Chicano Poet

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Mending Wall?

Everybody's talking and no one says a word
that's worth more than a turd,
the President's an idiot

and some of my fellow Americans are,too.
They're gonna build a fence in Texas
to keep out the illegal aliens

but guess who's gonna build it
and guess which side
they're gonna build it from.

Nobody told us there be days like this,
nobody had to tell us
but when you're brown you know what's coming down.

They're gonna build a fence in Texas
so I guess old man Robert Frost was right after all---
good fences do make good neighbors.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Henry The Applicant (after Sylvia Plath)

Are you our sort of person?
Do you hate Negroes, Mexicans, Jews,
are you toothless?

Are your breasts filled
with a saline solution,
are your privates private right now,

is your vagina pure with excitement?
Do your roller-skates fit in a teaspoon,
does your government start wars

just for the hell of it?
Do your pretty boys grow up to be gay,
do your daughters turn out sour?

When the maggots finish with you,
who eats the squirming worming?
I hope your mind is shatterproof,

I hope you have a roof over your head,
I hope your god is made of lead,
I hope your headaches hurt the galaxy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Henry’s Elegy For Chocolate

Amiri Baraka turned to chocolate
before my very eyes,
my glasses having been knocked off

as the North Tower crumbled to the ground.
If you were inside
you were dismembered,

if you were outside
you will remember.
When I finally found my glasses

the New York skyline told a lie
but the President believed it
and being the coward that he was

he pissed in his pants in Air Force One
and flew to Nebraska
because he was a bastard.

As Amiri Baraka turned to chocolate
all I could do was turn to brown
as the crowd walked out of town.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Henry’s Redneck Elegy For Buck Owens

They say you invented the Bakersfield Sound,
the HeeHaw hound and Lulu’s
great big bloomers

and that you laid that bouncy little blonde,
your American flag painted guitar
famous with the country crowd.

Grandpa fiddlin’, Roy on the banjo,
even Ringo sang one of your songs
while he bubbled bongs.

You gotta act naturally now,
you can’t joke about the wife
and the bloodhound won’t lick around,

it may whimper at your passing,
it may yelp at your going
and the pearly gates will fall off their hinges.

God will be there in cowboy boots,
a cowboy hat and a big old belt buckle
that says, “Howdy, Buck!”

Monday, March 27, 2006

Henry’s Elegy for Jim Beginning with A Line
From A Beatles’ Song

He blew his mind out in a car,
his poetry was strewn
all over the highway,

his poetry moaned and groaned
and loaned and phoned,
did time like raul salinas in the mind jail.

The soil itself in old Missouri
seemed to be in a hurry,
a crack in the New Madrid fault slipped

and the earth shook, the tsunami rose
and his poetry floated away,
reclaimed by those of us who knew him.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Niagara Falls: Slowly I turn, foot by foot
inch by inch…

El Corrido De Stanley Kunitz

Part 5 of 5

Henry and Mr. Bones leave the city
by walking and walking
in the modern day wilderness,

they cross the bridges, the rivers,
the streets and the once tall buildings
billow smoke like ugly New Jersey,

the skyline cracks under the pressure.
Henry and Mr. Bones catch a Greyhound
bound for Ezra Pound,

Henry and Mr. Bones catch a Greyhound
heading for Reading, Pennsylvania
for the next poetry beheading.

Once they reach Papalote
they watch TV five days straight.
Stanley and America bob up and down

on the East River like ducks.
Sometimes reality sucks
and sometimes all we can say is nyuk, nyuk..

Thursday, March 23, 2006

El Corrido De Stanley Kunitz

Part 4 of 5

The dust engulfs the threesome
and when the cloud has settled
they look like Casper or Klan members,

they taste sheetrock, cement,
the smell of burning paper
will not taper.

When the second building falls
they stand like wax figures
while women scream and cry

and Michaelangelo walks by,
Magritte puts his hat in front of his own face,
Christo wraps Saudi Arabia in toilet paper.

The poets remain speechless,
their words lack poetry
and their poetry lacks words.

Stanley quotes himself
and Jews chase Leroi Jones
to keep up with the black Joneses.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

El Corrido De Stanley Kunitz

Part 3 of 5

By this time Henry and Mr. Bones
have rushed to Stanley’s side,
hold him up as best they can,

offer him a cigarette,
roll up his ancient parachute.
“It’s ok, they’ll get everybody out.”

Mr. Bones tells Stanley
while Stanley recites a poem
he wrote in 1943,

“ a flower, a knee..” he rambles on.
Stanley, the poetic American,
yes, the very poetic American

we thought had died in 1958.
Eisenhower semen has destroyed
the will of the gringo.

Suddenly one of the buildings collapses.
Stanley can’t believe his eyes
and his eyes can’t believe Stanley.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

El Corrido De Stanley Kunitz

Part 2 of 5

When Stanley landed with a thud
he wasn’t using one of those
fancy new parachutes,

no, siree, he was wearing
one of those WW2 issue parachutes
and, of course, the concrete of New York

was very hard much like the people of New York,
anyway, he’s standing on the ground
when the next plane hits.

“Hay golpes en la vida tan fuertes …”
he says with a pain deep in his heart.
He hates the sight.

Stanley’s eyes reflect the horror
like a pool of sewage water,
firefighters run in his eyes,

policemen try to police
the terror in their badges,
the buildings take their turn and burn.

Monday, March 20, 2006

El Corrido De Stanley Kunitz

I saw Kent Johnson piloting
the first plane that slammed
into the Twin Towers,

he was waving his underwear
out the cockpit window with one hand
and a copy of Epigramititis

with the other hand,
his Arab co-pilot was desperately
trying to grab the book away from him.

Back in first class,
Carolyn Forche was willing
to join the Mile High Club

by having sex with Sandinistas,
in her window seat
Louise Gluck tried to imitate herself

while Stanley Kunitz
put on his parachute,
walked out on the wing and jumped.

Johnson kept yelling in Lorca Spanish
about his own lack of poetic skills.
Stanley landed and looked up at the fireball.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Henry’s Elegy For His Garden Gnomes

We launch our Luffewaffe
over northern Iraq
to eradicate the enemy

who’s fortified his positions
for the last three years,
why did we wait so long

before we did anything,
are the Generals just stupid asses?
We know the Commander-In-Chief is!

This is beginning to sound
like that kids' movie
The Never-ending Story,

where the planet is disintegrating
as they flee, will we be so lucky?
We’ve become the superrace.

We launch our Luffewaffe,
I see the bombs falling
and exploding in my front yard,

the garden gnomes have no heads,
no feet, no eyebrows, no stomachs---
their souls rise into the darkened sky.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ars Errata

I found a poem that was too big
I found a poem that was too small
I found a poem that was too tall

I found a poem that tasted like a fig
I found a poem that was too large
I found a piercing poem by Marge

I found a poem inside a van
I found a poem destroying heaven
I found Tagore at the Seven Eleven

I found that Ginsberg was Peter Pan
I found on the ground by following the sound
the cremated ounces of Ezra Pound.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sexy Girl

Subway To Downtown

We go into Quincy Market
to get away from the cold wind
sneaking around tall buildings

before you stepped off the curb
you didn’t look where you were going
and almost got hit by a bicyclist

but I put my hand on your shoulder
to stop you, winter wind kept blowing
in our faces all the way to the North Church.

Later, we have a cup in Doyle’s Café
before we head back to Braintree
where we parked the car

that will take us to Hull.
The Atlantic was still waiting for us
wave after faithful wave.

The Mid-Ocean Ridge bubbling out
its magma
like the head of a brand new child.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

from the fossil guy

Little Girl At Rush Hour

the sea had lost an arm
and was looking for it
in a splash somewhere now gone

in memory the splash
still hung in the air like a piece of wood
tree-rings placed by a dog’s paw

the side of a volkswagen
became wave after wave
hitting the shore

the blood of war
could be seen
squatted on the stars and stripes

the sea was right-handed
and had lost its right arm
a little girl jumped rope

on the neighborhood table
that had been dragged to the middle
of the yellow-sounding street.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Accent

My friend just back from Iraq
maybe six or seven months
and discharged from the army

was an optometrist at Abu Ghraib,
was back home now
looking for a different kind of job,

a release valve, a working vacation.
Well, one day while working
with a Lebanese guy

who’s been in America for over twenty years,
anyway, my friend gets pissed off
at the Lebanese guy and tells him

to go to hell or wherever it is
that Lebanese guys go
when they are told to do so.

A day later my friend says
“I didn’t know why I went off on him,
it wasn’t until today

that I realized it was the accent!”
Ever since the dawn of time
soldiers bring the war back home

and they have to deal with it
the best way they can.
The accent, the accent, huh? Damn.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Growing Up Chicano Brady In The 1950’s

I was the Chicano Brady
Alice fed me beans and tortillas
back in the kitchen,

I took the bus to the all black
and Chicano school
in the abandoned white neighborhood.

If I played basketball
in the driveway
and hit Marsha on the nose

it would not start a gang war
and though I didn’t have my own room
I was one of the Chicano Bradys

and though you don’t see my picture
on the opening credits
I was there and I am here

so you can’t wipe me away from history.
I was the misunderstood Chicano Brady
speaking Spanish to an English-speaking world.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Corn Dust

Down the dark country roads with dad
to steal gas from the “rich” landowner
back when gas was

twenty something cents a gallon,
we must have been dirt poor
and indeed we were,

mother making us boys our underwear
from the cloth of flour sacks,
one day we’d eat boiled beans,

the next day boiled beans leftovers,
tortillas hard in the basket,
dad a burnt brown from working

in the fields all day,
corn, cotton, sorghum,
the corn dust blowing

in through the farmhouse windows
I can still feel the sting
right here in my soul.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mr. Bones , if you write one of your stupid poems
don’t use my name!

But, Henry, everybody knows you’re the writer
in this triumvirate.

There’s no need to blaspheme down the stations
of the breath of this poor Chicano wannabe poet
who has lovingly given us a roof over our heads.

Henry, Henry, Henry, before we came into his life
he was a nobody.

The two continued their con(verse)ation ad infinitum
into the nightum.

Mr. Ed’s Incarnation Of Intarnation

Henry can always tell
when a brown poet
has studied under Philip Levine

because he will write
Levine poems
but occasionally throw in

a Spanish word or two.
The poems will not
take up too much room

in the heart or the mind.
The poems will not
better humankind

or make humankind worse.
The poems will have
no effect at all on brown

and Levine will
keep on teaching
what he teaches.

It’s not a crime of course
but neither
is a horse.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

George Thorogood And The Destroyer’s
“Bad To The Bone”

Mabel’s sweet thing went ding ding ding
in the echoes of confinement
and then she closed the door behind her.

Henry was aroused like Poe
holding Annabelle Lee
on his bearded knee,

some blackbird outside singing
for all he was worth
in Amboy Perth.

Mabel had a marvelous sea
that stood at small attention
when the boats came in the harbor,

her palm leaves fluttering on each shore,
the desert turning into a rainforest.
Henry smoked a cigarette,

poetry smoke-rings floating to the ceiling,
feelings replaced by solid feelings.
Mabel closed her eyes and slept.

She dreamed the pyramids were torn down,
stone by stone by stone
all the way down to the bone.

Monday, March 06, 2006

La Seductrice

I would feel like an Iraqi insurgent
would feel like when blown apart
by 50 caliber machine gun fire,

I would feel like six very young children
eviscerated by a car bomb
meant to further a cause,

I would feel like an American soldier
whose brain flies in pieces through desert air
after the roadside bomb explodes,

I would feel like an Iraqi policeman
gunned down in his police car
at an intersection,

I would feel like an Iraqi mother
looking at her bloody children
made unrecognizable by Air Force bombs,

I would feel like an American father
receiving the news that his son is no more
shot while on patrol protecting the oil pipeline,

I would feel like I should do something
and you would feel like you should do something
but we won’t.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Rocket Boy

He’s a rocket boy dashing
from here to there his tousled hair
obsessed with toys and play,

changing his mind about which dvd
he wants to watch,
Sponge Bob, Fantastic Four, the Hulk

or the Thunderbirds,
he likes to watch his dvds
on grandpa’s computer

probably because of the 33” screen,
earphones over his ears
lost in his little world

where the Hulk can fall
from outer space, crash to earth
and seek vengeance if he so pleases,

where Sponge Bob soaks up
the thoughts of children everywhere,
a silly Captain Nemo undersea

where the Fantastic Four perform
fantastic rescues, their powers manifold
by my grandson I am told.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Stuck in plastic
her heart proceeded from La Palma
like Anne Frank

pin-pointing the marvelous way
Internet predators would be caught
trying to seduce her if she lived today

but the house, half moondust
groped along
with doors and windows,

its whip raised high.
A birthmark hidden
from the Germans

rose up, unfolded wings
and flew away.
Ann put her head in her hands

and the sky rolled on dirty wheels.
A small round stone
crossed out her name from the living.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Lies of Navarone

He told her he loved her for her mind,
he was sure she wasn’t aware
that Lowell had said, “the mind is also flesh”.

How had the empire been lost,
Spanish criminal or criminal Christ?
Obscured by La Malinche’s volcano, El Popo?

He could not bring himself to tell her
that her waist was smaller
than Emily Dickinson’s.

A brain-cell does not divide a person,
gray matter in solitary confinement,
only the earth to roam!

Nobody blamed him for being Delmore Schwartz,
happy to hibernate
and somber.

In the end, the mouth of truth
is off on a Roman holiday
and Gregory Peck keeps lying his ass off.