I know you’ve heard the old adage: the pen is mightier than the sword. As writers, we tout the strength and potency of words. We tell people that words do break bones and lift spirits and foster hate or love or resilience. We know the might of the pen, and the fragility of the sword.
It becomes harder when you realize yourself a pen, staring down the hilt of an orange sword with misogynistic tendencies and a bad toupee (ok, ok, going after appearance is a cheap trick. Last one, we promise!). What do you do when your President is a sword? When leaving your house or arguing with Uncle Benny on Facebook becomes a cut? How do you fight back?
We’ve wrestled with this query for a few months now, and are starting up a blog dedicated to the words (poems, short stories, creative nonfiction, articles, think pieces) of local Utah writers who write back to the lived experience of our current social, legal, and political climate.
Each post will feature a different Utah writer, along with their bios. Support local art! Click on their links or contact us about featuring them.
How do you fight back? You write back!
Today’s poem comes from SLC local José Joaquin Soto. José Soto is a poet, student, and dog lover. As a Venezuelan immigrant, José’s poetry speaks to several intersections of cultural identity. His work has been featured on Button Poetry, Write About Now, and The Huffington Post. He is currently working on getting his Bachelors in both English and Communication from the University of Utah, and with his spare time he can be found trying to catch up on The Get Down with his beagle, Rufus.
Photo cred: Wasatch Wordsmiths. Learn more about SLC poetry slams here
Today (after Danez Smith)
Today I woke up late
I did not let Wham! interrupt my sleep
And I did not interrupt Mr. Michaels
Today I woke up to an empty
bed and ignored texts
Both to and from
Today I burned my toast and ate it anyway
Today I continue to be raised
by too great a Mother
and I know to be fearful
of more than just god when I waste food.
Today I was late for class because I continue to live
in a state that persists
in disappointing me with its weather
But today I am just talking about Utah
And today I do not let ICE stop me from where I want to go
Because today I am grateful
Today I am 14 years and 1 day grateful
Today I am not ashamed to have been born
on the wrong side of the line in the sand.
Today my dad is not odd jobs and a broken smile
Today my mom is more than just a helpful hand in ungrateful homes
And today I do not have to stay
up to wish them both goodnight.
Today I sat in the front of the class
Today I raise my hand and was not asked to repeat myself
And today they said my name right
They said my name right.
And Today I continue to carry respect like I was born
with it. Because today I continue to be raised
my two great parents refuse to tell
And today I am more than just paper
Today I can just be
Because today I am not illegal
Because today we are not illegal
Because 14 years ago today we were not illegal
Today my family and I get to call ourselves
American and we are not forced to
listen to those that think otherwise.
Today I continue to live
in a land that was not built for us
But I get to make it into a nation built by us
And today I get to call this place home
And today I am an immigrant
And today I am not just an immigrant
And today I am proud of both
*Interested in submitting to us? Check out our submission guidelines and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in reading more from Latinx poets, or on issues of immigration? Check out the following link to 10 poets we love.