I’ve seen all kinds of wild jive on high school tee shirts; pornographic graphics, praises to those who drug traffic, mean defamation of people from other nations, angry tweeties and sweeties, amid shout outs to dead family and friends, oversized visages of villains like Al Capone, Scarface Carlitos el buey, Marilyn Manson and CD gangsters with their gats blasting. Occasionally brown eagle and snake over red, white and green, school of hard knocks drop outs, Phat Farm crop pickers, (Farmers Used to Beat Us), NASCAR cultists, surfer symbols for those that perch 1,000 miles from an ocean, there’s even Commies como el Ché with rainbow beret suggesting he was gay. Then there’s sport’s insults like the Cleveland Indians Illinois’ Chief One Lamewick, political campaign slogans for schmoes not worth the voting, and logos from South Pole, el gringo Tommy, even Puffy’s ex-mommy, there are tee-shirts for beer drinking, and tee-shirts that prove no one was thinking when they went shopping.
But why haven’t I seen one with the greeting, “MexicaTiacauh” on even one pinche tee-shirt? Maybe because we don’t speak Mexican, and Español clashes with words prior to Mexico lindo losing its own kapullis, which made the 15th century Spanish arsonists happy. OK, what’s kapulli, you say?
That’s Nahuatl or Aztecan for school, but maybe you don’t like skool or escuela tampoco, and there’s barely a kapulli that’s open while you’re sleeping in the middle of the day, but imagine what our tee-shirts could say if Nahuatl had it not been smothered under the tongues of the foreign ones? Mokalli Kuate could be today’s “homie” carnal, have you ever thought this really means? “My house is your house?” or “Mi casa es su casa” (don’t you especially love it when Anglos tell you that?) in turn we need say, tú tierra es mi tierra, “This land is your land, and this land is my land” como dice el folkie Woody Guthrie,
Entonces Mexica Tiacauh, Kah mokal mokalli ese kuate! Don’t be afraid to say it! We affirm that it’s our turn to go forward, advancing as you help others. In Nahuatl, yo soy un xochitlahtoani, that’s flowery speaker or poeta, but so many juicy words were reduced to fragments over the draining amargo centuries, leaving but a few palabras to heat our chocolate and our chili, mi estimado amigo con su cara del nopalito let me ask you, tehuatzin ti Mexikatl*?
*(are you Mexican?)
Wake up, moco, it’s just after three in the morning, my Tejano connections have sent me some direct impeccable proof from the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Attached is a plethora of film footage, it’s what we’ve been waiting for because experts found no image manipulation of this elusive fast-footed creature now captured on a sheriff’s dashboard camera. Deputy Zavala and Ms. Dulce Mora of Falfurrias offered indispensable first-hand testimonies with even a notarized statement from a priest Raúl Niño de San Benito.
I think we’re beginning to agree éste chiquito Chupacabra is no more mito than you or me. It’s no fable, it’s neither unicorn nor minotaur, It’s not some hydra-headed Argus from days of yore, this ain’t no Monterey-mountain-top flying bruja causing a piss-ant rookie to camera cry for primero impacto.
We know the critter’s etymology comes straight from Spanish with Latin roots, for to suck is chupar and cabra is goat. Question numero uno is where did this diablo came from? Where indeed did this beast first appear – was it on the Carib island of Borinquen, or do you still say Puerto Rico? Lest we forget its initial reports, how this creature dashed about old Rich Port with the speed of a swiftly pitched baseball, until one night, when people on an old jibaro’s farm stopped still in their tracks to witness the union of the yet unclassified beast having a liquid meal out of a skinny goat’s neck.
It’s as if some strange hurricane flung this crypto-species critter out from the bowels of deepest Africa with no documentation, always on furlough from the annals of discoveries, this genetic cul-de-sac just appeared, all weird dog and Komodo dragon-like, with bristles and quarry-ripping claws, red eyed and ready to roam off shore, coño scary perro! some barrio kids said, when pictures and drawings of it appeared in San Juan’s news the next day. Relax, we’re safe in Humboldt Park (but watch out Hyde Park) por que esa sucker wouldn’t find enuf blood to live on after Chicago’s mosquitoes do their picnicking in July.
Carlos Cumpián was born and raised in Texas and now lives in Chicago. He is the author of the poetry collections Coyote Sun (1990), Armadillo Charm (1996), and 14 Abriles (2010), as well as the children's book Latino Rainbow: Poems About Latino Americans (1995, illustrated by Richard Leonard). His poems have appeared in many anthologies, including Emergency Tacos: Seven Poets con Picante, With a Book in Their Hands: Chicano Readers and Readership Across the Centuries, Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature, Dream of a Word: The Tia Chucha Press Poetry Anthology, and El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry. Cumpián edits March Abrazo Press and teaches high school English in Chicago.