Dignity

— Joe Navarro

I often feel trapped, imprisoned by
social transgressions that maintain a
dysfunctional relationship with me.

Leaving me dizzy, straddling a thin line
between love and rage. At-home
immigrant, like a foreigner in his

homeland, yet whose roots and wings
have endured transitions since
the beginning of time in this hemisphere.

I can dream of eagles and serpents and
of my ancestors whose voices still travel
in the winds, from all four directions.

I sometimes understand the hemispheric
designs that were created long ago by wise
sages who spoke with their winged cousins

and four legged relatives. But I get lost
between two pasts and one present.
Sometimes I soar with eagle spirits.

Other times I sprint and prance
like a mighty jaguar in search of meaning.
Often I can’t help believing in the faiths

of my oppressors. I’ve learned their languages
as if they were my own. But I know that
I’ve unconsciously held on to my past

with tiny shreds of heritage that barely
cling together, weakened by time,
hidden in a grave dug deeply by colonialists

and settlers who two-languages later
claim me as theirs while denying my essence.
I am a man that strives to hang on

to his humanity while colonialists and
imperialists pick at my human dignity,
trying to strip me of it, until I’m left with

nothing, not a single human sentiment. Not
even allowing me the dignified act of
resentment. So that I will simply become

trapped in the gap between the myth and reality
of humanity while I continue searching for a new
direction where dignity is as common as air.

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