Sunday, January 18, 2015

Honoring Michele Serros: TWO POEMS

Thank you to guest blogger Monica Frazier who wrote such a loving post about her friendship with Michele Serros this past Friday.  (Check it out by clicking here!) Again—a reminder that if you are in the Santa Barbara, California area, there will be an event to honor Michele.  All are invited:

Where: At University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Multicultural Center Theater,
Title:  "To Celebrate the Life and Works of Michele Serros" (readings and reception)
Day and Time:  Tuesday, January 20th from 6-8p.m.

There are two poems Michele wrote that she read for my students in 1997 when she came to the class I was teaching at UCSB.  I remember how the students connected with these poems and the lively discussion we had afterwards.  To honor her, I am including them in this brief post. These two poems are from her first book, chicana falsa and other stories of death, identity, and Oxnard.

Michele Serros reading from chicana falsa and other stories of death, identity, and Oxnard

Disco Gymnasium

The eighteen inch waist
buxom blonde
informs me,
“You’re late!
Bathrooms are a mess!"
I tell her,
“No, I’m no cleaning lady
I go here.  I’m a member.” 
Her left eyebrow arches
with suspicion
she checks my plastic card
proof and signature,
annoyed wave,
allows me in.

Feeling very intrusive
in this exclusive
no bobby socks
or baggy shorts
like Rio De Valle Jr. High
P.E. Class,
I’m the solo mexicana
in loose chongo
ex-boyfriend’s sweatpants
oversize T-shirt
fashion outcast
creating a nuisance
to iridescent,
triple X!

Ahead and behind
my eyes can’t hide from
the neon green thong thang
dividing large curd
twin cheeks.

It’s the Friday afternoon
last ditch effort
to get it on
and get it off
with wealthy white westside women
sweating to inner city rap boys
(like they secretly do at home).


and the whole time
I am thinking of
that double cheese
chimichanga supreme
I’m gonna pick up
On the way home. 

El Cielo or Bust

     Very soon
Great-aunt Linda
is going to die. 

I know this
‘cause she’s shown me
how to care for her good china,
told me where she keeps
her grandma’s wedding ring
and put the pink slip
to Uncle Willie’s Buick
in my name.
“Just in case,” she says. 

She now speaks kindly
of Conchita and Louie,
(past enemies
who did her wrong
many, many years ago)
thinks Warlord,
the pitbull,
had it easy being put to sleep.
And thick, musty drapes
always drawn
make her once sunny home
like the coffin
she will lie in

Every other day
before Dos Mujeres, Un Camino
after Wheel of Fortune,
a uniformed woman
in rosary beads and name badge
comes to Aunt Linda,
comes to bring her IT.
The wafer,
the key
that will unlock that gate,
her final destination,
last trip,
no senior discount needed to
El Cielo.
That faraway place
high above shake-shingle rooftops,
El Rio water tower.
And just like every 1940s film
on channel 15 promises,
there she will go,
Up an angel hair path
Leading to some glorious
Hollywood harp shaped gate. 

And then I’ll Miss Aunt Linda,
real bad.
Her untouched guest soaps,
Noxema fresh smell,
crochet dollies every Christmas,
Arthritic fingers,
aching over making
strawberry shortcake supreme.
She gotta keep doing
all the good things
told to me
‘cause someday,
at the gate,
Great Aunt Linda,
Great Uncle Willie,
and Warlord
will be ready and awake
waiting to welcome ME.


Judy Bertonazzi said...

Thank you for posting Ms. Serro's poems. I am feel like I could have known her, like I would have wanted to know her. Now I only know her through these poems.

Amelia ML Montes said...

Judy--We are so lucky to have these poems and other writings. It's certainly not the same as having her physically here with us-- but she is here with us in her words. Here's a link to all her writings: