bread and blankets 

Xavier Fitzsimmons Cruz

Hope is a hungry young man in the H blocks,

whose spirit could not be broken by the most monstrous of arsenals,

because he knows a greater pain then bombs and bullets.

Hope is the fragrance of a blooming flower in May,

the sprouting of golden barley at the end of a dry, hot Summer.

The lowering of the great Nile that lay bare the soil for a new crop.

It is an underpaid coal miner in old Harlem county,

with dust in his lungs and mud on his coarse boots.

Hope is his arms locked between two sooty brothers.

Hope is the retreating soldier on the red Spanish soil.

Looking back at the city smoldering from German bombs,

pressing onward.

Hope is life coming back to La Borinquen,

It is the first lights flickering on after a long, dark pause.

Hope is the Grito de Lares still being flown.

Hope came to the Jim Crow south,

stone cold in Greensboro luncheons,

steadfast on south bound busses.

It is every human who would rather risk their skin

than live in the cold manacles of bondage.

It is the crying infant babe

being swaddled by her mum.

Taking her first glimpse of the world.

Hope is a pair of resting migrant families,

shrouded by the darkness of the empty Sonora at night fall,

sharing blankets and bread.

Hope is the fresh, green topography of a new world.

To those who fear change and hate revolution;

hope is the thing to bomb,

the blankets, the bread, the miners, the buses.

Fear not the individual,

fear the idea and fear most, the babe who grows to grasp it.

Hope is a fine black casket drawn through the street,

a toast to those who have fallen

and a call to arms.

Hope is on this page.

It is you, reader,

You and me.

Take this bread.

Pass me that blanket.


Xavier F Cruz is a freshmen at UAlbany with a double major in History and English. The inspiration for this poem came from chapter 14 of John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath."  Xavier's dream is to see the revolutionary literary texts of American history, telling the struggle of the American working poor and marginalized people, made mainstream in schools all around the country. Xavier preaches that the only way to understand American history and culture is through the eyes of the poor and marginalized. He asks his readers to consider the message of writers like Steinbeck and his prophetic words, β€œThe little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”