Chicano Poet

Friday, June 30, 2006


Archie was playing the “Tighten Up”
and I was dancing with Minga,
kissing her hot lips, the unnamed stars

dragged their anchors deep within our flesh,
Kennedy was alive in the White House,
his brain still quite intact,

even a short breath gave you enough oxygen
to last a lifetime and then some.
But, Minga took one step sideways,

part of the dance, you know,

and suddenly everything became blurry.
The years have raced ahead.

A frost covers Papalote Mountain now,
a bird stares in the window
as the sky burns in my fireplace.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The garage my dad built in the 1950’s
has been torn down but they could not
dig out the roots that clung to the water table.

The tree rings told a tale
almost as if the trees had been Chicano,
picked cotton, got refused service in restaurants.

Leaves even the trees had forgotten about
blew back with the wind
which had apparently circled the globe.

Generations of branch after branch
have made an impassable place in the mind
and so I stop here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Book Burning

When the wood ran out
we had nothing else to burn
except for the library

of the early and short-lived
Chicano writers who walked on earth
as long as one dinosaur’s tail cell.

Anyway, when the wood ran out
we started burning the library,
the few precious books of Alurista,

Corky, Ricardo Sanchez, Tomas Rivera,
Rudy Anaya, Cecilio Garcia-Camarillo,
Max Martinez, the Black Hat Poet,

and not even the Chicanas were spared,
Carmen Tafolla, Vangie Vigil, Lorna Dee…
and then the fire died out,

it got colder and colder still.
We huddled together, shivering
against the ashes of our past.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Beating

The Chicano got out of the car
and lay down on the pavement
as he was instructed by the cops,

his heart pounded and ancient anger rose
when the two cops proceeded
to punch him and kick him,

his elbows bled as they dragged him
to the patrol car and to jail.
He knew he shouldn’t have been speeding

in that part of town,
he knew better, he was stupid he thought.
His ribs would hurt all month, a lifetime, maybe.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Will There Be Death And Dying?

Will there be death and dying
in the place where we are going
asked a soldier of the President?

"I don’t think so, son." said the President.
"I don’t think so, son." said the House.
"I don’t think so, son." said the Senate.

Do you think that they will beat us,
torture us, burn us, behead us,
in the place where we are going?

"It’s not likely." said the Recruiter.
"It’s not likely." said the Drill Instructor.
"It’s not likely." said the Generals.

I guess we’ll go said the soldiers
if there is nothing to fear,
you did say there’s nothing to fear?

"I don’t think there’s anything to fear."
said the President before he became yellow
and fled to Alabama instead of Nam.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Henry’s Elegy For Tupac Shakur

Bang bang pop pop Tupac’s down
soon he’s outta the hospital
he’s in court now his swagger NWA hey

there’s blood in the hood
smack crack quack
wonder why black kids grow up black

pop the oriental in the store
pop the Esses drivin by
and only the king of pop gets acquitted

but hell he ain’t black and po no mo
bang bang pop pop Tupac’s down
this time he’s down for the count dog

next thing you know biggie gets his too
sad yeah but where’s the malcolm x to grab
you by the neck and shake this shit outta you

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Knew A Robert Creeley

As I sd to my
fellow americans, because I am
always talking to them, and I

sd, the war surrounds us
whether we’re here
or over there,

not really much
I can do about it I sd
except write about it,

write I sd
and before I knew it
I had written this

just as it appears,
maybe we should be
watching where we’re going.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rest In Peace

Traveling Through The Dark

Traveling through the dark though it is day
we find two bodies in the road
unrecognizable and booby-trapped,

quite sure they’re the two kidnapped soldiers
from the checkpoint,
no faces left, the bellies beginning to swell,

what must they have felt and thought
as they were tortured,
were they thinking, “God, I’m glad

the President sent us here, I’m glad
every Republican in America supports us
and would gladly take our place if they could?”

Traveling through the dark though it is day
we find two bodies in the road
and we don’t recognize ourselves.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Henry’s Alma Mater

Pounding surf the color of Smurf,
the sea spins like a top on the beach
and the Ten Commandments are reduced to dust.

Girls in bikinis browned
just enough to brush back time
into the hotel bar.

Henry bought fresh shrimp
on the L below the statue of Selena,
black roses at sunrise,

the shrimp boats have been out all night,
replicas of the unfinished Gulf of Mexico,
meteor scars almost healed.

Cinnamon rolls for breakfast,
coffee abandoned in a cup
made of not killing when killing

would have been the thing to do.
The sky studied at Harvard,
a rib stolen to create Yale.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Young Robert Frost

I thought I saw a young Robert Frost
and his wife,
her underpants the size of poetry

lay on the bedroom floor.
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them,
but Henry opened his eyes and didn’t think that anymore.

Sometimes a road not taken
is like a city park,
the summer stars reflected on aluminum foil.

Or snowflakes in winter schizophrenia
not at all scenic,
no two alike except by accident.

And did Mrs. Frost achieve orgasm
with all the right reactions
physical and mental?

Outside, the snow melted
into sludge
on the road less traveled.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Homecoming

The Humvee disappears around a corner,
the dust is sticking to the dust,
a stray dog marches up the street.

In the Humvee soldiers talk of home,
of brides, of kids, of heat, of lunch.
Suddenly the bomb goes off.

No one is alive inside the blackened carcass
of what used to be a military vehicle.
A few Iraqis cheer, others are stunned

by the blast and by the present lives they lead.
The bodies and the body parts
must be recovered,

the mangled remnants of the Humvee
dragged back to base,
the families, the brides, the children

informed that their loved ones
are coming home, coming home in body bags
but they are coming home.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Muse In Leather Panties And Whip

for BF

You hold my head forcibly
and push it into your poetry, “Eat!” you scream.
I eat in panic,

tears well up in my eyes.
You pull me away by the hair.
Half-eaten words fall out of my mouth.

You shove my head
back into your poetry again.
“Eat it, you bastard, eat it!”

I try to look up at you.
“Please, please, what’s come over you?”
I try to say it but I don’t.

The words I eat are sweet, indeed,
but you are out of control.

I wish I could escape.

After what seems like an eternity
you kick me repeatedly
and then suddenly you leave the room.

My ribs hurt, I roll over and moan, I try to think.
Perhaps, Archibald MacLeish was right---
maybe poetry should not mean.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Henry’s Premature Elegy For An Expatriate Russian Poet
Yet To Die

“I hate the Russians, they’re Neanderthals,”
Henry insisted as he tried to listen
to the nasty exiled Russian poet.

“He’s like a freaking truck driver,
the impatient little bastards
destroy half their loads

on the way here and there!”
The Russian finishes reading
and expects a standing ovation,

the foolish professors and students oblige.
The Neanderthal grunts his superiority
not letting on that the comrade’s still afraid of Khrushchev.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dubya headed to Iraq today to get his prostrate exam.
Here he is with Iraqi Doctor La Chingie A-Mami
showing him his results.

With Roethke In Tow

I have known the inexorable sadness of poets,
neat in their schools, the pain of paper,
the misery of the sound they make,

desolate and shy in public places,
brave in a bathroom, confused on the telephone,
hesitant with an overwhelming comma.

They duplicate everybody’s lives
and fill the library with rhymes
dangerous as a Lowell or a Dickinson.

You can’t pick out their faces in crowd
but they’re the ones with the inward look
that nourishes and terrifies at once.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Elegy For Indian Larry?

Just received the call
that Indian Larry
has died

falling off
his motorcycle
while doing

one of his well-known stunts,
being as old as me
he shouldn’t have.

He made his fame
by building
old school choppers

to cruise
the public streets in circles
around the squares

who toss their SUV’s
to block the way
in vain.

Your famous question mark
must have
an answer now???????????

Friday, June 09, 2006

Pictures At An Execution

The proud pilots of the F-16s
drop their 500-lb. bombs on the safe house
where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is hiding,

killing him and four other people,
including a woman and child.
All the television stations

and cable networks and Internet news sites
flash the picture of al-Zarqawi’s
bloody face, the back of his head gone,

his cheeks and forehead bloody.
But, nobody shows the dismembered body
of the child, the little brain

bounced off a wall, nobody tells us that,
nobody shows that picture.
The F-16 pilots celebrate

and their comrades celebrate with them.
Nobody mourns the passing of a mere child.
No one has the balls to show us that picture.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Picture Of The Golden Gate Bridge By Weldon Kees

I was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge
when I saw Sylvia Plath leaping
and then I saw Anne Sexton leaping

and then I saw Emily Dickinson
climbing back up shivering
and then I saw Gertrude Stein

climbing back up the bridge
struggling with her big fat behind.
I was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Am The Desert

after Carl Sanburg

Pile the bodies high in Baghdad and Tikrit,
put them in body bags for the trip home,
I am the desert, I cover all.

And pile them high in Mosul
and pile them high in the Green Zone,
put them on the planes and let me work.

Two hours, ten hours, and the passengers
ask the pilots, what place is this?
Where are we now?

But the pilots do not hear them.
Back on the ground I am the desert.
Let me work.

Monday, June 05, 2006

from aliensurgeon

Walter de la Mar

There are no wrinkles on the sea,
it doesn't show its age.
When there's a knock upon the door
it doesn't get up in a rage,

instead it sends a million sands ahore
and undulates forever
until the land has had enough
and thinks to pull the lever

that opens up the door
to let in all the seas
which climb up to Mt. Everest
lapping at the heels of Yetis.

Friday, June 02, 2006

No Dice

for susan miller, 1971

I went all over superior, nebraska
looking for your fine, little ass.
no dice.

you ever taken a bowl
and shaken the hell out of it
for no reason at all? Ah, tureen!

ten times the phone rang in succession
and each time it got bigger and bigger
until I had to buy a larger house.

the sun just came out from behind a cloud
and went behind a tree.
A burning bird skedaddled.

I looked at the nickel,
I stared hard, really concentrated,
until I could see five, fuzzy Lincolns.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

If You Could Only See

if you could only see
what dragon shines
its closet full of rags

if you could still hold me
wood against a fountain
eyes shut to the sound

we carved on others
their scars must be healing
even now

wherever they left them
hinges of lint
as heavy as they could be made.

if you could feel what I feel
when I push with my knuckles
from the inside of the moon

and the sound is deafening
and I swear to you
with water balanced on my breath.