These walls cannot contain our lives,
From one surface to another
Lines keep pointing to unseen Bodies,
And thousands of other
Walls and surfaces.
A fragment of the world
Is now appearing in front of your very eyes
If you forget for a moment about art
You can find me below the canvas
A little dot
Between the reds and the blacks
Crawling out the wall.
I don’t know what to call myself.
I am one of those poor kids
From a small and isolated town
Who joined the army
And soon began losing friends, lovers,
A big country, sleep,
Words, space for my legs.
I am a broken soul,
I am a desperate body in search of another.
I am your deepest self
When you close your eyes,
I am a home invaded,
A twentieth first century hero,
As a poem referred to me
In an undocumented language
Where my name sounded
Exactly like Chelsea.
The boundary between the canvases
And the wall is artificial.
In the recurrent dream I wake up
With words clogged to my throat
It takes me a long
Time to know that I am still in the dream,
And in these walls.
There it is that helicopter
That with amazing skill identifies its target
And I know that target is a brown Van with a father
taking his kids to school;
I think of the 43 young students
disappeared in Ayotzinapa,
a purple dream.
I think of those little men
Between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean
Waving and smiling to the crowd
While their height
Keeps growing like an infection, a white dream.
I think of the unseen dark rooms
In Chicago and Jerusalem, a gray dream.
I am thinking and thinking
Of all of you
Within this canvas,
Of 6 by 8 feet
At Fort Leavenworth.
These walls and surfaces.
Rubén Medina is a poet, translator and scholar. Since 1991 he has been a Professor at the UW-Madison, where he specializes in Mexican and Chicano/a literature and culture, intellectual history, film studies, and Mexican migration to the United States. He has published various scholarly books, three books of poetry and a major translation of Beat poetry into Spanish. His poetry is regularly written in Spanish, English, Spanglish.