Chicano Poet

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Henry’s Elegy For The Death Of The Hula Hoop

There’s something happening here,
someone’s telling you
you’d better run like hell,

the times deys a fixing to get bad,
soon we’re dying in the jungles,
soon deys sending our dead asses back home.

Put down that hula hoop,
that Elvis-in-the-Army shit
is nothing but poop.

There’s something happening here,
but what you hear can’t be poetry.
Back home, long-haired hippies

gather round and thousands march
but the Beatnik poets
and the hula hoop

have met their match and so have we.
There’s something happening here,
the times they done got bad again.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Listening To Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up”

Elvis Costello me corta el pelo
Jennifer Lopez ass cielo
ese pinche Superman sin vuelo

flying in and out of New York City.
Henry seen him often
when he lived in Greenwich Village.

Enrique te ha dicho
that he ain’t Mr. Hueso’s bitcho,
don’t you be a snitcho.

Henry took the subway
so long ago to watch
the Yankees play the Phillies,

he took his glove, maybe he will
catch a foul ball,
maybe end up in the Hall

of Fame under his own name.
Elvis Costello me corta el pelo
there comes Stevie Reeves with paper muscles.

Henry’s hair lies on the floor
like the black hole at the center of the Milky Way
sucking poetry of its poetry.

Whatever it spits out on the other side
Mr. Bones trips over it
on the way out of the barber shop.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cesar Chavez Migrant Workers Desertion

after a Rebecca Flores poem

You would be the land
and we would need no poetry,
your softness would be the hay under me.

I would lie quietly next to you
and hold the warmth of your body
or I would pick your cotton,

the rows and rows of cotton
still dark at daybreak.
Our migrant worker souls

work the land
even though we dwell in cities now
and like fighters we lead with the frontal lobe.

You would be the land
and we would need no poetry
and we would fool ourselves.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

African Queen: The Poem

She turned nine shades of God
pulling dreams off a plastic leech
in the tributaries of Lake Victoria,

the horizon black as Africa,
the one white pimple
rising above the Rift Valley.

How long she’d been a woman
with her womanhood intact
she could not subtract.

Neither a bronc rider with one hand
waving in the air
would have caught her attention

nor a far-off war, that is,
until the Germans arrived
like fierce lions.

The jungle noises
became as hard as stone
and stood upright beyond the village.

God had descended to a minor character,
her eyes shone brightly
against the lakeside sunset.

You can’t tell which adventure
is really an adventure
until the end or the beginning.

The future is not funny
when you’re standing in the past.
Her sex wet in a song

that her body sang for him.
Tribes dancing, jumping up and down,
the monosyllabic breasts of native girls

brimming with invisible desire,
ancient as australopithecus
on this Dark Continent.

Rowing towards shore
they kick up
the endless lake.

The Germans, meanwhile, sink.
The cement blocks of their hearts
perfect on the bottom.

A future is bubbling up
inside of you and me
right now.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Leonel Rugama

Henry’s Elegy For Leonel Rugama

In a gunfight with the Guardia Nacional
in the barrio bang bang bang
they shoot you dead.

Later a friend tells me
one of the freedom fighters killed
was Leonel Rugama, the poet.

I bow my head in silence
and try to pretend it didn’t happen
but, of course, it happened.

And now that almost forty years have passed
I re-read one of Leonel’s poems
comparing the Apollo fights

with the poverty of Nicaragua.
The Shuttles are grounded like Leonel
and poverty defies the gravity of earth,

floats in our faces weightless
in Austin, San Antonio, El Paso
and the rest of the our great nation.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Henry’s Ogden Nash Elegy For Elvis Presley’s Commode

Who was it that invented
the invention that outed the outhouse,
otherwise Elvis would have died

out in the backyard of Graceland?
Oh, how Esperanza (she’s Elvis’s biggest fan)
misses the King in Vegas,

the swiveling hips, the pouty lips,
the sweaty forehead
and the sequined jump suits.

Her Teddy Bear is gone,
her racecar driving Romeo raced away---
she’s a Hawaiian Speedo widow.

In the end, the commode
was the last to kiss his ass,
the toilet paper Memphis Mafia nowhere around.

His girlfriend fast asleep
unaware she would wake up
and not be a princess anymore.

The commode with tearful eyes
looks about the room,
it can’t predict the future, it always looks behind.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Walt Whitman

Henry meets Walt Whitman at Times Square
and Walt is laughing his ass off,
he’s reading a book by John Ashbery,

April Galleons, “Jesus,” cries Walt,
“this is battery and assault,
the runs and a chocolate malt!”

Walt is reading Delmore Schwartz
in a pair of Bermuda shorts,
in between snorts.

Delmore is standing on one foot
writing poetry in the subway,
only token spoken in Hoboken gone astray.

Walt has no time for e.e. cummings
or WCW’s hummings,
Central Park lemurs of demure

hide in his beard as he laughs,
“How I love Saturday night baths
to ward off the new-fangled wraths

of Pulitzer winning poets
who make galleons out of boats
from any sound that comes out of their throats.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Henry’s Elegy for the King of Cool

I’m watching Steve McQueen
in Baby The Rain Must Fall,
his wife Georgette and his small daughter

come to live with him.
He’s out on parole in Papalote
singing in the band,

Baby The Rain Must Fall,
the more he gets into trouble
the more he gets under her skin,

but he’s got a hot temper
haulin’ ass in his 65’ Mustang
always damn never dang.

Baby The Rain Must Fall,
he gets into a knife fight
and Deputy Sheriff Slim throws him

in the slammer whammer jammer.
Even when there’s not a cloud in the sky
Baby The Rain Must Fall.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Henry’s Elegy For The Intimidator

During the last months of his life, Dale Earnhardt fought
vehemently against the use of head and neck restraint
systems in Nascar racing. One such device had been in use
since the late 1980’s. It could have saved his life.

Everyone’d thought there was a driving master,
There really had been some supernatural essence
who regarded human beings as an excrescence.
from Ko, or A Season On Earth by Kenneth Koch

Earnhardt went head-on
into the Turn Four wall
and broke his neck,

they called him the Intimidator
because he drove a car as if he was driving
death away from the accelerator,

once at Texas World Speedway
during an ARCA race
he cleaned the walls of dust

trying to chase down Waltrip.
But in the end he fought the law and the law won,
he didn’t have a mark on his jaw one.

His neck sure dangled,
“Vats dat, soming new-fangled?”
asked Mr. Bones the bone specialist,

but Earnhardt didn’t answer.
His car came to rest on the infield grass,
a hundred fifty thousand fans stood as God kneeled,

looked into the car and said,
“Your racing days are over, you good ol’ boy!”
In a race with God, God always comes in first.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Henry Goes To The Mailbox In A Lorca Landscape

As Henry’s Aunt Eudovina drove his mother to give birth to the new baby,
Henry was sent to the mailbox. His father was working in the fields and
would go to the hospital later that evening. Henry never saw his mother
again,she died in childbirth. Henry was twelve.

“Y las que mueren de parto saben en la ultima hora
que todo rumor es piedra y toda huella latido.”

It’s the 1950’s and Henry’s playing
in the dirt driveway of a sharecropper’s
house on Huber Road

which is not paved with gravel
until it gets close to Highway 46,
this is before they put

Interstate 10 a mile away.
Mother has put a circle of stones
to denote the turnaround

to the south side of the house
just in front of the garage
Henry’s dad built himself.

Henry rides his bicycle
to the mailbox,
his dogs chasing him

there and back.
The dirt is Lorca blue
and the corn carnivorous.

Henry can’t read so he doesn’t know
what the mail says
and if the dogs know they aren’t telling.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Henry’s Elegy For Shelley Winters

Her big fat ass swimming upside-down
inside the Poseidon
like a baby whale,

this is, of course, years and years
after she had lost
that blonde bomb shell look

that gave men erections
and lesbians latherations.
She bedded famous actors,

Burt Lancaster, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable,
William Holden, Marlon Brando.
Later she played a grandmother on Roseanne.

But, when they torched a hole in the stern
to pull out the survivors
the hole would have been too small for her,

too small for her beauty and grace
but small enough
for the rest of the human race.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Henry’s Milwee Middle School Elegy For
Fifteen-Year-Old Christopher Penley

“As you can see, it doesn’t take
a professional to see how close this looks
like the real thing,’’

said Joyce Dawley,
Florida Department of Dumb Ass
Motherfucking Law Enforcement.

“Our retarded deputies
are not too bright
and sometimes even a snake

looks like a rifle to us
so we would be justified
in shooting your ass!”

“Milwee Middle School
is a war zone,” she continued
“those kids are being educated

and are already smarter
than the diddly squat SWAT twats.”
She said there would be a fool investigation.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Henry’s Elegy For The Harlem Renaissance

They rob the poor to pay the rich,
ain’t living in America a bitch,
even though the Constitution says it shouldn’t be.

No poor man, woman, children go untouched,
the Republicans dig into your pocket
and get pissed off if your pockets are empty.

The war against democracy
continues to claim innocent lives
and the poetry wars back home,

post-avant, Quietude, Servitude,
only matter to gringos,
not to those who’ve become accustomed to chingos.

When they killed Roque Dalton
it was rich Americans who pulled the trigger.
Sometimes your hues have to match Langston Hughes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

El Flaco And The Gordo Of It

from the bootleg copy of Down In Cuba
by the Beatles

The Old Gringo Carlos Fuentes
took a wild guess
and esplain to loosie.

Castro with his old-man shuffle
wore his army uniform with ruffles,
1956 Chevies paraded,

backfired and smoked.
Oh,the beauty of a Cuban cigar
and the screams coming from Guantanamo

like someone learning to strum the guitar.
John Lennon plays bass,maracas,bass.
The sky is gray,the clouds mayanaise.

Ringo retires and goes to bingo,
the smog lifts from LA
to reveal that we're manatees not men.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

They Sent A Taxi For Tomas Rivera

They sent a taxi for Tomas Rivera
but he was lost in East LA
parece que se lo trago la tierra.

They sent a taxi for Ricardo
but he was nowhere to be found
la muerte es un bastardo.

They sent a taxi for Max Martinez
but he was sound asleep
y se lo llevaron sin sus calcetines.

They sent a taxi for my friend Cecilio
he was in the mountains of New Mexico
pero hallaron su domicillo.

They sent a taxi for my friend Jim
but he was far away hunting buffalo
and I’ll be damned if death didn’t find him.

So my advice to you and to myself
is to stay put
until a taxi comes for death itself!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Am A Spoiled Brat, He Said In Paris France

He was just playing drunk,
his breath smelled of literary punk
and Robert Lowell’s mother skunk.

He was quick to lash out,
when he peed he would splash out.
Poetry was not what he was about.

He gathered flies around his head
long after his father’s halo was dead
and the right and wrong poetry read.

Today the black sheep of the family caterpillar
climbs McDonald’s Eiffel Tower like an art dealer
but the curly tail gives away the McSquealer.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Self-Portrait In A Convict’s Mirror

You young punks will not remember
when the pinto poets emerged
upon the scene machine,

a toda maquina,
the knives, the bullets of the words
they were shooting from the hip.

Ricardo Sanchez, raulsalinas,
whatever their crimes
they turned into rhymes,

Hechizospells from hell,
the iron bars that held raul
and his raza in the mind jail.

When the pinto poets looked in the mirror,
they didn’t see themselves---
they saw all of us!

Friday, January 06, 2006


Henry Turns Fifty-Nine

Henry wrote a clever line here
and a clever line over there,
stepped into his underwear, turned fifty-nine,

punished those he didn’t like
until they whined like swine.
The poetry of revolution

can battle pollution, disillusion,
institution, while listening
to the warriors of the past.

Meanwhile, the Republicans take their toll
because instead of a heart in their chest
they have a big green hole.

So Henry writes a line with a lot of spine,
something with backbone in it,
something Xilo, Max and the Black Hat Poet

would have laughed about
somewhere on the Westside of San Anto.
But the years have made Henry long in the snout,

his hair is whiter than the color white,
his birthday candles will not light,
his cake won’t respond to his toothless bite!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

jim sagel

like the pages of a book
that the wind pushes
towards a dark blue mystery
pass our lives

the smiles of my friend
will no longer give me pleasure
he’s in a space
sketched by a northern pencil
out of the luminous fiber
of his consciousness

after the service is over
we’re attacked by the confused
emotions of why

why dear friend

why not


it was my decision


respect it

a cape of blue gray clouds
cover the sacred mountains
of the Tegua

there I see
brother Herminio
making love
to a girl
behind the chicken coop

there I see knowitall understandnothing
deliberating where or not
he has the guts
to cut the throat of a goat

there I see Pedro
cutting his own hair
so that when Mrs. Sebastina comes
she will not recognize
his chaotic soul

there I see a lot more

I take two steps
and I am on the road

of legends
and medicinal plants

the sharp humor
of a gleeful dance
that provides the light
while the stories

of culture arrive
Indian and Hispanic
interwoven forever

like you loved
the mountains and the people

I continue to love them

the lowriders and dawns

I keep seeing them

the stories of the ancestors

I keep hearing them

did you love everything that much

everything has accumulated in my spirit
an eternal energy

I repeat why

everyone has to die

yes but we should all wait
for the moment

I choose my own moment

destiny should bring the moment

well I beat destiny

but we have
a moral responsibility

morality is relative
you know that

was it your decision

it was my right to make the decision

and you erased your future

life is not
necessarily short
what follows is eternal
and I give myself to it

but you were going
to accomplish a lot more here

I loved a beautiful woman
and I wrote a few poems and stories
the rest wasn’t that important

you were going to have a future
as a brilliant writer

I never wrote
to become famous

people will remember you

I believe my friends
will remember me

but with time…

that doesn’t bother me
time does not exist

it’s getting late
the church is the blurry recipient
where hearts flower
and become dust

the planet rotates
like drunk love

I hear my footsteps
in the cosmos
looking for a warm nest
to lie down in and meditate
the ambiguous significance
of desire
that makes us
do things

goodbye amigo

goodbye community
colored by fiction

in the making of existence
and in its re-invention
by Jim’s pencil
maybe this piece
of northern New Mexico
will be more real

by Cecilio Garcia-Camarillo
translation copyright@2006 by Reyes Cardenas

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


On seeing the glass cast of a human skull, “Parsifal,” by Tim Whiten at Meridian Gallery in San Francisco, 2004

I have not rolled away. Neither will I fall.
What directed one foot in front of my other made both my hands lift poles, heavy and settled on the shoulders, under the giant pump of work.
Tar and grit washed the forehead with clay.
Under grey-brown sky, what flows from smoking bones is squeezed from the ground.
A pail does the work, heat and my sweat are the same.
Eyelids turn inside out when the sun blinks.
Learn to be used by fire.
Leave aside what will not be felt again.
Sockets shut to sleep at the start of night.
What is my sword?
A way of waiting
Not mine not owned not wielded
But what I taste is the holding of myself in this position
Where what I do not do matters most
Not to fall and break
Nor lean too sharply
Not forget flame – itself my life
All that I know is steep
Beginning, the bird’s mouth closes over its claws

copyright@Mia Kirsi Stageberg, San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The poetry of Cecilio Garcia-Camarillo though
overshadowed by his work as publisher,editor
and catalyst for the Chicano Literary Renaissance
should not be forgotten and should not diminish
the importance of his poetic production.

foto 8

the chiaroscuro approach to your fate
positions remnant of your profile
always looking at the desert
still locked in the arrogance
of a will that believes
it’s at peace with itself

in the blackness clouds barely visible
bunched together to burst
in a violent rain

you tell me
with a cup of hot tea
that you dreamt a shower of cluster bombs
worming through the huge stillness
of a moonless night

who was dropping the bombs

it’s not important
the world is full of despots
who hate the desert

who did the bombs kill

don’t know it could have been you or me

were you afraid of the bombs

no I was very angry at them

the bombs or the men
who dropped them

actually I was still angry at you


because you’re so incomplete
and you can’t see it

who’s perfect
but you know the real problem
is your obsession to recreate me
in your own image

you never make any sense

are you still angry at me

I’ll always be angry at you
there’s no going back
on the decisions I’ve made

a speck of light flutters
off your iris

I can almost smell the sand
that will never be wet

destiny is at work
you tell me
and my destiny’s not with you

I have trouble seeing myself
without you
but I suppose I’ll get used to it

you’re so casual

and you’re so angry

I’m angry at the lost years
I could have written novels

but you were always too busy drinking

it helps my thinking
but you’re fucked up
and can’t understand

you’re the best I’ve ever known
at rationalizing

you’re so small-minded
why didn’t I see it from the beginning
there was an instant
when I actually thought
we could’ve conquered
the whole literary world

you’re drunk

and you’ve always been fucking scared
of success
but what has happened is history
and now I’m at another level
you say
turning towards the desert

I take long deep breaths
and my mind intertwines with the darkness

whatever happens I will always love you

it’s better if you love this desert
which is a mirror of my soul
and now go home and sleep querido

if you really love me go
go forever

and you kiss me

you take my face in your hands
then push your tongue
down my throat

as I leave my hot and dry room
that’s turning me into an insomniac
I taste your mouth
and desire the profundity of night

before I close the door
I notice for the first time
that the sand is underexposed
and then I feel
the first drops of an icy rain

22 enero 91
by cecilio garcia-camarillo

Monday, January 02, 2006


A planet filled with glowing fish, abandoned pillars, breath of asteroids, living moving clouds that speak. The planet’s overpowering ocean and its purple afternoon skies. Messages she sends her friends in flashing smoke. To see her loved ones, she must spin out ladders of damask and cornsilk, ladders that cross space and memory. People find a way to cross. They speak with her for days about the huge fjord of space. Her fine lunar shells, space whales beached on icy stones, the birds of yellow fire that only sang notes from a scale no one had heard. She said with her smile, Take what you truly need, my child. At the top of the mountains, see her open, arched hands, with lilac veins, with the softness of water reflecting life, with all the pains of mystery and loss held quiet. For this moment, the sky, for love of her hands, folds and moves and lights itself stretched over her fingers, like a beautiful headdress for a newborn girl.

by Itzolin Valdemar García, 1975-2003
from beatlick