Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Education of a Chicano : The Encampment for Citizenship Part I by AntonioSolisGomez

I always knew I would attend college, probably because my biological father whom I met for the first time when I was twelve was a college grad and a detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s. He inspired me in absentia because he was never around and didn’t give my mother a dime for support. But he was self made, leaving us in El Paso with not even a high school education and eventually getting a masters in psychology. Instead I grew up with a stepfather with a third grade education who was literate and who threw me out of the house when I was fifteen.

I was a good student and followed a college prep course, taking as much math and science as possible at Lincoln High School. The Chicanos I grew up with weren’t interested in book learning, really nobody who was Chicano did, the norm was to stay with the group not to be ambicioso. I know that this was not universally true among Chicanos but it was within my group of friends, many who were gang members and on the same football team as I.

Author on the left with the stoic look. on the right my friend Arturo

I attribute that lack of respect for learning to the fact that the teachers didn’t respect us or our cultural roots, setting some dynamics in place that led students to sabotaging any learning that might have taken place such as coughing in unison, dropping books on the floor in sequence, sneaking out the back door while the teacher wasn’t looking, laughing inappropriately. There was always a way to disrupt. It was as if we were in a battle for survival; teachers wanting to erase our identity by berating us and wanting us to acculturate. I once had a history class with a wealthy female teacher, with a handsome face and lithe body, that supported her assertion that she ran hurdles in the Olympics. She wanted the class to see a wall map of Vietnam and after she pulled it down from its case that was hung above the blackboard, turned toward the class. Without warning the map suddenly sprang back into its case. The class snickered and she glared at us, as if daring us to continue. She went back to the blackboard, pulled down the map and again faced us. Wouldn’t you know it, the map with a loud sound rolled back up into its case. Now we laughed out loud and she began to berate our low brow sense of humor and made it known that she and her kind would never laugh at something so stupid.

We, Chicanos, fought back with what we had at our disposal, our inattention. We didn’t know how to stand up verbally to that sort of abuse, compounded by the fact that we didn’t know anything about our history or our past cultural achievements. Nevertheless we wanted to be Chicanos and our role models were the pachucos, the tirilones, the zoot suiters, the vatos locos. We learned to be stoic, to garner a vacuous look and to dress in our own style, shunning current Anglo fashion of Ivy League button down collars and Levis or pegged pants. We wore Khakis and plaid shirts from Sir Guy or Pendeltons and brown leather jackets.

 There was no effort to disrupt my science or math college prep classes as most of those students were non-Chicanos. One of those students was Ben Chu, the only non Chicano in my group of friends and with whom I often studied. I was living a dual existence and I would hide the fact that I took books home for homework. Eventually my close friends came to know that I studied at home and they respected that other side of me.

My clica consisted of Reuben, Fernando, Arturo and Ben. Reuben lived in a tiny house with his mom and five siblings. His mom worked in the garment district but probably also received some welfare. Arturo lived with his mom and dad and three sisters and was the only one that had access to a car, an old 49 Buick that we would cruise in after we siphoned gasoline from the Bell Telephone Company vehicles parked on the perimeter of our barrio. Fernando lived with his mom who received welfare and by all standards was the poorest of our lot. Ben, the lone Chinese was the wealthiest, his dad a butcher who supported six children. I lived with my grandmother who didn’t speak English and worked as a maid at a Sheraton Hotel in the west side. She had managed to buy a small two story house with a basement that became the defacto hangout. The unscrupulous Chicano realtor didn’t explain that her mortgage had a $5000 balloon payment that if not paid within five years would forfeit her purchase and so she eventually lost her home.

During those high school years I read a lot of pulp fiction paperbacks, left by guests at the hotel, that my grandmother would give me, not knowing about the racy sex scenes. But she did find a few good books such as Studs Lonigan, The world of Susie Wong and Marjorie Morning Star. Nevertheless when I graduated from Lincoln and enrolled at East Los Angeles College, I quickly learned that I was deficient in English and History, the classes where little learning took place. In Science and Math I was right up there. I sought to rectify my deficiencies by reading many of the one hundred books Clifton Fadiman recommended in his Lifetime Reading Plan. I read voraciously, carried a book with me wherever I went and angered family because I always had my nose up a book. I enjoyed reading and learning. It not only opened up a world much beyond the barrio where I lived but I began to grow inside, becoming confident and overcoming a natural shyness with Anglos that stemmed from feeling inferior, a condition of oppression best described by Franz Fanon in his book Wretched of the Earth.

My friend Rudy Salinas who made possible the trip to NY with his frien Darlene Leyba in Toledo Spain

There were two highlights in college. One was a class in world literature where I was introduced to Greek Literature and Drama including Sophocles, Aeschylus and Homer. The other was a class in Latin American History where I first began to discover the perverse role the United States had and continued to play in that region. Dr. Helen Bailey, our professor was one of the truly great friends of Chicanos, not only because she pushed so hard for us to learn about our history but also because she helped us financially through a scholarship that she managed. In her class I was introduced to Carey McWilliams and his book North From Mexico and also Ernesto Galarza and his books on farm workers such as Merchants of labor.

At the end of the 1961 spring semester my friend, Bobbie Salinas told me that she was going to New York to attend a summer educational program that her brother Rudy had attended the previous year. Dr. Helen Bailey was responsible for obtaining scholarships to the Encampment for Citizenship and I was assured of getting one for the tuition. The catch was that we needed to pay our way to New York. Getting there was not a problem Bobbie told me because her brother Rudy was going to Poland on a student exchange program and he was going to drive a truck from an agency that needed it taken to New York. Sy Villa also a student would be the fourth member of our crew, everyone agreeing to pitch in for gasoline and to take turns driving.

We set off one morning in early June. The pick-up we were driving had been retrofitted to visit construction sites to sell food for lunch breaks. It had small side panels that ran the length on either side of the bed where eventually sandwiches, soda, cookies, bags of chips and candy would be stored and displayed and in those panels we took turns sleeping for we were to drive non stop for three days. Driving across the United States from one coast to another was an amazing adventure. What struck me the most was the vastness of the country, the open spaces where little development had taken place and that radio stations used the same formats and played the same music in every city.

MLK on left, Pete Seeger, Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy. The young girl Charis Horton, Myles' daughter

The Encampment for Citizenship conducted by the New York Society for Ethical Culture was started by Algernon Black and modeled after the Highlander School of Tennessee started by Myles Horton. The Highlander School is one of the least known aspects of the Civil Rights Movement but among those that attended were Rosa Parks, Julian Bond, Pete Seeger, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, John Lewis and even Eleanor Roosevelt. Started in 1932 in a small Tennessee town the mission was to provide rural folks training that would help them better their condition. The school stressed embracing local culture and music as well as literacy training to pass the citizenship tests. It was an anomaly back then because it accepted everyone that wanted to attend, including African Americans.

The 1961 Encampment for Citizenship had 120 young people from many parts of the USA and from nine countries. There were a hand full of Chicanos and Native Americans and as many African Americans. Most of us were from urban areas but there were some from rural areas and farming communities. We were using the classrooms of Fieldstone School in the Bronx as dorms, men on the first floor and women in the second and as one can imagine there was lots of use of the staircase after lights out. In the morning we all had chores either in the kitchen preparing breakfast or kitchen clean up, sweeping, mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms and shower stalls. It was a very communal set-up and everyone was expected to pitch in. After clean up there was a lecture on some topic that had a social and or political impact by staff or by a visiting lecturer. Thus we were visited and interacted with Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., or visited someone such as Eleanor Roosevelt at her home in Hyde Park or a staff person at an agency working with youth gangs. These sessions were very eclectic and quite liberal, many of the topics focused on the issues of inequality here in the USA and abroad.

Author on the right. My friend Bobbie Salinas in the middle. On the left a young man from MT. whose name i have forgotten

 In the afternoon after lunch we each had to sign up for a seminar and I chose the one on group dynamics. We had to select a topic to explore and as it turned out the members decided to follow the suggestion of my fellow traveler Sy who suggested the stigma attached to Chicanos because of gang bangers. The evenings before and after dinner were left for music and we sang to the accompaniment of a banjo player all of the songs that became popular during the Civil Rights Movement such as We Shall Overcome, and folk songs such as Kumbaya. We also learned folk dances from around the world, many of them Jewish circle dances. Late evenings were taken up by free ranging intellectual discussions of the sort young college students might engage in. Because the drinking age in New York was 18 some of us climbing out a window after lights out and visiting a local pub.

The impact on my personal and intellectual life during the two months of that summer lasted a lifetime. I came to know and interact with a group of people that saw the world very much as I was seeing it, acknowledging the oppression perpetuated on people of color, on women, on less developed nations and the need to fight for justice. I cried openly when the encampment came to an end, a first for me the stoic Chicano from Lincoln Heights.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Where Do the Children Play?

Melinda Palacio

 ©2018 Lalo Alcaraz. Cartoon appears courtesy of the artist.

Looming over the joy of my new book, Bird Forgiveness, are the atrocities happening to our country, in our politics, and especially at the border where a zero tolerance policy enacted by Trump has led to severe trauma for babies and children who have been taken from their families and put in camps. Migrating to this country and seeking asylum is not a crime, but in Trump's eyes if a family is from a "shit hole" country then yes, lock them up and forget about where a poor non-english speaking child or baby was sent, and if they die trying to find their child, all the better says the wannabe dictator. This is where we are now. The children have been scattered all over the United States. I want to know why the people in custody of these poor babies don't speak up. They might make a trip to the emergency room where doctors note that these toddlers are not behaving like normal, curious babies. I don't need a medical degree to tell you that children who have been ripped from their mother's arms are not going to act normal.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, mi gente, the readers of La Bloga, but this is what is on my mind lately. While it is important to uphold our way of life and continue to make art, it is equally important to get out there and resist, vote, communicate, and respect existence. Our elders fought too hard to see this country re-institute concentration camps for babies, children, and migrant families seeking asylum.

Tomorrow: Saturday, June 30, Freedom for Families! Abolish ICE March, noon to 3pm, Congo Square Louis Armstrong Park, 701 Rampart Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70116

In Santa Barbara: Saturday, June 30, 11 am De La Guerra Plaza.

Global: Find a march near you, contact

Thursday, June 28, 2018

In Memoriam: An Elder's Last Chapter

Daniel Cano  

     Two weeks ago, Fred Machado passed away at the age of 95. I'd been sharing with La Bloga readers some of Fred's stories regarding his family's land, Rancho La Ballona, granted to his ancestors Agustin and Ygnacio Machado back in the early 1800s, when Alta California was transitioning from Spanish to Mexican rule.
     Here, I pass on the conclusion of my interview with Fred and his nephew Ron Mendez.
     I asked Fred and Ron, “What do the two of you think about Playa Vista’s land development, especially since it was once your family’s land?”
     It wasn’t complicated. Fred understood progress. The same way the California rancheros lost their land to Anglo settlers, their Spanish, Mexican ancestors had taken indigenous lands, primarily the land belonging to the Tongva-speaking Chumash, Shoshone in origin and known as Gabrielenos to the Spanish.
     The Tongva inhabited the area of La Ballona for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.
Fred thought more about the cultural aspect of the loss than the economic or financial aspects. He recalled that in the early stages of the Playa Vista development, a representative from the local Los Angeles City Council person's office had approached him and asked if he would join a coalition to assist in the founding of an Indian and Hispanic cultural center to be built on Playa Vista Development Corporation land. Fred said it was a wonderful idea. But it did not last long due to internal bickering and disorganization.
     The plans ended once Dream Works decided against building its film studio on the site. Still, Fred said he made a lot of friends in the initial discussions and was sorry to see the project die.
     "Everything fell apart," he said, astonished by the amount of  “amazing historical information” the Tongva representatives offered regarding early native settlements in the area. He added, "And this was before they discovered a huge Tongva gravesite on the grounds. Fascinating stuff."
     Fred said there were a few Tongva representatives still outraged at losing their land to Spain and Mexico. They were looking to place blame on the early Californios for stealing Indian lands, which according to Fred, "Wasn't altogether wrong."
     Fred also remembered hearing about bad blood between the early Californios and Spanish authorities in Mexico City. Fred surmised that after a certain period in the 1800s, his great-grandfather Jose Agustin Machado did not want to live under Spain's rule, and probably did not want to adhere to Mexican authority, after 1820, when Mexico won its independence from Spain.
     Ron said, "Alta California, to them, was a new frontier. Many Californios saw themselves as neither Spanish nor Mexican."
     Alta California was thousands of miles and worlds away from both Spain and Mexico, and the laws and reforms passed by those two governments had no bearing on the new culture the Californios had created, so it must have been natural for the rancheros to see the land as theirs. In some ways, they were both mentally and physically ready for a new country, and it was fateful when the United States entered and brought new promises and laws to the Californios, and broke both with impunity.
     Ron said, "My gut feeling is that [our ancestors] would have rather been Americans than Mexicans."
     California and Mexican historians have written that, in reality, the Californios had mixed feelings. The more conservative preferred to remain loyal to Spain, Mexico, and the church, while the more progressive, seeing how the Church and the missions controlled so much, preferred a different path, autonomy, or possibly, siding with the Americans.
     Since the Machado’s lands were in California, it would be foolish for them to return to Mexico. That meant losing everything they'd worked so hard to build. Also, as already stated, they had created their own culture in California, not Yankee, not Spanish, and certainly not Mexican. For them, to be American was someplace in between.
     Mexico was a country the Machados no longer knew. To this Fred grew thoughtful, his voice lowered, as he, forever the pragmatist, asked me directly, "You’ve studied this more than I have. Here's the border," he said, drawing an invisible line with his hand on his dining room table. "Here is Mexico. Here is the U.S. Why is it that on the American side it's all developed? And on the south…." He grew pensive, nearly somber, then questioned, "…nothing?"
     Other men and women, of Fred's generation, I'd interviewed, also hinted at the dilemma. After all, they knew that Mexico saw them, their children, their parents, and in some cases, grandparents, as
pochos--bitter fruit, for betraying their motherland by leaving and going north. Yet, “Poor Mexico,” as Mexican president Porfirio Diaz proclaimed at the turn of the 20th century, “So far from god, yet so close to the United States," could not provide for its citizens, not 200 years ago, and not today.
     It was not the people who betrayed Mexico by leaving, many who emigrated, believed. But, as my grandfather believed, it was Mexico that betrayed them. Whether one identifies Mexico as a place, a people, a culture, a government, or a state of mind, it did not better itself or help its people, except for the richest and most influential, who, even today, continue to control the wealth.
     I told Fred, regarding my understanding of border politics, that the U.S. took half of Mexico’s finest land, the Sierra Nevadas, for example, its mineral resources and water, its gold, timber, and animal life, and the San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys, not to mention the Rockies; the ore, copper, bronze, uranium, and coal in New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and—the oil in Texas. It was Latin America's indigenous people who developed the early mining techniques, passed on to Mexican miners, which caused American mining companies to scour Mexico's villages in the 1920s, and again in the 1940s, seeking experienced Mexican miners, which helped in the U.S. war effort, as well as line the pockets of robber barons and captains of industry.
     Mexico fought two wars of independence, first from Spain, then from France, when the U.S. attacked in 1848. Finally, a civil war, much of it financed by American banking and mining corporations, while the U.S. government turned a blind eye. To justify its policy of Manifest Destiny, the U.S. congress debated the idea that Mexicans were lower on the human chain than Europeans. Men with names like Hearst, Guggenheim, Doheny, Carnegie, and their business interests manipulated the so-called “Good Neighbor Policy” at will.
     Mexico is still lucky to own Baja California, though U.S. assaults on that strip of real estate heat up from time to time. And we hadn't even begun to discuss Spain’s conquest and destruction of the indigenous population.
     Today, Mexican, Honduran, and Guatemalan farmers cannot compete with heavily subsidized U.S. corn, cotton, and bean farmers. So, what happens to the thousands of Mexican and Central American farmers and workers who lose their lands and jobs in Mexico and Central America? It is they who make the daily trek to our borders. It isn’t simply that one side is incompetent and the other competent. It is more about the corruption on both sides of the border.
     In her book, "Drug War Capitalism", Dawn Paley describes how Latin American officials confiscate resource-rich lands from Latin America's Indians, sell them to European, Canadian, Asian, and American investors, only to tell the public, after a military slaughter, the Indians were really drug dealers, posing as villagers. Historically, political cabals and machinations in Mexico’s affairs have stirred the water as sure as a rock dropped into a pond causes ripples and waves.
     We grew silent, for a moment. Then Fred confessed, he had been far removed from his Mexican self. It wasn't until he began immersing himself in family history and sharing the information with his family that certain Spanish words jolted his memory, reminding him how, as a child, “My parents always spoke English whenever we kids were around. Then as I began studying my family's history, I started hearing familiar Spanish words. Oh, I remember that word, I’d say to myself."
     Growing up with light skin, he and his cousins didn't feel the discrimination the darker kids felt. "For them, it was bad,” he remembered.
     Fred lived his life as an Anglo, and his Machado name but an anomaly. In certain ways, his research into his family history resurrected his dormant Mexican spirit.
     “Yes, back then, in my mind, I was an Anglo,” he said. “All of the older folks always spoke Spanish, except when we kids were around, they’d switch to English.” He thought, adding, "My grandfather, Ricardo, who everyone called ‘the Old Man’ was very wealthy at one time. He was a typical don and lived on the ranch in what we called the 'Big House' surrounded by acres and acres of land."
     Fred described how, as children, neither he nor his cousins could go alone to visit their grandfather. Their fathers would take the children to the Big House, out near Jefferson and Sepulveda. The kids would stand outside and wait while their fathers entered first, to greet the old man and talk family business. After some time, the fathers returned to escort the children, one at a time, into the house.
     Fred said, “The Old Man would be sitting in a large chair and take us, one at a time, on his lap, pat us on the head, and give us each a dime. Then we would leave.”
     Fred remembered one time when his grandfather and the grandchildren, thirty-two in all, gathered for a photo in front of the Big House. Fred said, "Today you might visualize that this was what it was like to belong to one of the big Italian Mafia families."
     Fred's grandfather died in 1934, as the Great Depression raged. By this time, most of the land known as Rancho La Ballona had been sold and Ricardo’s money nearly depleted. To survive those difficult years, Fred's father farmed the remaining land. His mother found a job.
     I asked, “How much land did your father farm?”
     Fred said his grandfather, Ricardo, gave his heirs twelve portions of La Ballona. But by that time,
prior inheritances had carved the land into tiny parcels. Fred's father, Federico, received a two hundred-foot slither of land near the beach. He bought another lot from his sister. But as the country slipped deeper into the Depression, Federico sold much of the land, as did other family members.
     Today, most Westside residents don't even remember the land as Rancho La Ballona, or even the Machado Land, but as the Lopez Ranch, after the lands' most recent owner, a family, Fred told me, that once worked for the Machados.
     Fred remembered his parents moving off the ranch but returning to live a few times in the 1930s. But by all accounts, that was the end of the Machado relationship to a land that once covered much of L.A.'s westside. Though Fred understood his ties to the land had been physically severed, he knew, on a deeper level, a spiritual level, his life, and his family's ties to the land could never be severed.
     Rest in Peace my dear friend, and, like all good elders, thanks for keeping our heritage alive.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


By Yuyi Morales 

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Neal Porter Books (September 4, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823440559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823440559

Also en Español 

Caldecott Honor-book artist and five-time Pura Belpré Award winner YUYI MORALES tells her own immigration story in this picture-book tribute to the transformative power of hope . . . and reading.

In 1994, 25-year-old YUYI MORALES traveled from her home in Xalapa, Mexico, to the San Francisco Bay Area with her two-month-old son, Kelly, in order to secure permanent residency in this country. Her passage was not easy and she spoke no English whatsoever. But due in large measure to help and guidance provided by area children's librarians, she learned English as her young son learned to read, through the picture books they shared together. In spare, lyrical verse and the vibrant images for which she has become legendary, Yuyi has created a lasting testament to the journeys, both physical and metaphorical, that she and Kelly have taken together in the intervening years. Beautiful and powerful at any time, but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.

About the Author

Born in Xalapa, Mexico, where she currently resides, YUYI MORALES lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she still maintains close relations with booksellers and librarians. Professional storyteller, dancer, choreographer, puppeteer, and artist, she has won the prestigious Pura Belpré Award for Illustration five times, for Just a Minute (2003), Los Gatos Black on Halloween (2006), Just in Case (2008), Niño Wrestles the World (2013) and Viva Frida (2014), also a Caldecott Honor Book. She also illustrated Sherman Alexie's Thunder Boy Jr., a New York Times Bestseller.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Pain. On Fathers, an On-line Floricanto. news ' notes

Michael Sedano

Some hospital workers I ran across recently have the same attitude toward pain that I pretend is my attitude toward hard work. Years ago, clearing slag out of the mill race at Kaiser Steel Fontana, one of us would slide his shovel into the layer of slag, hold out the iron waste in preparation for flinging it back, and say, “I love Hard Work. I could watch it all day long.”

All night long and into day two, the staff watched a patient go through repeated bouts with agonizing heart pain, doing their best to follow doctor’s orders and nothing worked, that poor guy. I would have said something, sabes, but I was the guy writhing on the bed screaming and crying at level 9 and 10 pain.

I used to write SOP, Standard Operating Procedures, and train workers to comply the right way. Variance is always necessary, that’s why there’s an SOP: To have a standard to vary from.

In business, mindless obedience to SOP blocks growth, produces unhappy customers, and makes people comfortable in their job instead of attentive to their profession. In my cardiothoracic unit, mindless obedience to SOP would have killed me.

Moving into a room from the ER amid bouts of pain blur memories as soon as everything happens. People with superb skills cycle in and out of awareness. Sadly, their names disappear in the whirl. I speak or chat with everyone I encounter, Spanish or English, and don’t care who she was, the woman who told me I speak really good English after I described one of the workers as Spanish-speaking.

My wife was trapped in the middle of all this. I can’t begin to imagine what she must have felt. She asked one RN about something on the computer monitor and the nurse sneered, “Let me do my job. I’ll talk to you later.” I woulda said something, but I was distracted.

That nurse is a woman comfortable in her job—knows exactly what she’ll do next and doesn’t have to balance alternatives nor go out of her way. That nurse must have been absent from class the day the good nurses learned the meaning of “helping professional.” I suppose she could watch great pain all day, if the SOP says don’t make a phone call.

Here’s why my personal experience means something to you.

I was done, that’s it and I knew it. I cried knowing how much I was going to miss. I thought of my granddaughter’s smile. Out of the blue, an Army buddy called so I got to say goodbye. I called loved ones and said goodbye, crying in their ears. But I wasn’t done after all and I’m sorry I put them through that.

I have a Patient Advocate. My daughter confronted that nurse to ask why she didn’t call the doc to tell him the SOP wasn’t working? Wasn’t part of the procedure. When my daughter insisted, it brought matters to a close. I was assigned a compassionate RN and my daughter arranged a new heart doctor. He’s the guy who changed the meds and that has made all the difference.

Gente, if you find yourself in a grim hospital situation, don’t trust to SOP. Have a Patient Advocate. Without my daughter’s intervention, I was done, sorry to say. I saw the Ancestors again.

At one point I looked to the nighttime window and a few of the Ancestors were there. Then a few others appeared. I recognized them; they had appeared in my mother’s hospital room and told me to take her home with me. That time I crossed over, Ancestors didn’t want me; they sent me back to burn sage. This time, they stayed at the window looking across the room at me saying nothing. I exhaled. The Ancestors were gone. The pain returned.

The next day the new medicine worked its wonders. No pain. I sat chatting with my wife and daughter, a bright day outside. A movement at the periphery of vision. I turned to look. The Ancestors paused at the window, not in vigil. I welled up at their news. The Ancestors told me I won’t be missing my granddaughter’s growing up. On the fourth day I came home.

I am growing white sage now. When I get home, I’ll give a nod to William Cullen Bryant, and burn a leaf to the Ancestors.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Mail Bag • San Antonio

On Father: An On-line Floricanto
Frank Acosta, Sarah St George, Ramón Piñero, María J. Estrada, Prettythunder Jolaoso

Of A Child and Mother By Frank Acosta
Dad By Sarah St George
Happy Fathers Day By Ramón Piñero
“Lo Tierno” By Dr. María J. Estrada
Prophecy By Prettythunder Jolaoso

Five responses to a call for poems from The Moderators of Poetry of Resistance, an online community.

Of A Child and Mother
By Frank Acosta

For Mama Maria & All Mothers

The love of a child
And a blessed mother
Nothing is sweeter
In God’s creation
A love that can save
And bind a nation
I saw a little one
Burst out of their skin
For the chance to laugh
To dance, and sing
Child spirits fill the room
To keep the old ones true
Child presses cheek
To their mothers’ hand
Earth and heaven merge
With flesh, blood, and spirit
A perfect moment when we
Reside in the heart of God
The love of a child
And a blessed mother
These are eyes with which
We should see the world
Tomorrow through a mothers’ heart
I will see only sister and brothers

By Sarah St George

Remember when I was young
and less than enlightened?
I told you and mom I wanted to
drop out of high school and devote
my life to poetry and philosophy.
You would have none of it.
Every morning you kicked open my door,
yodeled in my ear and jumped on my bed
until I got myself dressed and out the door.
You said:
“No daughter of mine is going to be
some Dharma sniffing, bohemian.
As long as you live under my roof,
you will live to your fullest potential.”
I thanked you by getting an associates
degree in philosophy. You said “Hey,
at least it's better than nothing.”
And then there was my first
true love, Eric Ballesszinski.
On my sixteenth Birthday, he kissed me
on the front porch. When he slipped
his hand under my shirt to touch my
holy juntas, you jumped out of the
bushes and kicked him in the balls.
You said:
“No daughter of mine is going
to be some pizza-faced, snaggle tooth,
punk's baby's Mama. As long as you
live under my roof, you will keep your dignity.”
I thanked you for scaring Eric away
by getting knocked up by a jobless musician.
You said “At least your children are beautiful.”
When I was in college, I got a job
at a grocery store. Everyday you would
come through my line and take pleasure
in embarrassing me by belting out “My girl”
and holding up a tabloid and asking me
if I thought Brittany Spear's boobs
had gotten any bigger.
One day a grouchy old man in front of you
yelled at me for squishing his tomatoes.
You called out to him: “I'll show you the true meaning
of squished tomatoes if you ever
talk to my daughter that way again.”
I thanked you by squishing
your bread the next day.
You said “Someday you'll learn,
Kid. Someday you'll learn.”
As I watch you struggle
to walk up the stairs,
eat a bowl of soup, and twirl my kids up in the air,
I can't help but look upon
the days where you tormented
me endlessly out of love
You have always been an all seeing,
all knowing, all embarrassing warrior.
Don't stop fighting now.
Think of your cancer as
my youthful stupidity,
all of the know it all dweebs I brought home,
and sleezy old men who wanted to be my sugar daddy.
Yodel it light years away,
kick it in the cojones until it begs for mercy,
Squish it like a rotten tomato.
Tell it to go fuck itself
until the end of time.
Don't let it diminish your spirit.
As long as I am living you will
always be my rock star, my superhero, my Jesus,
Buddha, and Lao Tzu.
Please don't give up on me now.
I need you too much.
I love you too much.

Happy Fathers Day
By Ramón Piñero

He was
in and out
more times
out than in
he was happier
than not
her left
and right,
flinging her
across the
bed and she
landed on
the boy
more than

He never
saw the progeny
of his children.
those bright-eyed
of his children.

the boy would
go round to
see if he could
a pair of shoes
it's the first
day of
school. the
boy tired
of stuffing
his shoes
with the
daily news.

the boy learned
from that man
learned to drink
to be irresponsible
to beat the women
who loved him. t
o become the
man he was taught
to be.

the boy and
the girls
learned much
from this waste
of skin.
they have
driven that
demon to where
it belongs;
away from their
hearts and away
from their souls.

“Lo Tierno”
By Dr. María J. Estrada
(A much overdue poem for my Mama.)

Es un verde tierno

I hear the echoes
Long past
Mi Madre
With such an ojo for nature

In Spanish

Means tender, loving

Not like those old
Grating Angry cries
From ‘Apa

‘Apa would come home
To tattered wooden house
In abandoned orange groves

Worked to the veins and bones
Three days straight—No break
Heat that killed mi gente
Pummeling him into this Salvaje

He would come to house
Sun-filled rage on tongue &
Harsh desert death on fists

Tearing shit up
Tearing mother up

The next day,
Mama would be sowing a table cloth
Verde tierno,
Showing me each careful stitch

“Así. Vez, mija? Así.
Que bonito el verde tiernito, que no?
Como mi niñita, tan tiernita.”

Me a sapling at her feet
Soaking in the world

I looked with untrained eyes
Her work, delicate, wonderful

It was a beautiful

By Prettythunder Jolaoso

Those dark lilies
outside the cold window
the widow’s peak rising up in shadow

how did they come to be here
she asks
looking down at the black lilies
beneath the pines

the children
did not know
shouldn’t have looked
into that Stellar Jay’s nest
she tore into her babies
that summer

from the cold window
always watching

he stood

Meet the Poets
Of A Child and Mother By Frank Acosta
Dad By Sarah St George
Happy Fathers Day By Ramón Piñero
“Lo Tierno” By Dr. María J. Estrada
Prophecy By Prettythunder Jolaoso

Sarah St. George is a poet turning up the volume in the quiet corner of Connecticut. Since the age of twelve she has been using poetry to make exes infamous, unravel the enigmas of existence, and cope with trauma and loss. Her work covers a wide range of topics including nude Muppets, domestic violence, and the joys and challenges of motherhood. She has been featured in several anthologies and literary magazines. When not writing and sharing her poems, Sarah enjoys spending time with her son and daughter, learning, walking around town with her sloth puppet, and making jewelry. She is currently working as a an instructional assistant and hopes to one day teach creative writing at the college level. 

Former Bay Area Poet exiled to the wilds of Central Florida, where the further north you travel, the farther south to go

DR. MARIA J. ESTRADA graduated with a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Washington State University. She grew up in the desert outside of Yuma, Arizona in a barrio comprised of new Mexican immigrants and first-generation Chicanos. Drawing from this setting and experiences, she writes in numerous genres from serious fiction to horror, and writes poetry, regularly. She is a tenured faculty member in English and lives in Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful, supportive husband, two remarkable children, and two mischievous cats. Her books The Long Walk and La Bruja in the Orchard can be found on Amazon and Smashwords. (Her work is free to students upon request.) You can learn more about her other books and writing happenings at

Monday, June 25, 2018

Nuestros niños / Our Sons and Daughters

Nuestros niños / Our Sons and Daughters
By Xánath Caraza

El Movimiento Cosecha de KC organizó el Rally to Protect Families el domingo, 24 de junio, a las 16 horas en 47th and Broadway en la Ciudad de Kansas. Nuestra querida Abogada Jéssica Piedra, Nancy Sauceda, Trinidad Raj Molina y otros estuvieron a la cabeza de la planeación.  En punto de las cuatro comenzaron las actividades.  Hubo varios presentadores contando las historias de amigos que han sido deportados o sus propias historias como refugiados en Kansas City.  Tuve el honor de leer uno de mis poemas para esta necesaria ocasión.  El título de mi poema es “Nuestros niños” / “Our Sons and Daughters” traducido al inglés por Sandra Kingery.  A continuación una serie de fotos del Rally to Protect Families de ayer.

Para leer mi poema completo pueden ir a Seattle Escribe o a Páginas Sueltas del Instituto Cervantes de Atenas que dirige María José Martínez, como muchos de nosotros este poema ha cruzado fronteras.