Issue Nine, Poetry

Undocumented Football by David A. Romero

Artwork by Sonia Romero

Artwork by Sonia Romero.
When life throws everything at you
Don’t drop the ball
“Don’t drop the ball”
“Blue
42
Set
Hike!”
A brown quarterback’s fingers
Tighten around the white laces
Of a football
Roosevelt vs. Garfield
They meet today
Upon an annual battleground
Where local legends
Spell rivalry
In defensive and offensive formations
Upon this old field
In this dirty stadium
Football sounds a lot like
Boyle Heights
Like East L.A.
Like years of pride and history
“Sounds like Roosevelt is in motion
Number 42
Miguel
Is with them
Crossing the line of scrimmage
Clad in red and yellow
His muscles tell a story”
20
Miguel has always been running
Running from la migra
Las placas
Everyone who wants to
Stop him
Ask him,
“.Donde estan sus papeles?”
Where are your papers?
Miguel’s too fast though
How fast?
Too fast
Too fast for borders
Laws
Checkpoints
Dogs
Too fast for fences
Ditches
Detention centers
And walls
Definitely too fast for the fool
Unfortunate enough to be D’ing up on him now
Through it all
Under the glare of stadium lights
Past the cheering
Booing
Chanting
And screaming
Through a maze of players
Like a beam of holy light
Miguel’s vision is clear
He loves this game
21
It gives him focus
Gave him purpose
Miguel will be defined by this moment
He knows this
No college will recruit him
His record doesn’t really scream “draft pick”
But that’s not the issue
Miguel never cared for politics
He just loved his coach
His team
This American game of football
His dream
To make a catch
In the only important game that he could
Miguel will not score the winning touchdown
This game will be added to a losing record
That will make for a losing season
There are so many reasons
For Miguel to drop the ball
Walk out of this stadium just another statistic
Undocumented student
Faceless
Immigrant
There are so many reasons for Miguel to drop the ball
So, as it spirals towards him
Carrying the weight of a future unfathomable
He repeats to himself like a prayer,
“Don’t drop the ball”
“Don’t drop the ball”
So, “He catches it!”
Like how he catches his diploma!
22
Like how he catches his degree!
Like how he catches the hand of his high school sweetheart
And they cross the threshold of that goal line together!
He cradles the ball in his arms!
Like his son John!
First born legal
First born free
To pursue his dreams
And not always be running
So damned
Hard
This is just one story from the East L.A. Classic
Roosevelt vs. Garfield
Just one game for Miguel
Of undocumented
Football.

About the Author

David A. Romero is a Mexican-American spoken word artist from
Diamond Bar, CA. Romero has appeared at over 75 colleges and univer-
sities in over 30 different states in the USA. Romero was the second poet
to be featured on All Def Digital. Romero has opened for Latin Grammy
winning bands Ozomatli and La Santa Cecilia. Romero’s work has been
published alongside poets laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, Jack Hirschman,
Alejandro Murguia, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Romero has won the
Uptown Slam at the historic Green Mill in Chicago; the birthplace of
slam poetry. Romero has appeared in-studio numerous times on mul-
tiple programs on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles. Romero’s poetry deals with family, identity, social justice issues, and Latinx culture.

Romero donates a percentage of funds earned from his collegiate
engagements to various nonprofits and social justice organizations. Fall
2017 saw the launch of a scholarship for high school seniors who are in-
terested in spoken word and social justice: “The Romero Scholarship for
Excellence in Spoken Word.” The first scholarship was awarded in 2018.
David A. Romero has received honoraria from: Arizona State
University, The University of Utah, University of Missouri, Washington
State University, The University of Memphis, Loyola University Chica-
go, University of Central Florida, USC, UCLA, and more!

Romero is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a dou-
ble major in Film and Philosophy. Romero is the former host of Between
the Bars Open Mic at the dba256 Gallery Wine Bar in Pomona, CA.
Visit his website, www.davidaromero.com for more.

About the Artist

Sonia Romero is a Los Angeles artist known for her paper-cut and
printmaking aesthetics which she incorporates into both her fine art and
public art commissions. Born in 1980, she grew up in an artistic house-
hold in Echo Park before formally studying at the Rhode Island School
of Design. After returning to California, she began working as a public
artist, and was the artist in residence at Avenue 50 Studio in Northeast
Los Angeles from 2007-2014.

Calling upon her own experiences and perspectives as a multiracial
person, Romero creates work that reflects the cultural diversity found
in the communities of Los Angeles. She explores themes relating to the
universal connectedness within humanity as well as its relationship to the
environment. Her signature style, a dynamic combination of printmak-
ing, paper-cutting, painting, and sculpture, includes fine art pieces that
have been showcased in many galleries and acquired into the collections
of prominent institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of
Art and the Smithsonian. Her distinctive paper-cut shapes and patterns
can be found in steel, tile, or paint in one of her many large-scale perma-
nent installations in notable locations such as Little Tokyo, the Mariachi
Plaza and MacArthur Park Metro Stations and the Artesia County Public
Library. soniaromero.net