Hello Everyone, Here is a video of yesterday’s Barrio Bushido “El Santo” reading at Pegasus Books in Berkeley. Enjoy!
Chapter Seven: El Santo
I know nothing but repetition and nonsense and can tell you nothing you do not already know. I cannot tell you of magical experiences beyond the grave or of adventures in mythical Utopia. I can tell you only of the jokes I have played, the blood I have shed, the tears I have cried, and the many moons that have passed for me since I was brought into this existence. I cannot tell you of emotions you do not know. I can only give you words because there are still words left. Words endure; the power of memory haunts. When I have no words left, I will let you go—I shall set you free. I promise.
Mine was not to question complications of a trifle world. Mine was duty, honor, the battle with the illusion of beauty. I accepted blows to my face, pain to my pride because I had to be strong for family, strong for friends, powerful for the next generation. My rules, my laws, my private constitution meant sacrifice. Sacrifice was the epitome of success, and it is what put the smiles on everyone’s faces. Don’t get me wrong; I laughed and sometimes played jokes, but I was also the power to look for in bad times—because you could not trust your mama or your papa or your old lady that was probably out on the town, but you could call me up, and I would be there for you. I would come when you called because I loved you. Three o’clock in the morning, one hundred miles away, whatever crime or time—you knew there was love: homeboy love. And if you expected friendship, you knew there was no better friend to have. I would not argue with you. I would not give you advice. I would quench your thirst. I would do whatever needed to be done without hesitation because I was the friend you always dreamed of.
Homeboys shook my hand. They accepted the relationship because without us we were nothing. We, with no money and no honey; we, with brown faces and rude manners; we, the miserable, were kings because we had each other, and each other was all we needed. Homeboys took my love, and I expected the same in return. That was the cost of my friendship. What’s fair is fair. If I could do it for homeboys, then they could do it for me. Is that not balance?
Balance was ultimately lost, but I also knew that losing balance was the price of our love. And no more screams out on busy streets, no more cries into the rainy black nights, because I give homeboys my life so that they could have something for later. Take me, and give my people a place to smile, a place they could hold their heads up without being ashamed. This is what I sacrifice myself for. Ah, I lost balance. Ah, I lost love and grace, yet I must go on and on.
What is that I hear—is it you crawling out of the dirt or swimming from the bottom of the ocean coming to get me? Is it you that I must guard against? Must I spend my nights expecting ghosts; can there never be peace? Then I accept your threats. Come and get me. I am the sinner. I am the evil. I accept the fate for everyone. I come outside now with nothing but dust in my hands. I AM HERE. I am outside. I am wherever you want me to be.
I am a little boy.