Here they come coyote with their switchblade smiles wearing adobe and denim to twist back time in your junior high halls with bounties on blondes and blue eyes and braces reseeding alfalfa on subdivision lawns while carving Spanish accents on white picket fences their Chicano fists high as prairie hawk kites in this springtime dance on the New Mexican fault line out for fun out for blood out for you.
- to combine from different ingredients
- to form a whole whose constituent parts are distinct
- to juxtapose
- to join unlike elements: i.e., oil and water.
Here they come coyote the Speedy Gonzales cartoons the Frito Bandito erasers the Taco Bell chihuahua the Ricky Ricardo “Got some splainin’ to do” the “Corinthian leather” The Treasure of Sierra Madre “don’t need no stinking badges” the Telly Savalas as Pancho Villa the Marlon Brando as Emiliano Zapata the Looney Tunes wolf in Zoot Suit clothing the low-rider steering wheel made from chrome chains.
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“I don’t feel comfortable calling myself that.”
“But it’s who you are.”
“It doesn’t feel right.”
“Look at me.”
Here they come coyote with their tortilla sandwiches their hand-me-down eyes their South Valley soil still staining their shoes their English textbooks wrapped in brown paper bags the boys you and your white friends point to and smile.
Is this Person of Hispanic, Latinx or Spanish origin?
Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano
Yes, Puerto Rican
No, not of Hispanic, Latinx or Spanish Origin
Here they come coyote the Friday night sleepovers at neighbor’s house the shag carpet dens the double-quilted couches the color TVs the milk and cookies the Pat Nixon pearls the Archie Bunker recliners the silent wish they would ask you to stay.
- The advantages and/or immunities certain groups benefit from based on appearance
- Not having to worry about being followed in a department store while shopping
- Seeing your image on television
- Having others assume you lead a constructive life free of crime; of Welfare.
- Having the luxury to fight racism one day and ignore it the next.
- Never having to think about it.
Here they come coyote the deceased older father you never really knew the deceased father’s family you never really knew the Scottish-French ghosts who left you your name your skin your eyes your slot machine genes sliding out like loose change.
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- a Spanish corruption of a Nahuatl word
- of half-Spanish and half-Anglo decent
- rebels against social convention with deception/humor
- [slang] a contemptible person, avaricious or dishonest
- both hunter and scavenger [i.e., opportunist]
- trickster, transformer, shape-shifter
Here they come coyote the eight shades of brown of your mother’s siblings skin and the highway crew calluses on your grandfather’s hands and the farmland furrows on your grandmother’s face and the single-mother defiance in your single mother’s stare and the beans and green chile deep feeding your soul and the flour tortillas you fold like a spoon and the ten-speed bike you make from stolen parts and the sharp tangled roots from New Mexico to Spain and the box you leave blank on the family forms at school and the R’s you roll from your tongue like dice.
“Welcome to the Diversity Committee. Thank you for coming. Why don’t we start by introducing ourselves. You. In the back. Tell us: Why are you here?”
Here they come coyote the Mexican mirrors you will hang from your walls with the red-brown soil you will keep in a jar with the hand-carved santos watching over your home with the Latina will you marry in an adobe church with the Spanish family names you will give to your children with the red chile enchiladas you will make to perfection with the ranchera songs you will play on Christmas Eve with the Southwestern skies you will swim though in your sleep with your mother’s maiden name you will add to your own with your mother’s own words that will sting like a slap: “Funny you would do that because I always thought you were more Anglo.”
Here they come coyote they caught your scent at last with your head down low at your junior high locker with the combination spinning between your brown and blond friends between one lie and another better run better hide better choose.
Harrison Candelaria Fletcher is the author of “Descanso for My Father” (2012), “Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams” (2016), and “Finding Querencia: Essays from In Between” (2022). His work has appeared widely in such venues as New Letters, TriQuarterly, Puerto del Sol, and The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction. A native of Albuquerque, he is a former columnist, feature writer and beat reporter at newspapers throughout the West. He teaches at Colorado State University and Vermont College of Fine Arts.