Born two-eyed, one-nosed, fat-tongued, belly
protruded, extraordinarily average, still they’ll
praise you, your parents, as un bebe perfecto.
How quickly you gorge yourself on everything
you are given. And still, you wallow and whine
for more privilege. It’s not your nature to savor
your blessings. A healthy appetite, they’ll claim.
He’s a growing boy, they’ll excuse, when before
everyone else has been served, you demand having
seconds. What you taste deep down in the back
of your throat, bile-like, is not your heart burning
—but guilt. Sour from what you feel you deserve.
Your love is conditional, admit it. It always has
been. It’s ripe with your expectations: the cheap
currency of tit for tat; vice-versa; bubble gum,
bubble gum in a dish. More than your love for
your immigrant parents, you’re consumed with
how you must change them, to make from their
poor, unfortunate lives a better inheritance. You
make them suffer through your Sunday sermons,
preaching about decolonization, the enlightened
path they must follow to be saved from their self
-inflicted misery, all while speaking a language they
don’t understand. Homesick for a home-cooked
meal, you order ahead, and stay only long enough
to pick up your meal and riffle through cupboards
for the expired canned goods they hoard to feed
themselves, but not you because you deserve better.
During your graduation party, you strut through
the backyard, bragging to everyone about the size
of your citizenship, wagging your degrees in their
dark faces. Finally, when you introduce your parents
to acquaintances and colleagues, you snicker behind
their backs when they mispronounce a word in English.
When they divulge where they come from, or how they
came here, you smack your teeth and talk over their past.
Ever since you could walk, you’ve believed you could
manifest your own destiny with no help from no one.
You needed to believe that to make something of your
-self. But no one here recognizes you, Chicano prince.
Ángel García, a proud son of Mexican immigrants, is the author of Teeth Never Sleep (University of Arkansas Press), winner of a CantoMundo Poetry Prize, winner of an American Book Award, and finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award and Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He currently lives in Champaign, IL.