Chicano Poet

Monday, June 30, 2008


The steady lights of the city
corral darkness around themselves,

you kick the sheets, first cold
then hot, life is not a railroad,

life is not dead buffalo
dragged up a cliff by Indians,

life is not gum stuck to a desk
by a teenager who will amount to nothing,

you get up, go to the bathroom,
crawl back in bed like a zombie.

Fifties music fills my head,
the night table turns into a fossil

and I walk on an empty Long Island
a thousand years ago

when you could still distinguish
the sound of the sea,

now we try to hide the heartbeat,
the bravery of not following the crowd.

If your pillows burst their feathers, you collect
each and every one of them into the gravity,

it’s not something I would or could do,
the words would choke me, should choke me.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Mistakes are only mistakes in Mistakeland
I tell myself, and you, being my opposite,

yet tell yourself the same thing,
neighbors, too, and so do tribes

in the jungles of Borneo
as I gather limbs brought down

by last night’s thunderstorms,
an empty bird nest lies on its side,

across the river, the skyline of the city
hangs against white clouds,

a news helicopter flies towards Rikers
where a petty thief has crossed the line

and as I look closer, the bridge Hart cherished
stands on shaky ground

according to the long range forecasts,
the ice is melting, somebody unplugged

the refrigerator, oh, General Electric,
oh, Sergeant tell me,

hurry up and get it over with
this isn’t sex I whisper to myself

but continue diligently to the bitter end
if only because it’s my job

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brooklyn Monologue

After the movie, the subway to nowhere,
(well, that’s what I call Brooklyn)

you decided to take a bath
with buildings, with jungles,

18th Century dresses, painted toenails,
sponges, hell, even gravel

which would not have been my choice
but then I am not a woman

whose decided water from non-water
and come out ahead somehow

which I have always admired
though I never really tell you what I’m thinking

as I go out to the backyard
to smoke a cigarette,

to clean the lungs so I can breathe
the real nation and its meanness from us.

When you come out wrapped in a towel,
hair wet, smiling eyes,

I melt into the stereo like a song,
spew lava like a Mexican volcano,

the plant you have by the front door
can not understand anything we understand,

you tell me, don’t forget to take out the trash.
The world is too much with us or not enough.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Picture Show

Just came back from a rendezvous with you.
I know it doesn’t seem like it,

the traffic and the buildings
battle it out, the river

arches its back like a cat.
Will a bowl of milk make it our friend?

Hurry before the dogs get here.
And the dogcatcher after the wild ones.

Nobody loves an alley,
the homeless only wander there

because they have no choice.
The moon has lost its romance,

the stars have all come crashing down.
Are those leftover moonbeams in your hair?

I suppose we should have discussed this
while we ate dinner,

or after the movie we both enjoyed
as if it was the last movie on earth.

The theater demolished as we exited.
They were giving away the popcorn.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Stone

How does a Tyutchevian stone
fall from the mountains above Palm Springs,

and finally roll all the way to Indio
where my father is working on his truck

so he can drive to Texas
with his then wife and son

(both of who are dead now,
her from disease, he from an accident,

a motorcycle accident at sixteen).
I don’t know how it rolled so far,

but my father and his friends
push the stone into the vineyards

where the purple grapes are being picked
by Mexicans who crossed the border

just days ago, they have no business
with Tyutchevian or his kind.

Why were we put in the middle?
The stone being such a singular object.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lord of the Wind

a wood carving by my brother Val


Henry and Mr. Bones fill sandbags
to keep out the Mississippi.

Men with big shoulders,
girls with golden thighs,

teenagers and old alike
fight the encroaching waters.

But it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.
These flood plains belong to her,

not to men who refuse
to learn the lessons taught.

Henry and Mr. Bones don’t know any better,
but you, my friend, snap out of it,

screams Cher in my favorite scene
from that movie whose title I can’t recall.

Friday, June 20, 2008

LATINITAS MAGAZINE is launching a National Writing Contest for Latinas (ages 14-24) on "What It Is To Be Latina." Top winners receive Dell DJ MP3 players and publication in the magazine. Submissions are accepted in two age categories. Entries by high school girls should be 750-1,000 words in first-person or AP style on one of the following subjects: What is it like to be a Latina female in your hometown? What does it mean to be a Latina female to you? As a Latina female, what are you doing something in your community to make a difference? Entries by college students should be 800-1,200 words in AP style on one of these topics: an investigative piece on an issue facing the young Latinas, a profile of an extraordinary Latina, or a feature story on a new trend in the Latino community. Submit via e-mail or by regular mail to P.O. Box 4284, Austin, TX 78765. Deadline: June 30. (Call for Entries)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Ins And Outs

Exasperated, I turned Sylvia inside out.
To find what Made her Tick.

I lit a match just to make Sure.
The fireBall showed every deTail.

I heard Frieda crying in the other rooM.
I heard NichoLas craWling.

TeD was oFf with some Peruvian chick
he’D picked up with a sPade.

It Doesn’t take heart and GUTS---
those are whEEled off on a CaRt.

The sIpIrt is not maDe of fLesh.
gOd’s Only gOOd iDea.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Emily Dickinson At The San Antonio Zoo, 1955

I let Emily Dickinson loose at the zoo.
Being a man, I didn’t know any better.

Because she couldn’t wait for the lions to die,
she killed them with her own bare hands.

Giraffes she attired in frumpy dresses.
Virgins she warned about the ways of the male.

She kept calling a gorilla, Reverend.
She cuddled with horses bound for heaven.

She liberated imprisoned trains
by derailing them.

It was no ordinary zoo
which she peopled with her favorite animals.

Friday, June 13, 2008

With The Young Robert Wagner

Henry like white women, mostly college girls.
But Mr. Bones chase only black girls.

No milk mustache for him.
He never hung out with Reggie and Veronica.

Henry’s a jughead and everybody knows it.
He’s ain’t writ no poem, pretty bad

considering he’s Berryman’s alter ego. Eh?
Mr. Bones is quite a Romeo.

At this, Henry’s face gets red,
and redder if they invent the color.

Mr. Bones comes up for air.
That girl was in Beneath The 12 Mile Reef---

he’s gasping in Henry’s face.
The whiff knocks him conscious.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Post-Avant Poem

In the Continental Thrift theory,
the super continent Gondwana
stays intact.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sky of Omar Salinas

The sky of Omar Salinas is full of birds.
No mass-extinction here. Being a creature
held to the ground by his Mexican and
Chicano heritage, his roots always try to
drag him underground. He envies birds.
Larks, starlings, pigeons, sparrows. Hell,
he even envies buzzards. They represent
a freedom from his illness: manic depression.
And we’re not talking about the Jimi Hendrix
song. Because his illness is like death to him,
it attacks him like the Grim Reaper, but leaves
him alive, in pain, squirming in agony. It
leaves him alive to face the torture life becomes
for him when he comes down from the elation
of the good days. In each and every poem he
creates an escape module to the sky via the
birds. But gravity brings every bird back down
to earth.

Hey,don't be a jerk!
Visit Xicanopoetry Daily today.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Salinas' poems I have been posting
come from the book The Sadness of Days,
published in 1987 by Arte Publico Press.
Don't know if the Press still sells any,
but the book is available on the Internet.

The Odds

When the odds are against you
all you have to do is grin…
How does a man of substance
learn to divide and subtract?
But by paying attention
and simply trying. How does
anyone do anything? Even animals
have customs; I only wish
they could ask a perfect
question like what time is it?
or, when do I have to go to bed?
Going to bed is difficult, especially
if you don’t have someone dear…

Let the dead-mad divide and
anger the moon, but I prefer
to simply go unadorned
among kings and hold my head
high among the common towns
I come from, unnoticed in my
open coat and summer hat.
I’ve known dogs in my life
who have died gallantly
with feet straight up in the air.

by Luis Omar Salinas

Friday, June 06, 2008

After I’m Gone

The room will smell of olives
and oleanders.
I will want to wake up
and see the rain,
touch some faces with my fingertips,
and apologize.
I will want to kiss the earth
and take my eyes to a Mexican

But the air will be blue,
my loved one will be dressed
in black, soused, and in tears.
On the far side of town
will be a band headed for the madhouse.
My sons and daughters will
be playing games.

The pages of my manuscripts
will blow loose
and turn into flies.
Everyone will be killing flies
and I’ll be a romantic
again dreaming about crazy women
dressed in red.
I’ll be quietly dreaming
again after I’m gone.

by Luis Omar Salinas

Thursday, June 05, 2008

...another Salinas poem...

That My Name Is Omar

I suffer that my name is Omar Salinas.
That I want to touch someone in the
incredible loneliness of nights.
That I frighten away those I should
be close to. I suffer when I go crazy
and can't love anyone. Whether it
is Tuesday or Sunday. I suffer.
I suffer a lust for fame and
immortality. That I tried to
commit suicide. That I have
compassion for the unfortunate.
I suffer the death of matrimony.
The death of my mother.
The eyes of God.
I want to understand this and that
and come up with zero.
What should I do
but walk and look at the lovely sky?

by Luis Omar Salinas

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Elegy For An Aztec Angel

Death is for the birds,
said Salinas to Salinas.

He spoke this of himself:
crazy as a loon,

sacrificial like Aztecas,
women’s breasts he always cherished,

and don’t forget the drink.
Death is for the birds he said,

and the birds sang in his honor,
“death is for salinas,death is for salinas" *

Salinas found it funny, shut his eyes,
and took wing into the darkening skies.

*(Birds don't capitalize.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

here's one for anisa

Aztec Angel


I am an Aztec angel
of a scholarly society
I do favors
for whimsical magicians
where I pawn
my heart for truth
and find my way
through obscure streets
of soft-spoken


I am an Aztec angel
forlorn passenger
on a train
of chicken farmers
and happy children


I am the Aztec angel
fraternal partner
of an orthodox society
where pachuco children
hurl stones
through poetry rooms
and end up in cop cars
their bones itching
and their hearts
busted from malnutrition


I am the Aztec angel
who frequents bars
spends evenings
with literary circles
and socializes with spiks
niggers and wops
and collapses on his way
to funerals


the sky
opens my veins
like rain
clouds go berserk
around me
my Mexican Ancestors
chew my fingernails

I am an Aztec angel
offspring of a woman
who was beautiful

by Luis Omar Salinas

Sunday, June 01, 2008

This photo of Omar was taken by Karen Harlow McClintock.
There is an article by her at La Bloga about Omar.

Luis Omar Salinas left this world on May 25,2008.
He will continue his gypsy wanderings in a better world.

 Crazy Gypsy


I am Omar
the crazy gypsy
nimble footed
and carefree

I write poems
on walls
that crumble
and fall

I talk to shadows
that sleep
and go away

I meet fearless girls
who tell me
their troubles
my loneliness
bottled up in their


I am Omar
the crazy gypsy
I write songs
to my dead mother
hurl stones
at fat policemen
and walk on sea weed
in my dreams

I walk away from despair
like a horse walks away
from his master
end up in jail
eating powdered eggs
for breakfast


My spine shakes
to the songs
of women

I am heartless and lonely
and I whistle a tune
out of one of my dreams

where the world
babbles out loud
and Mexican hat check girls
do the Salinas Shuffle
a dance composed
by me on one
of my nightmares
and sold
for a bottle
of tequila.


I am Omar
the crazy gypsy
I waltz through avenues
of roses
to the song
of Mariachis


I am Omar
the Mexican gypsy
I speak of love
as something
whimsical and aloof
as something
naked and cruel
I speak of death
as something inhabiting
the sea
awkward and removed
I speak of hate
as something
nibbling my ear