throwing away our stars

by leticia hernandez

"manos arriba" accompanies "Throwing Away Our Stars"

Throwing Away Our Stars


            ¡Manos Arriba!

            ¡Manos Arriba!

                                    ¡Manos Arriba!


            No. Disparen.


New Year’s wreckage unveils a bitter

forecast: they are throwing the boys away.

Skittles spilling, wrists tied on Bart platform,

fists balled up at dusk’s shadow––black

and brown-skinned boys must go away.


Silhouette of dark hued manhood

in black night, what if stars shine your bright?

Affirming age-old allowance

on white paper, officer claims

his perrogative, to just

throw a boy away.


Someone must answer for defiance

on the train; uniforms require punishment.

Young face flat on concrete––vibrates still.

The law’s fear takes its mighty hand,

smothers that bright away.


Arms wrestle open air, no yoga

or tai chi, just a few punches, and a burrito in tow.

Fourteen shots to bring down

a college student, throw him right away.


Officials flashing plastic stars

hunt our boys as their kill,

no fear of jumpsuits or sentences.

Scot-free. No tax,

no penance, wipe the residue,

just walk away.


Two sons who ride the train,

don hoodies, wear multilingual

skin in urban radius of gritty blocks

and too much brown––how

do I let the light out of my arms, these babies

into men and out of my grasp,

when the protectors revel in a color

blind that sees green as brown, go as bullets,

our boys, as disposable, to be thrown away?


Las madres hold up a starless night, an extinguished

expanse sitting silent where faces should sing us on.

When does it stop, this regular of enforcers who reinforce

by throwing our stars away?



No puedo calmar

el miedo esta noche

no puedo dormir

el cielo apagado


Balas estrellando

nos robaran la luz

nos falta la fe

el camino no esta claro


Hijo hermano

hay alguien que lo quiere

negarnos la sangre

verdadero maldad

robarlo más precioso

verdadero maldad


Cuando podramos

bajar nuestras manos

cuando podramos

dormir, ojos cerrados

Pussy, Adorned                                                                    

Russian stadium stretches towards

2014 Olympics. Hurdles away

from Chile, twelfth day of September,

no one will break our hands.


Largest country casts a shadow

over El Salvador’s tiny edges.

But the sisters are alive, the priests

raise sacrament without fear.


Mason-Dixon line buried under

blurry stars, missing stripes.

Crosses won’t burn

on the lawn of our sleep.


Bible days dusty, under revision,

Mary won’t really be a virgin.

She’ll tear tassels from led heavy carpet

draped over her, take the podium,

refute the claim that nobody entered her.


She’ll sport a shirt that reads:

       Only a Man Could Conceive Conception Immaculate


In front of the altar for the virgens, immaculate,

until they disappeared around blind Juarez corners,

she will preach  about the way her vagina

has to be entered, explain how wide it must open

to bear the exit of a new person.


Growing crowd holding Mary’s confession

of how birth bleeds, soils, scars.

If la vagina does not bloom,

then a knife, a rearrangement

of the snakes that eat her food, doctor

hands bear the baby, and if not, then

she could die.


At the feet of a building, ceilings reaching

into the sky, gold overlay pointing the way,

I leave this plea for three women caged,

like indigenous specimen; a brown man

who didn’t speak the language;

a dark woman who’s curves

defied measurement.


Punk rockers are allowed to pray, girls

who know how to use their pussies,

are allowed to pray, the people can sing

their own songs before the church, that church

belongs to the people, the order needs

reversal, rebuked nuns riding the bus

cross country, nothing to lose, should play

a song for Putin and his order of sisters.


Let’s give Pussy Riot a chance, chants

Mary, wearing a mask, made of

discarded, rebellious veils.


Between her legs, adorned in light,

framed with thorns, lies

a riot of a pussy, too.

*On March 30, 2006, 14-year-old Anthony Soltero, shot himself through the head after the assistant principal at De Anza Middle School in Ontario, California warned Anthony that he would go to prison for organizing protests and walk-outs in response to anti-immigrant legislation.

One Million Minus One

  -Qué viva la memoria y el espíritu de Anthony Soltero*


 Me cortaron la lengua, pero tengo mis pies


Millions marching mimeograph

our caras onto international view.

No caption does justice to the sight.

If they take your tongue, well

you still have your feet.


The headline of the mass outpouring

of raised voices and fists invoke Judy Baca.

Staggered portraits along the river, palms

open, holding light. Al fin, murals and gente

hiding debajo del horizonte emerge

in a blazing, deliberate chant.


Rally cries can’t muffle a mother’s llanto.

Her son walked to the front, raised

his chin. An administrator pulled him

out of line. Leaned too heavy

on tentative boy backbone.

The traverse toward manhood stunted.


Mother’s arms flail around the empty space

where awkward middle school limbs played

with equilibrium, tested reach, resistance.

A rubber band that snapped.


Por qué es que han marcado una línea en la tierra

por qué es que han creado la escuela como cárcel

estudiantes criminales, los maestros policías

Me cortaron la lengua, pero tengo mis pies


Belated obituary won’t pull chalk

out of the hands of boys drawing their outlines,

their surrender, onto the sidewalk.


The absence of news coverage

about a principal who slipped

the bolt out from a boy’s spine,

the clatter of bone as he retreated

into the comfort of district policies,

won’t erase the occurrence,

the date, the time.


Este pedacito de hombre, why

did he take a principal’s threat

like a gun to his head?

Didn’t anyone tell him, regardless

of how teachers menace,

accusations stick, skin reflects,


you are precious.

You are precious.

You are precious.


Leticia Hernandez


                                     contributor 2016 second edition


Leticia Hernández-Linares is a poet, interdisciplinary artist, and educator. The author of Mucha Muchacha, Too Much Girl (Tía Chucha Press), her writing appears in newspapers, literary journals, and anthologies.  She has performed her poemsongs throughout the country and in El Salvador.  Visit her: