Chicago’s Spanglish Karen Fischer

The inspiration for this poem is the public education system in America today which doesn’t have a rigorous foreign language curriculum, therefore in diverse cities people feel incredibly displaced from one another.

 

From 8th grade Spanish class I remember the colors

verde, negro, blanco, azul       i slept on desk and mumbled “chalko”, but i still see the colors         (there are more ways to say penis in spanish than english)                  in pilsen, we shrug and smile to smooth our verbal barriers

I could have stayed upright.

learned all the verbs, nouns, and tenses          chewed the foreign words till i had to understand to swallow          i could have braided pablo neruda into my essays with limit

I could remove the shrugs.

i signed a high-rise 19 flights above sharp veins of l track                 pink, green, brown, orange     not the same colors but remembering holds the same surprise       i am jealous of quiet natives, the way they never shrug at each other            i could’ve straddled the pink lines at 18th       i could have ingested the verde in animals, stoned murals

I could have been seen for my soul, not my skin.

 

I could have been seen for my soul, not my skin.

i could have ingested the verde in animals, stoned murals                 i could’ve straddled the pink lines at 18th       i am jealous of quiet natives, the way they never shrug at each other        not the same colors but remembering holds the same surprise   pink, green, brown, orange     i signed a high-rise 19 flights above sharp veins of el track

I could remove the shrugs.

i could have braided pablo neruda into my essays with limit             chewed the foreign words till i had to understand to swallow            learned all the verbs, nouns, and tenses

I could have stayed upright.

in pilsen, we shrug and smile to smooth our verbal barriers               (there are more ways to say penis in spanish than english)            i slept on desk and mumbled, “chalko”, but i still see the colors                    verde, negro, blanco, azul

From 8th grade Spanish class I remember the colors.

 

 

About the author:

Karen Fischer is an undergraduate student studying creative nonfiction and cultural studies at Columbia College Chicago. While Karen is an east-coast transplant, she is enamored by her city and the dynamics running deep within it. Karen is taking her interest in social structures abroad this summer, where she will be spending two months studying in ten different countries. In her free time, Karen frequents youth-driven poetry slams and she is thrilled to be in Chicago during an artistic renaissance. Karen has work forthcoming with TheVoicesProject.org.

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