Go ahead and call me what I am,
call me: faggot, homo, joto, pinche puto.
Unhusk me if you must, call me
acquired, call me dirty, call me corn smut.
Though it looks like a prostate rolled in soot, huitlacoche
at the farmer’s market sells as Mexican Truffle.
Yet farmers in your heartland treat it like a sickness.
And because disease can decimate a monoculture,
they are afraid. That’s why they bundle and they burn it,
a literal faggot. I said it and I’ll say it.
Call me what I am, and if you can’t pronounce
my surname, I’m supposed to say don’t sweat it.
Don’t sweat it, because even huitlacoche is a corruption
of the Nahuatl cuitlacochin, which
is a corruption of cuitlacochi. Tongues
make mistakes, and mistakes
make languages. Like I was saying, for a long time
I couldn’t pronounce them either, the things I like.
As with any delicacy, it’s best
to start slow. Sound it out. Huit—
la—co—che, an—u—lin—gus, mas—
tur—ba—tion. When you master
saying them out loud, it’s time to rub any two
syllables together: cock, suck; pussy, fuck; ass, lick.
Relax. They are only words. They are the only words
you need to insult someone
or to have sex with them
no matter what country you find yourself in.
Words have their luggage like immigrants
have their customs. Huitlacoche, mariposa, maricón.
Now that I have put it in my mouth,
I am proud to be a faggot.
But it sounds so hateful when you say it,
a coworker really said this to me, I said
because that’s the way I always heard it.
How do you speak such good English?
Smile—say nothing—don’t sweat it—he aimed it as a compliment.
Faggot, wetback, huitlacoche, all my life I’ve heard it.
Learning English, it hurted is what I would say
when I wanted to say it hurt. Not anymore. I know
all about tense agreement, just tell me where and when to conjugate
and I will. Shut your mouth—when I’m talking
spores come out in droves like mosquitos
birthed for blood—or I’ll give you what I got.
 Huitlacoche in America is know as ‘corn smut,’ where it is considered a disease. It can be very dangerous to farmers because the American agricultural system depends on genetic clones. One disease could threaten a whole supply, whereas in native Mexican cultures, huitlacoche does not pose a danger to crops because genetic diversity is encouraged. Huitlacoche was also a diet staple in pre-Columbian cultures because the fungus provided an essential protein that corn alone could not make.