Chicano Poet

Thursday, August 28, 2008

El Louie’s State Of Aztlan Speech

Nobody stuck around to hear
the rest of El Louie’s speech.

Maybe his tattered, dirty suit
made people uncomfortable,

or maybe it was the fact that clumps of his hair
kept falling off while he tired to rally La Raza,

or maybe the one moldy shoe he wore
just didn’t cut it anymore,

but what else do you want from the dearly departed?
At least he’s trying,

which is more than can be said
for those of you who ain’t dead!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How To Dismantle A Race

For years he was out of touch
with his race.

He came this way,
they went that way.

He pursued the past
to come to terms with the future.

They pursued the sublime---
unaware it was just beautiful slime.

The sought comfort in shiny objects
to build their nests,

no sabian that it was knives
they laid their precious nalgas on.

He pointed the way,
but not even his own shadow followed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thanks to Christine Granados.
I Was Never A Militant Chicano (my 80's poem)
performed by David Garza (on guitar) and his
brother Joel at the Hecho En Texas show
in Dallas,Tx on May 3, 2008.See the rest
of the show here.


video

Friday, August 22, 2008

El Louie Returns From The Dead

I just dropped in to see
what condition my raza was in.

I see the poets are winning prizes
left and right.

I see the fiction writers are flowering
like Flor y Canto.

I just dropped in to see
what condicion my condicion was in.

I walked through my old barrio,
same old gangs new younger faces.

I see you still have to protect your turf
with knives and guns.

Sure you’re proud and brown,
but nobody pays attention to a clown.

The turf you fight for
still belongs to the white man.

I just dropped in to see
what condition my raza was in.

It could be the Fifties or Sixties,
except that it’s two thousand eight.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A House Divided

The house does not know what it wants,
windows have stepped down
from their frames.

Exposed two by fours are confused
by the newly arrived light.
What is that bright thing in the sky,

they ask? The door is off its hinges.
The house is really a gapping hole.
My Aunt Dovina sends me

to the mailbox on my bicycle
(the mailbox
is a quarter of a mile away).

I look back to see
my aunt and my mother driving away
to Fentress, Texas

where my mother is supposed
to give birth to life,
not death.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Clarksville

There’s a kind of hush when
they pull you from the cross.
I guess they showed you who’s boss!

Sleepy Jean caresses you
and tells you it will be okay.
What else is she supposed to say?

Oh, them Romans are such kidders
when they get angry
and drink too much brandy.

They feed you to the lions
and let the elephants trample
you from head to ankle.

There’s no milk in town tonight,
they wrap you in shroud
and give you to the crowd.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dreaming Of Aztlan Gone Bad

We are driving in your Pacer to Austin,
the reason why escapes me.

We met in the small town of whatsoever,
I said, I’ll show you my poems

if you show me yours,
but then the rains came

and swept away my fellow writers,
my friends, my medals from Nam,

my farmworker sweat, my Denver days,
my Tierra Amarilla palomilla,

my Santos Rodriguez from Dallas,
my Ruben Salazar from East L.A.

Cirol, our own gente turned upon us---
the hound of Aztlan, we supposed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Here's a poem about how alcoholism
affects the family,the children...
this poem is written by my nephew Jake.


Am I strong enough to be your SON

If its time to go then take your hand and fly
I doubt he meant it when he made me cry

Pack your shit and crawl away with no fear
I know you loved me under all that beer

I crumble all the walls that have held me back
Strong enough I have been, to go down another track

Once, you shared a game with me when you got home
But as you slurd at me I knew I was playing alone

Once, you came to my game and could barley walk
But as I glanced over from the field I couldn't even talk

Some know who I am and share my life
But its you who I wanted that from, instead I got your heart.....the knife

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This Side Of The Westside

I loved you for your mind back then
though probably in the hindquarters of my head

I relished the parting of thighs---
you with your poetry of and for the barrio,

junior high school girls, El Bennie’s exploits,
the old ladies, the abuelitas.

The present is so different from the past.
We’ve come full circle yet once more,

and I love you for your mind again,
but my reptilian brain has you cornered with its tongue

and the hot San Antonio sun bounces off my hide
as I run behind a Mexican bakery on Zarzamora St.

Monday, August 11, 2008





Most of Juan Felipe Herrera’s many books evoke at once the hardships that Mexican-Americans have undergone and the exhilarating space for self-reinvention that a New World art offers. The child of migrant workers and now a professor at the University of California, Riverside, Herrera began to publish and perform verse in the late 1960s and early ’70s, amid the Chicano cultural ferment of Los Angeles and San Diego; he has been, and should be, admired for his portrayals of Chicano life. Yet he is no mere recorder of social conditions. Herrera is, instead, a sometimes hermetic, wildly inventive, always unpredictable poet, whose work commands attention for its style alone.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Black Hat Poet Welcomes Cecilio
Into Chicano Heaven


At that sweet time I was still alive
says the Black Hat Poet

as he recites his best poems,
now only remembered on the Westside

and the Southside, the Mexican Sasquatch
lives again, led around by the hand.

In these present times
he would find so much to ridicule,

“so many more things need fixin, mano,
so many things have gone unsaid.

I welcome you back my friend,
but I’m unsure of how you got here I tell him.

He sees the bewilderment in my face.
No, carnal, it is not me who needs

to be welcomed, says the Black Hat Poet,
it is you, bienvenido,

and he puts his arm around me---
the abrazo we know so well.”

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

…more from the saga of Gary Camacho…

Fanny The Co-Worker

Fanny was born and raised in McAllen,
and in Reynosa, where her grandparents lived,

well, not her grandparents, just her grandmother,
her mother too had been abandoned by her “man”,

what the hell is wrong with these women?
They can’t keep a man,

or can keep him long enough
to get pregnant, or should we ask

what kind of men are these Mexican lizards
which crawl back into the skull

of the rock and the rubbish,
cool their tongues and in the Rio Bravo,

and then look for more women impregnate.
Fanny somehow ended up in central Texas,

working at a manufacturing plant
making parts for a subcontractor of Boeing,

Raytheon, & other defense department businesses.
Fanny was a worthless worker,

no doubt exhibiting the work ethic of the Valley,
no manners, no regard for housekeeping,

angry if she thought she was being treated unfairly,
but never worried about the rights of others,

always asking why Mexicans weren’t allowed
to cross the border as they wished.

Her friends tolerated her,
always gave her the benefit of the doubt,

but some of them
knew exactly who she was,

and teasingly gave her enough rope
to hang herself.

2.

“It sticks a pin in my bubble,
The name for this name is trouble.”


Larry would look at Fanny differently,
with more compassion,

not with a dollar’s worth of life,
but with poet’s life---

which has not picked up after itself so well,
which has gone down many wrong roads,

which values deeds of course,
yet relies so much on words.

He tells Gary on the telephone,
ease up a little, Gary,

give yourself some time
to get used to the culture,

but Gary could be a lost cause
thinks Larry as he hangs up,

and prepares to teach a class
on the forgotten poetry of Juan Bruce-Novoa.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Free Tibet

Monday, August 04, 2008

Though Gary Camacho had been born and raised in San Antonio, Tx.,
after graduating from St. Mary’s University, he ended up in Portland,
Ore. for the last thirty years, working his way up overseeing operations
at Portland International Airport. Now this is the curious part, how had
he talked himself into accepting his dream job of being the main man,
the big kahuna, the chingon, and all of this at the McAllen-Miller
International Airport in Mc Allen, Tx.. Everybody advised him against
the move, but no, the baboso convinced himself that it would be
a good move for his family.

There was a lot of pressure on Gary after the disappointment his mom
and pop had endured after his brother Larry had announced (at a
family reunion) that he was a poet, and that he was going to teach
Creative Writing at the University of California at Salton Sea. Creative
writing? That’s not a profession some one said, and it was echoed by
everybody as they drank their beer and sucked down fajitas. So you
see, Gary had to make it big to keep the family honor intact instead of
torn apart like a hymen. Besides, moving to McAllen would put him
within driving distance of San Antonio and enable him to visit his
aging parents at least once a month.


The Success Of Gary Camacho


“Oh, it’s another fucking Mexican writing
about his or her experience of crossing the border,

or the river, or being smuggled across by a coyote!”
yells my friend Gary, third generation Mexican-American,

and he keeps heaping disdain
upon the new arrivals who have pushed

the wrong button, and triggered this holocaust.
“They break in line at the store, bang your car door,

they throw trash everywhere, look at McAllen,
what a pigsty…” I won’t quote him anymore,

I can see you’re getting angry,
having just arrived a mere ten years ago yourself.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Hard Fought Elegy

Moments after we left my mother’s funeral,
heard by no one, not even the gravediggers

whose job it was to pour the dirt over her,
the coffin started to settle,

crushing clods of dirt beneath it,
shoving a little stone or two

deeper down, until the coffin
was happy in its place.

And over the years more muffled noises
would be heard down there,

the coffin coming apart meticulously slow,
my mother’s bones separating

from each other, gently sliding off
to one side, her beautiful hair

falling from her skull, still looking
for a final resting place,

and I, her oldest son, having to write this,
having chosen the wrong profession.