fletcherHere they come coyote, denim sharks with earthen skin, parting the C-Building crowd to bruise blood into pale cheeks, bust up orthodontic smiles, twist back thumbs from scales, turn asphalt into alfalfa, the New Mexican dance with history, the springtime junior high ritual, out for revenge, out for kicks, out for you.

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1: to make or prepare by combining various ingredients

  • to juxtapose or put together to form a whole whose constituent parts are still distinct
  • [no obj., often with negative] (of different substances) to be able to be combined in this way: oil and water

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Here they come coyote, the Speedy Gonzalez cartoons, the Frito Bandito erasers, the Ricky Ricardo’s “got some splainin’ to do,” the Chico and the Man’s, “it’s not my job, man,” the Ricardo Montalban’s “Corinthian leather,” the Telly Savalas Pancho Villa, the Marlon Brando Zapata, the West Side Story switchblade, the 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.”

“It’s who you are… ”

“But it doesn’t feel right.”

“Why not?”

“Look at me.”

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Here they come coyote, the boys who make sandwiches with tortillas, the boys who wear “Puerto Rican fence-climber” shoes, the boys who speak with South Valley accents, the boys who fold brown paper sacks to use again at lunch, the boys you and your blond friends point to and laugh.

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Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?

 ___ No, not of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin

 ___ Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano

 ___ Yes, Puerto Rican

 ___ Yes, Cuban

 ___ Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin – Print origin. For example, Argentinian, Columbian, so on

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Here they come coyote, sleepovers at friends’ houses with shag carpet and color TV and Lite-Brite and milk and cookies and Pat Nixon pearls and Archie Bunker recliners and the times they invited you back and you wanted to stay.

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The advantages and/or immunities certain groups benefit from based on appearance beyond those common to others: [not having to worry about being followed in a department store while shopping]; [seeing your image on television and knowing you’re represented]; [people assuming you lead a constructive life free from crime, free of Welfare]; having the freedom and luxury to fight racism one day and ignore it the next.]; [never having to think about it]

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Here they come coyote, the dead father you never knew, the dead father’s family you never knew, the French-Scottish ghosts who left you your name and your skin and the slot-machine genes that slip through your fingers like dust.

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  1. originally a Spanish corruption of a Nahuatl (Aztec) word
  2. rebels against social convention with deception/humor
  3. [slang] a contemptible person, avaricious or dishonest
  4. term for half-Spanish and half-European
  5. both hunter and scavenger [opportunist]
  6. trickster, transformer, shape-shifter 

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Here they come coyote, the eight shades of brown on your mother’s families’ skin, the calluses on your grandfather’s hands, the worry lines on your grandmother’s face, the defiance in your widowed mother’s stare, the beans you eat every Friday (and Saturday and Sunday, too), the tortillas you use as a spoon, the bike you make from parts, the K-Mart shoes, shirts, pants and jackets, the tangled roots from New Mexico to Spain, the box you check on the census, the brown bag you fold at lunch, the R’s you roll like dice.

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“Welcome to the [        ] Diversity Committee. Thanks for coming. Now, tell us: Why are you here?”

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Here they come coyote, the Mexican mirrors you will hang from your walls, the red-brown soil you will keep in a jar, the hand-carved santos that will watch over your home, the Latina you will marry in an adobe church, the Spanish names you will give to your children, the green chile enchiladas you will make to perfection, the rancheras songs you will play on Christmas, the Southwestern skies you swim through in sleep, your mother’s name you will add to your own, your mother’s words that will sting like a slap:

“You always were more Anglo.”

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Here they come coyote, they caught your scent at last, head down at your C-Building locker, between your brown friend and your blond friend, between one lie and another.

Time to run. Time to choose.
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Harrison Candelaria Fletcher is the author of two memoirs, Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams and Descanso For My Father: Fragments of a Life as well as numerous essays and articles. He teaches nonfiction at Colorado State University and Vermont College of Fine Arts and is working on a collection exploring notions of mixedness.

Artwork by Damon Locks