Friday, March 9, 2012

The Imaginary Nation

by Vagabond /March 8, 2012 / Originally published on #nothingtobegainedhere

Rufina Santos Mateo Birth Certificate by vagabond ©

(for Rufina and Moises Santos and Lisa Sanchez González)
legal immigrant puerto ricans never needed a green card or naturalization papers
based on the technicality of yankee colonialism
they never had to learn the pledge of allegiance or salute the stars and stripes
until they were made citizens to fill the gaps left In the trenches of
two world wars, the korean war and the conflict in vietnam
canon fodder immigrants with drafted second class citizenship
conveniently filed under the selective service negro regiments
dying in service to a country that allowed them to fill
two needs with one grave
that’s one less dead american and one more dead porto rican
puerto ricans never needed papers to come from a nationless nation
mocked by american billboards to lift themselves up by their bootstraps
in an operation to make them dependent
on the american made heel pushing down on their throats
it’s an effort to choke the dignity out of them
but all they ever spit up was broken american english
from the asthmatic factory sweatshop floors careful not to get any spanglish
on the pennies paid piece work as they sat at a singer that sang a song of oppression
they never needed papers to be encouraged
to leave a country they couldn’t fully claim as their own
to come to a country that would claim them as undesirable
this in-betweenness
this not here and not here and not over there either
this 500 year plus limbo and counting
this nationalist purgatory that requires an ongoing penance
this nation squeezed into the space of a colony contained by a fake autonomy
this nationless nation smuggled across borders in the minds and bodies of puerto ricans
this fractured indigenous european african passport
is unacceptable i.d. and so it must be fake
since it defies the social science mythology of race and nationality
papers? we don’t need no stinking papers
we carry an identity that defies classification
our papers are the deed to a current imaginary nation looking to be a former colony
but the americans have camouflaged their imperialism
with puerto rican olympic teams and pan american games
and the classification of international flights to domestic territories
and holding opinion polls called plebiscites rigged as american propaganda
while the world scratches its head trying to understand
how these americans have rewritten the old rules of imperialism
and risked allowing such facades to be the glue for such political schizophrenia
never understanding that its spectacle for divide and conquer
never understanding that its porto rican against puerto rican
then the americans hold up a defaulted bank note and say
you porto ricans have not yet paid for the right to be decolonized
and puerto ricans hold up political assassinations and prisoners of war
as a receipt that the rent has been overpaid by the tenants
who wish to serve the absentee landlord of yankee imperialism an eviction notice
but the paper for that receipt is invalid because there are no refunds on theft
and the eviction notice was written in a disappearing ink
because puerto ricans don’t need papers to validate their invalidation
they come from a set of coordinates left in a racial geopolitical void
from a place that exists without definition
from a misunderstood chapter in history
because they exist without a nation
they carry within their existence an imagined nation
they’ve lived like this for so long
they’ve grown accustomed to the contradictions of imagined nationhood
and on a sunday in early june they celebrate it
with a fervor unmatched by any real nation
they march that imagination up 5th avenue
driving it uptown against the traffic while pulling a float of dancing girls
with a permit from the mayor and flashing police escort
waving a real flag for a symbolic nation
parading the pride of their imagination as evidence to the world
that they have found a visceral way to exist within this ether of colonialism
without a tolerance for the absurd or a propensity for the surreal
or a sense of humor about the nakedness of an empire that wears no clothes
puerto ricans would have been a past tense without a future
but this blessing is a difficult poison to swallow
when they ask you for the claim check ticket for the imaginary nation
left parked in a garage only puerto rican parking lot attendants have access to
when they ask who was your mother and who was your father
and where is your grandmother
and show me on the maps of nations where it is you’re from
when they ask to see the invalid papers they have forced you not to carry
to validate your unrecognized existence

- vagabond

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