You Just Don’t Talk About It

You Just Don’t Talk About It

Juan Felipe Herrera


as the leaf as the sidewalk as the tear & the iris as the casket
upon visitation as the door when the twig school opens
as the tongue that knows no rule as the trees unto
vastness as the seed on its first day as the root twisting
as the face when freedom strikes lightning freedom as the crystal
upon sudden awareness as the waterfall rushing toward more
openness as the walk of everything that walks
as the shame lock when it breaks out of your skin


You Just Don’t Talk About It

Lissen: you just don’t

talk about it the rape the endless scrubbing washing self
lacerations the never ending self-whipping the deep down
smoldering stone trauma growing up crooked tree growing up
silence ocean storm growing tsunami without a sky ceiling you
prefer the holiday merchandise the rational vacuum you just
don’t care about the pushed out the stopped out the forced out
the starved out the fenced out the shot down the cut back the
asphalted out on the other side of the track the suicided the
hanged w/ a bedsheet of nothing in the cell of nothing with
no one at the gate the segregated tier the jailed forever the
imprisoned forever the denied the woman ambling alone 79
yrs old going nowhere to Social Services you don’t talk about
fires inside inside us inside the young with no-lunches and the
no-books and the no-schools and the no-parents just needles and
drunkdrunk streets drunk walls drunk hotels drunk bathroom
tiles drunk you don’t care about the trans teens
the taste of acid the taste of plutonium about the nugget of larva of decay in
our milk and juice and you don’t care about the pesticide skin
of uncle Timoteo hauling Mendota cotton and melons on the
hammer lane of the 99 and the Spanish Arabic Chinese Hmong
Filipino spoken in the yard yes you want one language one
religion one dollar for all except the moguls the
mogul oil the mogul pipelines in pajamas I know you heard this all before you
have the smart language your lawyers lawyers for your lawyers
you have your corporate privacy but you do not notice you do
not walk you do not enter you do not get near you stay there
where you are at this moment you do not care about the cold-
shot murder in the car at the tip of your open mouth gun you
do not care about the addictions you unleashed you do not care
about the lands you stole from under our feet you do not care
about smearing our faces across the screen and never say a word
when you hit the holy bank you do not care in your pyramid
of insulations you do not care about those who fight for you
write for you live for you act for you study for you dance for you
parade for you paint and construct for you carry you build you
inform you feed you nanny you clean you vacuum for you swipe
the grease off your clothes chef for you serve you teach you carry
carry you rock you to sleep and console you the rape the assault
the segregation the jailing the deportations upon deportations
the starving the ones curled up on the freezing detention corners
because they wanted to touch you to meet you against all odds
and you — you
just don’t talk about it


* “Open” and “You Just Don’t Talk About It” reprinted from Every Day 
We Get More Illegal by Juan Felipe Herrera, with permission from City Lights.
*Cover image courtesy of City Lights

Posted: October 20, 2020 at 7:51 pm

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