Abuelita’s mother died when she was one.
No one talks about Tatarabuela
or about how Abuelita draws her eyebrows on at dawn.
I saw them once
when I pretended to snore.
Abuelita’s name should be Rocío
because she wakes at 5 to water plants.
My aunts say her name means truth
in some language no one speaks.
Abuelo says Abuelita burned the beans
otra vez. Chepito the Fourth dreams of tortillas
when Abuelo swings on the hammock. Abuelita,
¿pero why you don’t have eyebrows?
Sometimes Abuelita dries her bras on rose bushes.
Doña Ávalos thinks she grows the best roses,
so when they walk to the market
their baskets bounce on opposite sides.
Abuelo cuts our parakeets’ wings and teaches them to speak.
I forgot to feed Chepito the Third for a week.
I said the cat ate Chepito the Second
and when he became dough below my feet
I buried the first Chepito.
Abuelo dips our moons in vodka. Truth is,
before I drowned Chepito the Fourth, I asked him
if he remembered the eggshell
he broke. Abuelita, ¿will you forget
the veins on the back of Abuelo’s hands?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador. At the age of nine he migrated to the United States. Zamora received a Bread Loaf scholarship and a fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Narrative, Ploughshares, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.
Tim Seibles, a contributor to the debut issue of Huizache, has just been named Poet Laureate of Virginia by Governor Terry McAullife (whose name you might recognize as one of the Clintons’ biggest political partners, but that is another story). We are proud to have shown off his work and prouder still to see his career doing so well!
In my twenty-seven years in this country, I’ve met every sitting President, with the sorry exception of Mr. Obama. They didn’t always meet me, but I met them.
“Can I take the plate now, Mr. Bush?”
“More water, Mr. Clinton?”
Depending on the shift, I was a food runner or busboy, sometimes both. I tried to address each man by name, to feel those powerful syllables crackle in my mouth. Clin-ton. Ray-gun. I tried to act natural, though always with perfect respect. Continue reading →
Feliz 4th, Huizache readers! If you’re looking for music to play while you get your carne asada and firecrackers ready, The Nation has one for you. It’s a list of ten songs that “make clear both what’s great about the US and what still needs critical attention.” At the top of its list is a song that from the “what’s great” category, featuring one of Huizache‘s favorite bands, Los Lobos:
1. Los Lobos with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir,This Land is Your Land
This rambling version of the iconic Woody Guthrie song was performed July 22, 1989 backstage at the Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin between sets on that summer’s Los Lobos/Grateful Dead tour.
I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without hearing such an incredibly great version of this tune. Props to The Nation for putting it out there! There are some other good ones in there, including one by the El Paso-born (!) songwriter Phil Ochs.
It’s not often that any Chicano politics, make it into the international press, so it’s pretty cool to see a good profile of the most famous daughter of Corpus Christi in 1843 Magazine, a recent offshoot of the UK-based Economist. (On the other hand, maybe it’s sad that articles like this have to come from the United Kingdom?). Eva Longoria has long been active in the Chicano community and in 2013 even went to CSU Northridge and got herself a Master’s degree in political science and Chicano studies with a thesis on “the obstacles that keep young Latina women from studying science, mathematics and engineering”. And what’s more:
Her volumes of anthropology, immigration policy, Chicano poetry and Latino politics bristle with colour-coded Post-it bookmarks, and their pages are dense with highlighter pen notes.
For many El Pasoans like myself, Juárez has always felt partly like a neighbor and largely like an exotic land on another planet. The big crime waves of the last decades–first all the maquila violence of the 90s and then the cartel wars of the 00s–heightened that sense of Juárez’ other-worldliness, even while it brought many people and businesses from Juárez into El Paso. So, for those of us who dream that the two cities will get closer in the future, that the border will get de-militarized, and even that the Río Grande can be cleared of enough Border Patrol cars and fences and barbed wire to once again look like a Río, articles like this one are cause for happiness.
Quinõnes has always done fantastic reporting on cultural crossings between the US and Mexico, both along the physical border and far from it. His book Dreamland recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award. And even more significantly (well, maybe not) than winning one of the biggest nonfiction prizes in the country, it was reviewed by yours truly in the Texas Observer a few months back.
The news is sad, but the fact that this made the news is good. Great that Emilio Navaira, who was born in San Anto and studied music and Texas State, achieved such success making Tejano music and helped bring some attention to the cultura of Tejas. According to the article, Navaira
disputed the idea that a Spanish-language artist like him could not find mainstream success in the United States. “Hey, man,” he said. “I was born in America, too.”
Send love to the family down in South Texas, and enjoy the videos in the articles.
Marlon James, whose most recent novel A Brief History of Seven Killings, is winning every prize a novel can win, shows he’s not just a great writing talent but a man of impeccable taste in literature. In this little piece for the NY Times about “the titles he’d most want with him on a desert island” (a side note–I can’t help thinking it’d make more sense to ask a Jamaicans books he’d take to the mainland), he writes:
I sometimes wonder if I’m the only person to realize that the collected Palomar stories, from one half of Los Bros Hernandez, adds up to the finest American novel of the past 30 years?
He’s probably not the only person that loves Gilbert Hernandez’ Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories, but there are certainly not enough others. Read the whole thing at the NYT site: My 10 Favorite Books: Marlon James.
Over the last few months a lot of people around the country have been discovering Austin-based singer Gina Chavez. Her album Up.Rooted, which also has the sounds of Austin legends Grupo Fantasma, sounds great, and she was recently featured on NPR’s show/podcast alt.latino. Even more importantly she did one of those wonderful NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. This seemed a good time to encourage everyone to check her out since she just did a couple of shows out here in East Texas (in Austin and Houston). Wherever you are, I hope you get to make it to one of her shows!
Lysa Flores just played a great show for the Huizache launch party (thanks again Lysa!). In this internet age, there’s no reason why all of you who missed the party need to miss out on Lysa’s music. You can listen to a lot of her tracks at her own website, and YouTube has a cool video of her covering the Joy Division classic Love Will Tear Us Apart. The audio’s not perfect, but the video gives you an idea how great a performer Lysa is, and if you watch closely, you can see Alfredo Ortiz, who also played the launch party, on drums.