Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Boy Kings of Texas: Coming Soon to a TV Near You

HBO has optioned h3 contributor Domingo Martinez’s The Boy Kings of Texas (Lyons Press 2012). The coming-of-age memoir about growing up in Brownsville, Texas, in the 1980s was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012; a Gold Medal Winner of the Independent Publishers Book Awards; and a Non-Fiction Finalist for The Washington State Book Awards.

From the press release:

“It’s beyond my comprehension that this book has drawn this level of attention and success, but I’m doing my best to absorb it and adjust,” said Martinez, who is currently working on his next book, My Heart is a Drunken Compass, which will be published by Lyons Press in November 2014. “I have to credit my agent, Alice Martell, and my editor, Lara Asher, for seeing the potential in the book in the first place, and all the support I’ve had at Lyons Press. It was my first book, and with nothing in the way of a publishing background, I was certainly a gamble. But to their credit, they saw what the book could be and what it’s done, and so here it is, making the leap from the literary to the cinematic—and on HBO, no less.”

Martinez will write the script; Salma Hayek and Jerry Weintraub are the executive producers on the project.

And to read Martinez’s Changes in Altitudes, check out our third issue.


Huizache Reading and Reception in Seattle

Please join us February 28, 2014 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at Mexico Cantina y Cocina in Seattle to celebrate the release of the third issue of HUIZACHE, the magazine of Latino literature, with a reading and reception featuring contributors Domingo Martinez, Tim Seibles, and Laurie Ann Guerrero. The event, held in conjunction with this year’s AWP convention, is free and open to the public.

HuizSeattle2aAbout our readers:

DOMINGO MARTINEZ’s work has appeared in Epiphany, The New Republic, This American Life, Huizache, All Things Considered, and Saveur Magazine. He is a regular contributor to NPR’s This American Life and has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Diane Rehm Show. Martinez was the recipient of the Bernard De Voto Fellowship for Non-Fiction at Bread Loaf Writer’s Colony in 2013, and is a fundraiser and spokesperson for 826 Seattle, the literacy project founded by Dave Eggers. His memoir, The Boy Kings of Texas, was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award, a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee, a Gold Medal Winner for the Independent Publisher Book Awards, and a New York Times bestseller; it will soon be an HBO series, with Salma Hayek and Jerry Weintraub as executive producers. He lives in Seattle and is currently working on his next book, My Heart is a Drunken Compass (forthcoming from Lyons Press in November 2014).

TIM SEIBLES is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Body Moves (1988), Hurdy-Gurdy (1992), Hammerlock (1999), Buffalo Head Solos (2004), and Fast Animal (2012), which was a 2012 National Book Award finalist. His work has also been featured in the anthologies In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African American Poetry (1994, edited by E. Ethelbert Miller and Terrance Cummings), Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (2009, edited by Camille Dungy), and Best American Poetry (2010, edited by Amy Gerstler). Seibles’ honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, as well as an Open Voice Award from the National Writers Voice Project. Born in Philadelphia in 1955, he now lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where is a member of the English Department and MFA in Writing faculty of Old Dominion University, as well as a teaching board member of the Muse Writers Workshop. He teaches part time for the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA in Writing Program, and is a teacher at Cave Canem.

LAURIE ANN GUERRERO’s first full-length collection, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying (University of Notre Dame Press 2013), was the winner of the 2012 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. Her poetry and critical work have appeared in Huizache, Texas Monthly, Bellevue Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Global City Review, Texas Observer, Chicana/Latina Studies, Feminist Studies and others. A CantoMundo fellow and member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, she was named one of ten top emerging poets in 2013 by Poets & Writers Magazine. She has served on the faculty at Palo Alto College, University of the Incarnate Word, University of Texas-El Paso, and Gemini Ink, a community-centered literary arts organization in San Antonio. She holds a B.A. in English Language and Literature from Smith College, where she received the Academy of American Poets Prize, and an MFA in poetry from Drew University. Born and raised in the Southside of San Antonio, she is a visiting writer at San Antonio’s Our Lady of the Lake University.

Copies of all three issues of HUIZACHE will be available at the event, along with $2 tacos and $3 draft beer (courtesy of Mexico Cantina y Cocina).

Mexico Cantina y Cocina is locatred at 600 Pine St. #402 Seattle, WA 98101


from Huizache #3


David Campos

After Larry Levis

My father beat a man’s face
to the color of dusk; dark purples
and reds followed by the blues and blacks
of the night being swept over Tilzapotla. The man,
Claudio Ocampo, had just slammed my grandfather
to the ground, a knee pressed against his spine,
over the sale of a cow that wasn’t producing milk.
I heard the cracks of his ribs
as my father ran out of the house
to knock him off my grandfather,
his fist unhinging this man’s jaw—
the splatter of blood spit out onto the cobblestone
mixed with the dirt; a mirror of the sky.
When it was over, my father and grandfather came in
and we ate our pan dulce with hot chocolate
on the second story balcony, listening
to the crumbs falling into our laps.

On the plane back to the states,
while his hands healed from the swelling,
I asked about the fight. I’m sorry
you had to see that
, he said.
And that’s all he ever said of it.
I never understood this apology.

Sometimes, while we play football in the dusk,
I stare through the cement and bricks,
the exhaust of this city in summer,
and realize I’m looking at blood again.
A small flicker drying, mixed with dirt,
and warning.

It used to make me think of love, looking at the sun
dipping into the mountains. In Fresno,
that light was furious. Now Fresno darkens
as the wire from the street lamps is stolen—
my father is dying. His hands have lifted
so many cigarettes from pocket to mouth
that his breath is disappearing like the lights
from the streets. When I visit I hear his coughs
wake him in the night. They wake me.
And we’ll sit in the cold
of the backyard looking up at the stars
and I’ll remember my father telling a younger me
that when we died we went to heaven
and became the stars we see at night.
For years I believed we would all become stars.

Now, we don’t talk about endings,
or stars, or the way his fists undid
a face. We just watch the sky
as if it could bring back breath
and love, the sparkling sugar
at the bottom of a paper bag
that once held warm pan dulce
many years ago. We both light
cigarettes and blow smoke
as if we were cities
and the streets were going dark
as dusk gives way to night,
as a son shuffles from one lamp
to another trying to stay warm
and safe under their glow.

But tonight, Father, it is dark
here in Riverside, where the earth just rattled,
and the walls cracked, like the bones
that one night you broke dusk
out of a man’s face. Yet here
when I think of you, I can almost believe
that the street, as it rolls into the hills,
leads to the stars.

David Campos lives in Fresno. @Camposwriter

from Huizache #3

This Far, By Grace

Tameka Cage Conley

When he was ten, Brown saw a dead man hanging from a tree. He knew that a man hanging from a tree, limp-necked, close-eyed, and barefoot, was like a bird flying backwards. But there was something more here to see and say. This was wrong. Wrong and ugly. It was so wrong that the word pounded into his head, then lit a fire to his stomach that made him gag. The ugliness was like nothing he had ever seen and worse than all his ten-year-old nightmares combined, much uglier than when he had come home early one day, found his parents sprawled on the floor, pushing their half-clothed bodies into each other with a ferociousness that made him run, hide and be afraid. Even after his father had explained, All that was, son, was a little bit of loving, he still looked at them both differently after that, wondering what else they did when he wasn’t looking. He stared up at that body, so cold within itself that it could not sweat even in this heat that pressed down like a haint trying to announce itself in the night. Then he looked from the body up to his father, holding his son around the shoulders tightly, like the tree where the body was hanging might reach down with one of its immense branches, and swoop, before you knew it, take his boy and give the one hanging a companion. If Brown had been more schooled in the heinous matters of life and possessed a scholar’s vocabulary, he would have mouthed, “Who owns speech for this?” He learned there are some things you cannot talk about unless you have experienced them, so it’s no wonder that of all the voices, the man hanging from the tree like an overgrown, tattered ornament would be the one to speak, and this is what he said: “Watch out.” For what, Brown asked, only half believing he had heard anything at all. “For yourself, boy. Watch out for yourself.”

The hanging man was named Rose, for short. His full name was Roosevelt Theodore Hopkins, and he was nineteen years old. He was a likable fellow with a friendly smile, tall and lanky, with long, muscular forearms and a soft, easy gait. In his spare time, he liked to take long walks by himself, as if nature called to him from its overgrown wilderness. He’d gather his lengthy bones and hear the command to walk, and there he’d go. He didn’t know that one night a group of White boys were looking to feel like men, which meant they had to go kill a tall, Black manchild who, some other where, could’ve been a prince, with his effortless beauty, studying ways and open-hearted generosity. It’s funny, here, how time met like that. A Black manchild with whatever future a segregated land might have for him felt like all the world was his anyhow because, well, at least in his part of town, he could go for a walk anytime he felt good and ready to. And with that confident knowledge, he got up from the chair in his room, the one his uncle had made when he realized the boy had outgrown the one he’d had, and walked to the kitchen. “Where you going?” his mother asked. “Dinner be ready soon.” “Just for a walk, Momma,” he had replied. “I’ll be back in time. ’Specially ’cause you cooking peas with ham hock swimming in it.” As she stirred the contents of the pot, the woman smiled and lifted her right cheek to receive her son’s kiss.

Just when Rose was kissing his momma, the boy that would hang the noose around his neck was kissing his. Her dinner was on the stove, too, and she was making a pie from peaches she had picked from her own backyard and had sniffed and surveyed to test their sweetness. This was her son’s favorite pie, and today was his birthday. He had walked in the kitchen from his room, and she’d asked, “Where you going? I done made your favorite pie, Aaron.” “Aw, Momma,” he said. “I ain’t going out long. Be back before you know it.”

What they were going to do would be quick enough. It’d go real fast if they didn’t let the one that hated niggers the most beat him to death before they took out the noose. Just make it quick an’ easy, Aaron thought to himself, like a young man might think of his first time, with scared, greedy lust. No need for it to go on too long, thinking of his mother’s pie and how good it would taste with cool milk chasing it on his tongue.

Rose walked in silence, like he always did, thinking about time. Time gone, time coming, and the time he was in. There would be many nights and though they might smell like this one, be as hot as this one, and even bear the same number of stars, this night would never be repeated, which made him happy. He knew in that moment, how much he must matter, how much his feet kicking up dust on the unpaved road meant he was part of something that nobody could define or take away. Rose thought to himself, “I oughta write a book about all the stuff I learn from my walking.”

And before he could finish that thought, there was Aaron, with Jug, Miller, Sal, Frank, and Toby, the one who hated niggers more than any other White boy who was proud to hate niggers, fast on Rose’s beautiful frame, who lighted on him quicker than flies to feces. They had searched out this chase and how delighted they were when they found Rose walking alone. This is so perfect, Aaron thought to himself, with neither remorse nor shame, but the simple pleasure of knowing he was walking in his father’s footsteps, doing exactly what his father had done on his twenty-first birthday, which was to take a life, but not just any life, the life of a real, breathing nigger who walked like a man, but who anybody with good sense knew wasn’t no more than a twig to be broken and snapped.

So that’s what they did, and Aaron was back home in two and a half hours time, eating his momma’s pie, feeling so proud of himself that he knew he would go over to Carol Anne’s house and finally convince her to make herself wide open to him so he could feel like two times the man. As he ate, he was careful to mind his manners and tell his mother that the pie was the best she’d ever made. He was in such a good mood that he added an elaborate story of praise. “No better pie cook in this parish. No better pie cook in this country. No better pie cook in this world. ” How could his mother resist the spread of smile that smeared her face with the same look of pride as when she first held him? How could she not look into his face, and think, His daddy would be so proud.

At Rose’s house, anxiety stewed like the peas his mother had slowly tended, as they absorbed the salty smokiness of the pork. “He should’ve been back by now,” she murmured.. Like any good husband who doesn’t want his wife fretting, his father had gone to search for him, even though he’d told his wife that the boy was probably just out at the creek, talking to nothing like always. When the man found Rose, his mouth trembled in fright, and a cold terror swallowed him whole as he let out a scream that hurt him to his core. He wanted to use his pocketknife to cut out his throat and to cut his son down. But he could do neither. He just sat beneath the tree that was now a wicked resting place for his boy and cried like a baby who had lost his mother.

It felt like going through hell to convince the sheriff to leave the boy hanging up there. But somehow, some way, that’s what his father did. He wanted everyone to see what had been done to his son, so Rose hung there for exactly nineteen hours, to match the number of years he’d lived, long enough for folks to see his neck crooked in a way that looked like he was pondering something for which he would never find the answer.

Tameka Cage Conley is from Louisiana and lives in Pittsburgh. @DrTCageConley