Chicano Poet

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bridge Of Sighs

Artemio’s hometown, which has a total
of twenty-seven hundred bridges,
has decided to get rid of every single one of them.

They will be imploded,
they will show it live on TV. Bridges that span
the Colorado River, all the I-35 bridges,

bridges that traverse Walnut Creek.
And what is the purpose
of all this bridge destruction, you ask?

Well, it’s not that hard to figure out.
The city council has hit upon the idea that
it can get rid of the homeless by destroying their “homes”.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Vatos Locos

El Louie had not been a friend to Artemio.
Actually, Artemio didn’t care for the vato,
he ran with a different crowd.

El Louie and his gang
thought you had to be
a macho to be a man.

Sometimes that will
run you afoul of the law,
and of your own strict rules, Artemio warned.

So they buried El Louie
and on the third day
he rose to heaven.

God (otherwise known as Chuy)
somehow found it in his heart
to forgive Louie all his faults,

and they were many.
God found a dirty little corner
where he put troublemakers like El Louie.

And to this day the vato stands there
collecting dust and spiders
along with the other vatos locos.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kingsbury Street Blues

Artemio sucked at pinball
in the pre-Chicano days
of Kingsbury Street

where one of the Nieto twins
was killed by a car,
where Artemio courted

one of their sisters.
Her musk still present
in his nostrils.

These decadent years later
Artemio hears that
she has died of cancer,

died young like her mother.
Heartbreak does not heal heartbreak,
and now even Kingsbury Street has died,

except for the chicken feathers
which escape the Tyson chicken plant
and float to the local college.

Oh, God, for such an education
to finally solve the riddle.
What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Big Red Nebraska Sharks

Back in the Fifties
Artemio’s old third grade teecher
Miss McMurdock always told us mexicans

“never capitalize mexican!”
Artemio was too young to understand,
went on and procreated,

remained unaware till now.
It seems one day his daughter
showed her mother a book of poems

she was reading. She was writing poetry, too,
and she told her mother
she liked the way this poet wrote.

After agonizing weeks,
Candy finally told her daughter
that the poet she admired so much

was actually her father. He’s your father.
Her daughter was excited and stunned,
and that’s how she ended up

on Artemio’s doorstep.
The maelstrom of modicum
upon her shy face,

fracturing Artemio in half.
Grandchildren circled the old man
like shark fins.

How To Handle Fiction

What does a smile mean to the stones,
to the troglodytes, to the man who has everything
except Raquel Welch’s womanhood?

Artemio fights off a caveman,
pulls another by the hair,
clubs another one to death.

Raquel befriends a pterodactyl,
because what charms a man
will also charm a creature.

What plans we have
reveal themselves on the wall,
a saber-tooth, a trilobite

snag in our nets of spleen.
An exclamation in Raquel
floats on the surface in ruins,

her outfit torn apart by lust.
The win can come
from other centuries.

Artemio sees his reflection
in the still sea,
salt coating the pyramids,

each wall made up of blocks
which father other blocks.
Raquel touches his reflected shoulder.

The jellyfish and angel fish, startled,
scatter from the pier
as an ancient tennis ball washes ashore.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


A woman takes off her arms,
go ahead, look inside, she says.
Artemio peers inside,

ah, the lungs, the beating heart,
the stomach full of menudo,
and lower down, the womb.

He cranes his neck
and is able to see
out of her vagina.

He urges her
to put her arms back on.
She obliges.

It finally dawns on Artemio
that this is Candy Gamez.
Is this her revenge?

Why couldn’t she be
like most women,
and just demand child support?

She pushes Artemio’s daughter in his face.
His thirty-seven year old daughter
shuffles her feet like a little girl.

There is no way to make amends
short of going back in time,
and even the present is irretrievable.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Grandeur That Was Greece
And The Glory That Was Rome

After Artemio’s mother died in childbirth,
Artemio’s father, the gutless wonder,
found a new love

and this new love convinced him
to move out West,
“let’s move to greener pastures…” she told him.

And they moved to Thermal, California.
Surfing desert if you ask me
Artemio would have said,

but he wasn’t smart enough to know better.
So they moved to Beverly
like in that old hillbilly TV show.

But, Artemio was a little Jethro
left behind with his grandparents.
No cement pond, no palm trees, just these memories

which provided substance,
which lay the foundation.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Fog

(Artemio, five years old)

Artemio’s mother helps him with his underwear
(hand-made by her from flour sack material)
as Artemio lifts one foot

and then the other
next to the wood-burning stove
to stay warm.

His Uncle Juan and Aunt Duvina
stand around and wait.
At this point the fog

of the ancient past does not lift.
Triceratops might as well prowl outside.
Martians and their ray guns

could be annihilating earthlings.
Out in the fields of corn
that grow today,

perhaps, perhaps Artemio could put
that whole day back together.
What a treasure it would be!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Artemio’s mother lies at the cemetery
just above Geronimo Creek.
The trees stretch their arms,

but they can not reach her with their shade.
The clouds dip down but lose their crown,
the sun tries its best to brighten her day,

but it is ninety million miles away.
Failure, failure is what one would expect.
The birds whistle their songs for her,

the mockingbird wears out its beak.
Hell, the son-of-a-bitch even learns to speak.
Alas, only the ornithologists seem impressed.

Artemio’s mother lies at the cemetery
just above Geronimo Creek,
the boards of the old bridge used to rattle

to let her know Artemio was on the way
for one of his rare visits.
Unfortunately, the county has gone

and built a brand new bridge.
The dead don’t like surprises,
so Artemio bangs two boards together

just as he approaches with flowers
and a Virgen de Guadalupe candle.
The new bridge looks confused.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chicano Ice Age

Artemio wipes off his club,
hair stuck to his fingersnails
from having pulled the animal

across dirt and rocks.
The sky, dinosaur-blue,
echoes with the sound of beasts

intent on taking their toll.
Artemio skins the saber-tooth tiger
that almost took his life,

the teeth will be his trophies.
He will not share it
with the shaman.

Artemio mixes pigments
to celebrate his victory
on the cave wall.

The others huddle at the entrance,
their furs flutter
in the chill wind.

Long, dirty matted hair
meticulous to the pellets of ice
that begin to fall.

May 4, 2007
2:00 PM
2:07 PM

Friday, May 11, 2007

Flea Flicker

In the Seguin High School stadium
a black boy outruns all the white boys
into the end zone for a touchdown.

This is right after they integrated
the schools in Seguin.
The Mexicans around Seguin

had no football saavy,
or, at least, that’s what everyone
was led to believe.

Artemio had no talent
for any sports indeed, no talent whatsoever,
though sometimes his poems appeared in The Cricket.*

Yet, the two hundred pound defenders
were no match for him, the linebackers
stood stunned, their hands on their hips,

a dumb, puzzled look
on their stupid faces, thinking,
stinking Mexican sure has a way with words!

*Seguin High School student paper

Thursday, May 10, 2007


after Vallejo, of sorts

On an otherwise peaceful, dusty road
an American soldier lay dying.
A fellow soldier was pleading, don’t die.

Two other fellow soldiers came up
and said, don’t leave us,
but he kept on leaving.

The medics arrived, started first aide,
begged him not to die,
but he kept on dying.

An email came from back home,
the attachment contained photos of wife & kids,
but he went on dying.

Even the enemy reared his ugly head,
repented, asked for forgiveness,
but the American soldier kept on dying.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Riddle

Artemio was helping Noah gather pairs
for the Ark, two of everything,
venturing far and wide,

into valleys, mountains, deserts,
paradises, lavish palaces, ghettos.
You get the picture, don’t you?

Anyway, Artemio brought back a gay couple,
man and man, a lesbian couple,
woman and woman.

But, Noah, said no, we don’t need them.
And, so, when the collection was finished,
and the rain started coming down,

everything on earth perished
except for what Noah
had crammed into the Ark.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Miss Brazil

Artemio’s compadre & comrade Ernesto Cardenal
once asked, rhetorically, of course,
“ and you, what do you want.

To go to bed with Miss Sweden or Miss Brazil?”
If Artemio had a choice
he would chose Miss Brazil,

if she was nice and brown,
if she came with money or land.
Or, at least, a mother worth looking at.

He’d take her for a ride
in his punch-you-in-face-blue GTO,
stick shift, kickass motor,

never mind the bleeping polease,
dem hillbilly texas cops always eating
BBQ donuts at Deputy Dog’s Donert Shoppe.

Yes, indeed, Artemio would chose Miss Brazil’s
sculptured body, marvelous breasts,
and those beautiful buns,

but, most of all, Artemio would chose Miss Brazil
because of the cute way she says
she’ll work for world peace if she wins.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Jan.6,1990-May 5,2006

Hope you are sniffing
the hell out of heaven!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Prayer For Anna Nicole Smith

Lord (if that’s what you truly are)
accept this girl called Anna Nicole,
though that was not her real name,

but, hell, you’re a smart-ass,
you know her real name, you know
she was raped at nine,

you, of all people, know she tried
to kill herself at sixteen,
you know she ran away

from a devilish family
and became a Playboy model.
Lord, you gave her those breasts

and that vagina,
yes, your best creations
finally paid off, at least, for her.

But soon the tabloids killed her,
and the greedy lovers and relatives
kept her lifeless body in limbo

in a Florida morgue,
every orifice plugged
to keep her essence from escaping.

Lord (wink)
accept this lost girl
who was hounded to death,

lay her body down next to Marilyn
for eternity --- if you, indeed,
possess that kind of power. Chump.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

An Evening With Lorca

They knocked on the door
and told the person who opened it,
“We know Federico is here,

tell him to come out, or we will
drag him out!” Federico appeared.
“Come with us.” they ordered him.

Two miles away, behind a nondescript building,
they made him face an old brick wall.
In the darkness, Federico could see

the wall, the hands of the laborers
who piled the brick, the green moss
cool to the touch if he dared touch it.

Then, a pop mixed with silence
and an unknown feeling took hold of him.
He begin to think, “There’s nothing like dea…

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Google "The Emperor Of Ice Cream"
and one of the returns might be this:

A juicy part of the Lord Byron story
has always been his supposed seduction
of his half-sister Augusta Leigh,and,
yet,Wallace Stevens's incestious
relationship with his grown daughter
receives little or not attention.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Hunt

Raquel Welch in white bikini
in the pre-Cambrian seas
oozes onto the shore.

As she walks, pebbles knock each other down,
sunlight hammers its own disk
into a grotesque flatness.

She smiles into the dizzying sky
which avoids the shrunken wind,
the wind fights back with open legs.

It has been Artemio’s dream,
hell, it has been
every man’s dream.

In a rush to impregnate every female,
we get trapped by the pleasure
that simmers at the hand,

galloping antelope distract us,
spears froth in our direction,
and it is no longer clear who or what we are.