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Poetry from The Common

February 27, 2024

Narsiso Martinez. With Care, 2021. Ink, Gouache, charcoal, and acrylic on recycled produce cardboard, 38 x 35 inches (96.5 x 88.9 cm). Photo: Brenda Bieger for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Part 3 of 3

Narsiso Martinez’s artwork honors the work done by immigrant laborers to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to the homes of millions of Americans. Alongside that artwork, we are sharing a series of poems from the farmworker community. These poems were originally published by the literary magazine The Common, where they stood among a hundred pages filled with the stories, essays, poems, and artwork of immigrant agricultural workers. An online portfolio was also produced to accompany the print issue. The issue of The Common is available for purchase in the museum Shop.

Detail of Narsiso Martinez (Mexican-American, born 1977). Always Fresh, 2018. Ink, charcoal, gouache, gold leaf, collage on reclaimed produce boxes, 278 x 92.5 inches (706.1 x 235 cm). Photo: Brenda Bieger for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. 
Arturo Castellanos Jr. is a spoken word artist from the Eastern Coachella Valley. He is one of the founders of Props 2 Poetry, a collective of poets and writers focused on creating communal spaces in the Valley. They host writing workshops and open mics to inspire change in their communities. The poem appears in both Spanish and English. It was translated from the Spanish by JENNIFER ACKER, editor in chief of The Common.  AUTOBÚS by Arturo Castellanos Jr.  Un hombre ya mayor, Con su sombrero blanco, Su bastón de madera, Y sus guaraches de hule,  Está sentando dentro de un Autobús  Con su mirada fija, Mientras miraba hace afuera de la ventana, Dio un suspiro.  Al ver los files vasillos después de una cosecha. Los terrenos llenos de tierra, Ya se acabó la temporada.  Él todavía recuerda todas las semillas que él había plantado, Les dio agua y miro crecer.  Él se recuerda las frutas dulces. Las uvas y la fresas que él ayudó a florecer.  Todos esos años, Todas esas temporadas, Todo ese tiempo pasaba por sus ojos en medio de segundos.  Ahora solo queda tierra, Nomás un puño de tierra.  Nada más y nada menos.  Pero dime, Qué más hay que esperar de la vida…  Que la memoria, De una buena cosecha.   AUTOBÚS by Arturo Castellanos Jr.  Translated by Jennifer Acker  A man already older    With his white sombrero,    His wooden cane,    And his rubber guaraches,    Is seated inside un autobús.  With his fixed gaze    Looking outside the window    He let out a sigh.  Seeing the empty rows after a harvest.    The fields full of earth,     The season is already over.  He still remembers all the seeds that he has planted,    He gave them water and watched them grow.  He remembers the sweet fruit.    The grapes and the strawberries that he helped to flower.  All those years All those seasons, All that time passed before his eyes in a matter of seconds.  Now only the earth remains, No more than a fist of earth.  Nothing more and nothing less.  But tell me What more can you expect from life. . .  But the memory  Of a good harvest.