Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Sitting By the Fire In Hospice

 Michael Sedano

Barbara has entered In-home Hospice Care. 

She has lived through Alzheimer's Dementia as well as she could, like she did everything. Took everything it had to throw at her, held her head up and her back strong against the battering from her world.

She won't sit by the fire, I'll be the one thinking of the glad look her eyes once had, the joy she invested in having people around for every big festive event.

Over these past few days, Barbara's had people around for the biggest event. Barbara's first teacher colleague hobbled into the room with her own caregiver. The first couple Barbara and I had dinner with when I got back from overseas spent time with us. Carolyn returned the next day to sit Vigil for hours with her friend from so long ago when they and we were so damned young.

My friends, I'm sorry you suffer for us. Your eyes mix fear, pain, sorrow, knowledge. Not long.

Our friends smile and hold up their heads to support their friend Barbara. We sit around the hospice bed and remember the funny things, the great loving good times. I know that they get into their cars and break down in tears at what they've seen.

It's best we remember the funny times.


No fear here. I phoned the agency recommended by the Dementia Daycare manager. "I need her evaluated for hospice."

A couple hours after that morning call, a nurse arrives, does a thorough physical inspection of Barbara's bruises and respiration and vitals. He's on the phone to an MD who writes the Rx for hospice care. Our own doctors are out of the picture now.

Later that day, the durable medical equipment arrives: the bed, supplies like gloves, diapers, wipes, a table, a wheelchair, an Oxygen concentrator. Shortly after these, a pharmacy driver delivers medications that include Morphine. (Barbara rarely speaks but her face furrows in pain. All hospice "care kits" contain it.)

Every three days a nurse visits, goes through the examination routine, photographs Barbara's fading bruises, communicates with one of two MD. The nurse quizzes me, gives me advice, leaves.

There's no time-off for me. If there's a service called "respite care" with 24 hour people, I don't qualify. I have a caregiver/housekeeper for a few hours twice a week and that will be my only respite time.

The constant stress and absence of respite aside, Hospice is an easy process for me. It's a business for the hospice agency. They have staff, an SOP, a checklist, a phone number. 

When Barbara dies, I won't call first responders. The Hospice agency has the datos. There's a hole in a wall at Riverside National Cemetery for Barbara. She'll wait for me there.
So it comes to this for me and Barbara. In a few days, Memory will be all that remains. It's best to remember the fun, and smile.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Interview of Mercy Tullis-Bukhari by Xánath Caraza

Interview of Mercy Tullis-Bukhari by Xánath Caraza


Who is Mercy Tullis-Bukhari?

I am a poet, essayist, and fiction writer who is Bronx-bred Afro-Latinx, Honduran and Garifuna, of Jamaican descent. I am also a Callaloo Fellow, and obtained my MFA (my second Master's) in Creative Writing from The College of New Rochelle. I was named one of the “8 Authors Bringing Afro-Latina Stories to the Forefront” by Remezcla magazine and I was a Pushcart Prize nominee in 2016 for my essay "Black Dolls for Everyone." I am an English Language Arts high school teacher in the Southeast Section of The Bronx. Currently I am completing my first novel, having my third book of poetry edited, while living in New Rochelle, NY with my two children. 


As a child, who guided you through your first readings?

I am the youngest of seven. My sisters were readers, and would always go to our local library to borrow books. The Grand Concourse Branch behind Bronx Lebanon Hospital was our local branch. Whenever any of my sisters went to the library, my mother would force them to take me along. Being annoyed, they would take me, but would allow me to wander off in the library while they had their private time. 

My father used to get Archie comic books for me, as well. Every week, we would go to a particular newsstand in a subway station to get the recent Archie books. I was so young, that I cannot recall the newsstand or where we came from or where we were going, but we were always at this particular station. I remember enjoying the comic book on the way home, then rereading it several times before putting it aside, anxiously waiting for the next time we would be at that particular train station for another Archie comic book. 

How did you first become a poet?  

I used to journal my thoughts and feelings. Although I was the youngest of seven, the sibling who was closest to me in age was nine years older than me. My childhood was rather lonely, so my creativity was what kept me company and occupied my time. In one of those trips to the library, I borrowed an anthology of poems specifically geared towards children. I loved the images in the anthology, and the way the words were put together in a way that was different from a story. Immediately, I noticed how so much could be communicated in a few words, with connections that expanded my imagination. In my loneliness, I challenged myself to do the same, to say what I was feeling and what I was thinking in a concise and creative way.

What else would you like to share with our readers?

I am a Black woman who is of Latinx heritage. My children are Honduran-Pakistani-American, Black, with Muslim names. I speak openly about my experiences as a Black woman, and the fears I have for my children in this world we live in. I become taken aback when people immediately dismiss my experiences and fears as generalizations and paranoia. I am an intelligent woman, an extremely thoughtful individual who was raised to see people as individuals. We are, physiologically, not different from each other but as Toni Morrison states, we have all been raced. Because of how the world is created, especially with our current administration, I am constantly reminded of my blackness and of my children’s multi-ethnic background. As a mother with awareness, I feel obligated to inform my children of the ways of the world while still reminding them to be above ignorance and value others as individuals. I feel hurt when people who have always been good to me, whom I have considered my friends, feel hurt by my beliefs, when my beliefs come specifically from interactions with the world as a Black woman. I want white people to understand that my art is inspired by my experiences, not by theirs. I want white people to understand they need to listen to what people of color are saying about their experiences, without minimizing them. White people need to accept that slavery lasted 400 years in this country, and the institution ended--solely through a document--only 160 years ago. The residual effects of that institution inspires me as a writer and as a mother.  

Mercy, thank you for sharing some of your poetry with La Bloga readers.

La Vida of an African-Latina American


You speak Spanish?

Let me hear you speak Spanish.

You grew up around a lot of Puerto

Ricans, right?

You Brazilian?

Black people don’t speak Spanish.

How is this light-skinned woman your mother?

Pero no saliste como tu mamá.

If only you had your mother’s skin color.

¡Este pelo musuco!

Get a perm to fix your hair.

You got some good hair…back there. You should not

have made them into dreds.

You Cuban?

You are not Black-Black.

Yo no speak-eh good inglés, pero eres Negra.

Yo no speak-eh espanish to you.

Those kids don’t look like you.

How are these light-skinned children yours?

Those kids must look like their father.

Whose children are those?

Are you their nanny?

Are you their babysitter?

Te casaste con un indio, mamita. Mejorasta

          la raza.

Mixed kids are so beautiful.

Mira esa negra.  ¿Qué se cree?

Comb her hair well before you bring

her in this salon.

You are exotic.

You are not like other Black women.

Speak Spanish to me.  I won’t understand

you, but, yo…that shit be turnin’ me on.

Teach your children Spanish.

We are not really Black.

You gotta be Dominican, ma.

You ain’t dark-skinned.  You Hispanic;

          you got that honey-brown tone.

¿Cómo conoces las pupusas?

How did you learn Spanish?

I don’t want grandchildren with

nappy hair.

You have pelo liso now.

Bebes café como un indio.

You are too pretty to be Black.

You are cute, but not pretty.

Pareces una mona.

No hay nada en esta tienda para ti.

Do you work here?


Mira mami, ¿tus pelos abajo son como tu pelo arriba?

¡Qué fea la negra!

You must be proud of your

light-skinned mother.

Is all that your hair?

Being angry must be a cultural thing.

You won’t go far in life

          if you stay natural.

And, why do you know Spanish?


I Saw Celia Perform 

…at S.O.B’s with my lover one night—

heard la habanera sing praises

to palm leaves waving whispers of a lost homeland,

of loved negritos bembones being killed,

to carnavals of life,

of salacious black girls con

enough tumbao to make men…


I listened to Celia’s songs,

knowing its familiarity but not its words,

telling my lover,

“Yeah, Abuelita used to play that song.

Abuelita told me her cipota stories,

Of hearing her neighbors say,

Celia está en el pueblo performing,

tenemos que ir.”


…in this West Village night club

overflavored with energy sucking in

other cipotes from abuelitas who had Celia

LPs stacked next to the record player

right under the deviled Jesucristo.

Lifting and showing just a little leg skin

suavecito con sabrosura,

I held on to my lover smiling for Celia’s voice,

emanating high notes without any pain,

louder than the band that needed her to

stay with the tempo.

I reveled in her trip of Latina-ness,

of giving position to Spanish speaking

Africans in the world of limbo-forced ethnic boxes

--I teared,

inebriated por que Cuba really estaba libre in this

smoke-filled, small venue as she waved her regal-colored dress

trimmed with glittering studs, and finessed a wig

spreading and shining

like a sunflower blossoming towards the sun.


My lover and I talked about AZUCAR! with

missed dreams of Cuban fantasies trapped in

highballs of coca, lima y ron, of Latinos

dismissing the non-Castilliano, of

women who still can rock a crowd

after generations of abuelitas and cipotes.


He held on to me because Cuba was freeing itself

from my Honduran-Jamaican existence as I sang


“¡No hay que llorar,

La vida es un carnaval¡”


and I called Abuelita at her home

aware of the hour difference and said

“Vi la reina, Abuelita.”


Vi La Reina.

La Gringa’s First Ride to Los Hondos

Esta gringa flew to Honduras when she was five years old on

the lie that she was going to meet Mickey Mouse because

esta gringa could not stop crying while boarding this

monstrous-size thing that was supposed to stay afloat


high in the air. We flew from Kennedy Airport into clouds,

then over pineapple plantations and banana fields, cows

roaming and campesinos working, sand and beaches con

hondos strong as the ancestors pleading from esta grown


gringa to go back. When we landed, esta gringa asked, Where

is Mickey Mouse? Because, of course, Mickey Mouse should

be waiting for esta gringa on the tarmac. Her mami ignored the

question. She pushed her pass the initial slap of hot humid air,

took her down the aircraft stairs, walked her across the tarmac

into the building of the airport. We searched for our suitcases

in a room where suitcases were thrown at random places on

the floor. We were like roaches scattering when the light goes


on, looking for our bags, yelling across the room “encontre una”

when we found a bag. Mami, slipping a ten dollar US bill

to the woman who manually checked the suitcases we found,

patted the top of the tightly packed items of clothes and soaps

and shoes and more clothes and unknown ducktaped packages

from Tia Melba y Tia Lorna y Tia Carmen (all of whom were

not really mis tias), for abuelita, fulano y fulano y fulano. We


had to return to the airport the following week for one missing

suitcase. Esta gringa, played futbolito barefooted in the sand

that was her soil. Within the confused gaze of the neighbors,

esta gringa swam in the sand granules, and poured buckets of

sand on her head. Esta gringa washed the sand off her body in

the big sink behind the house, the same sink her mami used

to handwash our clothes. Esta gringa chased chickens around

the house, danced punta, ate la comida of split coconuts, and

heard her mami yell to curious passerbys con urgullo, “¡Ella

es Gringa! ¡Ciudana Americana!” Esta grown Gringa looks


back at a time when Gringa status mattered. Esta gringa watched

a Garifuna man walk to a canoe with a net, come back to shore

with fish in his net. She watched a Garifuna woman take a fish

from that net, scrape the scales of that fish, split it open, salt it

and fried the fish en aceite de coco. Her mami squeezed lime on

the fried fish and tajadas. Esta gringa, ate fried fish con tajadas


for lunch. Gracias a dios, Columbus said, that Honduras saved

his lost ass from the depths of the storm, y esta gringa was

saved from a contrived fantasy world of fake-believe dreams

and its minstrel mouse.




Friday, January 27, 2023

Latino Diversity

Today I am pleased to present a guest column from Frank S. Dávila, PhD, a Colorado educator and writer, and one of the founders of the Colorado Alliance of Latino Mentors and Authors (CALMA.)  Frank invites readers to further refine this topic to help dig deeper into Latino identity. He has included discussion questions at the end of his article. 


Latino Diversity
Frank S. Dávila

The United States is blessed with a rich and diverse representation of Latinos from many backgrounds. We have those who prefer to be called Chicanos or Mexican Americans and others Latino, LatinX or Boricua, among other identifiers. And also, we have many recent arrivals who continue to retain their country of origin as their preferred identity marker.

Given these various Latino voices and representations within the United States, we can readily see how different we all are given our individual or group background and how we interpret and manifest our Latino label.

Many of us born in the United States and with historical knowledge and experiences of past social justice struggles, have a deeper and unique perspective of policies and laws and issues that have thwarted our full realization of the American dream.

Our iconic heroes are our parents plus leaders such as Cesar Chávez, Dolores Huerta, Corky Gonzalez, Ramsey Muniz, Polly Baca, Ricardo LaFore, among a host of others. We have strong recollections of how we were mistreated and stymied and set aside and how our journey for recognition and social justice has been a frustrating battle through the legal system against a backdrop of protests and demonstrations.

Similarly, we have other first-generation Latinos born in Mexico, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia and other countries who arrive with the experience of having been in the majority in their home country with respect to language, culture, and education. Much of their views for the most part are not initially sympathetic to the rights and voices of a marginalized population in the United States since they had limited experiences of racial, language, or cultural discrimination prior to arriving here. Unfortunately, once they arrive, they realize the professional credentials from their country are not recognized here because of prejudice or language and regulatory constraints. Consequently, many reenter the workforce in a job below their professional skills. An added challenge is not knowing the rules of engagement to pursue promotions and fend off discrimination.

In many cases, these Latinos do not share a deep awareness of the struggles many of us experienced and are not fully able to relate and be supportive since their societal, cultural, and political lens were shaped in their country of origin. Once they encounter their set of personal trials and tribulations, they find better ways to navigate their new environment. Many of the second and third generations (children and grandchildren) have recognized the disparities in the United States and have chosen to be more involved at different political and social levels. This is indeed a welcome contribution.

Obviously, there are other immigrants who do come from a lower income level and minority status and are eager to receive the services and support to which they were not accustomed in their country. One segment of these immigrants are adept at social and professional networking and appear to grasp the importance of investing their thinking and interest in supporting the issues of minorities and then there are those primarily focused on economic survival.

Of the many Latinos born in the United States, there are those who are not fluent in Spanish although their heart remains embedded in the Latino culture and customs. Other U.S. born Latino groups retain proud roots but have drifted into a more conservative viewpoint and seen as adopting a bias against immigrants. Similarly, there is also a group of Latinos who choose to display a more liberal viewpoint.

And then we have the U.S. born activist Latino concerned about social issues and voting rights. This group has joined Latino based organizations or other Latino forums to pursue social justice, joining hands with the Dreamers and other organizations seeking positive changes within our society.

Unlike the Black community, Latinos are a mixed group of independently minded individuals whose background or interests do not always align. In contrast, Blacks appear to more closely display solidarity and a shared political and social agenda. Their past struggles in overcoming slavery, school desegregation, housing and job discrimination awakened their spirit to reclaim their identity. Despite their diversity within their community, Blacks represent a more cohesive and powerful voting block while some Latinos are not yet able to vote, and others harbor a diverse set of political interests while, yet others prefer to stay disengaged as they still cling to their mother country.

The educational, political, and linguistic inroads made by Latinos over time has come at the expense of persistent work, in many cases from federally mandated changes. Although progress has been made in bilingual education, voting rights, discriminatory practices, women’s rights, fair wages, and other areas, social justice for all continues to face real and considerable resistance.

Too often, it was necessary to secure changes through legislation or executive orders or landmark Supreme cases after being unable to convince the general population of required changes through the legislative process. This approach provoked resentment among some citizens who have not experienced harsh discrimination and repeated caustic injustices.

Despite the lengthy and exhaustive labor and political struggles to advance these needed changes, the public soon forgets why this approach had to be used and the amount of time and individual efforts utilized to achieve successful change. Our focus on the product and end results diminishes the appreciation of the sacrifices needed to secure and defend our basic rights.

Although it is gratifying to see symbolic gestures and celebrations honoring some of these accomplishments, there is still insufficient dedicated honor and remembrances set aside. In many cases, textbooks have not amply provided an accurate telling of these historical footprints. Sadly, some states and school districts encourage reducing the emphasis on the struggles and experiences lived by minority groups.

Fortunately, organizations such as the Pew Research Center, National Public Radio (NPR), the League of United American Citizens (LULAC), and other advocacy agencies have provided research highlighting some of the injustices that affect the disenfranchised, minority population.

The continuing work to identify fresh and illuminating approaches that will generate positive and sustainable steps to bridge the differences in our much-divided country remains a daunting challenge. The diverse Latino individuals, organizations and generations need to come together to reenergize and coalesce the work surrounding social justice as they revisit who we are and what we offer. This way, we can further highlight our contributions and nurture our hopes for unity while respecting our rich diversity as we strive to be a part of the American dream.

Latino Diversity
Guiding Questions for Discussion

1. What is your understanding of the background and make-up of the Latino in the United States?

2. Why is it meaningful to focus on Latino identity?

3. How would you distinguish among the labels Hispanic, Mexican American, Latino, Boriqua, and LatinX? 

4. Can you think of and describe barriers to the growth of Latinos in the United States population?  

5. What are your views about Latinos when you think of immigration, border wall, voting rights, jobs, policies and other?

6. Why are Latinos and other minorities considered a threat to some segments of the United States population?

7. How can Latinos become a more formidable voice in contributing to and shaping the policies, cultural, and unifying actions in the United States?



Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction. Read his latest story, Northside Nocturne, in Denver Noir, edited by Cynthia Swanson, published by Akashic Books.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Chicanonautica: Chicanas and Aztec Goddesses Invade Pop Culture

by Ernest Hogan

I became aware of V. Castro a while back, on the job, while shelving books at the library. In the Adult Fiction section, a little book snagged me by the eyeballs. The spine didn’t have the usual title and author name, instead was a spine, that is a drawing, of a spinal column, that had an alien look to it.  

It turned out to be Goddess of Filth by V. Castro. Could it be about one of my favorite Aztec goddesses? Since my To Read list is a gigantic mound that live under, I made a mental note to grab it sometime.

More recently, on Twitter, I ran across an announcement about Aliens: Vasquez, a new novel from the popular “Alien” franchise, written by V. Castro.

It was like Tezcatlipoca was hitting me over the head to get my attention. Soon I did my sacred duty, and the Kindle versions of both these books were in my battle-scarred iPhone. 

Turns out, V. Castro has published books and short stories, has been twice nominated for the Bram Stoker award, was born in Texas to Mexican American parents, and now lives in the UK.
Her lifelong fascination with Mexican folklore and Texas urban legends shows in her work. She is close to breaking the bestseller barrier.

I read  Goddess of Filth first because I wanted to see what she did when being herself rather than working as a hired hand. It’s a story of a Tejana/Chicana who is possessed by Tlazolteotl, the Aztec Goddess of Filth and Depravity (for some reason the depravity has gotten left out in recent years). It is worthy of its clever cover design and would make a good movie. And guys, don’t be afraid, it’s not chick lit–it’s an intense, black lipstick kiss from the goddess herself, though you still might want to watch your huevos. You’ll witness a coming of age of a Chicana in San Anto in the crossfire of the Catholic church and Aztec religion. ¡Guao!


I'm usually not one for franchise novels, but Aliens: Vasquez bowled me over. The badass token Chicana of the Alien universe is given her due, and that's just the beginning! What was no surprise to me is science fiction and Aztec mythology are a perfect fit. And, it wasn't at all what I was expecting, it's nonstop surprises--which is why I'm not going into any details here. It didn’t go on to deconstruct it all, but then the corporate masters are watching . . . There's also one of the best uses of Santa Muerte in fiction ever.

Now, if someone could just do a novel like this about Star Trek’s Space Commander José Lopez . . . 

The battered sombrero of this vato weirdo is off to V. Castro. We should all read her and make offerings to both Tlazolteotl and Santa Muerte for her continued success.

Ernest Hogan, the renowned Father of Chicano Science Fiction will soon be sharing his Ancient Chicano Sci-Fi Wisdom in an online writing workshop. Stay tuned for details . . .

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Macondo Workshop Application 2023



For more information and to apply visit, 



Workshop applications/registration for the 2023 workshop opens for everyone on January 3, 2023. All essential information is detailed in the application form which is made available on this link, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YagBIbV03lRUvF2BmSpSaK6Drfcdt9tn/edit


We are a group of experienced writers who demonstrate a professional or master’s level of writing. The workshop gathers writers from all genres who work on geographic, cultural, economic, gender, and spiritual borders. Qualified applicants must meet both high writing standards and dedicated community involvement.



JULY 25- JULY 39, 2023 



The Macondo Writers Workshop is an association of socially-engaged writers working to advance creativity, foster generosity, and serve the community. Founded in 1995 by writer Sandra Cisneros and named after the town in Gabriel García Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the workshop gathers writers from all genres who work on geographic, cultural, economic, gender, and spiritual borders. An essential aspect of the Workshop is a global sense of community; participants recognize their place as writers in our society and the world. We are also seasoned writers who demonstrate a professional or master’s level of writing. Qualified applicants must meet both criteria. Excellent writing does not excuse poor community spirit; vice-versa, an impressive record of community involvement does not excuse poor writing. Macondo is a gift we give to one another, with willing hands and open hearts. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Gluten-free Peanutbutter Fruit Bar

A gluten-intolerant person's sweet tooth doesn't get to enjoy baked treats. Local bakeries don't bother. Giant commercial bakers foist off a rock-hard lump of sugar mixed with bean or rice flours and label the bag "cookies." Those are not cookies.  Just because you can chew and swallow something doesn't make it edible. Delectable delicious delightful is missing.

In fact, The Gluten-free Chicano has yet to be proved wrong that there is no such food as an edible gluten-free cookie. 

But now, el Gluten-free Chicas Patas has to equivocate just a bite or two, on that categorical denial of gluten-free baked goods, owing to his baking of a delectable, delicious, delightful gluten-free fruit bar.
Mix your ingredients into a heavy paste. Spread on a well-oiled cookie sheet. Pop into your 375º middle rack for 20 minutes.
The delighted experimentist cuts off those raggedy edges to sample the product. Today, the samples are the three "D",  delightful, delectable, delicious with a sip of cold milk.
While warm, the cookie divides easily with the edge of a spatula.
Such a beautiful crumb. The bar remains moist after several days, and most importantly, the bar is a cookie, it's gluten-free, and it's what a Celiac looks for in life, an edible gluten-free cookie.


Gluten-free Peanut Butter Fruit Bars
2 TBS crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 egg
1 cup avena
½ cup rice flour
⅛ cup tapioca flour
⅛ cup almond flour (Pamela's gluten-free pancake mix)
vanilla extract
several shakes of cinnamon
pinch baking powder
pinche salt
¼ cup brown sugar
⅛ cup white sugar (if you like a sweet sweet cookie, add more sugar)
½ cup raisins or more (i might double them next time)
⅓ cup chocolate chips
crema salvadoreña

Cream the peanut butter, egg, vanilla, sugars, baking powder, canela.
Add the Oats.
Add the chocolate.
Stir in the Rice flour.
Stir in the Tapioca flour.
Stir in the Almond flour
Stir in the crema and water as needed to make a gummy paste that flows lugubriously onto the cookie sheet.

I used Pamela's GF pancake mix more for its smidge of Xanthan or Guar gum that imitates gluten. Tapioca does much the same for texture, so Pamela's is an option.

Monday, January 23, 2023

The New Oeste: Literatura Latinx of the American West in the 21st Century

Series Editors: León Salvatierra and Daniel A. Olivas

The University of Nevada Press announces a new book series, The New Oeste, which celebrates the outpouring of creative expression by Latinx writers in the American West of the 21st century. In border-breaking literary arts informed by perspectives as distinctive as the American West, the authors in the series explore the artistic, cultural, and intellectual connections between the region’s complicated past and its diverse future. With a commitment to the power of prose and poetry to unite, educate, and enrich, the series editors seek to support projects from unique voices that invite connection and inclusion within the American West. Currently, the editors seek fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction that expand conceptions of the West and its people.

To submit a book proposal to The New Oeste or generally to the University of Nevada Press, follow the guidelines at this link.


And just a reminder that on January 25, 7:00 p.m., I will be a guest of the Friends of the Alameda Free Library to discuss my short-story collection How to Date a Flying Mexican: New and Collected Stories (University of Nevada Press). I will be interviewed by the wonderful poet, León Salvatierra. The event will be streamed live, and you may register now at this link. It helps the event planners if you can register early, so if you have a moment, please do so. We will be discussing many things including the writing life, the creation of this short-story collection, and also preview the forthcoming Spanish translation of How to Date a Flying Mexican which will be released in May. I hope to see you (virtually) there!