In Other Words
NMSU student uses poetry to fill in the blanks left by sparse reporting on the drug war
By Maren Tarro
Naomi Ruth Estrada, a 27-year-old English major at NMSU, was frustrated with the national media’s sparse reporting on Mexico’s violent drug war. So she put pen to paper last year to write "Speak a Stupid Brave," a poem using clips from articles she received through "Frontera NorteSur" e-mail updates. "Frontera" is an NMSU-based newsletter focusing on border issues.
“I wrote it because the only way I’ve been able to get information is through these e-mail articles,” she explains, “but in national news there were only articles once a week or once a month.”
Her reasons for being interested in Mexico’s situation are both personal and practical. “It’s important to me because it’s my cultural background, being Mexican-American, and because I live on the border. The world can get so wrapped up in what’s going on in Iraq—and that’s an important issue, too—but just a few miles from home, across the river, is another nation, and what’s happening there is just as tragic.”
She was awarded a John Berryman Las Cruces Organization for the Literary Arts award for her poem.
Speak a Stupid Brave
Fill in the blanks.
"The _____ (hint- a movie about a horse race) state police chief was kidnapped
and shot to death, a police officer was killed in southeastern _____ (hint- a
kind of hot sauce) state and nine people were murdered in northern _____ (hint-
a small dog stereotypically associated with tacos) state, local officials said
Saturday." August 24, 2008
In December 2007, Juan Jose Soriano, deputy commander of the _____ (hint- $2
Tuesday import beer) police department was shot 45 times when 2 armed men broke
into his house while he slept with his wife and baby daughter.
The most dangerous place on earth for journalists is _____ (hint- it is NOT Iraq).
Convoys of darkened vehicles roam dirt packed streets. A new pantheon of blood
thirsty Cartel Gods demand loyalty unto violence.
But don't blame the Aztec in them. Don't blame the history.
I can pronounce their names, if I dare.
Tongue severed. Index finger sliced. Hog tied.
They might be currently carving a message into a canvas of flesh.
Then pocketing their fresh currency.
Bound, blind folded and blown away is only one way to keep the quiet.
Do the math.
17 police chiefs in 7 years.
2,700 and counting for 2008.
6 men killed with 200 bullets.
America, we've dodged the bullet.
Junkies jones free while
People are gunned down
Outside a Juarez rehab center.
Call it irony.
I should speak silently.
The pot is plenty.
Methamphetamine is cut free.
Cocaine is getting better these days. These days. Days. Nights. Days. Nights.
Days. And days.
"I want to be surrounded by honest police who would never betray anyone."
- Juan Jose Soriano
But they'll never betray the Cartels, Soriano.
Meanwhile somewhere in _____ Mexico, Rev. Paz will tell you, "But to directly
come out against certain people would be like putting a pistol to your head.
That would be a very stupid kind of bravery."
(For Luz Estrella (surely the light of her father’s life), the three daughters of
Juan Jose Soriano, and all children of slain Mexican police officers)
—Naomi Ruth Estrada
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