Chicano Poet

Friday, April 30, 2010

Squeezebox Polca

Mama’s got a squeezebox,
and we play conjunto music all night long.

In and out and in and out,
the moon goes behind the clouds.

Tu y las nubes baby, got me loco,
I don’t eat and I don’t sleep.

Mama’s got a squeezebox,
y dice, sonriendo, don’t cover up that ojo ciejo.

Mama’s got a bajo sexto
deep into the night.

Mama’s got a squeezebox,
and I’m her tololoche.

Mama’s got a squeezebox,
and we play conjunto music all night long.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

They Came From Outer Space

Stephen Hawking’s worst nightmare came true---
evil aliens landed in Arizona,

blonde-haired,blue-eyed, white pale skin, triangular brains.
They evicted the brown natives,

sent them packing to the south,
but we’ve come back

and we want our land.
We want our land.

The evil aliens are putting up a fierce fight,
green bile pours out of their smiling swords,

smelly yellow gunk oozes from their ray guns,
their pointed brains blink red white and blue

but the red of their blood-thirstiness perseveres,
their eyes bulge with hate,

their hearts are hollow and empty,
but we’ve come back

and we want our land.
We want our land.

(and, no, I ain't tom cruise
in this poem---I'm a real Mexican
playing the part of a real Mexican)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Poem By My Neice Rebecca

Control Alt Delete

Start up that task manager:
Mother, daughter, sister, aunt, crazy friend, teammate, coworker

all not responding at this point...

all frozen...

all because of what was corrupted:
lover, friend, girlfriend, babymamma, cover up to an affair???

that file was deleted
that file took with it pieces from all that was running so well...

So let's restart:

before we log in we recharge:
organize our files, scan for VIRUS, and refresh

come along with me on my journey to get all these files up and running
con corazon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Raza Cosmica

(thanks to Lillian T. for suggesting
the title)

My ancestors came from Aztlān,
not from the Rift Valley.

My ancestors were not silverbacks.
My ancestors were jaguar jugglers.

Lucy is your incomplete past,
not mine.

The Neanderthals were your dead end,
not mine.

My ancestors didn’t crawl from the sea,
they always walked upright.

My ancestors came from Aztlān.
Cabrones, yours did not!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

By The Time I Get To Phoenix

By the time I get to Phoenix
you’ll be gone.

You’ll be in handcuffs
leaving your American-born kids behind.

You left your green card at home
and you’re on your way to Mexico.

By the time I make Albuquerque
you won’t fine a job across the border.

By the time I make Oklahoma
you’ll be crossing that big desert.

By the time I get to Texas
I’ll hear they’ve found your body.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

B. C.

The cave girl came out
to meet me.

Her prehistoric loincloth
for prediction only.

Her smile was natural
like one in a department store.

Her eyes shone
as if she’d gotten off a plane.

Reptiles circled
in their nervous way.

She touched my hand
there by the river.

I rushed back to the present
dragging the entire river with me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunshine Superpapi

Faster than a speeding bullet,
my father walked through Hiroshima.

The face of a child
like a melted Dali clock.

My father thought he was Superman
and tried to fly.

The sky’s not made for Mexicans,
he finally figured out.

He gathered his cape around himself
and kept on walking.

A lone chimney stood like a phone booth,
my father thought he’d change.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Poem By Rebecca Gonzales

Approaching the Horizon (1993)

We reach an edge,
an edge where the horizon
is pink with promise.

We reach the edge
with fear;
promises can be suspect.

We reach an edge.
Who knows how to approach such landmarks?
Who can measure caution with warranty?

We bring no words to a horizon.
We have no understanding of tomorrow,
Whatever petty tragedy it brings.

Thought at the edge is not a voice;
it’s an echo.
The echo comes not from the other side.

No, the edge is only
an illusion.
And, after all, fear has no voice.

The echo is our own,
Returning a fear
That springs from us to save us.

As the bark of a golden retriever
Fuels his courage to keep going as long as he hears
his own echo.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Poem By Samuel Greenberg

The pale impromptu


Silver mourned gray. slepted the greenlight
Pale neath coil of rock and clay
Stirred the tasted belt, such flower sighed tears
Kept lewd powers away - by
Northern soprano
The Easthern lute
The forgotten pallete
Strains ramBle
Pellucid quest
times chant
Hearts brow
Pale heat
Fusive bleat
Thus of eye. lived low beyond colours earned retreat
But dared not sHow - a vampires rath Can you forget this wreap
Hidden winds perspired foul - as
a palmed rose
The well shade
Urgent fears
Eyes jealousy
painted mirth
royal flesh
candle salve
consumed moon
and here, the ash tray was Blown!


Blue turned white, gave the earth
a coating balzomized sooth
Though naked light shealds the trail of love
The fold metal granite doth move
In - Waves of skin
Shapes of tale
tinted staines
Graceing clumps
Slime pigments
Lurid farrows
Nulling marrow
Shallows cloak
Marble sponge
Therein I but tarry, as the yoke of Helium tinge
Unmatched, foriegn, alien to the shrine of beauties cringe
Leaness will but crave
Water waves
torque blocks
Skulls of saints
patience absent
Yellow dreams
Sensive Stirs
Silent hills
precious death
His wooB? hath yet nigh its breath


Clover sank to iron heat, stole the
lillies of pale mat gold
The hearse in ghosts, where black
jet black - driven in Frail -- By
Solitudes wish
Phantoms orient
Grey life
Fouls deviation
Spiritual songs
pearls from tissue
traits rejuvenation
Stale plants
dim accuracy
There sat the minstrel, bent in leagues of Frozen charm
Though lightly, fettered, as perfect calm Thawing melancholy
Early psalms
river rhodes
tale of lamps
Satyres burial
Paradise sHrine
Noble realms
Mirror's envil
Clover's muse
O soul! enlivened from dire perfume,

S.B.G. 1915

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


They took me to the curandera
because I had TB.

She smeared some kind of manteca
on my John Keats chest.

My lungs got fat and sluggish.
The gringo doctor said uh oh.

He recommended pills and surgery.
Rodrigo his gay male nurse offered paperwork.

Beeswax in the ear, honey-stings in the eye,
could poetry save me from the saw?

My lungs (the two flat tortillas you see before you)
sucked in the air extraordinaire again.

I don’t really know which brujas cured me,
or whose poetic career I wound up with.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When She Made Tortillas With One Hand

“What is the sound of one hand slapping tortillas?”
ancient Mexican koan

In her fifties, my grandmother’s right arm became paralyzed,
and not even a curandera could make it work again.

The witch doctor finally gave up---
love potion number nine didn’t love.

The shaman put sun-spit on it,
but, chale, vato, nothing seemed to help.

La Virgen de Guadalupe
y La Virgen de San Juan appeared dumbfounded.

In her sixties, her arm healed itself.
Indeed, the god of paralization works in mysterious ways.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cut And Paste: Part Two

Much can be learned about heredities, its composition,
its intention, its goals by looking at the Notes at the
end of the book. “Our name shelters a stranger, about
whom we know nothing except that he is ourselves.”
Says an epigraph by Octavio Paz at the start of the book.
Martinez proceeds to describe himself, starting there,
from the unknown. So, where does the ordinary young
man begin the search for himself? Probably not with
H. B. Nicholson’s Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl: The Once And
Future Lord Of The Toltecs. Certainly not in the bosom
of Hernan Cortez’s Letters From Mexico, or Bishop
Torqumada’s Compilacio De Las Instrucciones Del Oficio
De La Santa Inquiscion, and perhaps not in Miguel
Leon-Portilla’s Aztec Thought And Culture: A Study Of
The Ancient Nahuatl Mind. What Martinez has gleaned
from his studies is quite evident in this collection, but
unfortunately as some wise man once said, “a little
learning is a dangerous thing”, yes, sometimes the devil
is in the details, and it detracts somewhat from the poems,
apparently Martinez did learn from an Aztec angel, from
the ancient and recent Flor y Canto, and seems to have
gone beyond El Quito Sol, but has he pushed poetry beyond
2012? Only time will tell.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cut And Paste: The Poetry Of J. Michael Martinez

There is little if any lyrical poetry in J. Michael Martinez’ heredities.
According to one of the blurbs, it is a book meant to revise Latino poetics.
I don’t know if I would go that far.

“In his volume, J. Michael Martinez attempts the impossible---he excises
nostalgia, peers through wolf skin, conquest, and god…” says Juan Felipe

“In J. Michael Martinez’s Heredities, history is unsettled by the way of
the visionary hybridity that is Martinez’s method of poetic inquiry. The
poems explore with a passionate lyric gorgeousness the borderlands
between myth and memory, between plunder and inheritance, between
the story we tell and the story we deny…” says Eric Pankey.

“In Heredities, Martinez mines various linguistic, mythological, and
historical narratives that complete themselves in one another. Both
corporeal and heady, this collection marries earth to word, and revises
how a twenty-first-century identity is forged with and through the past.
Martinez is not only a fine poet but is also a dedicated anthropologist
with the ability to excavate language from the ruins of history.” says
Carmen Smith

It is indeed an interesting narrative collection. At times going so far as
recreating an anatomically correct Quetzalcoatl and Virgen de
Guadalupe, taking chances with the past which more and more does
not belong to us. I think Martinez is at his best in the prose pieces. Take
for example, Corporeity,

Brash and handsome, my great-great-grandfather Francisco Beltran,
the youngest of five brothers, often crossed himself with other women.
He would play poker into the night with the rancheros, satisfying his want
with what woman made herself available in those hours of chance.

The last found beside a river, was washing her huipiles in the wet stillness.
The olive-skinned woman wound the material taut, dipping them into the
water, spiraling eddies across the surface. My great-great grandmother
Maria de Jesus, a Mexia married to the unfaithful Spaniard, came up from
behind, uncoiling concentric circles as her hand calming divided the current.

A ranchero later found the woman amongst her wash, unconscious. She
grew feverish over the following hours, cotton sheets stained bloody; her
skin softened into clay pallor as she died on the goose-feather mattress
belonging to my ribisabuelo. A partera, the nearest healer, despite her
massaging and prayers, could do nothing to revive her.

As soon as the pale one was at peace, the partera pulled the bloody sheets
from the body. She spooned her hand between the woman’s slick thighs.
When her fingers tentatively parted the still warm lips, the partera found
that space dammed with smooth river stones.

This prose piece is almost as earthy as Andres Montoya at his best. Overall,
heredities is an interesting first book, albeit in a curious style, one bravely
seeking the test of time.

Listen to or read two poems
from his collection here.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Star Girl

You don’t move
out of the way of a star:

Snow caresses sunlight
with its cold white hand.

Hot air may build
far away.

The barrio bellys up,
darker and madder.

I hustle the street
to give up its fight.

Still, I have only you
to think about.

You dance through my life
with a slashing motion.

The rounded valley
where a star escaped into the sky.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

El Azteca

You can’t tell an Aztec
that there’s more than one sun.

You can’t tell him
that the sun and stars are one and the same.

You can’t tell him
that the sun will die one day.

He’s so fixated with the sun,
I don’t know how he makes it through the night.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Poem By Angela De Hoyos

"Ex" Marks The Spot

oh how you laughed
and laughed
and laughed
when you left me
from a limb

but now
ha! ha!
the joke's on you
because I learned to
and thereby
saved my skin

oh yes
my ghost
is real
and...your smile?
your smile
is grim

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Week Five Call For Votes
At The Sixth Daily Poetry Project
Please go vote if you get a chance.

Click here.

Monday, April 05, 2010

from Sonnets To Human Beings
A Poem By Carmen Tafolla

At The Very Last Battle

The wooden rocking-horse in Reyes Cardenas’ yard
Sinks on bended knee like Chief Joseph
At the very last battle.

Staring into the ground and biting its bit,
Saying, “ I am tired. My heart is sad and sick.
I will fight no more.”

The only Mexican-American principle in Seguin
Waves a sad beer bottle at my Pacer
as it passes.

I drive up to my assigned parking space
And wonder if my lot is taken by the car next door
or if I really belong.

I turn the key and walk into the empty house,
Alone, like the rest of la raza,
a stranger in my own home.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Last Writes

Byron waited in the chariot
while they set fire to Shelley.

Shelley’s widow like a fruit
pulled from the vine too soon.

From across the Mediterranean
darkness descended.

The funeral pyre
struggling with its fire.

Purple waves lapping
at the shore.

Ashes floated in the cold sea air
and flickered one last time.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

One Told The Other A Lie

Like a flower she tells me a lie
robbing me of carbon dioxide.

The driveway has no imagination.
The freshly manicured lawn sighs.

For some reason or other
I always believe her lies.

A pile of dirty laundry
drags itself to the washer like Christ.

The neighbor in Hawaiian shirt
and khaki shorts

scratches his bald head
against the sun’s reptilian rays.

(The poem is begging the observer
to visualize this couple which has
resolved to pursue the status quo,
the liar and the liaree apparently
content to keep going along. Their
lives against the backdrop or shall
we say the foreground where the man
who takes pride in his garden remains
oblivious to what prevails around
him. The couple who could one day
surprise the neighborhood with a
gunshot or two or the very same
couple could grow old like this for
the rest of their lives. The poem
does not tell us.)