Poet and artist Neftalí de Leon performs his new poem.
Poet and artist Neftalí de Leon performs his poem, “Día de las Madres at the Market Square,” at Texas A&M University’s Casa Rosa, formerly the Museo Alameda, unveiling ceremony. He symbolically read the piece on stage in front of the cultural art museum’s new 33-foot mural by Armando Sanchez, which depicts more than 20 cultural and political dignitaries. Many individuals represented in the mural were present at the unveiling, including Mayor Julián Castro, his twin brother, U.S. Congressman Joaquín Castro, and their mother, Rosie Castro. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Dedicated to Rosie Castro, mother of our Honorable Major, Julián Castro

hey no digan que es chisme caliente
cuando se juntó la gente
un diá en el market square
pa’ celebrate a las moms
por ser a toda madre
¡y también bien padre!

it was the unveiling of a mural
the mother of the mayor was there
and her honorable sons, one a mayor,
the other a legislator in state, and the former
mayor introduced them – all Indian faced
indios and indias in tennis shoes made it big
they were the leaders of our state
known to so many far and wide

and the university presidents were there
they looked indian too
like in the ancient mythic times
of awesome quests by warriors full of grace
the legendary race
once more the luminaries in place!

you could sense the jaguars nearby
and the artisans working at their crafts
and the exquisite smells of ancient foods
molcajete inspired, aguacate ice-cream
like chocolate and tamales next door
and the amoxcalli were not too far away
the libraries, house of books…

San Quilmas by the Yanawana river
y muy especially the market square
were getting a new look,
the civilization was coming back
everything was getting back on track
the legendary greatness was coming back

builders of temple cities
charters of the time on stone
seekers of the stars, cities on a cosmic grid
new things were being planned in the heart of Aztlán
in the city-heart of the market square

It took some time, so much hard work
such sacrifice as worthy only of a fabled race
a mighty people who survived famine, disgrace,
surcos and surcos de awite en la libre y en el ranch
a totally new branch of do-or-die
people who said, let me try, even if they cried

like mythic brothers they followed the ants
and the migajas de pan y la miseria of poverty bread
but they never looked back they trudged on
re-enforced by ancestral pride, strength,
faith and belief in themselves and a glowing
apparition on tepeyac hill

the thrill of generations past
their spirits chilling all over the place
greatness in charge of new dreams
in a mural that screams like a carnival stream
how many faces can a mural hold, how many portraits
can the painter paint, da vinci painted a few …
the macehualli, the worthy ones, washing their clothes,
bakers making bread, newspapers, songs
accordions being played … culture on display
the common contradiction of our days …

from where did such artist come
his colors populate the canvas of our minds
he paints icons of our times, things we know
like Maya masters he looked into our soul
nothing is cold, colors dance
feather serpent in our souls
the eagle stands on the nopal
we hear ancestral drums
new songs accordion-tuned rise
get close to them you can talk to these folks
having a ball on a canvas stretched
into the future and the past
by Mythmaker Mando
wizard of the brush
teacher tlacuilo of the goings on
he paints volumes of songs
illustrated corridos del pueblo
brilliantly he brings people alive
history is no simple jive
but a riot of fun
even if we sometimes say

because look where you brought us mom
we are that mural of life, we are that river
of migrant streams, the memory you won’t let go
you wiped away our tears
you gave us courage through the years
because you are that river of life, mom,
inspiration and guide, mother – mom !
we love you with our heart – and our dads too,
por ser a toda madre ¬– well, most of the time …
but really mom, – iqué vivan todas las madres !
por ser bien padres!


Neftalí de Leon

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org