Chicano Poet

Monday, April 30, 2007

Looking For Raquel Welch

When Artemio arrives home,
it’s dark o’clock in the shade
and the clouds sweat rain.

At baggage claim,
a girl grabs Artemio’s bag by mistake,
he points out her error,

she apologizes profusely,
her smile glistens
in the terminal long after she’s gone.

Artemio hails a taxi,
the Interstate is jammed at this time of day,
the Neanderthal taxi driver

is apparently still evolving,
still surviving,
still hunting and gathering.

Artemio grunts when he
gets to his destination,
and the Neanderthal grunts back.

As he steps out of the taxi,
Artemio looks around for Raquel Welch,
but it’s a million years too late.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Flying Mexicana

At the conference, Artemio tries to explain
how he, as a poet, got to this point
in his creative career.

He goes back to his roots,
the Olmec head of his great-grandfather,
a lowly go-fer, no doubt.

And how Artemio groveled his way up
from nothing in the white man’s eyes,
to nothing in his own brown community.

“So it is this art I am obligated to…”
he curses and smiles.
“It’s our humor that brings us tears,” he promises.

Outside, you can wrap the smog in tamales,
eat the corn leaves, down cervezas,
eye the behinds of women.

A slight earthquake is not enough
to shake up Artemio.
He’s due to fly back to clueless America tonight.

To be welcomed by the skyline
of ice-cream cone buildings
cold as Huidobro’s Arctic poems,

cold as the decision-making
of the nation’s fearless leaders,
blind as Borges but with no insight whatsoever,

cold as Pinochet
but with delusional gods and democracy
on their side.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Observations Off The Top Of His Head

The view from the top is majestic,
the poverty polite,
the sun a little older than in olden times.

Artemio swallows,
takes a deep breath,
starts down at an obscene angle.

What were these brown bastards thinking,
couldn’t they be satisfied
with climbing volcanoes?

What kind of knuckleheads
would amputate the heart,
hold it up high for praise?

Not that it would save their asses---
though millions of them have survived.
“I repeat, not that it would save their asses.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Climber Of Heights

Artemio climbs the Pyramid of the Sun,
not to pay homage to his ancestors.
No, indeed, because Artemio’s ancestors

were dirty little Indians from
modern day Tamaulipas,
living off fish and flotsam,

content with fish-eye soup,
mounting their women doggy-style,
greasing their hair with animal fat.

Whatever past he has, he’s proud of it.
Artemio’s never been a denier.
He’s an honorable fellow, not Spanish at all.

Random Thoughts On The Way
To His Hotel

Artemio gets into the green & white taxi
with the word written
in Mexican Black Letter.

In the distance a pyramid
to get rid of, he thinks.
Old Spanish guts still spilled, there, he points.

Paz said La Malinche did it for moola
with a mula, it’s difficult
to assess the difficulty therein.

The better part of the Aztec race
joined the other side
claims the same Paz,

and the cowardly lion Refrain Huerta
was afraid of the delicious door,
he called it, la puerta rica.

Artemio finally arrives at his hotel,
The Hotel Moctezuma,
the pick pocket

eight year old boys
swirl like Tasmanian devils
in the nearby alley.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Chicano Burglar

The Chicano burglar
gets 99 years
while the rich white swindler
who operated his
crooked business
here in Seguin
gets off with a slap
of the wrist;
the lady down the street
has three little kids,
no child support,
works at the grocery store,
makes five-fifty
an hour,
can't pay the bills,
waits as a white woman
writes out a check
for groceries and a copy
of People magazine;
the brown boy
follows her
with the bags
out to the new Mercedes,
the well-groomed
white poodle
jumps up and down
when it sees its mistress.
The lady does not
tip the boy.
This is what this country
is all about,
if you are rich
you are equal to other rich people;
if you are poor
you are equal to other poor people.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Artemio's Man On The Moon Haiku

I followed Armstrong down the steps
of the Lunar Lander.
The bastard left me behind when he split.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Artemio's Disaster Haiku

I was climbing Cumbre Vieja
when half the island slipped into the sea.
Soon Miami and New York City will join Atlantis.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Artemio's Sun Haiku

I traveled to the sun,
that's where the yellow road diverged.
See me? I'm a sun spot.

Artemio's Rain Haiku

I took the rain apart
to see what it was made of.
I ended up wet as hell.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Insurrection Of Emily Dickinson

A few months ago an astounding
and world-changing thing happened in Amherst
when suddenly a woman resembling Emily Dickinson

was discovered walking the city streets
in a tattered, dirty dress,
in a confused state of mind.

It is only today that all the doctors
and their instruments agree
that it is, indeed, Miss Emily Dickinson,

and, yes, she had been dead,
but she has come back to us.
Just how, science can not as yet tell us.

The President and the Vice-President
apparently have been taken
to their respective bunkers,

and from the safety of the television tube
the President tells the nation not to panic
even though our military’s tied up in Moslem wars,

and Emily the man-eating female is on the prowl.
Then, the President stops in mid-speech
as he hears a terrible pounding on the bunker’s iron doors.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Love Song Of Tom Tancredo

Artemio’s listening to Tancredo*
rave against the illegals
on CNN with Lou Dobbs.

Artemio can’t help but chuckle
especially when he remembers
the story his brother told him

not that long ago.
Here it is in a nutshell:
Artemio’s brother

works for a Raytheon subcontractor
in north Texas,
making missile components,

and out of the nearly four hundred workers
at this defense department subcontractor,
well over eighty percent speak only Spanish.

Artemio turns back to the TV,
and by this time, Tancredo and Dobbs
are foaming at the mouth.

*Ironically, Tancredo and Dobbs
both own Raytheon stock.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Do You Remember The Good Old Days?

for Clyde Torres
(Lubbock Playboy and Chicano
Literary Critic)

Do you remember the good old days
when Ricardo Sanchez
battled Alurista at the Floricantos,

sin mascaras, with mil maracas?
Million man march, my brown butt…
using the n-word, Nahuatl!

Tigre esquinando a Ricardo,
Tigre was Ricardo’s right hand man.
Alurista backed up by Aztec dancers,

flutes, flores, cantos.
Today, Mexican-“American” writers
write only childrens' stories

or detective borers, or cuentos
about crossing the desert
or the Rio Bravo.

Meanwhile, the old lady of Chicano Letters,
la viejita Carmen Tafolla
reveals to us

that La Llorona was bipolar,
and La Malinche, a heroine.
Just then, Artemio wakes up

from his long and feathery dream,
drives to work in his
blue and white Volkswagen van,

wondering along the way, if anybody still remembers
the good old days when Ricardo Sanchez
battled Alurista at the Floricantos.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Artemio, The Toweled-Serpent

God, look at Artemio’s skinny legs
as he strolls on the sand
of this misnamed Padre Island.

The bikinied girls show off
their cubistic pubistic,
but Artemio turns around

as they walk by
because he’s an ass man.
The offshore oil wells

litter the gulf within sight
of Artemio’s hotel.
The freighters appear glued

to the horizon,
the seagulls swarm
over children who toss bread

into the clear blue sky.
For the moment, Artemio
has lost the whole of Aztlan.

He’s not even a Chicano right now,
he’s barely human,
towel in hand, sand between his toes,

sunglasses hiding his eyes.
The waves arrive and arrive,
and for a million years

having been looking for Artemio,
but by now
he’s on the fourth floor balcony

of his hotel, out of reach,
out of sight.
The waves, bewildered, turn back.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Vamonos Porque Aqui Asustan

Artemio had made that
fateful trip back to Seguin,
and it’s true what they say,

the more things change
the more they stay the same.
At fifty-nine,

Artemio is still the same child of ten
holding his grandfather’s hand
in Normanna, Texas

where the gringo tells his grandfather,
“we don’t serve Mexicans here!”
so they drove on down the road

to buy hamburgers in another dusty town
where other gringos did serve Mexicans.
Now, as Artemio drives to Corpus Christi

to partake of the beaches,
he drives through the ghost town
which used to be Normanna.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Artemio Sanchez Today

Kennedy was shot the next day in Dallas,
Artemio watched the black & white broadcasts
on the hospital television

along with the other “inmates”.
Artemio often wondered about
this other country

which existed alongside his,
occasionally bleeding over
into his own Mexican world.

The other Mexicans across the border
were completely unknown to him.
His great-grandparents

had been born in Tejas.
He was confused
not only about the meaning of his life,

but also about the mixed-up world
that preached one thing
and practiced another.

So Artemio decided to keep the identity
he kept inside his own head,
and to this day he honors it,

and, of course, he pays the price for it,
but, at least, he doesn’t have to pay for it
in dollars.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Artemio’s Revenge

Artemio grew his own lungs
like a lizard Quetzalcoatl
grows back his severed tail.

Artemio tasted the new air
silent upon a peak like stout Balboso
in Highland Hills.

Artemio toured the Mission San Jose
when Spanish priests
enslaved and brain-washed Indians.

Artemio heard Kennedy speak
across the street
from the tubercular hospital.

Kennedy was offering a New Frontier,
apparently there were other lands
to be stolen from the Moon Mexicans.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

In The Tubercular Ward

Pancho Lopez, owner of Hidalgo Hall,
couldn’t take it and fled
the tubercular hospital before he was cured.

Mr. Garcia collapsed in the hallway,
Artemio was ten feet behind him
when his old, bald head hit the floor.

The orderlies carried him to his cubicle dead.
Gil came from legendary Rosenberg cotton
to fall in love with Nancy the nurse.

Rod, the male orderly talked like a girl.
Margaret the lunch lady
made wonderful, runny eggs.

Artemio wrote poetry to pass the day,
Artemio wrote poetry to pass the night
until Dr. Frankenstein cut out Artemio’s lungs.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Artemio Sanchez El Quinceanero

Back in 1963 when Artemio was fifteen
he spent a year and a half
in the San Antonio tubercular hospital.

The hospital was divided into wings,
you know, like schools.
All males in one wing,

all females in another.
One day Artemio noticed
a new arrival in the women’s section,

a girl named La Margaret
from San Marcos,
home of Poeta Villanueva.

Artemio courted La Margaret,
unsuccessfully, until two months later
when her sister Dominga arrived.

A lot of Mexicans got TB back then.
Anyway, Artemio and Minga became an item,
and exchanged bacilli with their besos.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Major Poet

He wanted to be a major poet,
but he couldn’t ‘cause he was brown.
He wanted to be a major poet,

but he couldn’t ‘cause he was black.
He wanted to be a major poet,
but he couldn’t ‘cause he was gay.

She wanted to be a major poet,
but she couldn’t ‘cause she was she.
She wanted to be a major poet,

but she couldn’t ‘cause she was lesbian.
He wanted to be a major poet,
and, indeed, he could be, ‘cause he was white.