Alan Pelaez Lopez

ndn travel

I am a specialist
in what we call border
                              // // // crossing.

I can // // / //
          cross / / a / / border
any time you ask
from my faggy lil body—
and my history of abuse,
to my ndn roots;

I can swim any river;
see,   I do   everyday.

I had luxurious wings once,
but they came and cut them—
then the air sopló and created an injury;
the waves of the water weakened them,
and the amnesia of history exhausted them.


I can no longer cross
                    // // / // borders.
My lungs, alma,
and mind,
can no longer swim,

So I have to // // / // hop;
                              // // / // // // / // Saltar

And play
hide // // / // and // // / // seek
In what once was my land.

Guide to Border-Crossing Self

I. The Training

          mi amor, you better learn to run,
          learn to run without shoes:
          forget what it feels like to tie
          laces, do not practice the ritual
          of a bow too many times, for you—
          you will forget that you are in danger.

II. The Crossing

          corazoncito, when you get to the fence, you
          must run, you must not look back, you
          must run faster than ever. pretend you
          are back en el pueblo and you have just
          picked a bean of coffee from the Gringos
          that enslaved your family; run as if they
          have seen you; run to safety before they
          hunt you like a deer; run before they lasso
          your body—traffic you to ameriKKKa;
          lynch you at the white house. ¡corre!

III. The Survival

          mi’jo, the life you must save
          is your own. you have thousands of
          hearts beating through your blood
          system. you may feel alone, but you
          are not: deep inside your skin, you
          have the resistance of Indian & Black warriors,
          you will fight all the way, you will take
          every bean of sunlight, you will take
          any bit of water offered and you will
          always burst new roots. you cannot
          be killed. life is in your body,
          it is in your words, in your existence.

Alan Pelaez Lopez is an Afro-Indigenous artist and visionary from Oaxaca, México. Alumni of VONA/Voices and CultureStrike’s UndocuWriting, Alan’s poetry and nonfiction essays have been influenced by growing up Black, poor, queer, and undocumented. Alan has been named one of “10 Poets for the Revolution” in the Best American Poetry Blog, and one of “10 Up And Coming Latinx Poets You Need To Know” by Remezcla. Learn more at their website:

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