuz its hard to  sleep at night when all you
sees in the back of their head
is some soldier yanking of your wife’s hijab,
                  slapping her arms to the side…
                                    slapping open her thighs….
and right before he penetrated  her he pulled her tight.
Whispered: this is what liberation feels like. 

is this what liberation looks like
is this what liberation looks like
is this what liberation looks like
is this what liberation looks like

Such contemplations could lead a man to do things like decapitations
I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but put yourself in his shoes-
That’s your wife: what would you do?
Human race
racing time we’re so far behind
we think our past is our future
 I feel Chinese,
the U.S reminds me of Britain;
crack cocaine be the new opium war
the C.I.A. made  junkies of this country’s
own citizens.
Public lynchings legal hangings
people behind bars - strange fruits
chutes of their roots
American troops policing these streets.
Therefore any one in prison
is a prisoner of war.
It’s the war on drugs, the war on poverty
the war on Islam, the war on misogyny
I’m declaring war audibly
storming Rikers island like Normandy
till every one incarcerated get free
I’m tired of jumping up to get beat down
like Brand Nubian
who knew like non-Nubian
there’s nothing new under the sun.
We just went from race to culture
caste to class
Chuck D said it best:
We’re Public Enermy Number…


posted : Thursday, September 2nd, 2010


1910 | it begins.

War breaks out in sands of middle Americas.
We pack tribal scriptures into rifles
for Bibles never offered bulletproof protection from
the conquistadores’ cannons
                        or their Canon
as Pontius Pilate lays a crown of thorn on Tonatzin’s thighs.

My abuela witnessed our culture’s crucifixion
as she fled D.F.
An Uprooted rhythm
her hands planted dual poems like:

dust to dust
ashes to open palms/alms
ashes on palm Sunday/someday
we will be safe again.

Born of earth and cracked desert skin
you | I | We
   are          one
People of the Sun.

Is it any wonder the descendants up uprooted rhythm
remix religion
less like DJ
more like spoons spinning sounds between azucar y café con leche

Our abuelas were original old school fashionistas
guerrilleras cross dressing weapons and wisdom across chest
Ours does not concern herself with your opinion
hands too busy stopping Maria from beating on Roberto.

Sabes que

madres know mother hood is gymnastics
a balancing act of ancestry
where our dreams are high beams that have to be landed ten toe
perfect 10
eight four eight
Count up to
2 | one | 10 is 1910 all over again.

there is a strange fruit being planted
as bodies swing from desert cactus

“Catch us if you can” says Speedy Gonzales
they shoot racist epithets slung from barrels of
insolence                  ignorance
Slow poke Rodriguez is caught in the cross fire
Epitaph sung at his funeral

Dust to Dust
De Colores
Adios mio..
aye/ Ave Maria
Cholos no llooooooooores..

While la Llorona is shedding monsoons on riverbanks
for the children who will die in the desert.
Guadalupe Tonatzin Xotchli..
Is the name omitted from media broadcasts
because the accent is too difficult to pronounce…
Or because sound is too ashamed to hear adolescent names come from death’s tongue

George Lopez is tap dancing in front of Disneyland
Sammie Davies whispers in his ear:
This is happens when master grows bored w/ puppies and people’s entertainment
this is not an insult
any artist will tell you this entertainment industry is fickle

Dear God: Moses has not split the sea
the ocean has dried up in this drought of dreams…
we are pickled crops inside middle passage vinegar bottles
no boat
 we walk on the bottom shores of desert floor between
Pacific and the Atlantic
Arizona is Atlantis asking for underwater Identification cards
our children stand on block corners imitating immigration

Yo homie.. Where are you from.:
Crip / Blood/
Hispanic no
Hispano no

Estamos Indios

{two words} En Dios
In God

Even Columbus in his arrogance recognized
are divine beautiful people
with angel eyes baptized with clay’s color
before Christianity was ever a concept

we destroyed churches
and made the earth our place of worship

Gente: We build beds like alters for
god is mother-father arms intertwined
last evening love’s limbs danced Aztec architecture
in amber angles                    our tongues tasted tangents
mujer danced Mayan
body re- sets
the clock of once a month
moon cycle calendar
our lips crack prayer                                   
our communion
births the community

Creation begets creations
Hatred begets racism

Tell Adam
Cain is calling Abel illegal
Eve is crying
as her grandson Jesus is being deported
Tonatzin weeps at her feet

Blackwater has bought Paradise
employing the original residents to trim the hedges
They are not allowed to stay

To Amerizona: your apple pie was made of fruit plucked from Satan’s branches
Iraq is echoed by First Nations who understand what it means
to go from Gardens of Eden to exile

This is not a deportation but a displacement
to farms and factories
ICE detention center of the sixth sun

We are living letter bombs
writing letters to Tucson
Somos tu
y ellos son the grandsons of Klan sons
they are singing our Strange Fruit as their national anthem

Gente: We will show them the meaning of the word Phoenix.

posted : Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

design by Samira Idroos of Third Space Productions

design by Samira Idroos of Third Space Productions

posted : Friday, August 27th, 2010

“ … Dear Music is Violent: Hip Hop never bombed Beirut or Iraq.

-Mark Gonzales (In Self-Defense of Hip Hop)

posted : Friday, August 27th, 2010

Letter to Our Loved Ones- Get Down For Gaza (Los Angeles) -2009.

posted : Thursday, August 26th, 2010

"Asking Liberty (For Aghanistan)" - Mark Gonzales with SKIM.

posted : Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Letter to Cordoba Center on behalf of a former “slave”


I. The three century old remains of 20,000 African men, women, children former slaves were discovered after the clean up of the World Trace Center’s collapse.

II. Between twenty and thirty percent of all stolen Africans brought to America as slaves were Muslim.

III. A Letter on behalf of Cordova Center by one such “slave”


Is an unspoken song on the tongues of the forgotten
  ever wonder where will you pray when your skin has abandoned you
  or what religion is your skeleton

A note for Manhattan city residents & Mr. President:
    if cemeteries have zip codes, air mail this poem to my mother
           courtesy of a masjid wings holding my father’s tear.

New York: have you forgotten cities are built not by steel but bones
that breath is turquoise colored accessory of skeletons 
wearing mahogany skin as Friday prayer best

Bedstuy bones have a Project Runway dreams - runaway from the projects.
Tired of being told their shade is out of season by men in midnight blue suits 
attempting to tie a two-thumb thick bow tie noose around their neck.
          Strange Fruit is back
      the new and the old Black
       in time for spring season
      Muslims again the designs
   breathing             chest heaving 
swinging from government branch limbs.

Dear America: I interrupt your Tea Party
   with reminders of ancestral legacy
      that picked the very leafs you sip.
They say thirty percent of all slaves stolen from Africa were Muslim
         denied prayer on ships
          lynched and mocked 
      whips for the worshipping
                 shot for salaat

slaves to the dollar: enslaving slaves of Allah

When you built the World Trade Center over our cemeteries
did Senegalese mother’s hold drum circle protest at construction companies
for the steel saliva you layered on their children’s coffins?

New York City’s living pretty luxurious brag
how little skin they own
that one can see their bones through rib cage as if Prada 
fashioned design mannequins after auction blocks melanin.
While in 2002,  twenty thousand African slaves were discovered
underneath the cat walk modeling states of decay
in basement of today what is called the World Trade Center.

             Slaves                         Models. 
                     believe in God

tolerated for invoking the name in anorexia’s reverse communion
practices Ramadan 365 days a year
stomach lining sacrifice offering to porcelains altars
in city subsidized stalls and clubs.

is child hiding with no one seeking
holding song of Quran In decomposed lungs for three centuries
the sum of Saladin’s sons and daughters under one hundred three steel exhales
separated from the ummah by a cracked twin tear
only homage to memory street cipher testimony
a windmill break dance spin cycles of seven
for circles never made around the ka’ba in Mecca. 

Cordoba: thank you for daring to call adhan
in a den of lions illiterate to love.
They call our cemetery “Ground zero”
de facto nicknaming us en la tierra negative
absence of value 

America: tell us
in this    space    moment     century
as you stand over our grave
that 20,000 spirits of Muslim African
slaves still do not have a right
or a place to pray.

New York:
Your building zones built homes upon our bones
Must you again deny us in death our rights you denied us in life.
We, deserve after three centuries to finally say 

Bismillahir rhaminir rahim

Know our prayers end as they always do.

assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah
assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah

(May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon ALL & you)

Sincerely signed:
x (+ 19,995 times)

Mark Gonzales is a poet, educator, & founder of the Human Writes Project. He has appeared on HBO Def Poetry, Mun2, NPR & with human rights activist & artists across the globe. Based in Seattle, WA, where his family used to work the fields, he is committed to cultivating dignity through creativity. He can be reached at humanwrites@gmail.com

posted : Thursday, August 26th, 2010