Untweetable Poems (141 character poems)

Untweetable Poems is a poetry series inspired by the oral histories told to Camarena by Mission District residents. These poems cut across all the themes of the Unsettlers project, and provide community stories in a nugget.

In 2011, San Francisco approved a six-year tax break for the tech titan Twitter, and in 2012 the company relocated to one of the poorest areas of the City near the Tenderloin. Faced with increased gentrification due to real estate speculation tied to tech wealth moving into the City, Camarena was inspired to write 141 character poems during her residency at the Blue Mountain Center in September 2013. Twitter only allows 140 characters to be posted through its service. By making all poems 141 characters, Camarena makes it impossible to transmit these Mission poems by Twitter without modification. At the same time, these Untweetable Poems raise questions about whether social media can adequately carry the stories of precarity of Mission residents, when it is the force aggravating inequality in the City.

Untweetable Poems

A Mexican friend enters/ a corner Bauhaus café/ he is confused/ is it a Mac store?/ no one converses/ nine narcissists peer/ into screen pond

I know my block drunk/ he used to live in my home/ evicted after sale/ memories of ballgames in the street/ with friends gone/ he misses them

Carlos the homeless vet says/ my iphone is a weapon/ walk unseen across enemy lines/ force generals to feed me in their home/ I say it is NSA

40 oz energy drink/ mini bottle of liquor/ at miscellaneous corner/ high speed sips and homeboy hugs/ do not repair neglect/ still it is love

We watched you resent us/ not see us grow up/ father slugs mother/ brother draws gun/ I don’t stop him/ childhood jumpstarts to the jailhouse

You can’t touch him says the Police/ even now PoPo curtails my custody/ baby lies split/ on a rosary of lead and law/ my son dead on a gurney

River of Sorrows/ Arroyo de los Dolores/ tunneled underground/ before tallow poisons/ when willows cast shadows/ I bet you bore a better name

Veteran homegirl/ you’ve seen it all/ excons embrace fatherless babies/ abused bloom big hearts/ many stories stay untold/ on police scanners

At 16th St BART plaza/ José explains the art of acting/ a fight starts and he proclaims/ drama that brings the police/ is drama not well done

A Guatemalan lady fills a cart/ lime papaya rice milk eggs/ little girl holds tight to last purse change/ mami plucks every thin dime/ to pay

Water gallons flicker in the moonlight/ pollos and pollero flee the patrulleros/ string of candles lit at Dolores/ desert day six and no news

Oxkutzcabeños of Yucatán/ Palenqueños of Chiapas/ formidable indigenous peoples/ face-off on the soccer field/ line cooks talk smack in Mayan

Untweetable Oxkutzcab

Camarena also used a series of images from her Mission District photo essays to inscribe them with Untweetable Poems.