September 2005

Angela Morales Salinas: bilingual community builder


Angela Morales Salinas writes:

“I was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States when I was a month shy of my fifth birthday. I spoke only Spanish for my first six years of life.”

“Father worked as a laborer for Southern Pacific Railroad. Mom worked as a Field Worker. I grew up in Kern County during the inception of the United Farm workers Union. This struggle helped to shape the way I view the world. Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and the many others who gave so much to change the way my mom, my relatives, my classmates were treated, have been a tremendous influence .They imbued in me the importance of being of use.”

“I have been a teacher for twenty-five years, all of which have been spent at schools with English Learners. Language is so important to me, that it bothers me how we as a state are so set on getting rid of any language that is not English. I love words, and I have always been grateful that I am able to speak two languages. I know that this is one of the reasons I write.”

Angela teaches kindergarten at Orville Wright Elementary School in Modesto’s Airport District and is a member of the schools English Language Advisory Committee. As a liaison with Modesto City Schools, she has been instrumental as a teacher representative on the English Language Standards Committee which is responsible for writing English Language Development Tests for English learners.

As a teacher, she tries to assure that her students and their families have a voice in their education and future goals and choices. She often makes home visits to accomplish this goal.

She enjoys organic gardening and writes with both The Licensed Fools and the Orville Writers poetry groups. Her poetry has been published in Stanislaus Connections and A Common Book of Fools, as well as other publications.

California Love Song

I know that you don't love me back
you don't care for
the way I look
the way I talk
the total disregard I have for arbitrary walls
and fences built to keep me out
you look the other way
when you need a
gardener maid nanny janitor cook
someone to pick the fruit
that fill your clean white plates
someone to plant, harvest, sew
cool cotton for your clothes
someone who doesn't balk
at the taste of blood or sweat
I fit the bill and yet
I know that you don't love me back
my music on the radio is a nuisance as you scan
for a country, jazz, Christian or alternative rock station,
it's worse than static-noise
but then you'll catch a word
a phrase you understand
Los Angeles
Hasta la vista baby
and even your own name
the one I gave to you
California sings to all who care to listen
of how long I have been here
how long I've loved your valleys
your mountains and your rivers
your deserts I have tilled, irrigated,
and filled with homes and children
the children that you hate
because their skin betrays them
and even then I stay
I teach, I doctor, lawyer
I dance and sing, plant flowers
grow corn, chiles, tomatoes
bury my dead and pray
that someday, California
someday you'll love me back

Writing About Something Difficult

The difficulty lies
in finding the humanity in such a beast
This monster that seeks young girls flesh
that feeds on innocence
This monster that eats trust
it makes girl children bleed before their time
it plants a seed
that changes them

But they go on - they live, they go to school, to work,
they choose men carefully,
they marry, they raise kids
some nights they even sleep
and then one day
years later
one of them sees a man that favors him
his hair,
the color of his skin,
his body type
she can't be in the same office
she leaves

and one of them,
at a lunch with a woman friend from work
spears a cherry tomato with her fork
stops in mid thought and weeps

and one of them looks at her daughters as they play
she envies them the ease with which they make it through the day

Each in her own way knows
that this thing has stayed with them
but one of them will say
-I'm over it. Forget it.
Don't bring it up again and it will go away. -

another one will say
-Let's kill him. He deserves it.
I'll feed him his balls for breakfast,
make him pay. -

and one will say
-I get it now.
I see why I'm like this.
Why I won't let people get that close to me,
not really.
Now I understand, but still
I love the best I can. -

Between murder and forgetting
I'm back where I began
It's hard to separate
the monster from the man.


Reckless he approaches me
I wait unmoved in my unkempt web
he doesn't see
will never see
not contempt
That really is too strong a word
it's really more disdain I think
He is small
but he will serve

I fascinate
I weave my spell
He can't take his eyes off me
But, oh well, what's not to love?
My full and rounded
tight behind?
My eency weency waist?
My delicate long legs?
The way I dress
so stylish in Bohemian black
with just a hint of red?

He's acceptable.
We will mate.
I will lay our eggs in a sac.
But I cant leave
and a girl's gotta eat
He'll make quite a nourishing snack.