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Colón, Kristiana Rae

Colón, Kristiana Rae


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.

promised instruments, Northwestern University Press, 2013 [chapbook]
pieces of shedu & other poems, Ice Box Press, 2008 [chapbook]

2014 National Latino Playwriting Award