spanglish: the last romance language

December 3, 2012

i speak in spanglish tongues.
it is the sound of two cultures
that burst in my mouf’
like pop rocks.


like, take a baf’.
like, do your maf’ homework.
’cause the “th” sound
was too soft for the strength
in abuela’s tongue.

guen’ you are raised here
(en los estados unidos),
your tongue splits
and you find yourself
between “correct english”
and the sound of your cultura.

“mamita, que no se te olvide tu idioma,”
your Titi reminds you.

pero the english teacher tells you
to slide the tongue below your top teeth
so that ju’ can enunciate correctly .

sounds harsh.

so we created spanglish.
a place where they bof’ dance
comfortably. without judgement.
or correction.

sounds like,
caserio and projects.
barrio and town.
ciudad and suburbs.

it is the last romance language!

you can speak it. whisper it. shout it.
you can woe someone to Love in it.
you can awaken the social justice conscious
of sleeping giant with it.
you can put it in the lyrics of a song
and watch music play a cuatro
while an electric guitar falls
en clave.

ta. ta. ta. tata.
ta. ta. ta. tata.

la boila’ is broken
we have no heat.

code switch.

parkea’ el carro
then meet me
en el rufo’,
a few of us are gonna’
janguear’ and have a few drinks.

spoken word poets
have brought spanglish
to open mics
closing lyrical lines
with coños and “y tu abuela aonde’ ‘ta?”

abuela, i could never olvidar mi lengua
she dances in my mouf’
like celia cruz on stage
with a tumbao’
“my english ees’ no’ bery gu’ lukin’!”

pero i grew up here. in the land
of gringos. ’cause you wanted something
mejor for mamí.

so i had to learn this idioma
to fit in and assimilate,
while you continued to make rinconcitos
of Puerto Rico on tenement fire escapes.
palm and avocado trees fought with
taller buildings for a little bit of that sol.
a small clothesline had tio’s pantaloncillos
dancing salsa in the wind.
and a flag that waved hello
to transplanted seedlings
that played a combo of
la rueda mas hermosa
and red-light-green-light.

we stop. we go.
in and out.

we wrote a new idioma.
something the oxford dictionary
couldn’t add to their collection
of borrowed tongues.

something that was ours.
it honored our history
and accepted our new reality.

our tongue
debated and deliberated
a new sound.

a funny-often-times-hysterical-combination

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