Image courtesy the artist Nani Chacon
'Against the Storm She Gathers Her Thoughts,' by Nani Chacon

'A New Language,' a Poem by Casandra M. Lopez for National Poetry Month

Casandra M. Lopez
April 09, 2013







My words are always

upon themselves, they feel too tight
     in my mouth. I want a new
language. One with at least
     50 words for grief

and 50 words for love, so I can offer
     them to the living
who mourn the dead. I want

a language that understands
     sister-pain and heart-hurt. So
when I tell you Brother

is my hook of heart, you will see
the needle threading me to
     the others, numbered
men, women and children
     of our grit spit city.

I want a language to tell you
     about 2010's
37th homicide. The  unsolved,
     all I know about a man,

my city turned to number,
     always sparking memory,

back to longer days when:
     Ocean is the mouth
of summer. Our shell fingers
     drive into sand, searching–we find

tiny silver sand crabs we scoop
     and scoop till we bore and go
in search of tangy seaweed.

We are salted sun. How we brown

to earth. Our warm flesh flowering,
     reminding us of our desert and canyon

blood. In this new language our bones say
      sun and sea, reminding us of an old
language our mouths have forgotten, but our
     marrow remembers.

Casandra Lopez is a Chicana, Cahuilla, Luiseño and Tongva writer raised in Southern California’s Inland Empire. She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and has been selected for residencies with the Santa Fe Art Institute as well as the School of Advanced Research where she was the Indigenous writer in residence for 2013. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in various literary journals such as Potomac Review, Hobart, Acentos Review, Weber, CURA, McNeese Review and Unmanned Press. She is a CantoMundo Fellow and is a founding editor of As/Us: A Space For Women Of The World.

The artwork at the top of this page is a detail from the mural "Against the Storm She Gathers Her Thoughts," painted by Nani Chacon, Navajo, and installed at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, AZ. To see more of Chacon's work, visit her Facebook page:



Zachary Blackbird's picture
Zachary Blackbird
Submitted by Zachary Blackbird on

I will speak this language with you sister and we will tell the world of grief and love and hope and beauty.

Buddah Moskowitz's picture
Buddah Moskowitz
Submitted by Buddah Moskowitz on

I really love the imagery here, so many ideas that resonate with me. I especially liked

"reminding us of an old
language our mouths have forgotten, but our
marrow remembers."

This was an enjoyable poem to read - and there are so few poems I can say that about.

Chuck Trimble's picture
Chuck Trimble
Submitted by Chuck Trimble on

Wonderful, beautiful words of wisdom in powerful verse from a beautiful heart. And beautiful and powerful artwork to accompany the poem. What a great future for Native arts these artists portend.


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