Burning Bush Publications
is proud to announce the winner of
the People Before Profits Poetry Prize 2002:

Meliza Bañales
for "Generations"

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Before men and women were going on strike
standing on the front-lines with Cesar Chavez
screaming        "Si se puede!"     Yes       We        Can,

My great-grandfather was starting his own revolution 
teaching himself to read, write English
by rummaging through school-yard trash cans for used spelling books,
old newspapers

Great-grandfather came
from Míchoacan, México
to pick cotton in California
he even helped build the Kansas City Railroad
but ended up
being too Mexican
to ride the trains that flew across the tracks
of his hard labor

And who would have thought, 
my father
little brown hands picking grapes in the Fresno heat
would be the first in our family
to graduate high school
end up building satellites for NASA

Mr. Landowner can sit the owner of lives,
tell me
that we are replaceable.

That there is a cake that your mother is baking
which needs the perfect sized strawberries
that we don't deserve more than a fifteen-minute-break-a-day
because money          doesn't       grow       on         trees
doesn't grow
on trees

neither does blood
neither do brown hands
neither does courage
neither does strength
neither does weakness

You ask me
the third generation 
of the Brown-blood-gone-white
if I am ashamed of this heritage,

I can tell you señor
I don't hear shame calling me in my sleep
because you see

I have crawled across the backs of men and women
just so I could climb back
into the womb of a mother-country
so I could be re-born and say to you:

You Do Not Plant These Seeds
                                           You Do Not Own These Roots

Your Government Does Not Birth This Fruit

So don't tell me
how I don't understand the taste
of the sweetest red grapes
on a sunny August morning
because trust me,

they are filled 
with the tears, sweat
of three generations of
Aztec warriors

And I've come to know
what the truth
tastes like.

©2001 Meliza Bañales

About Meliza Bañales

Meliza Bañales is originally from Los Angeles, California and the youngest of four children 
from a working-class, Mixed-Race, Chicano family that has been in the United States for three generations. 
She is currently in the MFA program at San Francisco State University and the Poetry Editor of 
Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review. Her work has most recently been featured in The Red Wheelbarrow, 
Las Girlfriends and Transfer. Her work was also featured in the anthology Revolutionary Voices 
(Allison Press, 2000) which was nominated for a Lambda Book Award in 2001 for "Best Anthology." 
She has also published three chapbooks: For the Love of Things Not Said, Poemas (Chula Press, 2000), 
Scratching a Surface, Poemas Y Mas (Chula Press, 2001), and Girl With the Glass Throat (Chula Press, 2001).
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Guidelines for the People Before Profits Poetry Prize 2003

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