Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: Bolero of Andi Rowe. Banned Books Update. On-Line Floricanto for Fathers Day

Review: Toni Margarita Plummer. The Bolero of Andi Rowe. Evanston IL: Curbstone  Books Northwestern University Press, 2011.
ISBN 978-0-8101-2767-8

Michael Sedano

Readers won’t like what happens to some of the characters in Toni Margarita Plummer’s The Bolero of Andi Rowe, but most of her characters generally don’t mind.

A reader might as well disregard the subtitle, “Stories,” and read the collection as a novel that outlines the lives of Andi and Olivia, a mother and daughter, and some of their family and friends as they experience the randomly inevitable moments of their lives, romance, sex, death, fulfillment.

Olivia Rowe lives quietly on this side of the border. Linked to Mexico by graves and familia, Plummer shows both sides of the character. We see the young woman romanced in the 1970s by the romantic figure of Anthony Rowe and Olivia’s subtly implied loss of virginity to Tony. Who then disappears from view until he emerges an old divorced man at his mother’s funeral living the consequences of the breakup.

Here as the book closes, the young Maura Rowe, the white one we met in the opening pages, is grown. Maura’s driving father back to Fresno while sister Andi, the india one, consoles Olivia. La suegra and she got along.

There’s wild Ynez. She and Andi used to go out dancing and tempting the guys, back in their heyday. Now the horrified voyeur watches Ynez pick up two Israelis at a club and play out the erotic whims of the immigrants, who invite Ynez to come back anytime. She drives home on the freeway and gets off at Santa Anita, another long night behind her.

La Migra does’t evoke green desert nor black men platicando but after meeting Clark, desert green will have a haunting memory.

Pete is the one who let Andi get away. She was the bolero, Solamente Una Vez. Beth got Pete instead, much to their mutual regret. Beth is a sloppy drunk. Andi watches from afar and knows only part of her ex’s story. A glance is enough for the regret to overwhelm Andi.

But poor Pete. This is what he gets. Plummer really drags him over the coals. He’s screwed up his life because he passed her—Andi—by, and so it goes for the one big “if” in Andi’s life. Color Pete unfulfilled.

Teresa’s probably a homegirl with a chance. Ms Rowe, the old church lady, will see to that. The Catholic church provides the background for a number of incidents in The Bolero of Andi Rowe. The religion permeates the book, in fact, not always in saintly ways. At the end, it’s a church Jamaica for Christmas where Santa gets the surprise of his life.

Readers will be happy Plummer saves her holiday gem for  last. Pobrecita Dulce Moreno. She’s old and fat, unmarred at 35, and keeps all those frustrations about getting a man inside her. Then the magical interlude with the old nun. An angel is getting its wings for sure, that must run through Dulce’s mind when she has a cute meet with an acquaintance, a guy suckered in to play Santa for the Church because there was a free bar in town.

These 118 pages and ten stories won Honorable Mention in the Mariposa Award for first book at the International Latino Book Awards. A notable honor denotes the pleasure a reader will discover when she or he engages The Bolero of Andi Rowe.

Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera at Zócalo

Oscar Garza, publisher of the magazine Tu Ciudad interviews the poet.

The event, including the reading was videotaped. La Bloga will provide details when these are available.

Banned Books Update for Fathers Day: Arizona Taliban 2, Freedom 0

Throughout Arizona Today, Tuesday, June 19, 2012, status quo: gente decente continue to object to Arizona’s book-banning laws. Librotraficantes and sympathizers continue providing books to underground libraries. The U.S. Constitution continues to protect the state’s authority to ban the books and resources of the notably successful Mexican American Studies program in Tucson schools.

It’s the Arizona Taliban v. raza teenagers. Sounds like a spectator sport. Keep your eye on the court.

Who knows if encouraging Constitutional news will arrive with Court decisions on curriculum violations, and driving while brown laws. Here is a model for a possible preamble to upcoming court rulings. This is the Supremes ruling in 1944:

It should be noted, to begin with, that all legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect. That is not to say that all such restrictions are unconstitutional. It is to say that courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny. Pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.

Then the Court dropped the first shoe, finding, in Korematsu v. United States that excluding the entire Japanese population from the Pacific Coast (and throwing them into concentration camps) is Constitutional.

The Court’s reasoning grew out of earlier decisions against ethnic Japanese United Statesians. Their belief echoes what Obama’s predecessor said when he un-Solomonlike divided the world into you’re for us or against us:

to apply the curfew order against none but citizens of Japanese ancestry amounted to a constitutionally prohibited discrimination solely on account of race. To these questions, we gave the serious consideration which their importance justified. We upheld the curfew order as an exercise of the power of the government to take steps necessary to prevent espionage and sabotage in an area threatened by Japanese attack.

This 1944 Korematsu decision was overturned. In 1983. It's probably illegal to study Korematsu in Arizona. It might encourage resentment against the United States. where emotions by law must conform to a state-approved list.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto for Father's Day 2012
Francisco X. Alarcón, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Andrea Hernandez Holm, Hedy Garcia Treviño, Raúl Sánchez, Flora Gamez Grateron, John Martinez, Pedro L. Ramirez, Ana Chig, Pocho Luna, Elizabeth Marino, Francisco Javier Herrera Brambila, James Lee Jobe

Sunday, the United States observed Father's Day by Presidential Proclamation:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in accordance with a joint resolution of the Congress approved April 24, 1972, as amended (36 U.S.C. 109), do hereby proclaim June 17, 2012, as Father's Day. I direct the appropriate officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on this day, and I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

Modeling el prexy's late discovery of the stuff Dreamers are made on, La Bloga comes late to observe the proclamation. We arrive in style, with fifteen poems from thirteen artists, including Francisco X. Alarcón, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Andrea Hernandez Holm, Hedy Garcia Treviño, Raúl Sánchez, Flora Gamez Grateron, John Martinez, Pedro L. Ramirez, Ana Chig, Pocho Luna, Elizabeth Marino, Francisco Javier Herrera Brambila, James Lee Jobe.

"My Father's Son / Hijo de mi padre" by Francisco X. Alarcón
“Recognition” by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Always Going Home" by Andrea Hernandez Holm
"Papito Abuelito" by Hedy Garcia Treviño
“To Don Victor Sánchez Hernández -My Father” by Raúl Sánchez
“Papa Who Never Wanted to Grow Old” by Flora Gamez Grateron
“This First And Only Time - For my Father Víctor Verdugo Martínez 1927 – 2006” by John Martinez
"Many Have Come Like Froylan" by Pedro L. Ramirez
“Despedida - A mi padre, Lito Chig” por Ana Chig
"To My Dad Jorge Rodríguez Fontes (RIP)" by Pocho Luna
"In Memoriam - for Albert Gus Marino (1922-2003)" by Elizabeth Marino
“La importancia de pensar" por Francisco Javier Herrera Brambila
"And I Am The Father" by James Lee Jobe

by Francisco X. Alarcón

in memory of my father Jesús Pastor Alarcón (1922-2003)

I can still hear
my father’s
soulful voice

over the phone
pleading like
a tolling bell

for the first
and last time,
“perdóname, hijo”

I, replying,
“no tengo nada
que perdonarte”

he, insisting,
“perdóname, hijo
forgive, son…”

I, remembering
the best days
of childhood

wanting to be
blinded by the light
of the morning Sun

trying to wipe up
the spilled painful

of a wholesome
family losing all
for his cause

and Abuelita
out on the sidewalk
of her own home

dying weeks
later as a homeless
Indian matron

“perdóname, hijo”

(son, all your life,
I have blessed you —
now it's your turn)

“father, for you,
I only have thanks
and lots of love”

“perdóname, hijo”

I keep hearing me
telling Papá, “yes,
padre, I forgive you”

o, father, that day
you had dinner
later at home

with Mamá
and Sammy,
your youngest son

and seated on 
your favorite couch
watching TV news

you just closed
your eyes forever,
your head limping

slightly, like the head
of a fighting cock 
fallen on its last fight

o, father, reading
a good history book
really made your day

but poetry above all
brought day and night
to your dark eyes—

I now stand in front
of the mirror of life
and I see you, father

blessing me, kissing
me on my forehead—
I am my father’s son

© Francisco X. Alarcón
June 13, 2012

por Francisco X. Alarcón

a la memoria de mi padre Jesús Pastor Alarcón (1922-2003) 

aún puedo oír
la honda voz
de mi padre

en el teléfono
como campana

por primera 
y última ocasión:
“perdóname, hijo”

yo, respondiendo:
“no tengo nada
que perdonarte”

él, insistiendo:
“perdóname, hijo,
perdóname, hijo..."

yo, recordando
los mejores días
de la niñez

queriendo ser
cegado por la luz
de un matutino Sol

tratando de borrar
dolorosas memorias

de una familia
ejemplar perdiendo
todo por su causa

y a mi abuelita
afuera, en la acera
de su propia casa

muriendo semanas
después como matrona
indígena sin hogar

“perdóname, hijo”

(hijo, toda la vida, yo
te he dado la bendición —
ahora te toca ti...)

“padre, para ti,
sólo tengo gracias
y mucho amor”

“perdóname, hijo”

me puedo oír
diciéndole: “sí,
padre, te perdono”

oh, padre, ese día
lograste cenar
luego en casa

con Mamá
y Sammy,
tu hijo menor

y en tu sillón
favorito mirando
noticias en la televisión

simplemente cerraste
los ojos por última vez,
y ladeaste tu cabeza

ligera como la testa
de un gallo caído
en pelea postrera

o, padre, leer un buen
libro de historia era
tu mayor felicidad

pero la poesía ante todo
traía el día y la noche
a tus negros ojos—

ahora me paro frente
al espejo de la vida
y te veo a ti, padre

besándome la frente—
yo soy hijo de mi padre

© Francisco X. Alarcón
13 de junio de 2012

by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist 

I ask, “Who am I?”
Daddy lowers his gaze
As if the answer
Will appear
on the floor

Minutes drag by,
I hold my breath –
Has he forgotten me?

Suddenly, he looks up,
“Elena . . .
you’re Elena.”

Satisfied, he nods.
I exhale,
Return his smile,
Pat his shoulder.

He’s forgotten much
But not me.

Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2009 
Published in Our Spirit, Our Reality 2012

by Andrea Hernandez Holm
Bebe grew up sleeping
Side by side with brothers
Learned to breathe and be
With them listening
To stiletto raindances
On lamina rooftops,
Holding hands
With sisters
Pressing soft palms
Lightly against calloused ones.

He traveled highways,
Backways, farm roads
Looking ahead, looking out
For the fields and orchards
To be picked.
Always with his brothers
Always with his father
Always returning
To the little house
On 5th and Lincoln
The little house
With a broken window
And his mother’s woodstove
In the front yard.

When the Army took him
He sent photos
Of snow covered mountaintops
Unfamiliar faces
And the barracks where he lived
Separated for the first time
From the warmth
Of his brothers nearby.

He won’t talk to me
About what it was like
Over there. Or what it was like
To come back.

We talk
about blood relatives
His grandchildren
My abuelita
His tio
Birth certificates that say
Old Mexico
And songs
About San Luis Potosi.
We talk about the rabbit
In the moon
Caterpillars on tomato plants
And César Chavez.

He spends hours
Outside in the heat
Or the cold, working now
At the sorrows
That come with loss.
He sifts dirt through
His fingers rough
From chopping
At the ground
Remembering hermanos
Y hermanas
Gone before he could say

My dad dreams
Of a little yellow house.

by Hedy Garcia Trevino

Who will put the sun to sleep now that your gone?
Who will chant the sacred songs onto the sky to bless our lands with rain?
Who will plant the Maize?
Who will know when its time to harvest Las Calabazas?
Who will understand the cycles of the moon that tells us when to plant?
Who will guide the Gavilan?
Who will sing the morning songs?
Who will tend to the fire in the horno?
Who will braid my chongitos abuelito?
Who will guide me to the river?
Who will whittle my pititos (flutes) from river willows?
Who will teach the language of the trees?
Who will gather the herbs Curandero?
Who will dance to the song of the sparrow?
In the quiet of night he whispers...
I am the song in your heart
I am the wind in your hair, I am the sun that kisses your forehead.
I am the pepple in the sand. I am the corn stalk that sways in the morning light.

by Raúl Sánchez 

He was always working
working to sustain
his family business
he wore a brim hat
same hat cool guys wear

Bogart, Langston Hughes wore
the same hat
he never wore jeans
always slacks and a white
long sleeve shirt

he would roll up the sleeves
past his elbows
when he stirred
the food in the giant
cazuelas at the Restaurant

he owned
he created
an award winning menu
much better than award
winning chefs

every Sunday:
barbacoa  sopa de medula  
carne asada  mole poblano
caldo tlalpeño  mixiotes
chicharrón en salsa verde

most would sell out
before the bullfights began
partida de Plaza 4 PM sharp
chants of Oolé  ooolé  oooolé
would echo out of the walls

the gigantic Plaza México
he smiled he enjoyed
the compliments his clients
gave him
he was my father

he taught me to work
to respect
to stand
for what I believe
he told me he loved me

he left to soon
alone I learned
what he couldn’t teach me
I learned the language he
couldn’t speak

I live in a place far away
from the birth
of that memory
his memory shines
he stands tall

as the man
I knew when I was small
his example ever present
a man with a big heart
he was my Father.

by Flora Gamez Grateron

He wielded the hammer like a 44
Whipped out of the holster
And challenged anyone
Young or old,
To the task.

He was not one to boast
The Master, the teacher
The one with the answers
He talked to wood
Eyed and measured 2x4’s
Knew nails by feel
The old saw with ragged teeth
Worked for no one else.

He climbed ladders
Up and down like a boy
When he couldn’t be found
The roof was where he was
On the top of the world
So he could observe his work.

When he noticed his body aging
He got angry at his sluggish legs
“Move faster,” he commanded
They obeyed as best they could
And he frowned at them

Then he took notice of his hands
More wrinkled and stubborn than before
The grip on his hammer weaker
Why do they hurt when I tighten my grip?
I’ll just work a little harder.
And he did, day after day
Year after year,
Decade after decade.

Until the day he realized
His hands were deformed
His posture bent
When did this happen?
And why?
I need to climb that ladder
Why won’t you obey?

“Because we can’t,” his body said
“Because we need to protect
You from yourself.”
He scoffed, unfazed and climbed
The ladder none the less
Before anyone could find out
He was on top of the world again
Breathing the crisp air
Filling his lungs
 Reminiscing about life
When he was young, strong and able.

He climbed down
Picked up his tools
continued working
Like there was no end in sight
No one to stop him
And they couldn’t.

Flora Grateron © 6/22/2009 
Published in Our Spirit, Our Reality 2012

by John Martinez

For my Father Victor Verdugo Martinez 1927 - 2007

While the clouds bunched and bruised grey
Over that Spanish bar in Mazatlan Mexico, 
We sat in the outdoor patio slamming 
Greyhounds, Patron shots, beer chasers
And while the earth moved at a speed 
Neither one of us could calculate,
We felt that we understood 
The seagulls calling out numbers, 
The horizon pulling in the street,
The block buildings that one-day
Will find their windows
Filled with salt 

It was this first and only time, 
My father was a guy named Victor 
And I, a guy named, John

I was now 44 years old and my face was 
Becoming his face, my eyes sleepy,
My mouth, a pucker of spider wrinkles, 
Cobwebs protruding from my nose,
My sideburns, sandy and curled,
I was becoming my father

And as the sun stretched a dark yolk 
Into that green and blue ocean, 
We spoke of neckties, button down collars,
How we both stared deep 
Into a ceiling of worry, 
A tackle box of bills,
Of our wives, their jealous eyes,
We agreed that our love for them 
Was long, worn and perfect,
That there was nothing greater 
Than their belief in us, 
Nothing more profound
Than the names changed, 
The blood we shared

I named my boy after him,
After his boy, Victor

And for the first time, we spoke of God
In our opened palms, of La Llorona
Muddy, in the half filled ditch of Fresno
Near the dying Oak, where I ran about shirtless,
“Como un Indio” he said,
Taking a shot, a wincing munch of lemon

Victor Martinez planted flowers 
Around a project home, 
Shot squirrels in the field from his doorstep,
Had 12 children, five girls, seven boys, 
Drove a Pontiac Grand Prix, 
Drove a cantaloupe bus, 
Impressed the girls with his Gachupine looks 
And soon, he was smart in his leisure suit, 
Hair slicked back, like a Chicano 
Dean Martin behind a steel desk,
The smell of coffee 
Meant that he was going
To do his time

So the evening wound down to 
A spinning of empty shot glasses, 
Drunk, he smacks out my name
To a Waiter; 
“John would like another drink,” 
“Man these drinks got me wanting to hurl, Victor,”
I said to him, turning pale, plump lips, 
Going round and round 
And for the first time,
As the weakened light settled 
Into cut shadow at his feet, 
I can sense that we were far,
Far away, like the orange sun sinking into the ocean,
Far from home, where he is my Father,
Crunched in his silent sofa, 
But this time, this first and only time
He was a guy named, Victor
And I, a guy named, John
And we were friends
For that day

John Martinez

by Pedro Ramirez

For my Father Froylan S.-Ramirez


Let me say
I began life behind a village,
on a wasteland sucked dry by flowering corn,
brittle weeds, and slender nopales.
Where I lived each
Season waltzed through the year
Dressing the months in my suits.
In the spring monarch butterflies
blanketed a stream-
A strong blue god,
And would spurt onto the dry beds of dirt;
And as fall appeared-
The guardian of frost and ice
Would send this stream
Spilling into the earth’s womb,
“Donde nace la agua.”
Our hacienda stood rigid
alongside this stream-
small cousin of the river.
As a child I worked on my father’s hacienda.
I had to work because if I loafed
my father would look into his dark brown hollowed eyes-
Dare him to hit me with the tree whip-
He would lash my back,
Strip my dare
and make me work.
He never touched my face or spoke softly.
I was a six year old who
never went to school.
No one in my village went because there
were no schools.
A priest taught me to read some words.
Besides meeting him once a week,
All I did was work.


I never like working with my father-
His whip was my school master-
So soon I found a job herding sheep.
I never left the sheep,
I stayed with them day and night,
year around year.
I was nine.


When the crops were harvested,
my brother and I would
pace to the market place
in an Aztlan procession
down dirt roadways with
people who carried their
crops in burlap sacks.
The sacks slungover flexed
women’s, men’s, and children’s shoulders.
All pacing as if going to the crucifixion of Christ.
We would sell our beans there.
As we neared the market place,
a stagnant hum echoed from a crowd
gathered at the train station
that looked like a congregation
watching a cockfight.
An old lady told me men were
boarding boxcars.
She saw me stare and said,
“No vayas pendejo, te van hacer esclavo!”
“Sólo hay frijoles aquí para mí,
¡Mejor me voy!”
Her son had gone and returned,
Tiring of working where I
Was going-
To work on the other side.
I was signed and accepted.
Before I boarded, I told my brother
to sell the beans and to
return home and say nothing of where I’d gone.
I would return with dollars.
I leaped into the boxcar,
The doors axed the light-
And in the darkness,
I turned away from my brother and mother.
Through the sheet metal I heard,
“Take care of yourself hermano.”
I crept into a space surrounded by four rail car walls
And the words of my brother
Echoed in my mind like
the calling of a lost sheep.
My brother stayed because he was eighteen,
You had to be twenty one,
I was fifteen.
This was the final day of my life
In Michocan,
My Village,
In my Mexico.


I sat alone in a corner and
Knew how cows felt.
Men twice my age reeked of perspiration and dirt
We sat in darkness.
I could hear soft whispers of the U.S.
and of families left in Ario de Rosales.
I never spoke.
I didn’t know where I was going,
nor if I was to return.
When the train arrived in the U.S.,
I jumped from the boxcar.
Men who spoke foreign led us through jail gates,
I was stripped bare in full view of all and deloused.
I signed some papers and was told to return in three days.
I had no money, no family;
only my clothes and a blanket.
After two days I ate
because I sold my blanket.
My life in this country began
taking a train to somewhere.
This is all I want to say.

© Pedro L. Ramirez

Muchos han venido como Froylán
por Pedro L. Ramirez


Mi vida comenzó en las afueras de un pueblito
en un paramo desaguado por maizales florecientes,
yerbas quebradizas y cactos esbeltos.
En mi tierra, cada estación
bailaba el vals del Año
arropando los meses con muchos trajes.

En la primavera, un arroyo --
potente dios pardo—
llenaba de agua los lechos sedientos
y cuando aparecía el otoño –
el guardián de las escarchas
remetía este arroyo
hasta la matriz de la tierra.
Nuestra hacienda se erguía rígida
junto a  este arroyo –
primo menor del rio.

De niño trabajaba el la hacienda de mi padre
tenia que trabajar porque
si me la pasaba sin hacer nada
mi padre me azotaba con una vara–
Yo me quedaba mirando fijamente
sus hundidos ojos negros–
desafiándolo a que me pegara con la vara–
el me golpeaba en la espalda
desarmaba mi atrevimiento
y me hacia trabajar de nuevo.
Nunca tuvo caricias ni palabras de afecto para mí.

Fui un niño de seis años
que nunca fue a la escuela:
nadie en mi pueblo iba
porque no había escuelas.
Un sacerdote me enseño las primeras letras.
Además de visitarlo una vez a la semana,
Todo lo que hacia era trabajar.


Nunca me gusto’ trabajar para mi padre—
su vara era una dura maestra—
así que pronto conseguí trabajo
como pastor de borregas en el cerro.
Nunca abandonaba mi rebaño.
Me quedaba con mis borregas
Dia y noche
Durante todo el año
Entonces tenía nueve años.


Cuando llegaban las cosechas
mi hermano y yo nos íbamos por las terracerías
junto con la gente que sobre sus espaldas
llevaban su cosecha hacia el mercado
donde vendíamos nuestro frijol.
Un subido estancado se oía venir
de la multitud reunida en la estación de trenes
que se veía como un público
presenciando una pelea de gallos.
Una viejita me dio que unos hombres
se iban en los vagones.
Ella me vio clavar la mirada en el tren
Y me dijo: ¨No Vayas pendejo, te van hacer esclavo¨;
(¿qué ha aquí para mi? ¿frijoles?)
Su hijo se había ido y luego regresado
cansado de trabajar en donde ahora
yo me iba –
a trabajar en los files de California.

Firme’ y me aceptaron.
Antes de subir al tren le dije a mi hermano
que vendiera todo el frijol,
que se fuera a casa
y no dijera nada sobre a donde me había marchado;
que regresaría con dólares.
Salte’ hacia el vagón.
Las puertas mocharon la luz,
y en la oscuridad,
me vi despidiéndome de mi madre y mi hermano—
un ¨cuídate mucho mijo¨ penetro’
Las paredes metálicas.
Al quedar rodeado por cuatro paredes negras—
estas palabras me resonaron en la mente  como
las lloros de un borrega moribundo.

Mi hermano se quedo’ porque tenia dieciocho años
y había que tener pro lo meno veintiuno;
yo tenía quince.
Este fue el último día de mi vida
en mi pueblito—
en México.


Me senté en un rincón a solas
Con el olor a tierra y a sudor de hombres
Que doblaban me edad.
Íbamos sentado en la oscuridad;
Yo podía escuchar susurros como conversaciones
sobre los Estado unidos
y sobre las familias dejadas en Ario de Rosales.
Pero yo nunca hable’.
ni supe donde me dirigía
ni cuando regresaría.


Cuando el tren llego a los Estados Unidos
di un salto de vagón;
unos hombres que hablaban una lengua extraña
nos condujeron a través de barreras.
Yo no tenía dinero.
solo lo que llevaba puesto y una cobija.
Después de do días pude comer
con lo que me dieron por la cobija.

Mi vida en los Estados Unidos comenzó
cuando tome un tren a-no-se-donde.

©Pedro L. Ramirez
Traducción: Francisco X. Alarcón 

por Ana Chig

A mi padre, Lito Chig
Frente a tu lápida,
en esta región de muertos que resiste el olvido
rezo a tu memoria.

El incienso se consume… mitiga la ausencia.
Los caminos de arena desvanecen en silencio
Y el fuego se estremece ante la noche

Se dispersa el silencio, el tiempo sigue su marcha
Sordos murmullos combaten en esta paz calcinante
Elementos oscuros se abren, manan recuerdos

Deambulas, y no logro contemplar tu cuerpo cansado
Quizás escalas los siete peldaños ahora etéreos,
Quizás es tu abrazo el que traspasa la memoria

Ofrezco la sal en tu sepulcro
intentando ser el héroe -de una noche, sólo de esta noche-,
que estérilmente se perdió de tus días fecundos

para que nada corrompa el dulce obsequio de tu andar,
para que esa niñez que se refugia amorosa e inocente
sobreviva a tu muerte…

La tristeza se resigna
y una flor marchita se desdobla,
ahora sobre tu lecho.

by Pocho Luna 

A Father's Day Poem to my dad who passed to the other side March 2012 Jorge Rodríguez Fontes

Small brown arms picked cantaloupes on the West side
Burgeoning bag on your skinny back burdened
Rubbed against a child’s protruding spine
Frictioned heat between two worlds sweltered
Near Stockton during 50’s Valley summers
When the sky dripped with perspiring pesticides
Onto little black-haired boys into open pores
Muddied sores mixed with silent tears, sweat, poisons
As other kids played giggled near chilled pools
Lustily chomping Watermelons you carried like a mule
In fan club costumes Lone Rangers chasing Tonto’s
Polka-dotted Sandra Dee twisted on a beach
In bikini cotton you picked in 57 when you were nine
Near Chowchilla. While they ate ice cream pretending to be superman
Tattered shoes no cape you lived in dirt-floored tents
like a bat cave. Devouring bean burritos at sunrise
Scraping the previous day’s dirt from your eyes
No time for pretending superhero identities
Even before you were ten you were a working man
Jorge Rodriguez Fontes laboring outside Mayberry

1960’s Pachuco teen picking grapes outside of Fresno
Hunched over in muddied furrows fighting wasps
August sun’s rays melting last night’s pomade
Bent-over lugging hot-rimmed grape tray
Saturday night at the Rainbow Ballroom on your mind
Feeling fine thinking about Anita Angelina Gutierrez.
Stacey Adams, Khakis and Pendleton’s buttoned to your neck
Cleaned the dirt from your nails, starched creases, raven
Black hair combed perfection like straight jalapeño rows
Cruising Belmont Ave. in a 55’ Chevy after dark
“Mira las Muchachas!”
“Aye Travieso!”
“y que Shaaaaa!”
Tio Bobby, Frank, Joe, Southside Chicanos
Cruising and boozing not a care in the world
As a Fresno summer breeze caressed young handsome faces
You told me stories pop of toil, heartache and joy
Growing up a poor Chicano in Fresno in the 50s and 60s
Like when some farmer’s sons called you “Greaser”
and threw rocks at you walking home from school
or dancing near Chinatown balmy nights neon lights
Glowing across scarlet-lipped chicas in black skirts
As you stared off into the distance and smiled
Conjuring up those olden days for a moment

by Elizabeth Marino                                                                         

for Albert Gus Marino (1922-2003) 

Liz, I have a feeling that your Dad and mine are sitting next to each other in some gleaming stadium in Heaven, watching the Bears and having a great time, because up therethe Bears always win. Love and peace -- Pam Miller

Just turned 81, he had given me much to love and remember.
He passed quietly,
Attended by the arms by a lovely young hospice aide.
The son of Frank and Vicenzina of Cusenza , Calabria ,
He was born in their front bedroom in Blue Island IL ,
On an overcast February morning. 

He survived his 4 sisters and a brother;
He survived his beloved wife;
He was the proud father to 3 adopted daughters and late adopted son;
Grandfather of 3, great-grandfather of 1;
Uncle, great-uncle and great-great-uncle to an ever-expanding brood;
He enraged, estranged and was beloved by the same people.
An eccentric neighbor with good Craftsmen tools, and sometimes a buddy.
He was a proud USW member, and showed us 
 The snow and ice on his steel-toe boots – 
       He’d walked picket lines in the snow,
And came home from union meetings
        with Jones & Laughlin notepads for our schoolwork.
A WW II army veteran perhaps, without military records or stories, 
Just a trace of a limp and allusions to the Pacific.

He loved hostile bad jokes: my house is on a cliff/drop over sometime.
(Then he’d laugh and laugh, even harder if you didn’t.)
White Castle cheeseburgers drowned with a senior coffee.
Beef sandwiches from Via Calabria.
Good food cooked and served by other people.
The Bears.
Being asked advice about used cars or motorcycles.
Just get in the car and drive.

He was a pious Catholic who loved the dawn.
He’d watch the whole world slowly wake up again
as the sun shone on his face.  Two weeks ago
from his hospital bed,
He kept turning towards the sun.

Elizabeth Marino  
Ragdale 5/May/2007, Rev. 6/May/2007 
Published in "Moon Journal" & Debris Poems & Memoir (chapbook)

por Francisco Javier Herrera Brambila

Mi bisabuelo pensaba mucho
Y cuando llegó la hora de
Defender La toma del agua
La defendió
Y ganaron el derecho al agua
Pero el también pasó mucho tiempo
Comparando el cielo con la tierra
El desarrollo de la flor
Como manifestación del amor de Dios
La necesidad de la compasión
Como más efectiva que la venganza

Mi papá Lupe
Era de hecho mi bisabuelo
Pero me crié
Diciéndole Papá
Así de cercana era la relación
Por el amor que le tenía mi madre
A su abuela y abuelo
Papá Lupe
Mamá Gabina

Desarrollaron Teorías
Porque el campo y la vida
Entre los vientos
Y los frutos de la tierra
Te enseña a hacer teoría
Como acto íntegro
No como acto separado
Del resto de la vida

La importancia de pensar
Y ver más allá de tu exitencia
Sino la de tu séptima generación
Esa ha sido la forma de los sabios
Y las sabias

El conocimiento que se pasa
Al observar
Es todo lo que he hecho toda mi vida

by James Lee Jobe 

 Who is that outside,
tapping on my window
like a naked branch
in a strong wind?
It is my father’s ghost,
and he wants me
to go with him,
walking in starlight!
I can see
my father’s great head
as vast as Nevada,
and his long nose,
bent like Odysseus
to his quest.
In his mangled,
wounded hand
he holds aloft,
as gentle
as a baby bird,
all of the dreams
that he never lived.
In many ways,
he is the child,
and I am the father.
I think now
that it was always so.
The tapping continues,
it is early;
there is still
a bit of night
yet to be.
The stars shine
like tiny gods;
they, too,
bid me to come!

James Lee Jobe

"My Father's Son / Hijo de mi padre" by Francisco X. Alarcón
“Recognition” by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Always Going Home" by Andrea Hernandez Holm
"Papito Abuelito" by Hedy Garcia Treviño
“To Don Victor Sánchez Hernández -My Father” by Raúl Sánchez
“Papa Who Never Wanted to Grow Old” by Flora Gamez Grateron
“This First And Only Time - For my Father Víctor Verdugo Martínez 1927 – 2006” by John Martinez
"Many Have Come Like Froylan" by Pedro L. Ramirez
“Despedida - A mi padre, Lito Chig” por Ana Chig
"To My Dad Jorge Rodríguez Fontes (RIP)" by Pocho Luna
"In Memoriam - for Albert Gus Marino (1922-2003)" by Elizabeth Marino
“La importancia de pensar" por Francisco Javier Herrera Brambila
"And I Am The Father" by James Lee Jobe

Francisco X. Alarcón, award-winning Chicano poet and educator, is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poemas para el Nuevo Sol/Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He is the creator of the Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070.

Elena Díaz Björkquist .“There are no VA Hospital appointments on my calendar any more—although I don’t miss them. What I do miss is not having my father, Valentine S. Herrera. He passed away December 2nd, 2009 several months short of his 90th birthday. In May of 2007 Daddy suffered his second heart attack and from that point on, his life was lived in a series of nursing homes, assisted living homes, and hospitals. Because of the relationship we developed during his final illnesses, Daddy and I became closer—even closer than I’d been with my mother.”

A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds.

As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena has performed as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation and done presentations about Morenci, Arizona for twelve years. She recently received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.

Elena is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070 and has written many poems which have been published not only on that page but also on La Bloga. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.

Andrea Hernandez Holm is a poet, student, writer and a member of the moderating panel of Poets Responding to SB 1070. She was born in central Arizona, not far from the little yellow house where her dad spent most of his childhood.

Raúl Sánchez, conducts workshops on The Day of the Dead. His most recent work is the translation of John Burgess’ Punk Poems in his book Graffito. His work appeared on-line in The Sylvan Echo, Flurry, Gazoobitales, Pirene’s Fountain and several times in La Bloga. He has been a board member of the Washington Poets Association and is a moderator for the Poets Responding to SB 1070 Facebook page.

His inaugural collection "All Our Brown-Skinned Angels" is filled with poems of identity—cultural, familial and personal, a civil protest, personal celebration, completely impassioned.

Tucson, Arizona. Flora Gamez Grateron, a Texas native, has been writing most of her life. Her stories and poems reflect the complexity and rewards of living among a Mexican-American family rich in culture and tradition. Flora’s work has been published in The Blue Guitar, an arts and literary magazine of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts and in La Bloga, a Flor y Canto out of Los Angeles speaking out on Immigration issues. Her Corrido on her 89 year old dad was one of the winners at the 2010 Tucson Meet Yourself Festival. Flora has also been published in the Oasis Journal 2010. She belongs to Sowing the Seeds, a women’s writers group. Flora received her degree in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and teaches English/Language Arts in the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and poetry.

John Martinez. I studied Creative Writing at Fresno State University and have published poetry in El Tecolote, Red Trapeze and in The LA Weekly. Recently, I have posted poems on Poets Responding to SB1070 and this will be my 8th poem published in La Bloga. I have performed (as a musician/political activist, poet) with Teatro De La Tierra, Los Perros Del Pueblo and TROKA, a Poetry Ensemble, lead by Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera. I have toured with several cumbia/salsa bands throughout the Central Valley and in Los Angeles. For the last 17 years, I have worked as an Administrator for a Los Angeles law firm. I make my home in Upland, California with my beautiful wife, Rosa America and family.

Pedro L. Ramirez is a Nopalero.  He attended Fresno State University as an EOPS student and holds both a B. A. and M. A.  in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Since 1991, Pedro has been teaching at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA. where he has taught in the Migrant Transition Program working with Migrant farm- workers and urban youth, but Pedro now teaches English where he teaches basic composition, critical thinking, Chicano Literature, and Creative Writing. He also taught in the Puente Project. He is the founder of Chicanos Writers Artists Association (CWAA )at Fresno State. He is a founding member of Cultural Awareness Programs (CAP) at Delta College where he has noted speakers and poets such as Rigoberta Menchu, Victor Martinez, Gary Soto, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Juan Felipe Herrera  and Margarita Luna Robles to note a few. Pedro is a community activist and founded Raza Advocacy for Education. Pedro is dedicated to promoting poetry, diversity and cultural competency on the Delta Campus. Pedro has published his poetry in La Bloga, Poets Espresso- Stockton, Iowa Review, Blue Unicorn, La Opinion of Los Angeles, Sentimientos del Valle, Artifact, El Tecolote SF, La Voz de Atzlan, and and many other journals. He has read nationally. A native of Fresno, Pedro began his teaching career at San Francisco/Fresno State University and Fresno City College. He credits the rich creative writing community there for inspiring him to write and teach. Pedro has published a semester poetry magazine which is student generated. He has read for the College Board AP Lit., GRE, SAT, SAT II, and CBEST. He has worked as a farm worker, janitor, and a gas station attendant. He loves working with students.  You can contact Pedro at mailto:pramirez@deltacollege.edu.

Ana Chig. Poeta. Residente de la ciudad Fronteriza Tijuana, Baja California.  Es Editora y fundadora del proyecto Frontera Esquina, Revista Mensual de Poesía que se distribuye en Tijuana y San Diego, California.

Actualmente coordina el programa POETIC BORDERS que se realiza en La Casa del Túnel Art Center.

Ha participado en recitales poéticos, lecturas urbanas y conversatorios organizados por diferentes instituciones y centros culturales.  Su obra aparece publicada en diversos medios electrónicos, revistas y prensa escrita.

James Lee Jobe is a 55 year old poet and radio announcer in the Sacramento, California area. He has five chapbooks published, including WHAT GOD SAID WHEN SHE FINALLY ANSWERED, Rattlesnake Press.


Elizabeth Marino said...

ELIZABETH MARINO was born to a couple from Puerto Rico, of Chicago's South Side barrio of the mid-'50s. She was raised by an Italian/German family in working class suburbs. She recently retired as a contingent NEIU English faculty member, and as an Affiliate Faculty of Women's Studies, having taught overall for 21 years. This June, a CAAP grant and conference scholarship sent her to Las Dos Brujas Writers' Workshops, where she studied with Juan Filipe Herrera. She also was a Ragdale resident. Her chapbook, "Debris: Poems and Memoir," went into a second printing last spring (Puddin'head Press). Her work can be found in the small press, anthologies, and the kitchens of her friends. She has an MA from UIC (Writers' Program), where she completed Renaissance Studies seminars at Newberry Library. Her BA was from Barat College, in English and Humanities, with a year at Oxford University

msedano said...

thank you, elizabeth, for adding this important bio. ate., mvs

Anonymous said...

por nada, em

cocoloco said...

I love all the words expressed here and the poems are beautiful. A testimony that la cultura prevails and our roots are deep.

Raul Sanchez

Caminante said...


Francisco Javier Herrera, fundador y co-director del TRABAJO CULTURAL CAMINANTE, apoya movimientos sociales con el objetivo de mejorar la calidad de vida del pueblo trabajador y migrante, a través de la musica y el desarrollo organizativo. Francisco es compositor y cantante desarrollando musica pegajosa y popular que mantiene al público atento al mensaje inspirador. Sus cantos son un homenaje a la vida, las alegrías, las penas y las luchas del pueblo migrante y la gente trabajadora en general. Es un canto humanizador que nos recuerda del campo y del deseo de salir adelante, y de esta forma cambiando la sociedad entera. Francisco compone y produce musica para niños, para peliculas y documentales y para eventos religiosos, civicos y políticos, como fueron las marchas de la comunidad migrante del año 2006 cuando mas de 5 millones de personas tomaron las calles por todo estados Unidos para ser presencia de dignidad y promover una legalización justa para los inmigrantes.
puedes descargar dos canciones gratis en www.franciscoherreramusic.com

photo: Anne Maley, 2004


Francisco Herrera, founder and co-direcotor of TRABAJO CULTURAL CAMINANTE, supports social movements through the arts and organizational development. Whether through group facilitation or musical performance, Francsico’s priority is to support working people organizing to improve their quality of life. As a singer/songwriter he creates concerts, mc’s and performs in collaborations with countless organizations. A catchy mix of rythm and soulful singing keeps the audience attentive to Herrera’s lively presentations. His songs speak of the life, joys, pains and struggle of working people in the commitment for social change, making struggle for justice contagious and inspirational. Francisco writes and produces for children and adults in churches, union halls, community centers and concert halls.
you can download two songs for free from www.franciscoherreramusic.com