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La Primera y Soto
by Victoria Kraus
Outside, I’m chorizo on a hot skillet
Inside, I am white and sticky
Rice wrapped in seaweed
French fries from In-n-Out wrapped in paper quoting John 3:16.
Late night Canter’s pastrami and matzoh ball soup.
I am ready for observation, no interruptions.
A doctor of letters will determine my position on the social hierarchy
Plenty plenty, needy needy, greedy greedy, absolutely
False, in the name of the heavens and the holy trinity.
Vivo por la primera y Soto,
In the barrio, not el bar-ee-oh.
When I eat tacos, I am inauthentic because I don’t speak in their tongue
When I speak, soy la confused white girl con brown hair que stumbled upon King Taco mientras touring the wonders of L.A.
If I say nothing, I am them,
and when I speak in the mother tongue of America,
I am we.
L.A. barrio is my home,
mistaken for being from the West side porque tengo un last name como las gringas.
In the land of the rising sun, I speak my mother tongue
they stare at me
some with awe, most with jealousy.
But they know what I am.
I don’t have to explain it, my eyes hint at it.
Tongues confused with faces, hair and freckles.
Do I have to be yellow to tongue the word sushi?
Must I be black to speak in Inglewood?
Pero no soy negra ni Mexicana.
Soy half white with no clue of the origins of my whiteness.
Soy half Japanese with bags and bottles to prove it.
A mezcla of chorizo, rice, fries, and heaping hot pastrami
I bite my tongue to wake myself up
Broken enough to put the pieces back in an order under 30 seconds.