Encouragement, poetry

After the Rain – Poem

Sunset, After the Rain-by DIFrazier
Sunset in So Cal-photo by DIFrazier

 

The entrance to heaven

revealed itself

in my backyard.

After the rain

a sentinel of palms

led the way.

An underbelly of 

orange pink yellow

beneath ashes of clouds

a bird of paradise

hopeful in its call

to lift my head

look up

 to an emerging blue sky.

The sunset reminded me there are the inevitable endings, but in the ‘letting go’ there are also beginnings.

This poem is dedicated to Michele Serros and all my friends I’ve lost throughout the years.

*All poems are copyrighted ©.

Books, Chingonas, Inspiration, poetry, Strong Women, Writing

Michele Serros- Author, Poet, Friend

Michele Serros, Mrs. Antonio Magaña, author, poet, friend.
Michele Serros, Mrs. Antonio Magaña, author, poet, friend.

 

My friend died two days ago.

Cancer.

I knew she had it for several months.

Pinche cancer.

I really thought she’d survive.

Damn it.

She married the love of her life, a short three years ago. He was by her side when she left this world.

My heart holds a special spot for Michele Serros, or as she liked to hear, “Mrs. Antonio Magaña.”

A confusion of feelings surround death.

Why? Why her? Why didn’t prayers work?

I see her smile, lively eyes, texts at odd hours,

her words expressing identity, small towns, and individuality

a literary landmark

stories like my life and unlike my life

resonate with scenes only she could paint

Why?

She found love, at a vegan restaurant,

with a Berkeley chicano, a mexican, from her home town,

from her own high school, the same alma mater, so long ago

ecstatic with love, a new family

sharing her life.

That’s the way she was, loving, giving, living

daring to say the unsaid,

with wit and unique style,

inspired to write by Judy Blume.

A Medium Brown girl,

A Taco Belle,

Mucha Michele,

who wrote outside of ‘barrios, borders, and bodegas,’

defining herself and the question of identity

to a mess of other men and women

boys and girls

high schoolers to old schoolers

on what is mexicano, chicano, americano.

A writer of handwritten notes,

handcrafted cards of

glitter and glue,

inspired,

memorable,

unique,

like her.

 

Michele was the first writer I knew, personally, and from my home town. I attended her readings back in the late 90’s. Her writing inspired me to think that I could be a writer. When I first met her, we clicked. She had that kind of personality-she clicked with everyone.

A giver of advice, affection, and friendship, Michele was a humble person who stayed grounded and a strong woman who was soft on the outside, tough on the inside. A chingona.

She was a long distance member of the writing group to which I belong, sometimes sending us articles to review.

I often felt inadequate, a published author asking me for feedback? But that was the way she was, as real as real can get.

An excerpt from her book, “Chicana Falsa: And Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard,” struck me, long ago. Her mother died, from cancer, and Michele wrote the obituary. When she described her mother as an artist, someone questioned it, “it isn’t like she sold anything.”

Definitions always played a big part of my life: a true Mexican versus a fake Mexican…a true artist versus a wannabe. Nonetheless, my mama would have been crushed knowing she left this earth not remembered as an artist. It was her fear and lack of confidence that kept her art stuck on an easel, hidden away in the corner of our family’s garage…it was her death that gave me the courage to finally share some of my own poems and stories. The purpose? to make someone happy, inspired…I just couldn’t bear the thought of questioning what my own obituary would say. 1994

There is no question that Michele was an artist, who made millions of readers happy, who inspired thousands of Latinas, Latinos, and others who rarely read anything that resonated with their lives. Her books are here.

She had been working on a new novel, An Unmarried Mexican, a title she borrowed from one of her favorite books and movie, An Unmarried Woman.

As you could imagine, medical expenses soared, especially for a self employed person. Give Forward has a campaign to assist Michele’s family. The fund is halfway to its goal.

To read more about this wonderful person, see “An Unexpected Heirloom,” at Huffington Post and this article in the Los Angeles Times.

Rest in love, Michele.

Siempre.

Books, Junot Diaz, Sandra Cisneros, Writing

Burritos With A Side of Lit-No Salsa

Visible and Ignored
Visible and Ignored

I’m feeling like the above quote after reading about Chipotle’s “literary packaging series.”

They had author, Jonathan Safran Foer, select 10 authors to feature on Chipotle’s cups and bags.

“What interested me is 800,000 Americans of extremely diverse backgrounds having access to good writing,” the novelist told Vanity Fair. 

 

But not one of the 10 authors are Latino/a.

 

None of those “800,000 Americans of extremely diverse background” will be exposed to a Latino writer.

This “literary” campaign comes on the heels of #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #DiverseLit.

 

Chipotle’s move is why we need to continue a movement with #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

 

English professor Lisa Alvarez sums up my feelings:

Chipotle Snub-photo by Michael Calienes
Chipotle Snub-photo by Michael Calienes

Reaction to Chipotle’s ‘short stories’ on their cups and bags can be found on Gustavo Arellano’s article.

Author, poet and commentator Michele Serros gave this response on Facebook. Hundreds of readers are contributing their favorite Latina/o writer:

Michele Serros List of Latina/o writers
Michele Serros List of Latina/o writers

 

To the list, I’ll add my favorites: Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chavez, Michele Serros, and Junot Diaz.

Add any of your favorites to the list.

It’s a multicultural world out there. Read about it, think about it, write about it.