Thursday, July 27, 2006

'That Thang' - A Little Rant

This is a painting by Andres Muro... thanks Andres for letting me post it

This week, I read a wonderful Juan Felipe Herrera poem called "Are You Doing That New Amerikan Thing?" (1983) in Literatura chicana 1965-1995. It's from his book Exiles of Desire. I was inspired to write a piece inspired by his, although this is hardly a poem or anything near his piece which I find exciting and as fresh today as it must have been over 20 years ago. I really recommend reading his poem and forgiving me for this exercise. :)

That Thang

Are you doing that El Paso thang?
Doing that I wish we were more like Dallas or Austin thang?
Wishing for Disneyland or more sea lions balancing beach balls on noses in the desert thang?
Averting your eyes when the man with whiskers speaks thang?
Doing that City Council is the Last Supper thang?
Hoping for that Olvera Street thing?
Getting your big sombrero ready for that thang?

Are you doing that “activist” thang?
That self-proclaimed, self-congratulatory thang?
That appearances are everythang?
The careerism chain?
The supportive of your peers but really advertising yourself thang?

Doing that “oh, god not another political poem” thang?
Asking for italics for uncomfortable words in Spanish thang?
Or catering to the audience thang? Because acceptance is love is everythang?

Doing that “god she’s self-righteous” thang?

That fundraiser for yourself disguised as charity thang?

Doing that “she’s got a chip on her shoulder” thang?
That career threatening thang?
The god-gave-me-testosterone-worship me thang?
Doing that it’s okay to treat women in your culture worse thang?
The mijo thang?
The $50,000 car professional, and living with Amá thing?
The tortilla flipping while everyone else eats thing?
The--those grad students don’t have a clue because they didn’t worship me but they’re still hot--thing?
That still (and ever) calling women malinchistas thing?
The thing instead of thang thing?

Doing that total destruction is progress thang?
That ashamed of your culture thang?
The don’t write about dead grandmothers thang?
That Manifest Destiny and calling it progress thang?
The Polk thang? The removals and trails of suffering and Andrew Jackson bills thang?
That Hispanic thing?
The right-wing religious more money for us than them thang?
That “Chicana/o means poverty or lower class or gang member” thang?
Doing that class thing?
that academic obfuscation thing?
The coffee shop, private school Marxist thang?
The “she’s a Valley girl” thang?
That beating yourself up thang?

The narcocorrido thang?
Loving the killer thang?
That Chicano gangster rap lyrics thang?
That calling girls 'hynas' thang?
Doing that crystal meth thang?
The I like “getting stupid” with a big proud smile thang?
The I’m going back to my old ways thang?
Doing that I’m no good thang?
That glazed eye thang?

Doing that flirting while at the same time putting her down thang?
That she looks too _______ to be a professor thang?
The bragging to earn minimal respect thang?
The Democrat and Republican almost mean the same thing thang?
The community thang?
Doing that recruitment in barrios thang?
Doing that we’re saving the other country from themselves thang?
The humanitarian killing and dying thang?
The electric chair thang?
The minimum wage gas raise thang?

Doing that appalled that she speaks her mind thang?
The where did she get her confidence thang?
The when is she going to have kids thang?
That you’re so selfish thang?
Doing that token thang?
That pretending to be radical for la raza thang?
That Chuck E. Cheese for kids’ parties thang?

Doing that don’t label me anything thang?

Are you doing that not wanting to get off company phone with friend when customer walks in and apologizes to you thang?
Doing that power thang, that “you’re wrong” thang, to avoid veering from bureaucracy comfort or asking questions thang.
The so-called health insurance thang?
Doing that I only have generosity and kindness for my family thang?
The minutemen have the right thang?

Are you doing that (s)he's nice and thus weak thang?
That if only he weren't so nice... thang?
The she's really nice so I'll try to take advantage thang?
The she asked for it in the desert thing?

Are you doing that "thank you" is not part of my vocabulary thang?
That I don't need to express empathy when a friend's suffering thang?
The you know what I mean thing.
The my arms go limp when I see you struggling to carry a thousand books and can't muster the feeling to open the door for you thang.
The I don't have to express my opinions thang, only get you to express yours so I can judge them thang.
The radical feminist princess thang.

The smoking on the steps and expecting kisses on cheeks thang?
Doing that why did you leave me thang?
That I’m going back to Cali thang?
The I’ll hurt myself so you’ll care for me thang?
That assumption thang?

Forgetting that revolutionary thang for a calm evening and acceptance thang?
The you should keep your mouth shut thang.
The where did all the revolutionaries go thang?
The we like it the way it is thang.
The comfort has us repeating history from our couches thang.
The we don't even have to leave the house thang.
That you're too sensitive thing. That get over it thang?
That rhetorical questioning, slapping the reader thing?
Oh, but this is a dramatic monologue thang?
The laughing and laughing while crying thang?
That life is but a stage or a "G" thang?
The why don't you see the beautiful things in life thang?
I think you're beautiful, a gorgeous thang
I saw a picture of you on the internet spam email thang.

That angry at self-righteousness while self-righteous thang?
The they don't believe the same things I do thang?
The how could they thing?
The can't we all get along thang?

Have you started that forgiveness thang?
The 12 step, 2 step thang?

Doing that Plato was right about the poets thang?


RC said...

I'm doing that commenting thang!
There's no Plato on my plato thang!

A lot of good food in this poem.

Emmy said...

Thanks, RC. I was happy to see one of your poems the Literatura Chicana anthology, too... like JFH's poem, yours is as relevant today as ever. It hits home. I'd like to use both of your poems in my Chicana/o Lit class this fall. Thanks again,

RC said...

Hey,emmy,which Literatura Chicana anthology is that?And sure,you can use any of my poems in your classes.Thanks.

Sheryl said...

I am printing this out to take with me on the plane!

You've got a thang going on!

I haven't read this anthology and need to.

Emmy said...

RC: Thanks! The anthology is "Literatura chicana 1965-1995: An Anthology in Spanish, English, and Caló" (Garland Publishing, Inc. 1997) and your poem is "Padre Nuestro Que Estás en el Banco." I realize, in retrospect, my fast typing made it sound like there are two of your poems in the anthology but I meant I'd like to share your poem and JFHerrera's.

And thanks to you too, Sheryl. Have a safe trip home from P-town!

Lee Herrick said...

Juan Felipe is one of my favorites...Chile Verde Smuggler is one of the best books in the last ten years, in my little opinion.

and I LOVE this, Emmy. Love it. bravo.

Emmy said...

Thank you, Lee, for reading the entry and mentioning JFH's "Notebooks." It's good to go through this book again, and find so many gems. It's a beautiful book.