I thought my prolonged absence might be forgiven once I shared the great news that the work in progress of Tell’em Who You Are was presented to university professors from the Americas at the Tepoztlan Institute for Transnational History’s annual conference in Tepoztlan Morelos (in Mexico). I discovered new angles, challenges and narratives to a story I thought I already knew so well. An entire portal opened once I began to understand how the south Texas land story (post U.S-Mexico War) fit within the Mexican historical political narrative.
But that would have wait because I wouldn’t resist the urge to tell you about the breeze, the whiff of good tequila, sipping capuchino in a park where no one talks on their cellphone or works their thumbs into spasm with their blackberry. And, of course, the poetry, books and books of poetry gifted to me by a poet, the conversations in the dark about love and becoming reborn through our projects, ‘good ideas’ that, we later realize, represent a liberation. I use that word deliberately, liberation, because it is, from well worn habits, from rigid ideas and perceptions that confine a chaotic world filled with people with messy lives to simple narratives, resulting in predictable reactions.
I had planned to build my story from the words ‘Enough Poetry to.’ The phrase seems so open, light and you just know anything that follows has got to be just lovely, Enough Poetry to ….My sentimental fantasy was cut short by, Une a madres Juarenses perdida de sus hijas.Rubi and Brenda, one disappeared after she went out looking for work, the other killed by her ‘pareja sentimental’ (boyfriend). The news, covered in three dailies, the mothers of the two girls had set out in caravan from their home in Ciudad Juarez, two mothers to Mexico City to demand justice, an investigation, attention.
Despite a confession, some 37 pieces of Brenda’s body found in the dump and witness testimony, Sergio Barraza was initially found innocent. A court later handed him a 50 year prison sentence and somehow, and it isn’t clear how-he escaped.
It’s all too familiar, perhaps numbingly familiar, young women missing and dead in Ciudad Juarez. Young women raped. Rape trees found in Arizona, with victims’ undergarments dangling from the branches. We have all heard about the serial murders and mutilations that seem unsolvable. But here, here is a case with a known perpetrator, and still nothing. Maybe in the ledger of life, some people are factored out, a consequence of bad circumstances or perhaps, in some twisted way, some of us regard their violent demise through a prism of voyeuristic violence, the pornography of violence.
Such a violence can even become an ‘inspiration’ as in the case of a MAC/Rodarte cosmetic line that is set to launch in the Fall with distinctively ghoulish colors—at least it makes the models appear ghoulish — and carrying label such as: ‘Juarez’, ‘sleepwalker’, and ‘Factory.’ MAC/Rodarte apologized, the proceeds will go to..you know the story, donated to women in Juarez and the merchandise will be renamed.
But their misstep reflects an allure, one with a substantial human cost. The border, Juarez and Mexico, for that matter, known cheap booze and women, danger and scoring drugs. A narrative so singular and well entrenched, can we even imagine another? Do we even really want to? Let’s find out, with an exercise in liberation shall we? Enough poetry to…In Mexico…