Thursday, August 18, 2022

Excerpt from a recently complete novel: Late Bus to San Cristobal

 Fiction by Daniel Cano                                                                                    

San Cristobal, Chiapas, El Centro

Interview with a Vietnam Veteran: Ralph Salazar

Bar Sam Clemons, San Cristobal, Chiapas, MX

February 7, 2013

By Anthony Reza


     Ralph Salazar waits, for what seems like an eternity, looking at his drink. He listens to the young guitarist on stage, Pablo Verdugo, who starts in on the next song. In a calm voice, he begins, “Professor Reza, three incidents brought me to this point in my life.”  


     ONE: In his senior year of college, Ralph not only made the Dean’s Honor Roll but his shit list, as well. He was fervently anti-war and understood the children of privilege, like himself, would be exempt from serving. It was a poor man’s war, the first truly integrated war—blacks and Asians welcome, come one, come all, and he hated the injustice of it.

     He was also a thorn in the dean’s side. If there was a protest march, Ralph and his friends either helped organize it or participated in it. He was young and rebellious, a Jesuit high school education, a liberal’s liberal, and, at 6’-4”, an intimidating Chicano.

     His parents were an anomaly, both university graduates, his father an engineer and professor, his mother a pediatrician, the two of them Pacoima born and bred. After their careers took off, they bought a home in the upper-class, Westside enclave of Cheviot Hills, near MGM studios, midway between Beverly Hills and the Pacific.  

     At twelve, Ralph was reading science and politics. He liked novels and, by fourteen, he had read all of Twain, but his favorite was Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, his high school freshman Jesuit lit teacher inspiring his students to identify with the downtrodden, Jesus’ people. Whatever sport was in season, he participated, accepting Ignatius Loyola’s belief in the sanctity of both body and soul. He was an academic and athletic prodigy, an All-City tight end his sophomore year.

     In college, he was way ahead of the other Chicano students, academically and socially. Instead of hanging out with students like himself, he chose to run around with the politically minded ethnic kids, Chicanos and blacks, public high school graduates, the best and brightest of their communities, and he encouraged a few who nearly dropped out to stay in school and avoid the draft. He quickly noticed they had what he lacked, insights into the underbelly of American society. While he protested poverty and social injustice, they lived it.

      That’s when he met an older grad student, Gilbert Miro, a dynamic and ruggedly handsome older Chicano activist, who could hold a student audience riveted for hours. A committed Vietnam veteran against the war, Miro had experienced what they learned in class, which drew students into his orbit, except Ralph, who was wary of the older student’s magnetic personality.

     After promising to end the war, the U.S. invaded Cambodia. The anti-war movement seethed. In Madison, Wisconsin, someone had bombed a military research building on campus, killing a grad student working late. In Oakland, Huey Newton had just been released from prison, and the word was, the FBI was infiltrating the Black Panthers and activist student organizations on college campuses.

     The killings at Kent State made everyone aware: if the government could kill middle-class white kids, they could kill anyone. Many believed the initial media reports that students had ambushed and killed two national guardsmen, a lie planted in the press by a national guard commander. Later reports described guardsmen chasing and shoot unarmed students, who had thought, all along, the guardsmen were using blank rounds. At Jackson State, days later, authorities killed two more students and wounded twelve. The country was on high alert. Middle America believed Chinese, Russian, and Cuban meddling was the real culprit.

     The President ordered the FBI to destroy the student radical movement by any means necessary, legal or not. J. Edgar Hoover disagreed. He didn’t want his agents on college campuses. That should be the work of local law enforcement. What he really feared was losing his power to the executive branch. Law enforcement across the country saddled up their forces. Nobody knew what to believe. It was in this boiling caldron that word had spread quickly about the big Chicano celebration, anti-war march, and moratorium in East L.A.

     It was a warm summer day, and though Gilbert had warned him to stay away from the moratorium, Ralph ignored him and met some friends at Laguna Park. As he remembered it, everything moved so fast, speakers, music, art exhibits, and fellowship, a true peaceful experience, thousands of people, enjoying the day and picnicking, until, without warning, a wave of helmeted police and sheriffs, swinging their batons, rushed the crowd, causing a wild fracas, confused people running in all directions seeking escape.

     In the melee, Ralph and two friends ran into a dead-end alley followed by a deputy they’d seen strike a young woman on the head with his baton. A surge of anger rushed through Ralph who coaxed the deputy forward, whispering to his friend, “Just follow what I do.” 

     The deputy approached, his baton raised, like a cobra ready to strike. Ralph was faster and charged, taking the big cop by surprise. “I’m a deputy sheriff!” he screamed, as a warning. Ralph wrestled him to the ground, his friends pummeling him with fists and feet then turned to make their escape. They called to Ralph, who had his knee on the man’s chest and his long, fingers around the cop’s throat. Ralph squeezed. The cop gasped for air. His friends pleaded with him get off the cop and run. Ralph heard a gurgle and saw the whites of cop’s eyes. “You shit,” the deputy gasped, looking up at Ralph’s cold eyes. 

     Four white-helmeted LAPD rushed up and blocked the exit. One of Ralph’s friends managed to break free. Ralph stood, wild-eyed, fists at his side. The police surrounded him and his remaining friend. Without a word, just a grunt, Ralph took down one cop before the others began pelting him and his friend with their clubs. Ralph raised his hands to protect his face. Then it stopped. Ralph lowered his hands, looked up, and saw Gilbert Miro on top of him, an FBI badge dangling from his neck. Gilbert placed handcuffs on Ralph’s wrists, and he hollered at the cops to back off. Two officers, one a lieutenant, ordered Gilbert, “Move away! He’s our bust.”

     Gilbert spat, raising his FBI badge, “No, man! He’s in my custody. He’s been under federal surveillance for months.”

     “Over my dead body, the lieutenant roared, placing his face right up to Gilbert’s, who stood and pulled Ralph up from the ground. “You want your boss dealing with J. Edgar Hoover’s operation,” Gilbert said, sharply, “take your chances.”

     The cops surrounded Gilbert. They waited for as an LAPD car pulled up. Two cops blocked Gilbert as another cop hit Ralph a few more times in the ribs. Then, they threw him into the car. Finally, the deputy stood up, still gasping for air. “Kill the son of a bitch.”

     With their scholarly son facing ten to fifteen years for assaulting a police officer, Ralph’s parents hired the best attorneys, who pled self-defense, and, as evidence, showed photos and home film of police chasing and beating people during the event. Ralph’s lawyers argued that any citizen had the legal right to defend himself against police if the police used excessive force.

     Gilbert appeared in court to testify that Ralph had been a federal asset in numerous investigations, which was news to Ralph and his attorney. The deputy Ralph had assaulted testified that the kid had nearly choked him to death, which the judge found something of an exaggeration. The prosecutor argued even federal assets could not assault police, whether the cops used excessive force or not. The judge, pushing 70 years of age, looked like he just wanted to get home. He found Ralph guilty, but rather sentencing him to the ten years the prosecution had requested, the judge sentenced Ralph to five.

     Gilbert, in the privacy of the judge’s chambers, and only the attorneys present, asked the judge and prosecutor to consider offering Ralph a choice—incarceration or the military? Ralph’s attorneys reminded the judge, their client had no criminal record, a sterling academic record, and was due to graduate with honors the following year. To the prosecutor's ire, the judge agreed.

     When Ralph’s attorney dropped the good news on him, Ralph sat for a moment, quietly. He cried out, “Hell, no! I’ll go to jail before I go into the army.” He was vehemently opposed to military service, and to the war.

     His parents had protested the war, so they understood, but they told Ralph a prison record would ruin his future. He’d be labeled an ex-con, a scourge to society. They insisted he take the deal. With his education, they might even make him an officer. He’d do a couple of years in the Army, get out, finish college, and move on with his life.

     It took some arguing, but Ralph agreed, reluctantly, except one of the prosecutors, Jonathan Fortlow, a preppy attorney vying for D.A., snickered at Ralph and said if this deal was going to happen, it had to be the Marines, and the infantry at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he’d be far from home, and bad influences. The court agreed and managed all the details. Within two months, Ralph had completed Boot Camp, jungle warfare training, and was on his way to Danang on a Navy carrier. 

     “I hated the Sempre Fi, Orah! bullshit, like being with a herd of sheep. I couldn’t split or they’d impose the original jail sentence. One way or another, they got one more Mexican to fight their war. I can’t even describe my level of pissed off, back then.”

     I hear a loud click, the end of the tape. I slip in another. Ralph waits until I press the “play.” He falls into a rhythm and talks like he’s gone over the story a thousand times.

TWO: I got to Vietnam in ’72, a wild time up near the DMZ, the war’s end, or so we thought. A lot of guys seethed because they knew the Army had started shipping troops home, and they figured the Marines were next. Talk about confusion. “Vietnamization,” turning the war over to the South Vietnamese we knew would be a disaster. They didn’t want to fight, and the Saigon government was corrupt. Most Vietnamese knew Saigon’s democracy was a scam and the South could fall, anytime. We woke up each day with one thing on our mind – to survive another day.

     We heard rumors about the army. Officers down south were hiding out in headquarters, either drunk, gambling, or waiting for their gourmet dinners, and their ticket home. The soldiers were mostly anti-war protestors--draftees. The word was everyone was getting high, not just weed but opium and heroin. Nobody wanted to fight. They just wanted to stay stoned until the war ended.

     It started spreading to the Corps, enlistment down, so they had to start drafting. Officers and NCOs stopped sending their men on unnecessary missions. You’d get half a squad disobeying orders, anyway. Most NCOs and officers understood. They could read the writing on the wall.

     I had a month to go, and I didn’t want to lose one guy. A few lifers knew it would be their last chance to earn medals or a promotion before Washington pulled the plug. Lieutenant Mariano Moore, an Annapolis grad, joined the Marines and was itching to make captain regardless of who he had to sacrifice. My machine gunner, Tommy Moreno, said, the way he saw it, Moore never forgave his Mexican mother for abandoning him to a violent Protestant English, Irish father, so Moore took his rage out on us, the Chicanos in his command.

     He’d order us on operations other officers refused. If we even questioned him, he’d threaten to bust us. “You’re Marines, first,” he’d tell us. “Don’t forget that.”

     It didn’t matter if reports said the mission was a death trap. He volunteered us, anyway. Even the chopper pilots didn’t want to fly. When it was finished, we lost guys for nothing. After, I was ready to waste him then and there, to hell with prison.

     I had friends who told me to wait it out, until the right time. Then, Moore volunteered us for another operation, just when three guys in our squad were ready to go home. No need for details. I’ll just say in any band of young, armed desperate men, there is always someone crazy, scared, or determined enough to eliminate a threat, and once that threshold is crossed, there is no return.

     Moore avoided the bush, so we waited for the right time. It was a routine patrol, just beyond the perimeter of our base camp, Moore buzzing around overhead in his chopper. We got him to land.  He near panicked when the chopper took off without him. Someone heard a shot. Everyone started firing, mass confusion. I detonated a claymore. Moore went down, just like that, fast, zip.

     The USMC investigators chalked up Moore’s death as another casualty. Forget the evidence pointed to something more sinister. The CID ignored the rumors that Moore would be leaving Vietnam in a body-bag or a Medivac. Lieutenants were like fodder. For the officers who remained, one more dead Louie meant more medals and promotions for them. We never knew whether it was a bullet, a grenade, or my claymore that did the job on Moore, not many recognizable remains. Get this. I go to Vietnam and end up killing a half-breed Mexican, and I had no hesitation in doing it.

     I hit the stop button on my recorder. “Hold up a sec. I need a drink of water.” I reach for a bottle on the table, and I drain it, slowly, feeling the liquid flow down my throat. I try not to think, just act. I take a long breath. “Alright.” I press the play and record button to start, again. He talks, matter-of-factly, no stress.

     I met Gilbert in Thailand, on my R&R. He was on some kind of assignment. Strange, I turned to the man who I believed had betrayed me. I told him about Vietnam, how different it was since he had been there. I told him about Moore, but Gilbert said he didn’t want details into Moore’s demise. He had said, “There are worse punishments than death.”

     “Ralph, let’s stop a minute? I need to use the head.”

     He raises an eyebrow. As I walk past the people at the tables, it’s like they’re all watching me. I shake it off and try letting his confessions just slip off me, but they don’t. In the bathroom, I realize, even though forty-years have passed, I’m recording an American Marine admitting to assassinating an officer. Ralph has to know by telling me, it will be in my book, and made public. I wash my face, return to the table, and sit.

     I reach out to start the recorder. Ralph puts his large hand over mine. “You asked,” he says. “Write it just the way I’m telling it.”

     “You’re admitting to murder.”

     “I’m beyond their reach. Besides, Mariano Moore’s a pseudonym.”

     I press the record button on the recorder. He starts again, as if we’d had no break.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

24th International Latino Book Awards Ceremony

August 19-20, 2022

Saturday, Aug. 20

Los Angeles City College




August 19-20, 2022. 

This event will be divided into FOUR ceremonies spread across two days. During each ceremony we will announce 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.

Friday, Aug. 19

12:00 pm -








Themed, & Marketing

6:00 pm- 

Fiction Awards Ceremony

Saturday, Aug. 20

12:00 pm- 

Children, Youth & Young Adult Awards Ceremony

5:00 pm- 

Nonfiction Awards Ceremony


ISLA Latino Publishing University

UPDATE, this event will now be launched with two free workshops for all attendees of the ILBA Ceremony. The rest of the workshops will happen virtually every month after August. The ISLA Latino Publishing University is an education program to support author growth, to provide a setting to network, and to increase publishing success. The core of this program is a series of workshops in English and Spanish targeting topics that authors and small publishers often ask about.


Both events will be at this location:

Los Angeles City College

855 N. Vermont Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90029

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Guest Norma Cantú Reviews Delicious Day

Guest Reviewer: Norma Elia Cantú reviews Arturo Mantecón, El Día Más Delicioso de Mi Vida. Santa Fe:Prickly Pear Publishing & Nopalli Press,  

Arturo Mantecón’s El día más delicioso de mi vida (link) is an “as-told-to” tale that weaves hybrid narrative and poetry; it includes a rambling fast-paced meandering that geographically covers wide terrain but remains anchored in Laredo, Texas where the Streets of Laredo song merges with the narrator’s fantastical and surreal world where animals have surreal appearances and the terrain and the story or non-story are intimately bound, como en un Mobius strip. 

The book’s Foreword by Rubén Medina, an Introduction by Iván Argüelles, and the author’s own preface signal the nature of what is to come: a delightful linguistic romp told by Mantecón’s alter-ego, Emeterio “el chango” Landeros, born of the author’s  own imagination and a fitting guide through the world of South Texas. Emeterio is a cousin de Mantecón and whispers his story in Mantecón’s ear.

 Mantecón in his foreword offers a sort of genealogy whereby we find the relationship between the author, Arturo Mantecón , and Chango, his cousin.  The Most Delightful Day allows Mantecón to show off his dexterous meanderings through a fantastical world that is only too real. When I first read the rbook, I was taken by the Spanglish and the premise of a disembodied Chango narrating the content to Mantecón. Moreover, because I am from South Texas, the terrain felt real;  I felt a kinship with the nicknamed Chango (at one time named Changó) and his musings. I sit right there next to him as he sits on a bench in Laredo’s Bruni Plaza. I know the place well, I know the streets he names and the characters who dwell in that phantasmagoric world of the border. When the Circo Fantasma is gone in a poof of air, and only el Cerro de la Silla—the magnificent hill (almost mountain) in the shape of a saddle-- is seen on the horizon, I imagine the wide-open range around Cadereyta and the distant view of Monterrey y los cerros. It is a terrain that is at once mythical and real. Equally at home in Laredo or in Austin, I travel with him on this his most delicious and delightful day.

A folklorist who studies life cycle rituals, I was taken by the funeral where Chango’s tía Hermenegilda is buried; the scene was all too familiar to me. We encounter characters and scenes reminiscent of Garcia Marquez or Cervantes, but with the weaving through of contemporary cultural manifestations and of literary references to “red wheelbarrow” or German thinkers.  To enjoy this Mantecón’s mind-trip through the landscape one doesn’t need to be from the area or well-versed in the issues and problems that the community faces. I know only too well, the gods that roam the streets and the characters who lie or who guide. Asking ‘where are you from? or how did you get here? He repeatedly encounters wild stories. He is not disappointed to hear these wild stories that have brought people to the border and the stories of those who have always been there. It makes me wonder what other fantastical days Chango has experienced and whether Mantecón will tell us of them in some future instalment. Confronted with a giraffe on 6th street in Austin or with a blonde octogenarian at the wheel of a baby blue convertible? It is all possible. A beautiful Indian maiden riding a horse in a parade? Perhaps a reference to Pocahontas in the George Washington’s Birthday parade in Laredo—may appear to be figments of his imagination, yet, none of these are strictly phantasmagorical and indeed are real absolutely and explicit to that border reality.

The magic and the surreal world of the border and especially Laredo comes alive in Chango’s experiences. Others have commented on the linguistic agility of codeswitching or Spanglish, what we now call trans-languaging, and so I must also. While I admire the effort, it didn’t’ always ring true for me and felt a bit forced at times. Perhaps because it is my language and I can discern some misuses as well as some Chicano Spanish verb uses. And here and there, misspelled words too. However, the general sense is one of wonder and fantasy. The illustrations and black and white photographs add verisimilitude but could be better executed; they were often blurry.

In the style of Ron Arias’ Road to Tamazunchale,  Mantecón’s El día mas delicioso de mi vida takes us on a quixotic trip aboard his mustard yellow Citroën. We travel the wild linguistic and geographical spaces in a daze of wonder and awe. And we are the better for it! I invite you to take spin and let yourself be driven/taken for one day in this phantasmagoric world.

Meet Today's Guest Reviewer

Norma Elia Cantú currently serves as the Norrien R. and T. Frank Murchison Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she teaches Latinx and Chicanx Studies.  

Her most recent publications are: Meditacion Fronteriza: Poems of Love, Life, and Labor and the novel, Cabañuelas. 

She has edited or coedited over a dozen anthologies, most recently: Teaching Gloria E. Anzaldúa: Pedagogies and Practices for our Classrooms and Communities, co-edited with Candace de León Zepeda and Margaret Cantú-Sánchez and meXicana Fashion, Politics, Self-Adornment and Identity Construction, co-edited with Aída Hurtado.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Dos eventos en agosto por Xánath Caraza

Dos eventos en agosto por Xánath Caraza


La Doctora Mónica Sarmiento Archer-Castillo comparte lo siguiente:


La 4ª Conferencia Global de Investigadores Universitarios sobre Temas del Mundo Hispano: Tendiendo puentes entre investigadores, artistas, legisladores y científicos se celebrará en la ciudad de Nueva York del 17 al 24 de agosto de 2022. Entre otras iniciativas, se conmemora el octogésimo aniversario del fallecimiento del poeta Miguel Hernández.



The Empowering Latino Futures Team: Ana, Yenni, Martha, Daniel, Melanie, Edward, Andres, and Kirk Whisler share:


The 2022 International Latino Book Awards Ceremony is nearly here and our team has been diligently working to acknowledge all the items. They are very excited to observe all the authors and others who will be in attendance at the ceremonies. Join us on Friday, August 19 & Saturday, August 20 at Los Angeles City College.  Visit Empowering Latino Futures for more information.


Para finalizar comparto:


Para finalizar comparto que este 2022 dos de mis poemarios recibieron mención de honor para los International Latino Book Awards. Así mismo fueron finalistas para los International Book Awards. ¡Viva la poesía!


Perchada estás / Perching

de Xánath Caraza; traducido por Sandra Kingery

Mouthfeel Press (2021)

ISBN: 978-0-9967247-8-4



Ejercicio en la oscuridad / An Exercise in the Darkness

de Xánath Caraza; traducido por Sandra Kingery y sus estudiantes, imágenes de Tudor Serbanescu

Pandora Lobo Estepario Productions (2021)

ISBN: 978-1-940856-43-8

Friday, August 12, 2022

Arte Público Celebrates 40 Years

 From our friends at Arte Público Press -  news of a literary and performing arts celebration.  Party on.


Arte Público Press, the country’s oldest and largest publisher dedicated to amplifying US Hispanic voices, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a performing-arts showcase September 15, 2022, from 6:30-9:30 pm at the University of Houston’s Moores Opera House (3333 Cullen Blvd, Houston, TX 77004).

Bringing together outstanding artists from a variety of genres, the event will highlight the vibrant influence of Latin American and Latino cultures. The University of Houston’s Mariachi Puma will welcome attendees; other performers include the Brazilian dance and drum group, Samba Bom; the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, presenting its piece based on Sandra CisnerosThe House on Mango Street, which was originally published by Arte Público; Solero Flamenco; and the Houston Grand Opera, doing its children’s production based on Jorge Argueta’s trilingual picture book, Agua, Agüita / Water, Little Water (Arte Público Press, 2017). A post-performance party in the lobby—with food, drink, author signings and entertainment—will wrap up the event.

We invite you to play a crucial role in the celebration by participating as an anniversary event sponsor. Sponsorships are available for $25,000; $10,000; $5,000; and $2,500. Individual tickets are available for $250.

Click here to become a sponsor or purchase tickets.

For more information, contact:


Manuel Ramos lives in Denver. His latest novel is Angels in the Wind: A Mile High Noir.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Chicanonautica: Gold, Greasers, Yaquis, and Zane Grey

by Ernest Hogan

Recently, I ran across an old western on Tubi that had me smiling and shaking my head. It was called Desert Gold, from 1936. Buster Crabbe, who also played Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Tarzan, Billy the Kid and other heroes was listed as the star. Here he was cast as an Indian, with a wig and full body makeup (after all, it took a dye job to make him Flash Gordon). 

As I watched it, the surprises just kept coming.

It was based on a novel by Zane Grey, who laid the foundations of the Wild West genre. Old white men still buy his books, and when they die, their families donate their collections to libraries. This is a case of a writer having an influence on society. 

Turns out Crabbe is not the star of the movie. There’s the usual white cowboy with a white silly sidekick who wisecrack through foiling bad guys (also white) who are plotting to steal land and gold from the Indians. It’s not clear if the line, “You know how these things are—it belongs to the first white man who finds it” is intended to be ironic.


Crabbe plays Moya, “Chief of an Indian Tribe” that is never named. They look kind of Navajo or Apache depending on how friendly or hostile the script required. And despite his heroic looks, he plays the victim. He’s stoic, noble, gets beat up, tied to a post and whipped, and is grateful when the hero saves him.

There’s also a mention of how the Indians are mysteriously dying out due something more like a natural blight rather than government policies.

In the end, Moya and his nameless tribe ride in and save the day like the cavalry. He even gets to shoot the villain, while the white hero gets the girl and the gold.

I got curious about the novel, so downloaded it from Gutenberg, and well, it was mind blowing. Turns out, the movie is like a toned-down, liberal makeover of the book.

Zane Grey’s original Desert Gold was published in 1913, and like many westerns of the period was set in “modern times.” The West was a place, rather than a historical period. The Mexican revolution is going on. The dashing young hero takes a job as a “border ranger” who’s job is mostly to keep “Chinese and Japs” from crossing over and trying to take over. (This was a thing back then: In the 1932 movie Border Devils, also on Tubi, and co-written by science fiction writer Murray Leinster, the villain is a Fu Manchu clone called The General.) 


The story begins in Casita, a “Greaser town” –yes, Greaser is capitalized, like Chicano–where lots of bad hombre “rebels” are causing trouble. It's explained that the reason Greasers are a problem is because their Spanish blood makes them sadistic killers. No mention is made of Native blood, or any ill effects.

We are also told that Casita has some nice Mexicans who make great food . . .


The hero falls in love with the beautiful Mercedes Castaneda, a “Spanish” girl. She is never referred to as Mexican, or Greaser. More than once, she’s described as having lovely white skin. She also shows no sign of the tendencies toward cruelty and murder said to be carried in her Spanish blood.

A Greaser gang leader also falls for Mercedes, and kidnaps her, and takes her to Moya’s village, where he’s taken over. 

Moya is identified as a Yaqui, but this time he isn’t given a name. They call him Yaqui, even after he learns a few words of English. The bandits torture him, but he doesn’t reveal the location of the gold mine. 

The hero and his sidekick rescue Mercedes and Yaqui, but in trying to escape the Greasers—who are said  to be worse than Indians—they get lost among the lava and cactus where Yaqui’s knowledge of wild herbs comes in handy, and there’s even some desert mysticism that foreshadows Edward Abbey. “Color, race, blood, breeding–what are these in the wilderness?” slips into the narrative, but then they have to go back to so-called civilization.

And Yaqui’s skill with “Aztec knifework” comes in handy.

In the end, even though he worships Mercedes as if she were a goddess,  he rides off without saying goodbye, being an inscrutable Indian.

The book is a primer for border racism. It is also the sort of thing generations of white patriarchs read for comfort and relaxation. And the attitudes and beliefs in it are alive and well in the 21st century.

Happy trails, amigos!

Ernest Hogan’s mother’s stepfather was Yaqui. She called him Daddy. He called him Grandpa.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Annual Círculo Conference



Annual Círculo Conference, Saturday, August 13th, 2022

Register at

What to Expect

The Círculo summer conference is our major annual event. Join us on Saturday, August 13th, 2022 from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm on Zoom. It will be a full day of getting to know each other, workshops, and more, concluding with an open mic for all participants.  

Conference Schedule:

10:30 to 11:00: Welcome, Chat, and Questions

11:00 to 12:00: Break-Out Session #1 (three workshops/choose one)

12:00 to 12:30: Lunch (Take a break! Stretch? Go for a walk?)

12:30 to 1:15: Tribute to Gloria Anzaldúa

1:15 to 1:30: Intermission

1:30 to 2:30: Break-Out Session #2 (three workshops/choose one)

2:45 to 3:30: Reading and Open Mic

3:30 to 4:00: Closing, Chat, and Bendiciones

The 2022 Círculo de poetas and Writers conference includes two break-out sessions where participants write poetry and prose with our workshop leaders. As always, each workshop is open to all writers, from those just starting their writing journey to published authors.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Floricanto In GOPlague-time: Doing It Right

Renascimiento Floricanto: Floricanto Renaissance
Michael Sedano

We did it and it worked for years. Then it couldn't, doing it was dangerous. Still might be, but with considerations, so we've done it again. And we'll be doing it again later this month 

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?"
 Let us go and make our visit. 
In the room the women come and go 
Talking of Michelangelo. 

Floricanto, that's what it, is. It is the United States National LivingRoom/BackYard Floricanto Movement, and it's your turn to host them at your chante. Join the Movement! 

A few years ago, my wife and I frequented galleries and poetry readings like it was going out of style. We were the ones going out of style. Early signs of dementia began slowing us down and then, eventually, inevitably, we could no longer do the arte circuit. So it goes.

CasaSedano, already the scene of Barbara's magnificent seasonal parties, and where many a Mental Menudo with Magu went down, saw few hurdles to launching the LivingRoom/BackYard Floricanto Movement. 

Join the LivingRoom/BackYard Floricanto Movement! The easiest element, the Plan, makes hosting Floricanto events a breeze.

The LivingRoom/BackYard Floricanto Plan: invite good people, have a reading and discussion, and have fun. You don't even have to feed people, but come on. Clean up the yard and house. Make sure you have seating. Invite to your seating capacity.

We had a good run of readings. Authors making LA stops on book tours accepted CasaSedano's invitation to the informal gathering. At times, the Stanford Chicana Chicano Book Club met with the author, other times, the junta was a just for itself. 

Then the GOPlague hit and our living room shut down. 

Two years ago, Sergio Troncoso closed our unbroken string of annual+ LivingRoom/BackYard Floricantos. Sergio will the second guest at the 2022 resumption of CasaSedano floricantos.

Daunted, but not done, we waited out the GOPlague's worst years, isolating ourselves and looking at the world pass by the front window. No more of that. The world has begun opening up and we opened up CasaSedano to Richard Vargas's touring How A Civilization Begins (link, click please).

Richard has a special place in my memories and not-memories. 

In 2012, Jesus Treviño and I joined the book smuggling Librotraficantes on a journey (link) from El Paso to Alburque to Tucson. When we arrived at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, local artists had filled the main auditorium and Richard Vargas emceed a fabulous floricanto! I photographed the readings from the back of the house with a long lens.

Richard Vargas at the Librotraficante reading NHCC Alburquerque March 2012

Comes 2014, I'd put Jessica Ceballos in contact with Richard Vargas, and Jessica scheduled a Sunday Palabra reading, or was it a Blue Bird?, at Avenue50 Studio, featuring Richard. I planned to get some portraits up close.

I got myself hospitalized just in time for the reading. I hear Richard dedicated a reading to me. Having enjoyed an NDE (science calls dying and coming back a "near death experience") so recently, hearing some poet dedicated one to me made a big difference to my attitude.

Launching the CasaSedano LivingRoom/BackYard 2022 Edition with Richard Vargas is perfection. All those connections coming together gave the event a special feeling for me. 

Latinopia Word Richard Vargas How a Civilization Begins.mp4 from on Vimeo.

Scenes from a BackYard Floricanto: Round Robin featuring Richard Vargas and John Martinez

Richard Vargas
John Martinez