Friday, December 30, 2005


Manuel Ramos

Reviews by Rojas
We got a note from Raymundo Elí Rojas that he has two book reviews over on Newspaper Tree. Ray reviews Psst…I Have Something to Tell You, Mi Amor: Two Plays by Ana Castillo (Wings Press, 2005) and My Sweet Unconditional by Ariel Robello (Tia Chucha Press, 2005). Castillo's plays tell the story of Dianna Ortiz, an American nun kidnapped in Guatemala, imprisoned and tortured, most likely with CIA or U.S. military involvement. Rojas says, "Castillo’s displays of emotion and experience are legitimately heavy with truthfulness. It jolts readers with a blast of reality. Other books written on Ortiz’ story were not the best put-together works. Her story is a good one and she found a writer who can best tell it in Castillo." And of Robello's work he says, "Though survival is embedded in Robello’s work, it is not a 'pull-yourself up by your bootstraps' tale or 'I suffered this and look where I am now' book. Instead, Robello is sincere and persevering, more realistic than most poets lately. She finds sweetness in every part of life. Robello’s book is a wonderful read and its last set of poems will thrill even the most poetryphobic."

A Poem
Speaking of poetry: End of the year means time to reflect on what has been, what might be. Here's something from way back. I'm no poet, don't have a poet's sensibilities, but I have engaged in poetic exercises. Thanks for indulging me.


In reply to your recent inquiry,
Yes, I remember the kids we once were.
Back then,
The trip down Highway 50 from Florence to Pueblo
Was a dry, hot hour in my father's blue Plymouth.
It seemed like days.
I watched for the white water tower,
The sign the journey was nearly finished,
Before we toured the dying center of
The Steel City
The streets crowded with sweaty gente.
My father insisted we eat at El Sombrero
How strange to order hamburguesa
From the girl with obsidian eyes and a pony tail
While the old man slurped menudo
My mother stared
At what the other women wore.

I traveled on that highway
To places far beyond Pueblo
In the shelter of our house near the river.
Years later, when I passed the tower for a final time
And my feet stepped where my mind had been
I searched, vainly, for El Sombrero.

You and others drift by now, from those times
When the headlines were filled with our exploits,
And they made movies about us
Or so we thought.
You sense the loss I see from inside, then turn away
Or comment on
The grayness,
The baldness,
The sagging flesh,
And laugh, for you see yourself in a few
Last week.

Remember that sunrise
After that night we had to live,
We could not say we had not been warned.

And the minutes rain down on us from the corner
Where we stored them.
They drown us in showers
That wash away the steam on mirrors we don't use.

Oye, cabrón! Lighten up!
It's only your birthday.

Originally published in Saguaro (University of Arizona), 1988 (the year I turned 40.)



daniel olivas said...

thank you for another fine post. in particular, i'm glad to see ray's reviews. as you know, i've posted some of ariel robello's poetry on la bloga. i had lunch with her a couple of weeks ago...she paid for my lunch as thanks for all the support la bloga has given to chicano/a and latino/a writers including the support for her work (i had planned on paying but she very sneakily excused herself before the check came and took care of it...neat trick). she is a wonderful, powerful poet who has many more years of writing ahead of her.

daniel olivas said...

and cool more!

Manuel Ramos said...

Thank you - there's not much more poetry in my vault. I'll pull one out when it seems appropriate.