Brown Dreams
Brown Dreams
Written by Paul Flores (Inspired by Jorge Mariscal and Richard Rodriguez)

This is a true story about a brown dream sinking to the bottom of the Tigris Euphrates

This is a brown dream.

It was Francisco's last night out with his friends
the three of them on their way to see the latest sci-fi movie.
They were driving.
A stereo jocking the newest top 40 rapper,
because that was all he listened to.
But it didn't matter.

Music was only part of the setting
and not the motivation for late night
brainstorms about how to make money,
or how to escape the feeling of being
left out of a dream so many painted
red white and blue.

But his dream was brown.
Brown as his skin.
Brown and impure.
Brown as Eve's apple after she took the first bite.
Brown as the everlasting blur of English, African and Indian
moving through the forests of this continent
four hundred years ago before it was known as destiny.
Before he had ever heard the word immigrant,
beaner, spic, stupid, dirty.
Before he had ever dreamt of assimilation.

He is 18, and Mexican.
He is in San Diego,
Topeka, Buffalo, San Antonio,
Oakland, CA.
He wants a piece of the American Dream.

Francisco wanted a college degree.
He wanted to be a professional,
a stockbroker, or FBI agent,
because those were the jobs with the most power.
If he could have been a rock star or a super hero
there would have been no need to enlist.
But he had to be a U.S. citizen
if he was going to make a living like them.

The Army recruiter at his high school
told him that if he served in the military
he could automatically become a U.S. citizen.
After four years duty and an honorable discharge
there would be plenty of money left over
for him to continue his education at a good institution.
Or he could take his technical skills
as a tank operator
or small weapons expertise
and apply them to a civilian job.

It was exciting;
Brown boy who wasn't even a citizen,
who had only been a resident five years,
who didn't know much about education,
was now willing to die to become a student.

One year later
he was working on a tank unit fighting in Iraq.
Francisco heard it was the second time
the president had invaded this nation.
They were driving in the desert.
They were taking fire, swerving.
The tank lost control
and headed straight into the river.

As Francisco's lungs filled up with water
he remembered his last night out with his friends;
How is mother had wanted to cook dinner for him
but he didn't want to spend another hour in that
cramped apartment where she cooked for six of his brothers,
his two uncles and their compadres.
Instead Francisco invited Jose and Diego out to the movies
because that's what Americans did.

Now his soul is an ancestor in the Euphrates.
Chicano blood mixing with Arab soil,
returning to the Garden of Eden
by way of the U.S. Army,
same way it had come.

Only this time, he would finally receive
something he had been promised:
An officially sealed envelope on top of Old Glory.
Citizenship was never earned so graciously.
Even, if it comes posthumously
at least extend it to the victim's family!
The reality of the American Dream is dirty.
Why should Chicanos have to die
to earn the approval of this society?**

This is a brown dream.
Brown as the bus riders union.
Brown as gasoline.
Brown as the Tigris-Euphrates
The Mississippi, and the Rio Grande.
Brown as coyotes.
Brown as blood soaked sands in Iraq
and on the ranches of Arizona border vigilantes.
Brown as Affirmative Action in the military but not the university.

This is a brown dream.