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It’s not that I thought Dad was a creep just because he was a cop. It was weird, that’s all. He’d be out busting the bad guys, getting worked up behind the stuff he had to see every day like women all bruised and black-eyed, and burned kids and old men pistol-whipped. And the dead people. He saw plenty of those. He did that for years, and he started drinking heavy, a regular booze hound. And I remember him coming home in his uniform and before he hit the bottle he’d take off his gun, unload and wipe it clean, and tell me and my brother Martín that if he ever caught us fooling around with his piece that he would “kick the living hell out of us.” We were like seven and ten so that scared us, of course, and made us want to get our hands on that gun all that much more. We never did, though. He kept it locked up and the key stayed with him and when he eventually took us target shooting and tried to teach us how to deal with a gun he jammed us with rules. “Never load a gun unless you intend to use it. Never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to hurt them. Never shoot at someone unless you intend to kill that person.” His favorite rule? “Stop. Look. Be Careful. Be aware of where you are and who’s around.” By the time he preached his rules we had moved on and it was no big deal. And by the time I made it to Cunningham High, no one hardly ever brought up Dad's cop job.
That was before Dad made detective and before Martín was arrested and sent to the Youth Correctional Facility, or the YCF, as the old man called it. I missed that guy, but truth is, he was a mess-up, big time. Martín never grew up, never figured out what to do with himself, and when he got into drugs, that was it for my big brother. Now, he’s sitting out his sentence. The judge showed no mercy (even though Dad was on the force) and sentenced him to farm work and boredom at the YCF until he turned eighteen. That was the first time I knew that my mother’s heart was broken. Pinche judge, like my Dad said, just loud enough for the asshole to hear him. But Martín will get out later this year. Whether he wants to come home is another question. What’s there to come home to, right?
The second my mom broke down, was when they forced Dad off the force. Even I did not see that coming. And then they started fighting all the time until he moved out and they filed for divorce, and there I was, trying to finish high school when I didn’t really care about nothing, Dad turned into a stranger, my mom wouldn’t quit crying, and life was like one big drag.
But I didn’t mean for this to be a downer. I like to write in my journal and so I just let it rip; whatever pops in my head ends up in my book. Sometimes it comes out all cheery and sappy and sometimes I can’t believe the stuff I put down. I been doing it for years but not even Jamey knows about it.
Jamey’s real name is Jaime Rodriguez, but no one calls him that. And I’m Miguel Resendez, but you can call me Mike. Mike and Jamey – we been buds since he moved to El-town (our neighborhood is Elvin Heights, but it’s been known as El-town from the years when the OGs cruised Braxton Avenue in their low-rider Chevys and Mercurys.) He sauntered into Mrs. Hyde’s second-grade class looking like a tall, skinny version of George Lopez, all dark and big-headed. Jamey and Mike – Cheech and Chong. That’s what some of the jocks call us, behind our backs, but we don’t care.
Jamey and I are a good team. He’s tough, not afraid to mix it up if he has to. We’ve had to back each other up a few times, usually against the El-town Cutters. They finally left us alone, but there were plenty of times when Jamey and I had to throw down. We been knocked out, cut up, even shot at, but we never gave in. So now there’s a truce between us and the Cutters, and most of the guys who used to hassle us are getting beat up by my brother in the YCF, or cruisin’ in their wheelchairs, or dead. It’s all good now. Except that my life still sucks.
Jamey and I talked one day a few weeks after Dad split.
“You don’t know where he is?” Jamey said, although I think he knew the answer.
“Him and Mom had a big fight. He ran out of the house saying that everyone could shove it. He must have gotten drunk. He came home the next morning, early. I could hear him stumbling around. But he didn’t stay long. He moved out. It’s like he blames us because he screwed up. What I really don’t like is that he won’t talk to us, he won’t explain what’s going on with him.”
Jamey shrugged. We had skipped last period and were sitting around our table in Corey Park, the place where we wasted a lot of time, sometimes with others from school but most often just the two of us.
“What do you think happened? Didn’t your pops say nothing?” Jamey spoke like he was picking his words all careful. I didn’t answer right away. I looked at the carved heart with the initials AB/MR that I had carved into the table months ago, when me and Andrea were still an item. “You got to admit, that was extreme, even for your old man.” I jerked my head and glared at Jamey. Where was he going with this? “I mean, shooting Cold Play when he didn’t have any gun. He’s a clown and all that, but still.”
I pushed Jamey off the table bench.
“Shut up!” I never had been mad at Jamey, but I was pissed right then, real pissed. Me and Dad weren’t exactly
Father and Son of the Year, but he was my old man, and no one had a right to talk about him, except me.
“Hey, dude. Damn. Cool it.” Jamey picked himself up. He clenched his fists, then let it go. “Catch you later, jerk face.” He walked away. I almost shouted at him to come back. Almost.
The night it all came down, I was alone in the house. Mom’s text said that she was visiting Grandma Herrera over in Clifton; she might stay the night; something about Grandma not feeling well. Dad apparently had stopped by, there was a dirty plate and half-filled coffee pot on the counter, but he hadn’t stayed or left a message.
I felt sick, like the flu or something. I listened to a mix of Dad’s oldies. Too many tear drops for one heart to be crying. You’re gonna cry ninety-six tears. Cry, cry, cry. I had always liked that song even though it made no sense. What was so bad about ninety-six tears? I turned off the CD player and sat in the dark and the silence. I thought about throwing up, or maybe smoking a cigarette, but I didn’t do anything. I just sat there, for a long time.
Finally, I switched on a lamp and picked up a newspaper from the end table where it had gathered dust for weeks. MAN SHOT BY POLICE EXPECTED TO RECOVER. A smaller headline announced: Resendez on Administrative Leave. I didn’t have to read the story to know what else it said.
Officer Resendez and his partner, Sandra Moreno, were driving through the alleys in the Horseback Hill area when they saw a man crawl out of a basement window and sneak through a back yard. The police officers waited in the darkness and made their arrest.
Slam-dunk. Dad and his partner Sandra must have been all smiles. They had busted Hank Garcia, the so-called Zebra Burglar because he wore a black-and-white bandanna around his head. The cops wanted that guy, for months. The story was that he and his gang had broken into hundreds of homes and businesses over the past two years, and some people had been hurt, seriously.
But the arrest went bad. They were calling in the details when Fred Jackson showed up. He was a low-life most of us knew as a cheap hood who gave himself the nickname “Cold Play.” According to Garcia, Dad immediately left the car and started waving his gun at Cold Play. I was sitting in the back seat, handcuffed. The cop and this other guy were saying something behind the car, I don’t know what. It sounded like an argument. Then I heard the blast of a gun, and it seemed like the whole inside of the car lit up. I twisted around to my left and I could see the cop holding his gun, standing over the guy who was bleeding in the street. The second cop, who had been in the front seat, rushed out. I heard her say, “What did you do, Carlos?” Then they messed around in the dark for a long time. Finally, more cops showed up and they took me away. It didn’t look right, that’s all I know.
There had been an internal investigation by the police department and the district attorney’s office. The newspapers had a great time quoting the criminals, who had no problem slamming Dad and the police in general. Jackson’s story, told from his hospital bed, was that he had been walking home after a night of partying when he stumbled on Dad’s police cruiser. He admitted that he had been drinking but denied that he had done anything to provoke the cops. That one pig, the Mexican, he shot me like I was a sick dog. Any soulful man he saw that night was gonna get shot, and that turned out to be me. I want him to pay. Someone has to pay for what happened to me. The Elvin Heights Echo had a photograph of Jackson in his hospital bed, a bandage wrapped around his head. The caption read: Fred Jackson, aka Cold Play: Innocent victim of police shooting?
I had to laugh. Cold Play had never been innocent of anything. He was one of those white guys who tried to act ghetto, gangsta bullshit. We thought he was stupid. And his nickname was another joke. The guy probably didn’t know that he had named himself after a white music group – music that he would never listen to. But then I guess a guy who needs to give himself a handle didn’t give a damn about what I thought.
They put Dad on administrative leave while the investigation dragged on. Dad kept telling us that it would be straightened out, that the investigation would go nowhere, but even he admitted that the Department wanted no more of him. My Dad had a reputation for being an aggressive cop; quick to retaliate and much too likely to draw his weapon. He had been involved in two other shootings, and he was the subject of a half-dozen citizen complaints for excessive force. Each time he had been cleared by the Police Review Board, but the complaints stayed in his personnel file. Dad didn’t know what to do when he wasn’t being a cop, and it showed. One day he told us he was quitting the force. That was when the real trouble started between Dad and Mom.
My cell rang and vibrated.
“You cool down?” Jamey asked. We hadn’t talked since I had shoved him off our table.
“I’m okay. You?”
“I’m not the one been screwed up. Your old man home yet?”
“He’s been around but I haven’t seen him. Now Mom’s gone, too.”
“You’re on your own?”
“Nothing new. Look, I’m beat. I need some sleep.”
“Let’s get together tomorrow, okay?”
“If you want.”
“Yeah. Terry told me to act right. Like you’re under pressure or something. 'Poor baby,' I said.”
“Yeah, right. We’ll hook up tomorrow.”
“Later, dude. Easy.”
Terry was his on-again, off-again girlfriend. She had more common sense in her pudgy little finger than Jamey had in his whole family.
I sat in the dark for a few more minutes. Eventually I shuffled to my room and flopped on the bed.
About an hour later I threw a few clothes and candy bars into a backpack. I picked up my cell, slipped a cap on my head. I locked all the windows and doors. I snared cash from the envelope I had taped under my bed (about $500 saved from my part-time gig as a busboy) and I wrote a note that said, I’ll be back in a few days. I need to get my head together. Don’t worry. I’ll be okay. I signed it "Miguel." I stepped out the door and walked up the street and it was as though I saw the houses and lawns and driveways for the first time. I looked back at the house and realized that it looked like every other house on the block. I kept on walking even though I didn’t know where
I was going.
I had to wait forever but eventually I caught the bus at the corner of Wilder and 40th. It took me downtown, which seemed as good a place as any to spend the night. I seriously thought about staying on the bus until it got to the edge of El-town, out near the old airport. But then what?
As I debated my short-term future, my cell rang. It was the old man.
“Yeah?” I said.
“Mike. Where are you?”
“I’m on my way to Jamey’s. We got some math homework. He always needs my help with that stuff. Where are you?”
“I’m at work. Overtime, under the lights. I had to take a construction job. An old friend put in a good word for me with the foreman and the union. They need a lot of men to get the new courthouse back on schedule. It’s crazy out here. Ironic, me working on a courthouse, huh?”
“I can’t talk too much, Mike. So you gotta listen good. You and your mother have to be careful. Sandra let me know that Cold Play put a target on my back. I can handle that, but I’m worried about your mother, and you.”
I wanted to say that if he had never left, maybe he wouldn’t have to worry so much.
“Mom’s at Grandma’s for a few days. I’ll call her and let her know. She won’t take your calls.”
“I know. I know. What about you?”
“I’m good, Dad. Jamey and me been in tight spots before. This is just Cold Play doin’ it macho for his suck-ups. No sweat, Dad. Seriously.”
“Yeah, I know, you’re a tough guy. But this Cold Play is just enough of an idiot to try to do something. You should be okay at school tomorrow. I’ll pick you up after, and give you a ride home. About 3:30?”
“No way. I’m not in middle school. I can deal with it. I’ll be with Jamey. I’ll walk home the long way, by his house. We’ll be careful. I thought you had to work, anyway?”
“Yeah, I do. I probably can’t get to the school until 4:30. Wait for me, inside. I mean it, Mike.”
“I said I’d be okay. I can take care of myself.”
“This is serious, Mike. This guy is crazy. He tried to kill me once, that’s why I had to shoot him. And he won’t let it go. Now that I think about it, I’m going to pick you up in the morning and take you to school. I’ll be there by seven-thirty.”
I shut the cell. I didn’t answer it when he called back.
I called Grandma’s number but no one picked up. I texted Mom – Dad sd b careful. Cold Play threats. Stay @ Grandma a few days. I didn’t mention that I had run away.
I patted my backpack and felt the gun. Jamey and I bought it a long time before, when we thought that we needed extra protection from the Cutters. I never had to use it, but I figured that it would be a good thing to have as I walked the streets when I … well, I wasn’t sure what I was trying to do, I only knew that I had to get out of the house and away from everyone and everything. I needed a change, and I was doing the only thing that might cause that change.
That night was rough. I roamed the streets, confused, sneaking around like a thief, heading for cover whenever I saw headlights. I avoided everyone – the homeless guys, the hookers, the other runaways. Dad’s message had put a little panic in my head. Maybe Cold Play was looking for me. What if he found me? What would I do? I decided to leave town, hit the road.
I crashed not too far from the Main Street Mall, down a flight of stairs that led to the small shop where Downtown Barbers had been for years, below street level. I leaned against the door and tried to get comfortable. I had to move broken glass and old newspapers. I made sure no one could see me from the street. I cleaned the area as best I could.
That’s when it hit me. What the hell was I doing? I had a warm bed at my house. Food. Cable. I should be going to school in the morning, spending time with Jamey and maybe talking to Andrea, if she would only give me a chance. What did I expect to accomplish scrunched up in a ball hidden away like a bum, a gun pressing against my ribs? Or on the run like an orphan? Did I think I could fix everything on my own? Take care of Cold Play? Get Dad’s job back? Get Mom and Dad back together?
The wind picked up. It whistled across the deserted streets, pushing trash and dirt into my concrete cave. I shivered, occasionally drifted off. The night dragged on.
I nearly jumped out of my shoes when my cell buzzed. Jamey. The screen flashed 5:38 AM.
“Mike? I’m in a jam. You got to come.”
“What is it? What the hell …”
“Cold Play grabbed me when I left Terry’s last night. He said he couldn’t find you so he settled for me.” It almost sounded like Jamey laughed at his own words. “He finally got me to call you. He’s says you have to do something.”
“What does he want? Are you okay?”
He waited a few seconds. He shouted, “Call the cops, your dad! Don’t come …”
I heard what must have been Jamey getting punched and a loud “Oh!” Then it sounded like the phone had been dropped. A gruff, almost hoarse voice said, “Kid – If you want to see your buddy again, you better listen good. It’s your old man. You get him to come and talk to me, and your pal walks out of here okay. If Resendez ain’t here in another hour, Jamey’s dead. And you’re next."
“What? What do you mean?”
“Don’t be stupid kid. Get your old man here to the football field, at the high school. One hour, six-thirty. You get him here. And tell him he better be alone or this punk is dead, and then you. I know where you and your old lady live.” He hung up.
I immediately punched in number 1 – Dad’s speed dial. He answered on the first ring. I guess he wasn’t sleeping either. I tried to explain what was going on but all I could get out was a jumbled mix of crying and half-sentences. He finally had to shout at me, “Michael! Get it together! Goddammit! What is going on?”
It took longer than I wanted but I managed to convince Dad that Jamey was in trouble and needed his help.
“You stay where you are. I’ll send Sandra for you and I’ll go meet Jackson. I’m gonna bust his ass for good.”
“How can you do that?” I was so mixed up that it sounded like Dad was talking as though he was still a cop. He just couldn’t give it up.
“I can’t explain now, Mike. I’ve got to get to the football field. Jamey’s in real danger. I hope I’m not too late. Wait for Sandra.”
My stomach tightened and dry heaves jerked my upper body. I couldn’t think straight for a long time. I sweated and shivered, imagined terrible things about Jamey, my Dad, and Cold Play. Confusion mixed up with the wind that whipped around me. I should do what Dad said, I thought. But, I can’t let down Jamey. It’s all my fault.
That stuff went on in my head until I finally settled down and figured out what I needed to do. I grabbed the gun, stuck it in my pants, made sure I had my money and then I ran up the stairs from my hiding place. I left everything else for the barbers. I tore down windy Main Street heading for the high school and the football field. The gun hindered my running so I pulled it from my pants and held it while I ran. If anyone saw me they’d have to call the police – crazy teenager running through the dark with a gun. There was no traffic but some lights had been turned on in a few of the stores and buildings. I heard Jamey’s voice as I ran – worried but still telling me to stay away, to let my Dad handle it. Jamey had been willing to get hurt, maybe killed just to keep me out of danger. I saw a bike leaning against a tree in a yard. I didn’t slow down as I approached the short picket fence. I jumped over the fence, grabbed the bike, ran it to the gate and took off. A dog jumped at me from behind but I left him barking and howling.
The football field appeared in the night like a giant sleeping black bear. A wire and plywood fence surrounded the field, and the gate was chained and locked up. But I didn’t have a problem getting in. The fence had more holes than Grandma Herrera’s old aprons, and it was no big deal to get inside to the asphalt strip that circled the field. I left the bike at the fence, found a break in the old wire and crawled in and stayed low, looking for any sign of Dad, Jamey or Cold Play.
When I saw them, I stopped breathing for a few seconds. They were in the end zone under the score board, the darkest place on the field, maybe thirty yards from me. Cold Play must have thought he would be safe there, and the truth was that no one could see him from the street, outside the fence. Dad knelt on the ground, his hands behind his head. Jamey was also on the ground but he was lying down and I didn’t see him move. Cold Play strutted around them, holding a gun pointed at Dad’s head.
I moved to them, on hands and knees. I thought I inched along slow, so as not to make noise, but in just a few seconds I was close enough that I could hear Cold Play cussing and threatening my father.
“You thought you could burn Cold Play and that’d be it? You dumb pig. Get ready to kiss your ass goodbye, Resendez. Tonight you pay for messing with me.”
“I already said I’m sorry that happened. We can do business together, man. I know stuff that you can use, and I want in on the action. Don’t you understand?”
Cold Play swung the gun at Dad and hit him on the jaw. Dad dropped to the grass, next to Jamey. Cold Play held his gun with both hands and aimed at Dad.
I stood up and waved at Cold Play. “Hey, asshole. Over here, you dumb sonofabitch.” I jumped up and down. He stumbled backwards, surprised I guess. Dad screamed something I couldn’t understand. Cold Play aimed the gun at me and before I could do anything, he shot at me. The bullet landed a few feet to my right. I hollered although I didn’t even think about it. It just came out. I rolled to my left and dug into the ground. I aimed my gun in the general direction of Cold Play.
Dad’s rules rolled through my head. Stop. Look. Be Careful. Be Aware. It was too dark and I couldn’t take the chance that I might shoot Dad or Jamey. I couldn’t see Cold Play anyway. I rolled some more and picked up my head to take another look. I saw no one. I waited a few minutes. Nothing moved except the tips of the grass in the remaining breeze from the windy night. A piece of paper floated across the field and jammed itself against the fence, where it quivered like something dying.
I started to crawl to the end zone, slowly and quietly, and had gone only a few yards when I heard the footsteps behind me. Then I felt the gun at the back of my head.
“What a night for old Cold Play. A trifecta. The pig, his kid, and another kid just for grins. Yeah, a great night.” I smelled booze and a sickly, sweet odor of something else coming from Cold Play. It’s strange, but I didn’t feel afraid. That might sound like bragging, but I’m just saying that right then, when Cold Play had his gun pressed against my skull and I waited for the final flash or whatever it was that would happen when he pulled the trigger, right then, I could see clearly, make out details in the dark; I could hear each sound in the night, any little bit of noise, even the beating of Cold Play’s crazy heart. And I knew I could handle it. My only thought was that I still needed to do something to help Dad and Jamey. I hadn’t finished and I hadn’t helped, and that bothered me.
The shot sounded like every movie gun blast I had ever heard, like every explosion in Grand Theft Auto, like every argument Mom and Dad made me sit through. I collapsed on the ground, heaving and breathing deeply but feeling like my lungs were blocked off. Cold Play fell next to me, blood flowing from his mouth, a gurgling noise coming out of his nose, tiny red bubbles covering his lips.
Dad reached down and picked me up. He hugged me and I think we were both crying.
“How …?” I stammered.
“The dummy didn’t think that I might have a back up. Hidden in my boot. I was waiting for my chance. You gave it to me, Mike.”
“Jamey?” I said.
“He’s hurt, beat up pretty bad. But he’ll be all right.”
I looked over Dad’s shoulder. The sun was coming up over the downtown buildings. A half-dozen cops were running into the field. Four of them surrounded us, two checked out Dead Play. Sandra stepped forward.
“Carlos, you all right? I told you to wait for backup. ¡Cabezón!” She slugged him on the shoulder, then she smiled. “Your boy, he okay?”
An ambulance raced onto the field and Jamey was loaded aboard and then hauled away. Sandra called his parents.
There were more questions but I didn’t say too much. Dad had to tell the story of what happened at least three times to different cops and detectives. It looked like the cops didn’t know how to deal with Dad. At least there wasn't a question about it being self-defense. Finally, they let him take me home. Sandra said she would make sure the bike I had “borrowed” would be returned. She grabbed my gun, too.
Dad took me to the motel where he was sleeping. He could tell that I was tired, completely beat, so he didn’t ask me any more questions or dig into what I was doing on the street, with a gun, or what the hell did I think I was doing at the football field. He saved all that for the next day, and when he was finished with me he called Mom and told her what had happened. Dad and I talked a lot waiting for Mom. I think he needed that. Then she picked me up and took me home where I had to deal with another lecture, then more crying from her, and finally hugs and kisses.
A few days later, Jamey and I were able to talk without anyone else around.
“So, your Dad is still a cop, undercover, eh? That’s wild – crazy but cool, know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. He said not to tell anyone, not even you.”
“You serious? You know you can trust me. Who else you got?”
“Yeah. It’s all good. I think he expects me to tell you.”
“There you go.”
“Anyway, Dad and Sandra had been trying to stop the burglary ring for months. Cold Play and that Zebra guy are just part of the gang. The burglaries are a small piece of what they’re in to. When Dad had to shoot Cold Play it gave him an idea, an excuse to put himself on the street in civilian clothes. A way to get inside the gang.”
“But they didn’t find a gun. The story was that Cold Play didn’t have a weapon.”
“Dad explained that. When Cold Play got shot he managed to kick his gun down the sewer drain and Dad and Sandra acted like they couldn’t find it. Dad’s trying to make contact with one of the leaders of the gang, someone who doesn’t think much of Cold Play. Dad said his own rep is shot now, and everyone thinks he’s dirty. That’s how he wanted it.”
“He should have told you, or your Mom at least.”
“He thought it was too dangerous for us to know. But it didn’t matter anyway. Cold Play made his move.”
“Your Dad stopped him. Ain’t his cover blown?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Since Cold Play is dead, there’s only a few who know the real story. You for one.”
Jamey tried to smile but he looked nervous.
“Dad shooting Cold Play gives him some cred with the gang. Cold Play wasn’t too popular. That’s why you can’t say anything, Jamey. Nada.”
He extended his hand and we knuckle-bumped. Jamey would never tell anyone.
“But your mom and dad are over? This didn’t fix it?”
“No way. If anything, she hates him worse now. He almost got me killed, according to her. I’ve tried to tell her it wasn’t his fault. He saved me. But that’s not the way she looks at it.”
“When you get those stitches out?” I asked. “They are ugly, bro. How can Terry stand to kiss that face?”
“Hey, man. She’s all over me now, like syrup on a pancake. Nothing better than a good beating so women will act nice and accommodating. Too bad nothing happened to you that you can use on Andrea. You missed your chance. You should have got wounded, or something. At least.”
“Yeah, too bad. Maybe next time.”
Upcoming Events For Manuel Ramos
I'll be making a few public presentations in the next several weeks. If you are in the neighborhood, drop on by. Free book to anyone who says they saw this post on La Bloga and that's why they came to the show.
Books and Bites - Arvada Public Library
An evening of local authors and food trucks. Join us to meet and talk to over 30 local authors. Non-fiction, fiction, adult, children's and teen book authors - we'll have something for everyone. We will also have several food trucks in the town square. Bring the kids, we will have a children's table with crafts.
7525 West 57th Avenue, Arvada, CO 80002, (303) 235-5275
Houston LibroFEST - Houston Public Library, Julia Ideson Building
October 14: Southwest Minnesota State University
During the day I'll be on campus talking and visiting with students as a guest of the English Department, and in the evening I'll do a reading and talk at 7:00 PM along with fellow crime writer Lori Armstrong.
1501 State St., Marshall, MN 56258 1-800-642-0684
I'm also visiting with three different book clubs in the next few months - great way to talk with readers and answer questions from folks who have read my books.
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Blog: La Bloga (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: arte publico press, childrens books, Pinata Books, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, bilingual books, Add a tag
- Lupita's First Dance / El Primer Baile de Lupita
- by Lupe Ruiz-Flores.
- Illustrated by Gabhor Utomo.
- Translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura.
Publisher: Arte Publico Press
Publication date: 11/28/2013
Publisher: Arte Publico Press
Publication date: 11/28/2013
Momaday Named Anaya Lecturer
The fourth annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest comes September 26 in the Grand Ballroom of the University of New Mexico Student Union Building. The English Depto sends along this enticement:
N. Scott Momaday is one of the most distinguished writers of our time. His first novel House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1969, an event that brought new visibility to American Indian literature and literature of the Southwest, a landscape that has inflected his fiction, poetry, and paintings for decades. Momaday is a Stanford Ph.D.
Momaday’s writing celebrates the power of language and the richness of oral tradition in works that invoke historical memory and often exceed the boundaries of genre. He has published more than 15 volumes of fiction, poetry, and drama, including The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969), The Names (1976), The Ancient Child (1989), In the Presence of the Sun (1992), The Man Made of Words (1997), and Again the Far Morning: New and Selected Poems (2011). An accomplished painter in watercolor, he often illustrates his own texts.
N. Scott Momaday has taught at the University of Arizona, Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley, and the University of California-Santa Barbara, and has been an invited speaker at dozens of universities and colleges across the globe.
The UNM English Department established the annual lecture series on the literature of the Southwest in 2010 through a gift from the renowned fiction writer Rudolfo Anaya and his late wife Patricia Anaya.
The English Department cherishes the fact that Emeritus Professor Rudy Anaya was on our faculty for so many years. A founder of our distinguished Creative Writing Program, he still inspires us with his joyous approach to life, sense of humor, and eloquent articulation of culture and the beauties of the Southwest, says Professor Gail Houston.
The annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest features foundational figures such as Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz (2010), Las Cruces writer and playwright Denise Chávez (2011), and Taos writer John Nichols (2012).
UNM Co-sponsors for the event include the Center for Southwest Research, the Center for the Southwest, the Department of English Language and Literature, the Department of History, the Honors College, and the Institute for American Indian Research (IFAIR).
For further information, contact the Anaya Lecture Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or the UNM English Department at (505) 277-6347.
First On-line Floricanto in 9th Month
Iris De Anda, Ramon Piñero, Ama Luna, Irma Guadarrama, Bulfrano Mendoza
Odilia Galván Rodriguéz and her co-moderators of the Facebook group, Poets Responding to SB 1070 Poetry of Resistance, launch the final quarter of 2013 with a powerful collection of poems.
"Chelsea I See" by Iris De Anda
"It's All Good" by Ramon Piñero
"Mis enchiladas" por Ama Luna
"No Picnic" By Irma Guadarrama
"blood like water" by Bulfrano Mendoza
Chelsea I See
Iris De Anda
from sea to shining sea
stripped of liberty
I see her standing there
spirit bursting in air
her stars and stripes
strangle her voice pipes
how free is she?
or you or I to be
to question authority
this is not a conspiracy
she pledges allegiance
to higher truths
denounces unjust moves
she is us searching
beyond the news
we open our eye
control of the masses
she takes off her glasses
to see more clearly
whether man or womyn
Manning is human
waking up from sleep
struggles to stand
so we take her hand
time will be on our side
eventually all darkness
comes to light
complete the circle
because now it is her
but it could be us
Chelsea swims in circles
of constant change
despite rumors and blame
she dives deep ocean blue
the skies will reflect
this hologram too
an elaborate program
set in place long ago
yet now we know
the fall will be hard
they have no more cards
the deck is exposed
light decomposes filth
can no longer hold us
we break free
leaving thought dust
rethink our separation
this builds trust
we put a hole in the matrix
going back to the basics
she represents choice
let us make some noise
whether her or you or I
they can no longer scare
those whose spirits burst free
from sea to shining sea
It's All Good
It’s all good
I hear the same
the newly minted
It’s all good
When eight year old
ninety year old
It’s all good
feed a small
It’s all good
in and out
It’s all good
is what I
like so many
head to toe
to toe to
and all the
hung on their
It’s all good
It’s all good
It is all good
Mi abuela, MamaTila
detrás de la casa
sembrada una mata
en la mesa no debía faltar
una ramita de chiles
Con ellos la comida
se hacía más real
Yo era una niña
me solía enchilar
“Toma agua niña”
mi abuela decía
ahora me enchilo con gusto
me enchilo con ganas
me enchilo con deseo
me enchilo con sabor
Any other river like this one
would invite the locals
for a fun-filled picnic.
Instead, the Rio looks Bravo and
desolate against the trappings of
steel posts, wired fencing, and
concrete military mesh.
Pedestrians on the Mexican side of the
bridge pour out into an open plaza,
darting cars, waiting for city buses.
Folk women utterly
exhausted as they console their
young, grab on to bundles
of bulging plastic shopping sacks,
bearing names of gringo
stores from the other side of the rio.
When the border wall is erected
we won’t be able to see these
retail gobblers but, who cares.
As long as the money flows;
globalism seeps through
A preponderant fact for
the countless that dare to
cross into the land of promise,
the purgatory of uncertainty;
We hear stories that make your head spin
like the one of how pets
are treated with dignity
unlike our brothers; and
the earnings, no matter how long,
how hard the work, barely enough to
put bread on the table.
At the Mexican side, a
welcome-home flag awaits
those who gambled wrong,
big enough for the world to notice
how it flies
more boldly, bigger, and proudly than
the American flag behind them.
blood like water
i see blood like water
it no longer scares me.
war is all around me
and death is always near.
i have no toys to play with
and most of my friends are dead.
bombs explode where we used to play
and i wonder if they do target children?
drones follow our fathers
and whole buildings fall
just to kill one man..
entire families lived in those buildings,
and are counted among the dead.
while you sleep safe in your bed
and your children are near
i see blood like water
and death is always near.
dedicated to the children of war....
Since 1993, Manuel Ramos has been the writer of Denver’s noir crime fiction. Desperado: A Mile High Noir (Arte Público Press) is the latest in his series of mystery novels set in and around Denver.
In Desperado, Ramos crafts an anti-hero, Gus Corral, who faces his own failures: failing to maintain his marriage, failing to keep his job and failing to retain his self-respect. Ramos places his central character in the Latino North Side neighborhood, a community that is undergoing gentrification, affecting the makeup of its inhabitants. Displaced residents move away to other communities where they can afford living. Throughout the novel, Ramos threads social, historical and political commentary on the North Side’s residential shifts and their effects. Even Corral’s family name is symbolic: an enclosure for defense. In this instance, it is against the surrounding new, multi-unit condos and townhouses. Corral embodies the apprehensions and anxieties of the community’s loss of familiar landmarks and cultural manifestations.
Manuel Ramos vividly portrays certain quarters of the North Side neighborhood: a forlorn landscape marked by dry winds blasting from the mountains, whipping dry grasses and wilting the few flowers that defied the odds for a brief survival. Warehouses, Mexican bus stations, skid row bars and congregations of homeless people populate this neglected district. Against this background, Ramos’ multi-layered anti-hero struggles to escape his human condition, his life in a dry fish bowl.
Ramos keeps his plot tight as he layers the history of Pancho Villa’s lost skull and the stolen tilma of San Juan Diego to make the readers feel the tension in the Latino community and Corral’s life. The hard-hitting recession forces Gus Corral to live and work in his ex-wife’s second-hand store, Sylvia’s Superb Shoppe. Daily, Corral looks out the store’s large, dirty windows as he waits for the occasional buyer of Sylvia’s chipped and frayed junk. Even the buyers who were customers no longer frequent Sylvia’s store; most have left the neighborhood. Sylvia’s store with its dirty windows, musty smell, and frayed, chipped junk functions as a metaphor for Corral’s confinement, in a fishbowl, and his life’s frustrations.
Then one day, Corral’s dull routine changes when a former high school buddy walks into the dusty, hot shop with a financial proposal. Arturo “Artie” Baca, now a married, successful real estate businessman, asks Corral to help him deliver blackmail money to avoid ruining his business and family life. Although successful, Artie’s business dealings have not been without corruption. He is willing to pay a large sum of money to use Corral as delivery boy and insurance against further blackmail demands. Artie knows that Corral is in dire financial straits. Anxious to gain some financial stability and stay ahead of bill collectors, Corral disregards his inner warnings and initially accepts Artie’s offer. This misguided decision later casts him as the prime suspect in Artie’s murder. Anxious to fend off the detectives probing into his life and clear himself of their suspicion, Corral desperately attempts to point them to the dark underbelly world of Denver’s cartel drug dealers and their connection to Artie. His efforts get him too close to dangerous people who settle disputes with violence. In one of Corral’s encounters with the Mexican cartel, he is kidnapped and severely beaten. Corral’s failure to divert the detectives’ suspicions creates a crisis that endangers his family and friends.
Readers familiar with Manuel Ramos’ noir novels will find Desperado a fast-moving and intense mystery with a surprising ending.
Associate Professor Emerita Teresa Marquez is the Curator of the University of New Mexico Libraries Research Program and a Regents Lecturer.
|Linda Ronstadt recently with Santana|
|Linda Ronstadt's memoir will be out September 17th|
"I grew up singing Mexican music, and that's based on indigenous Mexican rhythms. Mexican music also has an overlay of West African music, based on huapango drums, and it's kind of like a 6/8 time signature, but it really is a very syncopated 6/8. And that's how I attack vocals." --Linda Ronstadt
|Linda Ronstadt dressed as una Adelita|
|Billboard in downtown L.A. announcing her concert, "Living in the USA" at The Forum|
|The album title "Simple Dreams" is now the title of her memoir|
|Still beautiful and strong!|
|Jessica Ceballos at the Bluebird Reading|
photo by Michael Sedano
by Ernest Hogan
Karineh Mahdessian, who hosted, welcomes Thelma T. Reyna to La Palabra
La Bloga friend and Latinopia book reviewer Thelma T. Reyna put on a reading that became a reading your stuff aloud clinic during Reyna’s Sunday reading at La Palabra, one of two poetry series sponsored by Avenue 50 Studio.
It was an all-around effective presentation. Holding the text and walking held the packed gallery’s nearly full attention and encouraged the poet’s use of eye contact and interaction with seated guests. Reyna’s oral interpretation shines as a model for readers in three basics of oral expression: making pace fit the words, developing a meaning-based rhythm, vocalics and projection so audiences can hear and understand.
Thelma Reyna keeps gestures up high.
Poets struggle against the written rhythms of their words as laid down in short lines on paper. Anapests and dactyls. One line is pretty much the same as the next, short phrases, one or two ideas, pocas palabras. Poets read such lines infected with that grammatical pattern of repetitive five- and seven-word clauses, the beat on the same measure almost every single time for thirty lines. A drumbeat of monotony is poor motivation for a listener to seek out more.
Poet Thelma T. Reyna respects her words, she lets ideas and images speak for themselves. Her reading escapes the tight syllabic emphasis of soft-soft-accent-soft-soft-accent, breathe, repeat to the end of the line.
Regardless of what word ends a line of poetry or metrical scan, Reyna reads the words within the thought or image, emphasis falling subtly on key words. Pairs of things and things that come in three abound in Reyna’s poems. She reads the dysjunction into one’s ears.
The packed house, presence of familia and colleagues, a photographer in the front row, all contribute to add stress to the situation. In such events, many readers rush through their work, swallowing words, becoming inaudible if not inarticulate. And it doesn’t take much rushing to make unrecognizable sounds. Reyna did not allow the moment to speed up her pace.
Pronunciation and enunciation happen at instantaneous speed. The lips move, the mouth opens the lungs push out air, the tongue forms the sound and you hear what you hear. Reyna speaks at a word-respecting rate, allows each word its aural space, loud enough even when street noise competed. She pronounces each syllable fully until the word emerges into the flow of concatenating syllables. And the audience doesn’t sit there asking “what did she just say?”
Reyna’s time on stage followed La Palabra’s Open Mic feature. Readers exhibited a wide range of comfort and skill in front of an audience. Poets shared touching heartfelt pieces for a parent, one played harmonica and sang his words. Three poets, Joe Kennedy, Jeffrey Alan Rochlin, and Vachine
Top: Flor, Maria Ruiz. Bottom: Aaron Higaweda, Abram Gomez
provided remarkable readings. Vachine and Rochlin shared thoughtful, powerful works that their presentation enhanced, while Kennedy’s intense reading of his edgy stream-of-consciousness noir poetry would be enhanced with eye contact. Kennedy's rapid-fire pace works, for him. Rochlin committed a cardinal sin of an open mic. Given two poems, he declared he would do a third. And it was not a knockout. If you’re going to do that, knock it out of the park, at least change the pace, do a funny one, mejor, do an hommage to a miglior fabbro, mentiendes?
Joe Kennedy, Jeffrey Alan Rochlin, Vachine
Following an assortment of community poets raises the spirit of the featured poet to be reading with her gente after an hour's open mic. Reyna would have won a larger piece of our hearts had she made the painful decision to cut a few titles, move the unpublished pieces earlier in the program, then end the reading on a life affirming poem, like the “she still has it” piece, or the being pregnant poem. That one is a knockout.
Thelma Reyna takes questions
After the lively Q&A session, Thelma called me out as a speech coach who’d listened to her read and offered an observation. Today’s column reflects the goals Thelma set for her La Palabra audience: Pace, say each word as itself, slow down. Rhythm, read the ideas and structure, not the meter. Projection, sustained breathing control produces the volume and pitch you want.
Thelma Reyna, Painting by Margaret Garcia
Real Estate Ad: Home for Sale. Charming hilltop with maximum view and solitude. Adobe dome horno and xeriscape just two of limitless small delights on this one-owner 60s bargain.
Real Estate Agent: You can knock that thing down and put in a spa.
I am away at Santa Barbara when my dad tells me he is building an horno to replace the pit barbeque. And he does. With help from an older friend, dad digs and sifts the red land of his yard, uses local rye grass augmented with Live Oak Canyon cow pies and makes adobe block. He plasters the outside with finely sifted mud.
A few days in advance of a barbacoa, my dad starts pulling leña for the horno. He prefers orange wood for its smoke and long-burning hardness, and because he'd been an orange-picker. Chamizo and stone fruit wood go in, too. No eucalyptus nor elm. Starting with the biggest limbs on the bottom, he stacks the firewood so the nearest at hand will be the first-to-burn twigs that kindle the fire.
Hours before sunrise dad starts a few twigs with newspaper to get a fire crackling. He feeds larger and longer lengths of wood until the growing flames fill the horno and it pulses with fire. Twenty minutes later, the flames ebbing to hot glowing orange, dad builds a new fire. When a fiery foot-deep heap of radiating coals fills the horno's floor, we set out for the kitchen. Smoke escaping myriad cracks in el horno glows in the day's first light.
The previous day, my mother rubs the huge beef roast with dried chile powders, then sets it to marinate in citrus juices and her own mixture of garlic, spices, salt, and herbs. While the boys are outside starting the fire, Mom works the kitchen, wrapping the carne in banana leaves and aluminum foil. With the roast on a rack in the bottom of a tina, she drapes wet burlap bags across the tina, lays down several layers of tinfoil which she crimps to the rim.
I shovel clear a spot in the middle of the horno, tossing the coals and ash to the back. We slide the tina into the middle of the horno. Dad fits the wet hatch cover to the opening and we mud over the entire surface with gloved hands. At 600 p.m. with a whoosh of aromatic steam, we crack open the hatch and it is time to eat.
After dinner, the familia huddles near the open hatch to stay warm. People play guitars and sing. They take requests. They sing together, sound gritos. Primos and sisters reminisce about lumbres in other days, stories overheard in other campos, heard from voices no one here has ever heard. Kids peek in from the dark periphery where chavalitas chavalitos lurk, taking in their story, inhaling the legends and names of their family, catching warm gusts of alma from around the horno.
Real Estate Agent: Oh, I'm sure the former owner will share recipes with you.
Exploiting an Opportunity, or an Opportunistic Exploitation?
I felt the poet’s once-in-a-lifetime effervescent jubilation when I read his news: the California poet landed a college booking across country.
Then an email. “I can’t afford the trip. Any amount will help.” The organization will reimburse expenses, the poet tells me, but he doesn’t have money to get there.
I advise him to go to the organization and ask them to go through channels and secure an advance. Failing that, and absent some rich, generous friends, this poet will have to pass on the job because he cannot afford to get there. How disappointing that something that sounded like a fabulous opportunity turns out to be only a definite maybe.
Something is fishy in the state of Florida--the practice is probably endemic across higher ed.--that this is how its universities train students to run organizations in today's economy. Policies in play reflect outmoded practices for modern arts marketing, particularly for hiring emerging artists whose natural audience is college and university students.
Movers and shakers in student organizations need to understand economics peculiar to emerging artists and clear institutional hurdles. Such organizations may even be the sole route open to poets of their own generation finding audiences. Unless they can not pay in advance.
Student leaders need to take meetings, do press releases, convince administrators and bean counters of the appropriateness of cash advances. No one needs cash advances more than an emerging artist, yet the university rules insist on treating emerging artists like a poet travelling on the academic dime, spend then reimburse.
I’ll wager the university President’s office has funds to correct this student organization’s mis-step; or the English Department, or the MFA program can partner and co-sponsor the reading. I’ll wager also that a determined student committee can wend a request through the bureaucracy of their institution, and learn important lessons about organizational communication, blazing trails, and accountability.
I would be overjoyed if a southern California organization steps forward and fronts this poet the thousand dollars a trip like this should cost. He should have comfortable accommodations; not be sleeping on the floor of a student apartment, sneaking into the dining commons for meals, making baloney sandwiches in the car.
I don’t have the poet’s approval to share his plight. Click here if you're an angel. I’ll forward your email.
Email bag • Internet radio
Glut of Raza Writers Not Flowing Past Gatekeepers
"We have more than enough Latina Latino writers." Wait for the punchline. "What we need are raza book acquisitions editors."
That is the premise of a useful internet radio talk between La Bloga friend Marcela Landres and Jeff Rivera. Landres, hersel a former acquisitions editor, co-founded Las Comadres and Los Compadres Writers Conference, coming to the New York area in the Fall.
The radio talk, Why We Need More Latino Acquisition Editors is not for people looking to become writers. The talk focuses on the completed novel's most crucial obstacle--getting book-ready work into the business of publishing.
|Marcela Landres drives home her point in a seminar at the National Latino Writers Conference in 2012.|
What that looks like is landing a meeting with an individual paid to be "a perpetual graduate student, always reading always learning," in Landres' words. The gatekeeper who brings some writers inside, and keeps out everyone else.
Be that acquisitions editor, Landres suggests. It's the publishing equivalent of being a starving artist, except the pay is better. A helpful lifeskill, Landres emphasizes, is knowing how to be poor. Learning to enjoy working in big publishing offers pluses and minuses for Latina Latino workers. Landres has broadcast time only to outline some consequences of employment in book companies. For a fictive insight, Elizabeth Nunez' novel, Boundaries, sets a passionate publishing professional's plan to open the doors, against the demands of competitive book publishing values.
The central premise of Why We Need More Latino Acquisition Editors is a view only raza editors will open the doors for more published Latina Latino writing. Not even a raza editor will give a break to a book just because the writer and editor are both Chicanas. Landres hammers home the point that talent alone does not get a book into print. The book and the writer have to be ready to go to print.
Listen at the link to gather details on readiness from Marcela Landres in Why We Need More Latino Acquisition Editors. Let this link load into memory and be patient with this large file, here.
Marcela Landres' most exigent argument points to gente's reading habits: people love to read raza literature but they don't buy what they read. What does it tell a publisher that Fulana de Tal has a million readers but sells only 100,000 copies?
Crawling to Los Angeles to be Born
La Bloga friend and spoken word OG Sally Shore has entered final planning for the debut in Los Angeles of Lit Crawl. Here's hope raza poetry and literary communities heeded Sally's call to register for performance space at what's sure to be a memorable showcase for new and emerging writers. Sally's heads-up:
Lit Crawl L.A.: NoHo hits the streets of the NoHo Arts District, Wednesday, October 23, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Lit Crawl L.A.: No Ho is an evening of thrilling readings with the best of L.A.’s writers in a sampling of some of the greatest ongoing readings series and multiple literary genres spanning fiction to poetry from throughout Los Angeles County. Multiple literary genres will be represented spanning fiction to poetry, including presentations by Los Angeles Review of Books, Black Clock magazine, Beyond Baroque, The World Stage, Red Hen Press, GetLit Ignite, The New Short Fiction Series, Tongue and Groove, and more.
Participating venues include The Federal Bar, Bow and Truss, Skinny’s Lounge, Pitfire Pizza, Republic of Pie, Bob’s Espresso Bar and other hip NoHo venues, with a closing fundraiser party at The Hesby. Audiences will wine and dine their way through the NoHo Arts District walking route, with two rounds of readings held in each participating venue between from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The evening’s final celebration fundraiser will take place at The Hesby, NoHo Arts District’s newest lifestyle residential complex, from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Lit Crawl LA: NoHo, a project of the EMERGE fiscal sponsorship program of The Pasadena Arts Council and the Litquake Foundation, is presented in cooperation with the NoHo Business Improvement District.
Lit Crawl is a literary pub crawl founded by Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival. Often referred to as “literary mayhem at its very finest,” the concept encourages a broad and often sophisticated gamut of literary expression and has been successfully franchised to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin and Iowa City, with London, England also coming on in 2013. Each location organizes its own version of the Crawl, one that reflects the unique literary makeup and talents of their city.
On-line Floricanto At the End of August 2013
Josh Healey, Sherry Peralta Trujillo Carbajal, Tara Evonne Trudell, Francisco X. Alarcón, Jeff Cannon/Alfonso Maciel Sr. trans.
"A Dream Detained (after Langston Hughes)" By Josh Healey
"Brown" by Sherry Peralta Trujillo Carbajal
"Woman of Experience" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Tanka To The Bloody Hands Indifferent To Human Plight / Tanka A Las Manos Sangrientas Indiferentes Al Dolor Humano" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Liberating Jeweled Tears / Lágrimas enjoyadas liberadoras" by Jeff Cannon; Spanish translation by Alfonso Maciel, Sr.
A Dream Detained (after Langston Hughes)
For the Dream Defenders, occupying the Florida state capitol, for Trayvon Martin and racial justice.And the #Dream9 immigrant activists, who were detained at theborder and won their freedom
what happens to a dream detained?
does it wilt like a rose
in the Arizona sun?
does it sink into the ocean
as water fills its lungs?
or does it fight to come home,
cross borders and spread hope
until it has won?
this is not a weak dream
a beach margarita dream
a suburban house and two car garage dream
this is an American dream
call it Aztlán
call it the hood
call it the walled-off ghetto
of Beverly Hills
we call it home
so bring them home
bring our youth back to us safe and breathing
with a bag of Skittles and a smile
I have a dream
that one day Martin Luther King
will not be misquoted
by Bill O’Reilly on national TV
fake colorblind fallacies
affirming misplaced actions
tel lme, what is so conservative
about killing a young black boy
walking home to watch
the all-star game with his dad?
where are the family values
in deporting the only mother
a teenage girl has ever known?
her name is Mia, she loves to skate
and write and come to my workshops
but there is only one poem she wants to write
these days and it is gone, shipped to Tijuana
like unwanted merchandise
America, when did you stop dreaming?
where are your open arms
that reached for the stars and imagined?
you sing Lennon’s lyrics
then shoot him in Central Park
blame it on a black man in a hoodie
and go on with your day
America, whose ground are you standing on?
this dream is black
and black is beautiful
so this dream is fucking gorgeous
and young and brown
and white, too, if you’re down
to get dirty and and listen first
and never bring tofu
to the meeting ever again
like ever. for real.
because this is a feast
for the Dreamers and the Defenders
enchiladas and shrimp gumbo
soul food with pico de gallo
this is the new America
same as the old America
can you taste it, Arizona?
you can’t eat fake ass Taco Bell forever
if no one is there to serve your chalupa
how will your picket fences stay so white
if no one is there to paint them?
and Sheriff Arpaio, mi amigo,
who is going to take care of you
in your nursing home next year?
better learn some Spanglish
if you want something more
than jello for desayuno
that’s why we are here
true education at its best
starts with the students
bold youth with old souls
who know their history
enough to repeat it, remix it
into something fresh and free
what happens to a nightmare ignored?
does it hide
and shrink from the sun?
does it race
to pick up the gun?
does it sit back
and watch the throne?
or does it sit in
and make itself known?
take over the palace
shout loud and strong
and beautiful, a butterfly
shedding its cocoon
how does a nightmare become a dream?
lay your head down, America
get nice and comfortable
close your eyes
and tell us what you see
Josh Healey is an award-winning writer, performer, and creative activist.
Fusing his distinct storytelling style with a subversive humor and fiery love for justice, Healey has been featured in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and is a regular performer on NPR’s Snap Judgment.
He has performed and led workshops at UC-Berkeley, Harvard, and over 200 colleges, high schools, & conferences across the country. Find out more at joshhealey.org
Of the earth. The dirt that when mixed with straw and water and when added to walls made of logs, formed the foundation of the adobe home of my mother. The dirt of land worked on by my ancestors who were sheepherders, farmers, loggers, and copper miners.
Of the wood. The wood that formed the rulers used by school teachers and principals to smack the hands of my father who forgot that he could not speak in his native language while at school. The wood that was chopped for warmth even by my grandmother in her 80’s, wearing a dress and an old, thinning coat. The wood of the outhouse that was used because indoor plumbing was too expensive for the widow, my grandmother, left to raise her young children alone.
Of the food. The food that was not always abundant but that fed a large family. A poor man’s diet of pinto beans, potatoes, and tortillas made of corn and wheat.
Of the hands. The hands darkened by many long hours working in the sun, the hands that provided, that comforted, that helped, that held the new babies and the hands of the children, that taught, and that disciplined when the children were out of line.
Of the eyes. The eyes that showed fear for the children living in a world that did not always understand, pride in children who succeeded when many doubted, and love, always love.
Of the graves. The final resting place of my grandmother and ancestors who believed in hard work and in God, and who did their best to ensure a place of love, safety, comfort, and pride for their families.
Her older son, Christopher, is a 4th generation copper miner who also resides in Morenci with his fiancée and children.
Family has always been important to Sherry because her maternal grandmother, Pablita R. Peralta, lived with her family growing up, and taught her the values passed on by many generations, especially the importance of family, God, and hard work.
Woman of Experience
Tara Evonne Trudell
based on societal
on how to act
like a lady
to be dainty
in my expression
low voice delivery
with my kundalini
since day one
never really there
from the start
woman at heart
what’s going on
too many years
not wanting me
tres leche cake
y chili colorado
on my path
my needs and wants
to the surface
to get back
It is through this expression of art, combined with her passion for poetry that she is able to express fearlessness of spirit for her family, people, community, social awareness, and most importantly her love of earth.
TANKA TO THE BLOODY HANDS
INDIFFERENT TO HUMAN PLIGHT
o blind, deaf, mute
heartless bloody hands—
cause of so many
deaths of crossers
by the Southern border
© Francisco X. Alarcón
July 2, 2013
TANKA A LAS MANOS SANGRIENTAS
INDIFERENTES AL DOLOR HUMANO
oh manos ciegas
sordas, mudas, sangrientas
causa de tantas muertes
en la frontera al Sur
© Francisco X. Alarcón
2 de julio de 2013
He created the Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070
LIBERATING JEWELED TEARS
may your words fall jeweled tears
wash those around your feet with wisdom for bold standing
courage to march with every breathe against ancient tyrannies
those fiery stars ascending to destroy beauty with their demon eyes
then descend with full bellies faint embers hidden in the dark
the ones chained to sickness orbiting round and round
slyly waiting to burst over each new generation chained to the place
learning forgets experience
cast a greater shadow
more ferocious than the one before
may your words from humble throne stream down to form firm hands
strong as mained rivers splashing free to lift creation's sore blood
to speak where it left off
let heart wisdom gently flow over faces, chests
let its moisture sink deep
awaken bones to release from sleep the history they carry
the stories they bear
for compassion to walk the earth protected
keep alive the original task
the only labor for heart drenched eyes and hands
ears and lips, entire holy bodies
to give with earth touch kind
affection liberated from fear
care released from prisoned silence
so the shaman's dream does not die
the elder's cry finds salvation
aware the gorgeous seed sprouts up secure
dances love's authority
dances unconditioned care wide-eyed, ever mindful
to confront what small perversions
still creep in jungle shadows
behind slender warm armed light
LÁGRIMAS ENJOYADAS LIBERADORAS
por Jeff Cannon, traducción al español por Alfonso Maciel Sr.
que las lágrimas enjoyadas de tus palabras caigan
lavando aquellas alrededor de tus pies con sabiduría para mantenerse firmes
valor para marchar con cada aliento contra antiguas tiranías
esas fulgurantes estrellas que ascienden destruyendo la belleza con sus ojos demoniacos
luego descienden con oscuros rescoldos ocultos en su vientre ahíto
los encadenados al mal girando y girando en sus órbitas,
esperando taimadamente estallar sobre cada nueva generación
encadenados al lugar donde el aprendizaje olvida la experiencia
proyectan una sombra mayor
más feroz que la de más antes
que tus palabras desde el humilde trono fluyan a formar manos firmes
fuertes como ríos con crestas como crines salpicando libres
para elevar el decir de la sangre llagada de la creación
para que hable ahí donde se quedó
que la sabiduría del corazón suavemente fluya sobre los rostros
pechos, que su humedad penetre profundamente
despierte huesos para liberarlos del sueño de la historia que acarrean
las historias que cargan por compasión
caminar la tierra protegidos
mantener viva la misión original
la única tarea para los ojos empapados de corazón, orejas y labios,
santos cuerpos enteros
a dar con el amable toque de tierra
afecto libre de temor
cariño liberado del aprisionante silencio
para que no muera el sueño del chamán
el clamor de los viejos encuentra salvación
sabiendo que la maravillosa semilla germina segura
danza la autoridad del amor
danza incondicional y pasmada
a confrontar aquellas pequeñas perversiones
que aún reptan en selváticas sombras
tras esbelta y cálida luz armada
Jeff Cannon is the author of three books of poetry: Finding the Father at Table and Eros: Faces of Love (2010, published by Xlibris Corporation), Intimate Witness: The Carol Poems by Goose River Press, 2008, a testament to his wife’s courageous journey with cancer.
He first appeared in the anthology celebrating parenthood, My Hearts First Steps in 2004. He has been a featured poet at Manchester Community College, CT and at local Worcester poetry venues as well as in New Hampshire. From 2007-2008, he was the spoken word component with singer song writers John Small and Lydia Fortune as part of Small, Fortune and Cannon. He was published in Goose River Anthology: 2009 and started at that time to write monthly essays and poetry for the “Sturbridge Times” of Sturbridge MA. He is the father of two daughters, retired and “can’t stop writing” although he does not read out as much as he would prefer.
Alfonso Maciel (translator). Born in September 7, 1944 in Tamazula de Gordiano, Jal., México.
Moved with my family to Guadalajara in 1950 and then to San Francisco, Calif. in 1964. First worked as a warehouseman in The City, where I helped organize the workplace as a Teamster Shop.
Member of Local 2 Foodservice/Hotel Employees Union.
As one of the founders of the Mission Cultural Center (now MCCLA), I organized and run the Graphics Dept., now Misión Gráfica. Later served as Director of the Center and organized the non-profit Friends of the MCC as its fundraising arm and governing body. Went to serve as Director of the SF Arts Commission's Neighborhood Arts Program where I oversaw the City's separation from programming matters at four Cultural Centers, while maintaining housekeeping responsibilities.
Served for many years in the Community Arts Distribution Committee of the Zellerbach Family Fund; As advisor to the W.A. Gerbode, Columbia, and San Francisco Foundations in matters of Community Arts. Several times as Panelist of various programs of the California Arts Council. Served in the Editorial Committees of Editorial Pocho-Che, El Pulgarcito and Gaceta Sandinista. Started A. Maciel Printing in 1984, even today the only printing shop certified by the SF Dept. of the Environment as a "Green" shop. It also is a Union Shop. Living in retirement in Cuautla, Morelos, México for approximately 2 years I am active in the local arts and culture communities. Self described as allergic to official disciplines, I also call myself a "Furiously committed Latino Anti-imperialist". Add a Comment
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|Don Ignacio "Nacho" Rivera|
The Molinars, the Riveras, the Botellos, the Holguins, each of these families represent the Salt of the Earth of Johnstown. The roots of these families, which began in Mexico, are now firmly planted in the small northern Colorado town destiny chose for them. Fleeing poverty and the economic displacement that resulted from the Mexican Revolution of 1910, these families sought refuge in another Ellis Island. And like the twelve million German, Italian and Irish immigrants who fled to the United States between 1892-1954, they crossed borders, their hearts filled with hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their children: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The life story of Don Ignacio Rivera reflects the journeys of these huddled masses seeking freedom and the pursuit of the American Dream. Don Ignacio Rivera or “Nacho,” was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1923 to Juan and Martina Rivera, who had crossed the border from Mexico into the United States seeking employment. Don Nacho spent the first four years of his life experiencing first-hand his parents’ search for socioeconomic betterment in the United States. He would later return with his parents to San Ignacio, a small pueblo in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, where he would spend the first twenty years of his life. “It was a small, peaceful life, though sad. We lived in a small adobe house, very poor,” Don Nacho explained when I interviewed him. It was there in a small ranchito that this proud humble man would learn the value of hard work, helping his father plant corn and cotton. “My father was very hardworking. Era pobre como yo.”
It was also there in San Ignacio that Nacho fell in love with Maria Francisca Nevel or “Kica,” creating a love that would endure the test of time amidst economic difficulties. A love that would produce ten children—Leo, Jesse, Lupe, Socorro, Tony, Gloria, Johnny, Olivia, Irma, Sally and an adopted son, Adam. A love that would transcend time, transcend borders. In 2011, Nacho and his wife would celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in Johnstown, Colorado, surrounded by thirty-five grandchildren, fifty-nine great-grandchildren and sixteen great-great grandchildren. “Era mi primer amor. She was fifteen and I was eighteen. I knew I wanted to join my life with hers. We fell in love. I asked her if she would go with me and she said yes. So we went the first night to stay with friends in San Ignacio, then we went to Juárez for a few days. Then we went back to the ranchito. Luego nos casaron. That was the custom back then. The girls would go with the man, then they would marry.”
Don Nacho and his young bride would spend their first seven years of marriage in San Ignacio. Nonetheless, the economic hardships of the post-revolutionary era in Mexico would force Nacho and his family to leave their beloved ranchito. “A lot of people left San Ignacio when they didn’t have any water to work the land. We didn’t have any work, so I came to the U.S. to work. We didn’t have anything, not even water.” Nacho first crossed the U.S. Mexican border into Fabens, Texas where he worked for a rancher picking cotton and alfalfa. His wife and children would join him several weeks later. They lived in Fabens for almost a year and a half, returning to San Ignacio one more time, then crossing the border again into Denver City, Texas. Nacho would stay in Denver City with his family for three years, working in the cotton fields.
It was then that destiny intervened in Don Nacho’s life, taking him to the small northern Colorado town of Johnstown where he would remain with his family until his death on January 20, 2013. Upon visiting with his parents who had moved from Mexico to Johnstown, Nacho made the decision to move his family there in order to be closer to his parents. “Kica didn’t like Johnstown, but I did. I still do. This is where we’re all buried. My parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, everyone is here now.”
Nonetheless, the pursuit of the American Dream during the 1940s and 50s proved to be difficult for Don Nacho and countless other Mexicans living in the small agricultural towns of Northern Colorado. Like my own parents and those of many other Mexican and Chicano families whose roots are embedded in Johnstown, Nacho joined the marginalized groups who became a source of cheap labor for the local farmers. They lived in run-down shacks, making only enough money to support their families. “We all worked in the sugar beets. We lived in different ranches. I remember the snow would come in through the holes. No electricity. Wood stoves. We went to the bathroom in tinas or outside. I would get up at 3:00 a.m. to start the stove. The first house was real bad. In the second house it was better. All the workers were mexicanos. We were paid $200 a month. That was enough to eat on. And with my Amá and Apá, we were around thirteen and we all ate. I don’t know how, but we did.”
Times were indeed hard back then if you were a Mexican. Not only did Don Nacho work seven days a week, barely earning enough to feed his family, but he endured the discriminatory attitudes of the time. “Tenían al trabajador como a nadie. Some discriminated. Some were good. They paid very little. They didn’t speak any Spanish. We had to go cut wood, we’d cut branches. We would sometimes go to the dump to get wood. It was very difficult. They didn’t even know if people needed wood. It was all about work. They would give us credit at the store. Every two weeks I would buy food. Sometimes I wouldn’t have any money left, but I would still pay them.”
Despite the intense anti-Mexican sentiment of that era, Don Nacho would remain in his beloved Johnstown until his death. He eventually left farm labor, working seasonally at the local Great Western Sugar Factory and later at the Johnstown Feed and Seed, where he was employed for ten years. “I learned to work hard from my parents. I didn’t have any education, any schooling here, a little in Mexico.” Yet, Nacho never forgot his life on the ranchito in San Ignacio. “I loved being out doors, the fresh air. In the sugar factory it was indoors all the time, noise from the factory, the smell. I still like the rancho. My daughter, Gloria, came out like me. She lives on a rancho.”
Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez, the humble beginnings and life story of Don Ignacio Rivera have influenced the lives of many. Nacho’s legacy will remain in the historical archives of Johnstown. Virtually uneducated and speaking very little English, Nacho has contributed significantly to the history and local economy of Johnstown. During his many years in Johnstown, he purchased several homes as well as an apartment building. Nacho’s children would go on to model their father’s hard work ethic and entrepreneurial skills, developing their own local businesses--Leo’s Place, Kica’s and Nacho’s, Lozano Insurance and Ultimate Style--which have contributed to the local economy of Johnstown. There is no doubt that Don Nacho’s tenacity and his endless pursuit of the American Dream embody the spirit and greatness of a true American hero.
At the end of our interview, when I asked Don Ignacio what his greatest accomplishment was, he did not hesitate. “Tener una familia como ésta. My family is my greatest accomplishment. My children’s success. I never had money to give them, but I taught them to work, to be hardworking. I get sentimental. Muy unidos, día y noche. They have to work, but as soon as they get out, they come to the house. They all come to eat. They talk, they shout. I get so happy.”
Hasta pronto, Don Nacho. Until we meet again….
Gloria L. Velásquez is an internationally known writer and poet who graduated from Roosevelt High School (Johnstown) in 1967. She is also Honored Alumni from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley where she became the first Chicana to be inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1998, Stanford University honored Velásquez with the “Gloria Velásquez Papers,” archiving her life as a writer and humanitarian.
I received the following press release from the Beatrice Kozera estate through Tim Z. Hernandez, La Bloga friend who has a book coming out about "The Mexican Girl," Manana Means Heaven. Tim's book is getting a lot of buzz and sounds like a great read. The heroine of the book lived long enough to see it become a reality through Tim's hard work.
Fresno, CA. (August 19, 2013) — Beatrice Kozera, a.k.a. Bea Franco, a.k.a. “Terry” of legendary American author Jack Kerouac’s magnum opus, On the Road, died of natural causes on the morning of Thursday August 15, 2013 in Lakewood, California.
In her own words, her life was “nothing special.” Which might be true, if you do not count that her role in the author's career was important enough to include her name in over twenty biographies on Kerouac, and that she had amassed a literary cult following for the past 56 years, all unbeknownst to her and her family. In late autumn of 1947 she met the young Kerouac in Selma, California where she was living in the farmworker labor camps with her family. The two struck up a relationship that lasted fifteen days, which he chronicled in his book On the Road— a novel that sparked the counterculture generation and was recently made into a movie featuring Brazilian actress Alice Braga in the role of “Terry.” What has been largely unknown is that after six years of rejections it was the story of “Terry, the Mexican Girl” that opened the doors for the publication of Kerouac’s novel.
The timing of her death was unfortunate, considering that later this month a book based on her life and written with her participation, Mañana Means Heaven by author Tim Z. Hernandez, is being released. “My mother hung on just long enough to see and hold the book in her hands,” her son Albert commented.
Beatrice Kozera was born Beatrice Renteria in Los Angeles, California in 1920, and spent most of the early part of her life following the seasons with her family, picking cotton, grapes and other crops. She eventually settled down in Fresno, California with her husband LeRoy Kozera, who in her own words, “Was a good man who gave me a good life.” She is survived by her son Albert Franco and her daughter Patricia Leonard, along with several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Letters and condolences are being accepted at: The Beatrice Kozera Estate, 596 Palo Verde Drive, Bullhead City, Arizona 86442. For information or interview requests contact: BeaKozeraEstate@hotmail.com.
Again for the First Time
Wings Press - October, 2013
[from La Bloga friend Bryce Milligan, the publisher]
Again for the First Time was originally published in 1984 by Tooth of Time Books in Santa Fe. It received the Texas Institute of Letters Poetry Prize. The book went on to achieve near-legendary status as one of the best books of poetry ever by a Texas poet. Wings Press is proud to publish this 30th anniversary edition. It was the first full-length collection of poetry by Rosemary Catacalos, who went on to become a Dobie-Paisano fellow, a Stegner fellow, a recipient of an NEA creative writing fellowship, and numerous other honors. The book is unique in that it pairs and often plays against each other the mythologies of Catacalos's mixed Greek and Mexican backgrounds. At the same time that it is populated with characters like Ariadne and Theseus, it is also very contemporary in its settings and the issues it addresses, including San Antonio street life, racism, mass killings, and foreign wars. It is a strongly feminist work as well. Rose Catacalos is the 2013-2014 Poet Laureate of Texas -- the first ever Latina Poet Laureate of Texas.
Rosemary Catacalos is the eldest grandchild of Greek and Mexican immigrants to San Antonio, Texas, where her extended family has made its home since about 1910. Her work is deeply rooted in place and in the classical myths, folklore, family stories, and history of both cultures. Her writing has been translated into Spanish, Italian, and Greek. A former literary arts administrator, Catacalos has been executive director of San Francisco's Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives, and the San Antonio literary center, Gemini Ink. She lives in San Antonio.
Later this year I'll be making presentations about writing and my books in Minnesota, Texas, California, and Colorado. Stay tuned for details.
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Graduate Student Symposium on Cuban Studies
Here are some "Take Over" examples:
- Aisha on Whose Line https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=193188377516204&set=a.173523199482722.1073741829.144253865742989&type=1
- Tony Hawk on ESPN https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151519181841964&set=a.109322101963.97270.102055561963&type=1
- Divergent on EW https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151729173179701&set=a.118138799700.94386.52150999700&type=
- Usher's digital team and The Voice to posted a "Day in the Life of Usher" on FB and IG (@howuseeit – here's a link to the first shot: http://instagram.com/p/aYe2RpSibQ/)
- #DayInTheLife – Pitbull documented his day on FB + IG from his morning looking at the beach in Miami to swimming in a pool with JLO at the end of the night!
- On-air mention on The Voice by Christina Milian about the "Day in the Life" photos on IG http://ctv4.criticalmention.com/playerpage/player?shareid=128803&partnerToken=26ce96c33e62d77d013f332df9d530e5&clientId=16713)
- Press from US Weekly, ET, and Hollywire - http://www.usmagazine.com/hot-pics/voicetwisted-2013106
Stop the Presses!
The Gluten-free Chicano Eats Bread
It was my inattention and poor stocking by Whole Foods Market in east Pasadena that got me. I bought a bag of sugar cookies and failed to notice the gluten-free products shelf had stopped, and I’d taken a bag of wheat-based cookies whose packaging appeared identical to the good stuff.
Once home, I tore open the package and devoured two cookies. 59 minutes later, I was sick as a dog with fleas. I stumbled to bed and passed out. Three days later, I’d fully recovered.
Sabes que? The Gluten-free Chicano has no fear of stuff that scares others: critters, big angry people, the cucui--some of my best friends are cucui, sabes? But wheat, wheat makes my knees shake, wheat scares me to death, as do barley and rye.
Gluten-free analogs of bread are really awful. Some beers are great, but bread, no. Typically made with heavy proportions of rice and bean flours, GF breads' texture is dry, grainy and unpleasant, like sawdust. The xanthan gum manufacturers add also lends a disagreeable taste that shouts out loud, “Analog! Will Robinson, Analog!” Sometimes it sucks to be me, especially in restaurants where people slather sweet butter on warm sourdough loaves or artisan crackers, bring the morsels to their lips, and chew in exquisite delectation.
Then last week, my friend Mario Trillo returned from a COSTCO in Sparks NV where he found Essential Baking Super Seeded Multi-Grain Gluten-free bread. This is fabulous, but, regrettably unavailable in Southern California. Nonetheless, the Gluten-free Chicano unqualifiedly endorses Essential Baking Super Seeded Multi-Grain Gluten-free bread.
In the past, I’ve spent money on always-expensive bread analogs, only to eat one slice then give the remainder to La Chickenada, who aren’t particular, though even they curl their lips at the stuff.
How does Essential Baking do it? Filtered water, mixed seeds (sunflower & flax seeds), rice flour (white, brown & sweet rice), egg white, hi oleic safflower oil, tapioca flour, sugar cane fiber, granulated sugar, yeast, pear juice concentrate, plum puree (prune juice concentrate, dried plums), modified cellulose, salt, potato flour, baking powder (glucono delta lactone & calcium carboate), cellulose gum, orange citrus fiber.
|Gluten-free eggs on toast|
This week, thanks to Mario’s thoughtfulness, I’ve eaten toast for breakfast, toast for lunch, and old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwiches. Each meal was a great big thanksgiving day dinner that couldn’t be beat, if you know what I mean.
If you’re in Reno NV or points north, and afflicted with Celiac disease or some variant of gluten intolerance, do yourself a flavor favor and buy a package of Essential Baking Super Seeded Multi-Grain Gluten-free bread. Take a few slices to restaurants, make sure you’re the first to the butter before the wheat-eaters contaminate it, and munch away, just like them.
The Gluten-free Chicano promises to follow Essential Baking company’s website and Facebook page to be first with the news when distribution reaches western Aztlán.
Mira que ya amaneció
The couple fell madly in love and then more deeply so. He found a shanty in a chicano neighborhood whose slanty roof was sound enough so long as there was no weather. The previous welfare tenants hadn’t left it too smelly, so he cleaned it up, painted the walls, laid some carpet, and they moved in together to start the summer. It was June 1968.
In the evenings she would read while he did push-ups, sets of 25, then 30, then 50. “Why are you doing push-ups?” she asked. “I want to be in shape when I get drafted,” he replied. “You’re not going to get drafted!” she insisted, anger restrained by fear. Every evening, television news showed the relentless arrivals of flag-draped coffins from Vietnam, in sets of 25, then 30, then 50, then hundreds, and thousands.
August 31, 1968 arrived. It was his 23d birthday, and the date they’d selected for the Nuptial Mass. “Marriage is like a barbeque,” the Monsignor pronounced on the hottest day of the year as they kneeled sweating through the ceremony. The Msgr. enjoyed his metaphor and elaborated. The coals grew hot, the coals cooled, the coals reignited, they glowed cherry-red. And they knelt in miserable synaesthesia.
|View from the mailbox. "I'll drive," she said.|
Bumper stickers are UCSB staff parking, "Bring them home alive," and "McCarthy for President."
One fine day in October they were headed to Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens. It was their kind of place—free--and they’d packed a picnic.
She said she’d drive. He said he’d get the mail.
|"Get the mail when we get back."|
“Don’t,” she said, “we’ll get it when we get back.”
He opened the mailbox, as he did every day, looking for it. It was there, the manila envelope.
|I checked the mail and the envelope had arrived.|
“Greeting: From the President of the United States...” and he thought of that song, “and then my Uncle Sam, he said ‘a knock-knock, here I am.” Ordered to report for induction Thanksgiving week, he, along with his mother and his employers petitioned the draft board to let him be. The draft board relented and gave him until January 15, 1969 to report.
Memories of that time hit me hard every year at this time. Forty-three years ago today, I’d been discharged after 19 months and three days in uniform. Barbara met me in Washington state, from where we took a bus toward Southern California on a second honeymoon. It was like a really good blind date.
We arrived in Temple City on August 28, 1970. I did not know where “East Los Angeles” was, but I sorely wanted to go to that “Chicano Moratorium” antiwar march the next day. I went into the Army because I thought being a Veteran would legitimize my protest.
Geographical ignorance saved my life. Had a cop attacked me at Laguna Park, I would have attacked right back. I had not yet shed my military bellicosity. Still haven’t.
Next week’s August 31 marks our 45th anniversary, give or take nineteen months and three days, and my 68th year. Happy anniversary to my first wife, felicidades and apio verde to me.
Levántate de mañana mira que ya amaneció.
The Four of Us Rode the Streets of Aztlán
It was the evening before I was to report for the bus taking me to the Induction Center. Our friends Bryan and Mike climbed in the back seat of the Valiant, Barbara shotgun. We cruised slowly through campus, the bustling streets of Isla Vista, then headed back for one last, slow cruise of Santa Barbara's darkened streets.
Near midnight, it was clear tomorrow would, indeed, arrive. The light turned green but we were laughing at something and had not noticed. The next right turn would put us on State Street, then a left on Haley St, and a left on Milpas, a right and we’d be back at the Ortega Street shanty. Then we’d have to say goodbye, perhaps forever. It was that ominous and dreary.
A raggedy beat-up pickup truck behind us honked its horn. In the rearview mirror I saw the turned-up brim of the driver’s cowboy-hatted silhouette. Cowboy backed up, honked again, and slammed his pickup truck into my rear bumper, hard.
As he screeched around us, he bravely yelled out, “Fuck you, Four F!” The pendejo made the turn and disappeared down State Street. People unfit for military service were designated “4-F.” What an ugly irony, que no? Tomorrow I would be a soldier, and cowboy would still be driving the streets, hating long-hairs like me, assuming we were unpatriotic 4-Fs.
I didn’t want to cry, so I laughed instead.
I have three friends whose Vietnam experience put them in body casts for a year or more out of their lives. Other men I knew didn’t come home.
When I think of what it means to be drafted out of grad school as a newlywed, Franz’, Ray’s, and Mario’s experiences put mine into perspective. Shoulda woulda coulda, but it wasn’t. And so it goes.
UCSB Has A Job for You
The phone call came the same day I'd signed and mailed off the contract committing me to a one-year jale at Cal State LA. It was Rollin Quimby, my MA adviser. "We have a one-year appointment for you," Dr. Quimby delightedly informed me. So it goes.
Click here to go to the C/S Depto's website for details on the jale.
Cultural Tourismo: la Habana
Tom Miller Has A Tour For You
Will January 2014 see you strolling el Malecón, drinking mentiritas, meeting Cuban writers, and reciting Martí poems in colorful sodas? It will, if you have the lana and ganas to join La Bloga friend Tom Miller on one of the top travel bargains in las Américas and the Caribe.
For more information contact Tom Miller at 520-325-3344 or email@example.com, or Cuba Tours and Travel at 888 225-6439 ext 802. You may wish to visit http://tourinfosys.com/signup/lit_hav where you can sign up for the viaje.
UCLA Hosts Writing Conference
La Bloga friend, Liz Gonzalez, will present a capstone workshop at this weekend's Writers' Faire. The all-day event ranges from screenwriting to one-on-one conferences with coaches and the connected. Liz' contribution wraps up the day for gente just getting their fingers wet in the writing industry. At 220 to 300 p.m. Liz and colleagues delve into beginning steps.
Getting Started as a Writer
How do you find inspiration, learn the writers’ discipline, and acquire techniques for transforming your ideas and fragments of stories into artistic, compelling pieces of writing? Start here. liz gonzález (chair), Aaron Shulman, Nancy Spiller
Here is the complete program in PDF. General info is here. Other than parking and lunch, the event is free.
August’s Penultimate On-line Floricanto
Ralph Haskins Elizondo, Juanita Lamb, Lois Chavez Valencia, Bulfrano Mendoza, Andrea Mauk
"El molcajete de mi abuela" by Ralph Haskins Elizondo
"Window shopping dreams" by Juanita Lamb
"Deported" by Lois Chavez Valencia
“Ya Basta" by Bulfrano Mendoza
"The world and its people" by Andrea Mauk
El Molcajete De Mi Abuela
Ralph Haskins Elizondo
After serving faithfully for five generations, I retired my grandmother's/mother's molcajete. I dedicate these words to it, and to all who came before me.
What once was a proud, sculptured Mexican mortar,
strong, and chiseled to last a thousand years,
is now a small humbled grey-pit shadow
holding a tiny pebble of a pestle on its concaved lap.
Eons of ornery stone, born to grind
into submission decades of unrepentant
peppers in my grandmother’s long kitchen,
she milled her seasons of salsas there,
since beyond the revolution; every chile-tomato taste,
an explosion of Villa’s armies taking the field.
My grandfather’s cavalry, charges again
to quell the uprising taking place
on the battlefield of my tongue.
The pits and pores hang on to all
the memories of flavors ever pressed.
I can still taste my childhood, and my mother’s childhood,
both intertwined in cilantro,
but like my grandmother, time grinding away
at her skin, her organs, even stone wears out.
You rest now, old friend. You rest.
His family moved to South Texas during the social turmoil of the 60’s.
Many of his poems touch the cultural and political issues of our times.
Today, Ralph lives in McAllen, Texas where he supplements his poet’s income by moonlighting as a science teacher at a local high school.
Window Shopping Dreams
(Reading of Oprah's handbag racism reminds me of a family story.)
My grandmother—Mama Sarita—
would take my sister for walks downtown,
"window shopping.” A little girl could entertain
fantasies of wearing beautiful clothes on display
while she played with her blue-eyed
golden haired doll.
Passing the "Anglo" bakery,
Mama Sarita and my sister talked
about the fancy wedding cake displayed
and dreamed aloud of hundreds
of wedding guests in attendance
at my sister's fairy tale wedding.
And so it went, grandmother and child
passing a fanciful hour or two
spinning dreams and wishing wishes.
One day they were at the windows
of a very expensive department store
gazing at the beautiful high heels adorned
with jeweled buckles, satin bows
and criss-crossed straps as thin as angel hair.
But their daydream was shattered
when a store clerk came to the door
of the shop and called out to them
"no zapatos for you Madama. Vamos".
And shooed them away
with sweeping hand gestures.
How do you explain to a child
that some people think even dreams
are not for them? How do you explain
She writes from the heart, which is puro Mexicano.
Her fiction and essays have appeared in Zopilote, Latina Magazine, Border Senses, Azahares, Cuentos del Centro: Stories from the Latino Heartland, and Primera Página: Poetry from the Latino Heartland (2nd Edition) and La Bloga.
Lois Chavez Valencia
I need to see my mother.
Working,crying I want to rest
but my thoughts turn to nightmares,
and my pain makes me suffer.
They sent you away from me.
I can’t see your face,
I can’t see your beautiful smile,
nor feel your hugs that
made me feel safe and loved.
I'm alone in this land
without support or family,
dreaming of days
when you were with me.
Day by day, year by year,
you gave me all you could
with all the love
only a mother can give.
I need to see my mother,
deported so far away from me.
In memory of David Silva, 33 year old husband, and father of four murdered on May 8, 2013, by 9 racist Bakersfield, California Sheriffs Deputies, Sworn to Serve and Protect...
in the newspaper said, is that his
blood stains are still on the corner
of Flower Street and Palm Drive.
Another Mexicano, father of four,
beaten to death by nine white
gestapo California Sheriffs deputies,
who claim he was resisting arrest.
He begged, " Please spare my life! "
Instead, he was murdered in front
of his children and his wife!
And those witnesses who filmed
his murder on their phones,
were threatened by these sheriffs,
then they confiscated their phones.
The gestapo tactics perpetrated
by these racist deputies on our
raza must come to an end.
Time for a new revolution for
our freedom to begin!
These white chotas must leave
all of our brown gente alone,
so we can feel safe on our
streets as well as in our homes!
comes from a special place. I want my audience to feel, I want to mesmerize, to catch the world through my eyes. A poem is only as powerful as the voice behind it.
In this world
There are people who wake up
Smile at the sun
Stretch to exchange energy (a scary thought)
Kiss their children's cheeks
Their wives' hungry lips
Pick up their briefcases
Drive to the office
And oversee the slaughter
of innocentes in far off lands.
These kind of people never blink.
They don't feel the need to wash their hands.
There are people who wake up
with rumbling pangs in the pits of their stomachs
Smell the rot that squelches their hunger
Bathe in rivers streaked blood red
(Blue Bloods never bleed)
Raise their arms
Their need for change
And march in step.
Sometimes their bullets pierce the skulls
of their brothers.
Their tears flow through lands and songs.
They have not forgotten how to smile.
These people must always wash their hands
But soap is no match for centuries
Of collective memory.
There are people who wake up
Turn off the coffee maker, pour a cup
Sit down to listen
To the morning news
Grab their keys
Hit the freeway
Wait in traffic
Cuss a little
Get to the job
Help someone somewhere
To turn a profit
And everything is okay
Because their heart flutters
Red, White and Blue
And they do everything they've
Been raised to do.
Their songs are anthems, rock and roll
And they proudly wash their hands
Throw the paper napkin near the can.
Then there are people
Who suddenly wake up
Only to realize
That everything they've ever been told
is an orchestrated fantasy
And anything they think to do
Seems immensely small
So they cry inside
And they go on with a chip on their shoulder
'Cause they know it's all a lie.
These people raise their hands to the sky.
Andrea also teaches 5th grade in downtown Los Angeles. She is a dedicated and creative educator who incorporates the arts and project-based learning into the curriculum. She has completed extensive training in teaching gifted and talented students. She recently enjoyed choreographing 100 5th grade students in a performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
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|So many great books!|
|My volunteer pumpkin patch with growing pumpkin!|
|My vegetable garden in Lincoln, Nebraska|
|Tamarindo pods hanging from tree|
|Just peel off the outer layer and eat!|
- It’s sticky pulp is a rich source of non-starch polysaccharides or dietary-fiber . . .
- Dietary fibers in the pulp bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in the colon; thereby helping the excretion of “bad” or LDL cholesterol levels from the body.
- While lemon is composed of citric acid, tamarind is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid gives a sour taste to food but is also a very powerful antioxidant.
- This prized spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, and magnesium.
- Tamarindo is also rich in many vital vitamins, including thiamin, vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin-C. Much of these vitamins are antioxidants, and co-factor functions for enzyme metabolism inside the body.
|cactus paddles ready to prepare|
|I wear gloves to cut off the spiny thorns|
|After you cut off the thorns and cut them up like this, then either stir fry or boil for just about 5-8mins.|
|Here's a delicious dish with cactus, chiles, goat cheese, tomatoes|
|close-up of tepary beans|
There are so many great ways to include cactus in your breakfast, lunch, or dinner dishes. You can mix it with eggs in the morning (like my grandmother used to do), add it into your salsa recipe, stir fry it with your main dish for dinner. The possibilities are endless and so delicious!
|Tepary beans soaking in water. Soak overnight and then cook!|
Out of all the beans we know, this bean has the lowest carbohydrate count. And it is an ancient bean. Read here all about the tepary: click here!
There are so many foods from our antepasado to recover and include in your dishes.
I am wishing all of you a health-filled, delicious week! Enjoy! Display Comments Add a Comment
The barnyard animals on Old MacDonald's and Señor Pancho's farms have a hard time communicating. MacDonald's rooster says cock-a-doodle-doo! While Señor Pancho's gallo says quiquirquí. The English-speaking chick says peep, peep, but el pollito says pio, pio. Then the cow says moo—and la vaca says mu! Maybe they're not so different after all! So all the animals come together for a barnyard fiesta, because dancing is a universal language.
will enjoy learning the names of the animals in both English and Spanish and comparing the onomatopoeia in each language. Chock-full of bicultural fun on the farm. -Kirkus Reviews
This is an excellent choice for read-alouds, but it also includes a glossary and pronunciation guide, making it useful in one-on-one contexts for young readers looking to develop Spanish vocabulary. -School Library Journal
Señor Pancho Had a Racho but he also has an acticity sheet at Holiday House. You can get yours at http://www.holidayhouse.com/docs/HH_Senor_Ver2.pdf
René Colato Laínez
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|In front of a banana tree on S. Cortez Street in New Orleans|
|With El Buitre at the Ogden Museum|
|Last Thursday, Little Freddie King played at the Ogden Museum.|
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