Denise Chavez, Love, poetry

Caveat Emptor – Poem by Marsmettin Tallahassee by Marsmettin Tallahassee

Remember when I began cleaning out and donating books? Well, that’s when I found a 2008 journal, lumpy from two 8 x 11 sized papers folded in fourths. I had written my first poem on those papers at a workshop.

Denise Chavez, author of Face of An Angel, Loving Pedro Infante, Last of the Menu Girls, and two others, was the instructor of the first writing workshop I attended. Her instruction, her demeanor, and her passion were poetry in motion.

The first day was about getting in touch with our senses. We sketched, found our own talismans, went outside for a walk, and wrote.

On the second day, Ms. Chavez directed us to a small dictionary which sat in the middle of the desk. The task was to open the book at whim, and with closed eyes blindly select a word.

My word was in Latin. Thankfully, “Caveat Emptor*” was defined in English. This word was to serve as a prompt for a poem. I wrote it down, put it into my journal and forgot about it for six years. With a little revising, here it is:

Caveat Emptor


He was the lie from hello to goodbye.

The master of mask, the emperor of illusion,

carrying a pedestal,

a singular prop.


Musical words floated from his mouth

under her feet, skirt, arms

gently lifting her up

resting her body atop a velvet chaise

sounds lulling her into the 

magic of romance.


Eyelids heavy with love dust,

obscuring the red checkered flags

the blinking yellow caution lights,

deep potholes covered in webs

until she sank, deep into the

fantasy of love. 


Two years later,

the lies, the facts tore

away the veils,

revealed the reality, spun

her into agony


until the door slammed behind him,

stirred her awake from the

illusion of love, where she

could plainly see


the words “Caveat Emptor”

written on the back

of his shirt. ©



*ca·ve·at emp·tor
ˌkavēˌät ˈempˌtôr/
  1. the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.

    In other words, “Buyer Beware.”

Authors, Chingonas, Denise Chavez, Kathy Cano-Murillo, Pedro Infante, Strong Women

Loving Pedro Infante…

Do you remember Pedro Infante, the Mexican movie star from the Gran Epoca of Mexican movies? Maybe you don’t, but I mention this because he came into my little ‘blog’ life last week. But I’ll start at the beginning. 

I follow a blog penned by Kathy Cano-Murillo author of two books. She is at and (She has terrific sites). Kathy asked her readers if we read any of the books she listed on her “to read book list” and if we had she invited us to write a review. One of the books was from one of my favorite authors, Denise Chavez. I’ve read all of her books, including “Loving Pedro Infante.” So I took the plunge and wrote the following review, which you can find, among the others on Kathy’s website. The cover of the book es muy sauve, but I don’t know if it’s copyrighted so here’s another photo of Pedro Infante.
Denise Chavez creates real, flesh and blood characters whose lives touch ours even though they live in fictional border towns, between two cultures. Chavez describes Cabritoville as “…a one-horse-two-dog-mangy-one-cat town…” Her main character, Tere, is a teacher’s aid who  lives “…in the little house, next to my mother’s bigger house.” She is a very engaging, funny, late thirty-something divorcee who spends most of her free time watching old romance movies while waiting for a married lover to give her some attention. Most of us have been there, done that (substitute unavailable for the married). 
Tere says she “…has a degree in living…” and that may be true, but she gets a D in men and romance. She is the secretary of the Pedro Infante Fan Club and spends many an evening romanticizing the Mexican movie star in the humid El Colon movie theater with her best friend Irma. If they’re not in El Colon, they are in a bar, or a friends kitchen discussing relationships.  And herein lies the dilemma for Tere. She knows she’s not happy with a married lover and she yearns for a good man, a romantic man’s man, like Pedro Infante, but does she have the ‘huevos’ or ovaries to break up with the guy.  While she’s waiting for this cabron, she’s getting older, she’s not growing in her life, her quasi-socio-cultural savvy friend Irma mentions– more than once. And Tere knows this is true. 
There is a sub-plot, about a male friend of Tere’s, which isn’t effectively resolved, however it adds some interesting texture to the story. And there is a little confusion in the time sequence of the narrative. But these don’t detract from the ‘pleasure’ value of the story. 
The real romance here is the bond of friendship and family. It’s about the kinds of friends that stay with you long after the bad relationships end and are willing to pick you back up.  The story is enriched with Splanglish and cultural identifications which may put off some readers, but the themes in this book transcend cultures and language. 
If you haven’t read the book, try to find it in the library or order it from It’s a story most women can identify with, whether you live in Goatville or not.