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Bay Poets

'Decolonialish' by poet Sara Borjas

Sara Borjas is a queer, Chicanx poet and the author of "Heart Like a Window" and "Mouth Like a Cliff." They are the winner of a 2020 American Book Award. The recipient of fellowships from MacDowell, CantoMundo, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Poetry Foundation, Borjas lives on Ohlone territory in Oakland but stays rooted in Fresno, California, territory of the Yokut peoples.


I am trying to write a poem that is

not complicit. But my rage, this page

published, exempts the English

department that employs me.

I clutch money, a job with no power

while I write to get free. And my friends

who think they are white, read this

teary-eyed, and feel unimplicated

in the bizarre shadow of their guilt,

—what could have been courage.

When was the last time you chose

a glass of pinot over fair pay?

Or convenience that casually poisons

our parents with pesticides?

What is a future? I am terrified

of what white people choose to look at.

My family worked as farmworkers.

Desperate, they hurt each other,

beat their children out of pain

then went to bed on a dirt floor.

Would you regard this

acknowledgement as redeeming,

or exactly what you thought:

—a shame, fascinating—art?

What does

your creativity look like?

I cannot shed this resentment

that we are not taught

to love ourselves even though

it can change the world.

My friend Baleja, said

yesterday: When I write 

I’m going back to the part of me 

that didn’t do better.

Not once have I heard any

of my white friends say that.