a remix for remembrance by Kristiana Rae Colón


For my students


This is for the boys whose bedrooms are in the basement,

who press creases into jeans, who carve their names in pavement,

the girls whose names are ancient, ancestry is sacred,

the Aztec and the Mayan gods abuela used to pray with


This is for the dangerous words hiding in the pages

of composition notes, holy books, and Sanskrit

This is for the patients who wait for medication,

for the mothers microwaving beans and rice at day’s end

This is for the marching bands and girls at quinceañeras,

the skaters and the writers whose moms are eloteras,

laughing “Cops don’t scare us, we sag so elders fear us

We will rewrite our textbooks in our own language if you dare us”

This is for the Sarahs, the Angelicas, and Shawns,

the Beatrices, Paolas, Danielas, and the dawns

we scribble sunlight in the margins of horizons with our songs,

for all the voices tangled with the silence on our tongues

Rivals in the parks, fireworks at dark,

tired shirts that sweat your scent on hangers in the closet

For the boys who fix the faucet while their sister fixes coffee

’cause mommy had to leave for work at 6 AM and laundry

isn’t folded yet: you don’t have to hold your breath

You don’t have to behave: stage your own rebellion,

paint canvases with rage and religion and prayers for pilgrims

sleeping in the train cars at the border and their children

Filibust the Senate and bust markers on the Pink Line,

stain the prosecution’s case and force the judge to resign,

force the crowd the rewind the lyrics you invented

Speak away the limits to heights of your existence

Be a witness, be a record, be a testament, a triumph

Set your poems flying in the glitter of the planets

Feed open mouths with truth, the truth is we are famished

The Universe is starving for the symphonies you play

Clarinets and thunder and the syllables you say

are the instruments: you are infinite. Stretch your hands to heaven

Let your throat throttle the rhythms of all your fallen brethren

Your legacy is present, your history is now

You are the tenth degree of sound

You are the nephews of the sky

You are the bass line and the hi-hat and the snare drum and the cry

of red Septembers. You’re the architects of winter

You are the builders of the roads that you’re told you don’t

      remember          You are

      the builders of the roads

      that you’re told

      you don’t remember       You are the builders

           of the roads that you’re told you don’t


Cast poems in the river and tell them you remember

Skate City Hall to splinters and tell them you remember

Send diamonds to your islands and tell them you remember

Find your God inside your mirror and tell Her you remember



Poet, playwright, actor, and educator Kristiana Rae Colón earned a BA at the University of Chicago and an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of the chapbooks pieces of shedu (2008) and promised instruments (2013), which won the inaugural Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize. Her poems have been included in Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2010and the anthologies Not a Muse: The Inner Lives of Women, a World Poetry Anthology (2009) and Chorus: A Literary (Re)Mixtape (2012). She appeared on the fifth season of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.