Loss, Love, Mexican traditions, poetry

My Native One/Mi Indigena – Poem

by Daniel Esparza-lowriderarte.com

As evening falls I close my eyes in slumber

Allowing myself to swim this ocean of memories

Chapters of love etched deep upon my being

All bitter sweet or sweet gone bitter

Fleeting passion, friendship adorned in tedium

Tepid nights of sighs quelling loneliness

Reticent reminiscences, specters in empty rooms

A requiem of illusive love defying end

The haunting image of my nameless muse

Spirit veneration of my palindrome poems

A song of truer times breaks the melancholy

Honeyed voice lifts the weight of silence

Solitude blessed by a sweet familiar whisper

    “Cradle your head on the heart of hope;

     sleep and dream my loving touch;

     embrace the promise we exist to keep;

     one day soon we will be forever…”

Poem by Frank de Jesus Acosta*

This poem makes me think of a loss and a future hope.

I imagine a 1940’s sultry blues melody accompanying these lyrics. Which makes the woman appropriate to the poem.

Poetry can metamorphize memories, “All bitter sweet or sweet gone bitter,” into a perspective where we pay homage to the feelings. Somewhat like the Alfred Lord Tennyson phrase:

“Tis better to have loved and lost. Than never to have loved at all.”

For me, the pairing of this art piece and poem illustrates the Mexican concept of death.

In Aztec culture, they believed life on earth to be something of an illusion – death was a positive step forward into a higher level of conscience. Skulls were a positive symbol, not only of death but also of rebirth.

Skulls were a positive symbol, not only of death but also of rebirth.

And it is in the rebirth, that one has hope.

*reprinted with permission by Frank Acosta.

 

 

Denise Chavez, Love, poetry

Caveat Emptor – Poem

flickr.com- by Marsmettin Tallahassee
flickr.com- 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/
noun
  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.”

Encouragement, Grief, Love, poetry

A New Page – Poem

The First Page by Nick Kenrick, Flickr cc
The First Page by Nick Kenrick, Flickr cc

 

Days flutter pass

like the wind blown pages of a book

to rest on one page

which you decorate with

happiness,

glorious art the colors of heaven

drawn with joy, love, future

 

until a rush of air blows hostile

rips the edge from the seam

to a page of scribbled

pain,

stiff lines of anguish, questioning grief

shades of light and dark

swirled into murky gray.

 

The breeze of life wafts pages

slowly,

build to a fanning pace

past blurs of memory,

landing on a blank canvas,

another first page,

ready for you.

Family, Fear, Grief, Inspiration, Latino culture, Love, Mothers, Parents, poetry

Hurricane Mother

Maya Angelou Quote
Maya Angelou Quote

 

This quote aptly describes my mother. Now in her mid-eighties, my mom’s hurricane force has reduced to a small tornado, which is pretty impressive given that she is legally blind and uses a cane to help her walk longer distances.

The white blond streaks in her shoulder length hair, her youthful face, and laughter often have people guessing her age as 10-15 years younger. She doesn’t correct their error.

I’ve been gone for only a week and I’m missing her very much. This has me thinking about our conversations-a lot.

Mom divulges bits of her life at the most unexpected times, little puzzle pieces that drop onto the floor of our conversations while we’re cleaning a pantry or picking roses from her 45 bushes.

I’ve gathered up the first 25 years of her life and placed them in this verse:

 

Puzzle Pieces

The house on Newman St. was the center of mom’s universe, with
parents who demonstrated love, hard work, importance of family.
They made a circuit, planting, harvesting crops, from Pomona to Fresno, CA.
Labor camps of noisy dogs, clattering pans, drifting music and stories.
Happy amongst the aromas of hot tortillas, strong coffee, tired people.

Orphan, alone in a tree, peeking through branches at the house below,
hiding in books, neighbor’s houses, hopping trains into downtown.
An alcoholic uncle left to care for her and four siblings, in her parents home,
now a place filled with drunken men, screeches of profanity, groping hands.

Sisters and brothers bury their grief, help each other through the rocky terrain of life.
School is a refuge. A smart girl promoted two grades but drops out in 10th.
Her brothers grew up fast, strong, courageous enough to chase their drunken uncle away reclaim their home.

WWII emptied out the neighborhood of childhood friends and brother.
Young sisters go it alone with a fifteen-year-old brother/father, who works three jobs.
She will never forget.
At thirteen, she earns her own money from working in the packing houses,
one step up, now able to breath-just a bit-from stifling poverty.

She moves to another city, to find work, meets her first love, plans for marriage,
but is left with a child. A disgrace in those days, shame that sent her to L.A,
to one of those homes, lonely, dreary. Worse than the ones in the B movies on Turner Classic movies.
She cried for days, packed her suitcase and left, took the ridicule, pointing fingers, gossip.
Lived in a tiny trailer with her sister, in someone’s backyard. Had a baby girl. Found happy.