We were born
in a time of drugs
Van Halen, The Circle Jerks, disco
and of course,
oldies and the wanting of hippie love.
We just missed the war
but gained the title
“lower” middle class.
Mexican-American mothers on welfare
Mexican-American fathers in an out of our lives
raised on papas and frijoles
and generic cereal.
We were poor and didn’t even know it.
Enjoying free lunch at school and summer programs
how were we to understand what poor meant
When we were too busy enjoying ourselves?
What was in store for us?
The eighties contributed widely
to our dreams of romance, traveling
John Hughes, New Wave and Mtv
swept us off our feet.
While Sweet Valley high,
Lisa; bright and Dark
and Go ask Alice showed us what not to be.
And though our parents hardly approved
they couldn’t argue
for there was nothing to protest.
We didn’t treat our parents as the enemy
even under discipline and punishment.
We were children who were too busy
in exchange for a ticket out
headed for anywhere,
somewhere other than home.
We didn’t spend days in front of the t.v.
playing video games, watching endless
We had rules,
we respected those rules
we didn’t always like them
but they were there to stay.
When ‘Totally” and “Gross me out”
were commonly heard,
they didn’t sound ridiculous.
We read, we listened to music with a purpose
songs that didn’t dwell on one boring concept.
We believed in something
while using our imaginations,
Our imaginations that kept us going.
While all around us
violence was rebuilding,
The Middle East between
Iraq and Iran,
The Soviet-Afghan War
and Ethiopians starving and in need of life.
and then there was Ronald Reagan
disappointing, like our family knew he would be.
During later years
we grew up rebellious,
the outcast of a gang life-style
of yuppie do-gooders
of drugged out moms and dads,
left alone to our own devices.
We still made the most
of what little we had.
Still ate free lunch
hung out at after school programs
still clung to friendships
even though some of us
changed schools like we changed underwear.
how ‘Food Stamps’ became shameful
and ‘Low Income Housing’
Some of us delved into depression
and still we weren’t ungrateful.
We loved the things we received
the attention we craved
and belonging when we didn’t belong
Still, we had a book in our hand
a song in our hearts
and compassion and love
for life around us.
Blinded by a dream.
In the nineties we were insecure
acne, body weight and high school
and we were lambs lead to the slaughter
We tried, we lived as we believed
still dreaming of Mr. or Mrs. Right
still planning on living abroad
away from the labels and stereotypes
we were pushed up against the social wall
and we fought with all our love
all our dreams.
Some of us fell hard
into the abyss of Depression
of peer pressure, of belonging
and some of us didn’t make it.
Some of us became teen parents
drug addicts, gang members
Trying to find out where we belonged in this world.
Only a lucky few made it out unscathed.
By this time we knew
what it meant to be poor,
Mexican-American and non Anglo
behind the lines of success
and facing endless troubles at home.
We were failing; brave rebels
but we tried and that’s all we could do.