Chicano Poet

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

from Good Luck In Cracked Italian
(1969) by Richard Hugo

Maratea Porto: The Dear Postmistress There

I run up the stairs too fast every morning
and panting for mail, I stagger inside
and there she sits wagging a negative finger.
Her frown is etched in and her mouth is sour.
Niente per voi, today.

This is Odysseus. I’ve come a long way
I’ve beaten a giant, real men with one eye.
Even the sea. I’ve defeated the water.
But now I’m home, pooped. Where’s Penelope?
Niente per voi, today.

My name is Joseph and this, my wife Mary,
we’ve had a long journey and Mary is heavy.
The facts are odd. The child could be holy
and I wonder, have you a room in your inn?
Niente per voi, today.

I’m Genghis Khan and this is my army.
We’ve conquered your land. Now we want women.
Bring them today at high noon to the square.
After we’ve had them, we’ll get out of here.
Niente per voi, today.

I’m Michelangelo, here to make statues.
I lugged this damn marble all the way from the Alps.
I’ll need a large scaffold and plenty of ropes,
a chisel, a mallet and oodles of wine.
Niente per voi, today.

Oh, heroes of time, you’re never a hero
until you’ve endured ten days without mail.
Slaughter the stars and come home in splendor.
She’ll always be there at the end of the trail.
Niente per voi, today.

by Richard Hugo

Remembering Dick Hugo

I remember Dick
Especially when I hear Italian,
Or when I hear his voice, reading
From his poems, especially the
Poem where he goes to the withered mail-lady
In the Italian village where he was posted,
It seemed every day, her answer
Was always, "Niente Per Voi"-
Nothing for you today.

He'd go off on a bombing raid
Over Germany, then
Return, tired, gritty
But every day, even before he slept,
He'd head for the old woman

Somehow as he read these lines,
It was transported from 1969 to
The 1940s and his bunk in Italy,
Where the ack ack invaded his
Dreams, as much as they'd invaded
His ears over Germany-
But one day he told me,
Hearing that old lady say,
"Niente Per Voi"
broke his heart.

Dick was one of these guys
Who looked like a good bar bouncer,
A guy who looked as if he played
Defensive center, instead, he was
An infielder, poetry and baseball
were his games
And his heart was as soft as the
Bag he ran or threw to
At second base-in every
Inning, taking his mind
Off the bombing, waiting
For that letter
That smelled of perfume, that
Had lipstick on the top and bottom
Of each page, lipstick
From her, from the one,
The one he kept wanting to
Hear from

And as he read, all of us
Traveled the thousands of miles
And years with him, each of
Us feeling that same
Anguish each day
At the postal lady's door,
A sorrow
That even bottles of Chianti
Couldn't wash away , nor the
Bourbon and gin in Iowa City,
None of these could erase
The sound of the old lady's voice,
23 years after the war,
"Niente per voi"

each of us, as he looked up
could see it in his eyes, in
the tightness of his face and lips,
all of us all of us
felt his pain in our hearts

Sam Hamod has published 9 book of poems, and will
have two more published in 2005; he has taught
creative writing at the Writer's Workshop of the U. of Iowa,
Princeton, Michigan and Wisconsin. He may be reached

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

El Malinche

When El Malinche first laid eyes upon Hernan Cortez
he knew he must find a way into his heart

when his charms were not enough
he promised the Conquistador anything

anything My Lord
El Malinche cried out into the night

while the Conquistador’s army slept
El Malinche pleased Cortez

and Cortez relished the long nights
of Spanish sin

when the nation fell
El Malinche remained pure

Monday, November 23, 2009

Texas Soul Music

Blog about Austin music.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Sorrow left the barrio for a moment
ignoring traffic signals

the city buses
full of sins and hormones

Marilyn’s blue lips
kissed by a coroner’s lackey

the Hollywood sign
happily slicing throats

a smile in Santa Monica
was the last surviving ache

if grass had eyes
would it not see this

if Toribio could talk
would he toss his gun

even joy
has its doubts

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

East Of The Freeway Poetry Slam

in memory of El Tapon

my mentor is the barrio
its guts

its dilapidated houses
its dirty playgrounds

punks and just plain kids
high on something

by the color on my skin

automatic scum
if you will

I do not draw sustenance
from the past

I dive into the flooded arroyo
I rush into burning houses

the outside scars
fade with time

the inside scars

contrary to popular belief
they do not make you stronger

I prosper in the barrio
because I am made of it

said the slam poet
busted lip bloody nose and all

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I followed the mangy dog
into a barrio

you could count the bones
of his ribs and shoulders

the sunken eyes
of its lost race

no illustrious ancestors
no hope to lick while waiting for tomorrow

children threw stones
at him

drunks kicked at him
old ladies yelled at him

with his tail between his legs
he saw his reflection in a storefront window

I recognized myself

Monday, November 16, 2009

Poem With Mexicans

I was buying my tacos
at La Joyita

when two Mexicans walked in
one ordered tacos de lengua

quiero las tortillas tostaditas
he told the girl behind the counter

the other one the shorter one
got a Jarito morado

telling the taller one
es bueno pa la cruda

good for the hangover he said
it was two in the afternoon

the sun
was taking a hammer to the sky

knocking birds to the ground
as if they were teeth

I got my tacos and left
being careful where I stepped

Friday, November 13, 2009


(slight Mexican memories of Las Cruces)

Oh to be Navajo
and allergic to horses and hay

an eagle on duty

the red mesas
become light bulbs at dusk

elders have a funny way
of making laws

flying like children in the skies

the boy
herding sheep of dust

Thursday, November 12, 2009

For Señorita Scenario

In the hotel of needles
you bought the clumsy pile

a fig has died
in a concentration camp

the color pink
twisting to ginger and back

no one deserves

shadows shot over and over
I mail

the last drop of water
the pulse

the impediments are wrong
I drop the sea and break it

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Birthday Girl

(a day late and a dollar short)

today is her birthday
along the side of a hill

stars like fingers
in the winter’s night

moon wings
just below her beautiful chin

god I loved her
so much

my fiery heart
twisting in a furrow

the love poetry I wrote
dry now

erotic dust
kicked up by her breathing

dropping like flies

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Your Small Rio Bravo Circus

I’ve grown tired of the tarantula
you trained so well

Tomasita as you named her
pre-figured in wrens

the knife it dresses in
the chisel it lives for

your gray eyes lift
then annex a tad

I pack all the hunger
in my belly

the Rio Bravo
overflows its cup

and the temple-throat
browns further

Monday, November 09, 2009

About two months ago I became really obsessed with taking pictures
through my peephole.
I really thought about it metaphorically though....where My life
was at the time.
Being alone. Closing myself up to the rest of the whole world.
I thought about other people...
People who are just as closed to the world as I was...the unhappy.
Those with no hope.
How boring it would be to be locked up inside sad it
is to shut yourself off to feeling love and having loved ones...
and laughter.
I took a whole series of pictures...these are only a few.
Personally I think that each one has its own mood. Some represent
sharp clarity...some foggy, some brighter and some so dark.
I must have let it get a hold of me too
but anyway here's a lil bit.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Lovers’ Altar

after we made love
I removed your spine

being careful to entice
every little bit of sinew

imagine the moon
lying on its dark side

imagine teeth
giving and receiving surf

the brim of your skull
above water

your orgasm like a doorknob
its gold in my hand

silence has a lump
I discover in the hall

love brushes aside
my suave face

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Negative Capability

your beautiful life Rosa
buzzing in my ears

you built a dam
from clever

one I could not cross
pensive mountains in your brown hands

not much left in the box
except tall blonde eggs

your charmed life
in a purse

my lungs fill with blood
who the hell am I John Keats

my heartbreak
just a spicy little word

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Fall Of Troy

my thumbprint on your lips
the simmering inside of you

a pocketknife of hair
hollers from its haunches

I take a pencil with me
to the quarry

I love you in a narrow ore
I fought the Trojans for you

wearing only a bell for armor
the sun finally set like wine

if I have only won your past
is that enough

Hercules or lichen
climbed on by a beetle

perhaps in another life
not being loved suffices

Monday, November 02, 2009

Words Are Just The Cousin Of Desire

I open the book of your poems
pry open its sweetness like thighs

the pocket of a verb
lashes its angel to hue

a tough word oppresses
a weaker word

two strangers in the same well
look up and smile

the childish faces of your poem
sometimes die of hunger and rightly so you say

dog poem cabrito poem
your father’s poem the husband you divorced poem

the cloud-stricken chaparral
pinches your nipples

god how I want to creep
against your sweat unnoticed