Chicano Poet

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Arise, Chicano!

In your migrant's world of hand-to-mouth days,
your children go smileless to a cold bed;
the bare walls rockaby the same wry song,
a ragged dirge, thin as the air...

I have seen you go down
under the shrewd heel of exploit—
your long suns of brutal sweat
with ignoble pittance crowned.
Trapped in the never-ending fields
where you stoop, dreaming of sweeter dawns,
while the mocking whip of slavehood
confiscates your moment of reverie.
Or beneath the stars—offended
by your rude songs of rebellion—
when, at last, you shroud your dreams
and with them, your hymn of hope.

Thus a bitterness in your life:
wherever you turn for solace
there is an embargo.
How to express your anguish
when not even your burning words
are yours, they are borrowed
from the festering barrios of poverty,
and the sadness in your eyes
only reflects the mute pain of your people.

Arise Chicano!—that divine spark within you
surely says—Wash your wounds
and swathe your agonies.
There is no one to succor you.
You must be your own messiah.

— by Angela de Hoyos ©

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To Walt Whitman

hey man, my brother
prophet democratic
here's a guitar
for you
-a chicana guitar-
so you can spill out a song
for the open road
big enough for my people
-my Native American race
that I cant seem to find
in your poems

by Angela de Hoyos

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Memory of Angela

in Teatro Guadalupe
after the strong voice of Doctor Sanchez
and the well-thought-out

reasoning of raulsalinas

you stood up and said Arise Chicano

and we did

Saturday, September 26, 2009


my thoughts
like anxious bees
go probing
into the 'why' of things:

for I sit here, complacent
while penitent beings
like spectres void of hope
pass before me
in sorrowful procession

yet, in my shop of
timid dreams
what song could I invent
that would sustain them
—that would serve as bread
for an empty morning?

—Angela de Hoyos
San Antonio, Texas

Rest In Peace, Angela

Friday, September 25, 2009

Your Daddy

for n.

Your daddy’s booming voice downstairs
now claimed by leukemia

the boat he built sold off
phantasmagoric stones down on the beach

gather their roundness about themselves
like a cloak

the train comes all the way
into Hull now

even the Atlantic Ocean thinks
hey, this might be a shortcut into Boston

bypassing the dirty bay
the slimy fish

the ships digging into my spine
it is for this very reason

I hate personifying the sea
it takes over my voice

which took so long to find
and, now, I have to share it?

let it fend for itself
let it take the long way in

that’s what your daddy
would say

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Un Trip Por La Mind Desert

for anisa

In the Arizona desert
Juan Felipe turns into a red tarantula

the sun makes its own tortillas he yells
delirious he mumbles something

about Oscar Zeta Acosta having man boobs
but soon the desert night calms him

purple nopales place him
into the backseat gently

in his dreams he confuses Gila monsters
for La Llorona’s children

and struggles to save them
in the morning he’s full of poems

and tries not to run over them
he wipes them off the rearview mirror

the door handles the dashboard
the steering wheel the sky itself

when he comes to his senses
he’s finally crossed into the prose of New Mexico

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who were those masked men?---We Gotta Go!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tierra Amarilla

born from the side of a woman
like Cain and Abel

he struck a chord
in haste

the brown cat of Action Poetry
El Movimiento (place whiskers here)

how many poets answered the call
with a sword

or guns blazing sirens blaring
only Tijerina was not yellow

the rest of us took up the pen
or gave up

became teachers
the easy way out

or like so many
became the enemy

Friday, September 18, 2009

borrowed from

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Reading Of 1995

The maze of Boston would confine
the minotaur

frescoes of dolphins could not
survive from Braintree to Faneuil Hall

snowflakes as large and white
as Robert Frost

or Cal off his rocker once again
I compare me poems to a summer’s day

the glossy ice beneath Cal’s step
you can’t pull poetry out of me anymore

writes Elizabeth in a sweetening letter
glue unlicked a stamp collector’s wet dream

signing her John Hancock
next to the skyscrapers

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Hat

Your photo against the topaz river
I think of what might have been

the passion of neglect doesn’t feel it
the “m” from “poem”

dropped to make a little man
heart pounding in the greasy garden

the sky’s blue face
apparently can’t get oxygen like me

your thighs were angels
your lips raging in the night

but what might have been
has become the spine of a haiku

all I can do
is adjust its brim

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Making Of Love

The day Nostradamus predicted
has come to pass

you hold my loving in your hand
in the breast-colored dawn

smoke rises from a poem
a sonnet bigger than its exit

simplicity held at the end of a branch
the blue sweater you curl and curl

from the dirty window, planes descend
at La Guardia like a swarm of glass

afterwards, you sound so Jewish
in the tumult of your panties

as your frisky walk engulfs you
urging you into the kitchen,

hurry back and ruin the Sabbath
with your lips

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Eighth Year

An eighth year dragged throughout
the country

two thousand dog tags bristling still
the wound open below the water line

the rubble of our pyramids
(their shadows remain standing somehow)

the rubble rolls around in the gut
sharp pain in the pit of the stomach

but yet we have to grin and bear it
the hopeless screams the burning pain

the jumpers in mid-air
on their way here always always

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Your Eyes Supine

Climbing the snowy paths from the bottom of the Common
up to Cheers

my knit cap’s frosty breath
makes snowman circles in the air

the trees sing a blue stone
a taxi driver believes deeply

the beauty of a stark building
lies in your eyes supine

cold asphalt warms cold asphalt
the fingers of my gloves belong to you

your smile level with my chest
the winter clouds have done this before

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Con Max

Max writes about death now
that’s all he knows

bumping knees with moist caves
tree angels sink

driving the streets of Nixon
and Gonzales, Texas oh so long ago

a crest of his mama’s furniture
teenage girls with big jugs (big jugs always in)

his new stories
romance a blonde sixty year old woman

or the splinter of a Mexican girl
in a Westside bar

his old Volkswagen Beetle
brought to life even in death

Culebra Street
still warm to the touch

Friday, September 04, 2009

Witches’ Brew

Having coffee this morning with Zal ( that‘s what friends call
Quetzalcoatl Sandoval), we started off the conversation with
Zal’s favorite topic, the enigma of 2012. I swear he probably
works on this Mayan mystery every waking hour of his life.
Recently, he’s had a breakthrough which I hasten to discuss
with you all (if you promise not to spill the beans, in other words,
I am swearing each and every one of you to secrecy). Zal’s
latest theory is that the Mayans foresaw the rise of the Ugly
American and thus foretold the end of civilization as we know
it. Therefore, Zal has formulated his theory that Sarah Palin
is the enigma, the end all, the kaput, the new chingada.
Zal’s epiphany: Palin 2012. Need I say more? Those damn
Mayans were clairvoyant as hell!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Joyce Vandeveer by Michael Barnes of the Austin-American Statesman

The picture prompted the initial enigma. A woman sporting short, dark hair.
A cigarette. Shadowed eyes, half brooding, half smiling. Like her fastidiously painted lips.
The image could have been lifted from a 1950s book-jacket portrait. A Carson McCullers. Or a Dorothy Parker. Or perhaps a Jane Bowles.
Who exactly was Joyce Vandeveer, whose obituary appeared in the American-Statesman three times last week?
The paragraphs below the photograph answered some questions, but also deepened the mystery. Cold fact: The 82-year-old woman died in Austin on Aug. 23. It seems Vandeveer was a photographer, too, “by trade and passion.” She followed the jazz scenes as well as other cultural and political trends in New York City and San Francisco during the 1950s and ’60s.
She tended bar at Ann’s 440 in San Francisco’s North Beach district — launch pad for the beat generation — and was associated with Johnny Mathis, Lenny Bruce and other breakthrough entertainers.
The beguiling clue, however, in Vandeveer’s obituary was reference to the raid of Tommy’s Place, another North Beach club where she worked as bartender. The unidentified obituary writer drops the metaphorical bread crumbs: “In a harbinger of the Stonewall Riots of the decade to follow, Joyce’s resistance to, and ultimate victory over, a politically motivated police raid …”
Stonewall? Was Vandeveer a lesbian? If not, why bring up the 1969 riots that jump-started the gay liberation movement?
Were that not enough, what caught the eye of many Austin readers was the kicker: “To celebrate Joyce’s life, she would highly recommend a cabernet Sauvignon, or, if one is really grieving, a scotch and water on the rocks.”
“How I wish to have known her!” wrote reader Shelly Kanter to Out & About. “Chivas on the rocks tonight.”
“God she sounded like a fascinating person,” Bea Ann Smith wrote.
“That was some obit,” Dannah Peck wrote “Great photo.”
Austin seemed to enjoy the momentary mystery.

Still, a social columnist is not without resources. A few hours of digging unearthed Mary Kay Sicola, a lawyer with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. Sicola not only cared for Vandeveer during her later years, she wrote the alluring obituary.
“A fluke of the universe brought the two of us together,” Sicola told me over the phone.
Turns out Sicola knew Vandeveer’s ex-girlfriend, who lives in Austin but suffers from Alzheimer’s. (Sicola carefully avoids identifying the ex-girlfriend who, after all, cannot approve of her “outing” due to her current mental status.)
The lawyer and the photographer met 12 years ago. “I stayed in touch with her,” Sicola says of their casual friendship. “Then, three years ago, she asked me to come to Arkansas, where she was living as a shut-in, to take care of her cats while she had emergency surgery. I don’t know why she thought of me — we barely knew each other — but Joyce could spot an easy target when she saw one.”
Sicola did spend three weeks in Arkansas caring for the felines. Later, medical professionals told Sicola that Vandeveer, who had developed ovarian cancer, was on the verge of death. They wanted to place her in an Arkansas hospice. Sicola was concerned that Vandeveer had no relatives or friends there, so she brought her to Austin’s
Christopher House.
“I couldn’t let this old lady die alone,” Sicola says, thinking of how gays and lesbians, especially of that generation, are often cut off from families and left with no natural caregivers in their last years. “Within an hour after arriving at Christopher House, she came to. They said: ‘This woman isn’t dying!’”
Vandeveer spent her last three years in an assisted-living facility with a dog, photographs and memories, as well as some new Austin friends. Raised in Los Angeles, she was an only child and her parents predeceased her. She had no family members left.
“She lived happily,” Sicola says. “I tried to find her relatives. Never did. But it turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life.”
Joyce Vandeveer had experienced palpable terror in Arkansas, says Mary Kay Sicola. The elderly lesbian appeared unaware that public attitudes to homosexuals had evolved, even in the rural South, over the past 50 years. She even expressed paranoia that San Francisco police would track her down.
Why? What happened at Tommy’s Place in 1954?
According to newspaper archives — and Nan Alamilla Boyd’s chronicle of pre-Stonewall San Fransisco, “Wide-Open Town” — Vandeveer acted
heroically in the face of social and legal persecution.
During the early 1950s, the city by the bay experienced one of its periodic crack-downs on “lesbian thrill spots,” as the press called Tommy’s Place and other bars. The local Parent Teachers Association joined the anti-gay campaign. An Oakland paper smeared Tommy’s Place as patronized by “deviants, bohemians and tourists.”
Despite the inherent humor in this characterization, unprovoked and unrepentant raids and stings of gay clubs — with newspapers printing names and photos of otherwise non-criminal patrons and employees — continued into the late 1960s and early ’70s.
Vandeveer fought back. Not only was she acquitted of serving a minor, her accuser was indited for perjury, an almost-unheard-of legal triumph, even today.
Nevertheless, the bar lost its license and the photographer forfeited her job and apartment. Vandeveer told Sicola that PTA women “would chase her down the street.”
Later in life, Vandeveer would not talk to reporters or researchers about her life, so great was the internalized dishonor.
“They never got their due,” Sicola says of Vandeveer’s generation. “They went to their graves filled with embarrassment and shame.”
Bartender, I’ll take a cabernet, if you have one. And allow me to raise my glass to Joyce Vandeveer.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Joyce Vandeveer Born June 25, 1927, in Kansas City, MO,
Joyce Vandeveer passed away peacefully on August 23, 2009,
in Austin, Texas, after living a full and eventful life.
A photographer by trade and passion, her work captured
the jazz scene and cultural and political events in
San Francisco and New York City during the 1950s-1960s.
During the 1950s, Joyce also tended bar at establishments
in the San Francisco North Beach District, including
at Ann's 440, the famed cabaret owned by singer Ann Dee
that boosted the careers of Johnny Mathis, Lenny Bruce
and other entertainers. Joyce also worked at
Mona's Candle Light, the nightclub featured in the
Academic Film Archive of North America's film of
the same name, which was recently awarded a
preservation grant from New York Women in Film
and Television. In a harbinger of the Stonewall Riots
of the decade to follow, Joyce's resistance to,
and ultimate victory over, a politically-motivated
police raid of Tommy's Place is given treatment
in Nan Alamilla Boyd's Wide-Open Town . According
to newspaper archives, a jury acquitted Joyce of all
wrongdoing and her accuser was ultimately indicted
for perjury. Joyce will be remembered by many with
a sigh, a chuckle and loving appreciation for her
artistic talent, unique perspective and incomparable
eccentricities. She is survived by her 17-year-old cat,
Cleo, and her beloved and well-dressed Chihuahua, Panda,
who faithfully remained by Joyce's side throughout
her final days. Pursuant to her wishes and with the
assistance of Austin-Peel & Son Funeral Home, Joyce
Vandeveer's remains are donated to LifeLegacy
Foundation for medical research. To celebrate
Joyce's life, she would highly recommend a
Cabernet Sauvignon, or if one is really grieving,
a Scotch and Water on the rocks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Papalote Writers Colony

Quetzalcoatl Sandoval has been teaching at the
Papalote Writers Colony this summer. He’s teaching
MFA withdrawal classes. These vital classes try to
undo all the damage incurred by poets who have
acquired MFAs only to find out that they’ve become
poetic robots,--- versified robots who ignore Asimov’s
Three Laws of Robotics. Thankfully, most enrollees do
kick the habit, though some remain addicted to the
MFA brainwashings, and will, sadly, never recover.