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Kristiana Rae Colón

Years: 2014, 2016


Kristiana Rae Colón is a poet, playwright, actor, educator, and co-director of the #LetUsBreathe Collective.  Her play but i cd only whisper had its American premiere at The Flea in New York. Her play Octagon, winner of Arizona Theater Company's 2014 National Latino Playwriting Award and Polarity Ensemble Theater's Dionysos Festival of New Work, had its world premiere at the Arcola Theater in London in September 2015. Her work was featured in Victory Gardens' 2014 Ignition Festival and in 2013, she toured the UK with her collection of poems promised instruments published by Northwestern University Press. In autumn 2012, Kristiana opened her one-woman show Cry Wolf at Teatro Luna in Chicago while her play but i cd only whisper had its world premiere at the Arcola Theater in London. Kristiana is apart of the Goodman Theater's Playwrights Unit, a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and one half of the brother/sister hip-hop duo April Fools. She appeared on the fifth season of HBO's Def Poetry Jam.


a remix for remembrance


 for my students



This is for the boys whose bedrooms are in the basement,


who press creases into jeans, who carve their names in pavement,


the girls whose names are ancient, ancestry is sacred


The Aztec and the Mayan gods abuela used to pray with



This is for the dangerous words hiding in the pages


of composition notes, holy books and Sanskrit


This is for the patients who wait for medication


for the mothers microwaving beans and rice at day’s end



This is for the marching bands and girls at quinceñeras


The skaters and the writers whose moms are eloteras,


laughing “Cops don’t scare us, we sag so elders fear us


We will re-write our text books in our own language if you dare us”



This is for the Sarahs, the Angelicas, and Shawns,


the Beatrices, Paolas, Danielas, and the dawns


we scribble sunlight in the margins of horizons with our songs


for all the voices tangled with the silence on our tongues



Rivals in the parks, fireworks at dark,


tired shirts that sweat your scent on hangers in the closet


For the boys who fix the faucet while their sister fixes coffee


‘cause mommy had to leave for work at 6 a m and laundry


isn’t folded yet: you don’t have to hold your breath



You don’t have to behave. Stage your own rebellion


paint canvases with rage, and religion, and prayers for pilgrims


sleeping in the train cars at the border and their children


Filibust the Senate and bust markers on the Pink Line


Stain the prosecution’s case and force the judge to resign,


force the crowd the rewind the lyrics you invented



Speak away the limits to heights of your existence


Be a witness, be a record, be a testament, a triumph


Set your poems flying in the glitter of the planets


Feed open mouths with truth, the truth is we are famished


The Universe is starving for the symphonies you play


Clarinets and thunder and the syllables you say


are the instruments: you are infinite. Stretch your hands to heaven


Let your throat throttle the rhythms of all your fallen brethren


Your legacy is present, your history is now



You are the tenth degree of sound


You are the nephews of the sky


You are the bass line and the hi hat and the snare drum and the cry


of red Septembers. You’re the architects of winter


You are the builders of the roads that you’re told you don’t remember


You are the builders of the roads that you’re told you don’t remember


You are the builders of the roads that you’re told you don’t remember



Cast poems in the river and tell them you remember


Skate City Hall to splinters and tell them you remember


Send diamonds to your islands and tell them you remember


Find your God inside your mirror and tell Her you remember




what i mean when i say vigil


Purge: the living


need to purge,


forge a ring of wailing,


fire a womb of grief,


fur of teddy bears to mildew


in the snow, snapbacks


on snapbacks, caps embroidered


with names of places the dead will never see.



We need this: traffic jam


altar where the boy’s body bled,


to shiver here Missouri winter


& conjure his ghost rustling


the wilting balloons. To light


a votive, to clutch our plastic


candles with battery fueled flames,


gather and sing.  To clean


December’s rotting leaves, October’s


molding gourds—I mean these days


we pray with our rage, with voices flayed


raw by the vortex. I mean these days


we mourn through megaphones,


yell elegies at riot shields, gouge


the eyes of body cameras with the litany


of slain names. I mean these days



the dead demand glass and gasoline,


haunt clouds of tear gas, cackle in the crack


of a baton. We cremate the QuikTrip


in loving memory. Black specters


dare the living to retreat—in memoriam


we march asphalt to ashes, badges


to dust. These days


we be mourning with our feet.