Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts


by Jimmy Santiago Baca


The morning on the day we invaded Iraq I received an email

from an Iraqi soldier. He wrote

about his reactions to my book A Place to Stand,

commenting on the landscape, the horror of imprisonment

saying his brother was in prison under Saddam,

that he knew what hunger and sorrow were.

He added that Iraq was the cradle of language and literature

and that his culture had harvested language,

was in possession of the oldest books known

to mankind. Later that afternoon

I received another email from an American soldier

deployed and prepared to invade Iraq. He too

had finished reading my book

and he described how it reminded him so

much of Fresno, his friends meeting at the park

on Saturday afternoon flirting with the pretty Chicanas,

and how much he missed eating burritos and tacos.


That same day, both loving the book,

they raised their rifles against each other—

their views and hearts

as close as brothers could be.