I look at myself in the mirror
trying to figure out what makes me an American
I see Ecuador and Puerto Rico

I see brujo spirits moving 
across the backs of Santeros
splattered with the red blood of sacrificed chickens
on their virgin white clothes 
and blue beads for Yemaya
practicing religions without a roof

I see my own blood
reddening the white sheets of a stranger
proud American blue jean labels 
on the side of the bed

I see Don Rosario in his guayabera
sitting outside the bodega
with his Puerto Rican flag
reading time in the eyes of alley cats

I see my mother trying to be 
more like Marilyn Monroe
than Julia De Burgos
I see myself trying to be more like James Dean

I see Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan,
Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez
More than just sporadic Latin explosions
More like fireworks on el Cuatro de Julio
as American as Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin,
Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin

I see Taco Bells and chicken fajitas at McDonald’s
I see red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple
I see Chita Rivera on Broadway

You see, I am as American as lemon meringue pie
as American as Wonder Woman’s panties
as American as Madonna’s bra
as American as the Quinteñeros, 
the Abduls, the Lees,
the Jacksons, the Kennedys
(Mostly) all of us immigrants to this soil
since none sound American Indian to me
as American as television snow 
after the anthem is played
and I am not ashamed

Jose, can you see...
I pledge allegiance
to this country ’tis of me
land of dreams and opportunity
land of proud detergent names and commercialism
land of corporations

If I can win gold medals at the Olympics
If I can sign my life away 
to die for the United States
Ain’t no small-town hick 
gonna tell me I ain’t an American
because I can spic in two languages
coño carajo y Fuck You

This is my country too
where those who do not believe in freedom and diversity are 
the ones who need to get the hell out

Copyright © 2002 by Emanuel Xavier. Originally published in Americano, by suspect thoughts press.