My mother is 21,
conjuring María Félix, smolder
She is the sound of freeways at rush hour
crashing hips. Hourglassed—an ache.
She wears a beehive of unanswered questions:
Curios, feathers, silences, heart songs, grafted tongue.
Tangerine mouth, pouting
lips. She is engaged to Rubén González.
She is cleaning houses.
She is walking home
late with the moon.
It’s the sound you hear
when you turn off your TV.
It’s the sound that old men make at night
as they’re sleeping on the sidewalk,
outside an empty loft building.
It’s the sound of air escaping your mouth
after you get the notice
that the rent is increasing.
It’s that same sound you heard
when you tore up that ticket
They still built the wall. Even though we marched downtown,
jackets and ties peering down from high rises as we shouted,
¡Muro, no. Pueblo sí! After we shut down Paisano, horns
pressed, sage smoke rising, matachines barefoot and rattling.
After we sipped sangre de Cristo through chain links year
after year on Día de los Muertos. After our mayors declared,
¡Ya basta! San Diego to Brownsville. After amas pushed
strollers from Douglas to San Elizario. After comadres
from Mujer Obrera, striking hungry, cuffed themselves to
the Whitehouse gates and chanted, ¡Obama, escucha, estamos
en la lucha! After Red Fronteriza. Hands across the Border. Continue reading →
First Christmas back from college and El Paso is a stark and lonely place. My dad’s asleep in his easy chair. Mom’s got the caldo de pollo simmering on the stove for me. But something else simmers in my private heart. This want deeper than carnal grinds me down. This unquiet urge slowly reams me out.
I’m locked in my room, poring through my high school yearbook, studying the florid signatures of all my pretty classmates beseeching me to call whenever I’m in town. Hearts for punctuation. Smiley faces dotting the i’s. 2 Sweet 2 B 4 Got 10… What can they possibly mean except U R 4 Got 10 already?
Dad knocks on the door and asks if I’m okay. I tell him I’m going to see a friend. But it’s late, he says. Not late for me. It’s 10:30, he says. That’s early, I tell him. When they’re in bed, I take the keys and go.
The roads are quiet. The sky is overcast. Bing Crosby on the radio wants to make me cry. I follow the city lodestar, there on the Franklin Mountains, the giant five-pointed pentagram of bright electric bulbs that light up every Christmas. I pull into a bar to drink but it’s strange sitting by myself with all these older blinder boozers who can hardly finish a sentence, so I leave. I almost hit another bar but the lone drunk with his pecker out is pissing the word “NO” on the wall outside. I don’t want a drink. I don’t need a drink. I need a girl, some girl to lie to, hold, feel against me, someone to give me a little nighttime CPR, for god’s sake. Just one time. One night. That’s all.
Huizache #6 has arrived! Our newest issue is great reading, and with the beautiful cover art by legendary Chicano artist John Valdez, you’ll look great reading it! Huizache #6 offers prose from El Paso’s Christine Granados, Denver’s Sheryl Luna, Oakland’s Aida Salazar; from award-winning playwright Octavio Solis, filmmaker/author Jesús Salvador Treviño, and New Orleans’s Bryan Washington. Poets in h6 include California’s Lisa Alvarez, Texas’s Abigail Carl-Klassen, Mexico’s Christina Rivera Garza, New York’s Paco Marquez, Michigan’s Rachel Nelson and New Mexico’s Joaquin Zihuatanejo. And if that’s not enough, we’ve put linocuts by LA printmaker Daniel González throughout the issue. Check out the full contents, or better yet…just buy it right now.
President Obama just awarded National Medals of Arts and Humanities for the last time, and he’s picked out a number of Chicano legends that we at Huizache have celebrated for years: playwright Luis Valdez, writers (and Huizache contributors!) Sandra Cisneros and Rudolfo Anaya (pictured above), and conjunto accordionist Santiago Jiménez, Jr. Continue reading →
Juan Gabriel has died at the age of 66. The New York Times has an obit that’ll remind you of his six Grammy nominations and a hundred million album sales, the Guardian gives a little bit more about his life, and People has some wonderful photos of the man over the years. For those as curious about his death as his life, you can read about his cremation in Anaheim and about his last trip through El Paso on the way to his final resting place in Ciudad Juárez. But best is to celebrate his music even while mourning. Gustavo Arellano gives us a list of his twenty greatest performances and compositions, leading up to that most eternal of love songs “Amor Eterno.” I can’t help putting in my vote for his Creedence cover (Arellano’s got it at number 20), as much for the sunglasses he wears in the video as anything else. ¡Viva Juan Gabriel!
I love watching baseball and I love listening to baseball announcers, but I hate hearing every Latin American baseball player have his name constantly mangled, as though there’s no way for them to find out how Spanish pronunciation works–as though there’s no one in the crew, no one in the office, no one in the entire friggin’ media empire that covers Major League Baseball, and no one ON THE FIELD, even, that speaks Spanish?!? But I’ll put my rant aside for a moment to say that it made me very happy to read a story in the NY Times about baseball players fighting for written accents on their jerseys. The mispronunciations of a few baseball announcers are of course just one example of a too-common American disdain for “un-American” pronunciation (think shaVEZ and pe-REZ and aVEEla), so I’d like to think of these players as being the frontline of a very important fight, with its own slogans. Save the vowels! Save the accents! I wish these guys the best of luck and hope they’re just a first step in a good direction.
Of the eleven sailors that drowned saving the civilian vessel Louisa Marcondes from sinking into the roaring soup of the Pacific, five were destined to keep returning, crossing paths in different lives.
In a linear timeline, the first incarnation fated them to be remembered as the Green Children of Curlywee, later interpreted as a Scottish folk tale about three boys and two girls with a green skin tone who appeared delirious and grief-stricken, all of them shivering, muddy, and holding hands, making throaty sounds like grinding glass to communicate. Upon being separated and forcibly educated, they each swelled with depression. Two suicided in morbid ways using tools or utensils, and the other three (it was always said like this) simply lay down and died.
In the next life they were all born girls to peasant teenagers out of wedlock. Continue reading →
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.