A poem for you this "Independence" Day View in browser
Photo of Li Yun Alvarado speaking, including the words

Hi ,

It’s the 4th of July here in the U.S. and I’m thinking of a poem I wrote last summer in response to call from poet Kenji C. Liu, who explains:

“We live in a legal regime akin to a witch-demon-evil spirit system, currently being used to weave a fascism that is quickly moving from proto to actual. In the face of this, I put out a call for contributions of magic spells in response to SCOTUS’ Trump v. Hawaii decision and the incarceration of children and families in ICE concentration camps.

In addition to protesting, building complex communities of resistance and vision, and self-care practices, writers also have language, one of the original magicks. We too can summon our own enchantments, incantations, protections, charms, curses, hexes, blessings, auguries, banishments, and more. Through these spells, we 14 writers exercise and focus our imaginations, visions, and energies.”

I took Kenji’s call to heart and reached out to my cousin and Comadre, Josmara Alvarado, the keeper of our family’s magics.

She remembers best my late abuela Máma Merida’s rituals and spells, so I asked her to share some that were relevant to the then current moment (we were first learning about the cruel family separation policies being carried out on the border).

I used Josmara's memories to help craft the poem included below, “Hechizo Para Congelar” -- our small intention cast out into the world through the power of our intergenerational words and rituals.

When I read the poem today, I am struck, on the one hand, by how powerfully the spell has worked. 

On the other hand, I am disheartened by the reminder that institutionalized oppressions function in spite of not merely because of individual players. 

So today I’m asking myself, “How can I “rewrite” my spell to disarm not only the individuals carrying out the inhumane mistreatment of migrants at our border, but also the underlying institutional forces enabling that cruelty?”

And also: “What poetic spells can I cast to help create the world I’d like to see? How can I use my poetics for offense not just defense?”

Both And. 

Not Either Or.

This “Independence” Day, I invite you to join me in setting some intentions for our communities and for our world. And, if you’re so inspired, I invite you to craft those intentions into your own poetry, ritual, or both.

Finally, please hit reply and share your new poetic spells, or a link to your own favorite "poem-spell" by a poet you admire.

You can read “Hechizo Para Congelar” below and the other 13 poetic magic spells in the digital collection by clicking here to access UNMARGIN.

Picture of Li Yun Alvarado
En solidaridad siempre,
Li Yun

TL;DR:  Read and share Incantations: The SCOTUS Decision in Trump v. Hawaii” a collection of poetic spells in response to SCOTUS and POTUS curated by Kenji C. Liu, including “Hechizo para congelar,” a poem I co-wrote with my cousin and Comadre Josmara Alvarado.

Hechizo Para Congelar

for Máma Merida who taught us the power of spells

1. Names
2. Pencil
3. Paper Bag
4. Freezer

Pencil names onto
pieces of brown
paper bag.

Let’s say:

donald john trump
kirstjen michele nielson
jefferson beauregard sessions III
sarah elizabeth huckabee sanders
immigrations and customs enforcement

Fold. Fold again.
Set intention. Speak:
que no hagan más

daño. Bury
tiny pieces in
freezer corner.

Wait for papers
to chill. Watch
as each person

cold as

ICE, abolished.

Originally published in UNMARGIN

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Li Yun Alvarado

2436 East 4th Street #1180, Long Beach
United States


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