Monthly Archives: May 2014

from Huizache #3

The Bolero of Lupe Vélez

Alejandro Murguía

The movieland glamour magazines thrive on Lupe Vélez. They thirst for this Mexican beauty. They just drink her up. Her face graces the cover of Film Weekly, Motion Picture, Cinelandia, and True Confessions, over and over, as if they couldn’t help themselves. Couldn’t keep their cameras away from her obsidian black hair, her flashing eyes, the cupcake mouth, and all those society parties, husbands, lovers, gossip. As if Hollywood couldn’t help talking about her. Just couldn’t help it. Talking. About. Lupe. Vélez.

She was a foundling, discovered at the front door of a convent, wrapped in a red rebozo. She was born without a navel. She had an extra toe amputated. Her story is so old it’s in the Bible. Her life would make a great Hollywood movie—My pinchi, pinchi vida. She’s so hard she doesn’t cry at funerals. She’s so soft novellas make her weep, big sloppy tears. She’s the most expensive Mexican that’s ever worked in Hollywood. They call her la más chíngona. La Mera Mera. She can name her own price. Le gusta lo pegado al hueso. She’s had her heart broken a hundred times. She has no heart to break. No one knows her real name. Everyone calls her Lupita. Lupe Vélez. Rumors follow her like hungry dogs. They say things about her.

She used to work in pornographic movies. She has one breast bigger than the other. She has a womb the size of a tunnel. She has a womb the size of a quarter. She smokes cigars, and on the first Monday of the month, dresses like a man, in a suit and tie, and snap-brim hat. She once killed a lover over jealousy, and that’s why she came to Hollywood to forget her one true love. She has a tattoo on her backside, un nopalito on her culito. She’s a walking contradiction, a hustler without regrets, and temptation enough for an army. She sings opera, she sings blues, she sings the soul right out of you.

The women of Hollywood hate her, call her junkie, whore, slut, puta. They say she wears falsies, they say she spreads diseases, they say she’s dying of syphilis, of gono, of drugs. They say she is too homely, too skinny, too flat chested. Bowlegged. Too, too, daark daaahling. They laugh at her Mexican accent. They say she is crazy. Don’t mess with her, they whisper, that Mexican spitfire is liable of anything. A-ny-thing. And Lupita lets them talk, lets the chismes spread. It’s good for my career, she says to her agent-doctor-dealer, as he offers a silk handkerchief filled with the rainbows of nepenthe.

Ay Lupita, Lupe Vélez, alone, curled up on her brass bed, eyes half- closed, nodding, is very, very human. If she cuts, she bleeds; if she’s hurt, she cries; if she’s happy, she smiles. And she’s very happy right now with a dozen pills speeding to her heart that melts like a school girl in love. The chismes don’t matter.

Maria Guadalupe Vélez doesn’t feel a thing.

Let them talk. Que digan eso de mi.

Alejandro Murguía is the author of Southern Front, This War Called Love— both winners of the American Book Award—and The Medicine of Memory. He is a founding member and the first director of The Mission Cultural Center. He was a founder of The Roque Dalton Cultural Brigade, and co-editor of Volcán: Poetry From Central America. A professor in Latina Latino Studies at San Francisco State University, his latest book is Spare Poems, while a new collection, Native Tongue, is out this year. He is the sixth San Francisco Poet Laureate, the first Latino poet to hold the position. His website is

from Huizache #3

An Unknown

Casandra Lopez

for Jim Thorpe (Wa-Tho-Huk/Bright Path) and J.M. Lopez

Jim was always running away from schools, and who knows
what else. One of the greatest athletes in the world is born

in what is called Indian Territory, but on this continent isn’t it all.
He is a Bright Path, a Mark of Lightning. At nine his twin dies in Indian

Agency school and Jim believes brother gives him
Strength—a muscled quickness. So much death. Is that what

keeps him running? And what about me? And my own ghost
twin Brother. How big he grows, memory tries to fill in

that loss, my own mark. I am no athlete, but I’m always
running from something—a city I feared would eat

me whole, instead it came for Brother—such sharp teeth the night
as. I wonder if Jim was at his brother’s side when he died

of pneumonia or was he somewhere running. Does he mean to never
leave, promise, and then still leave? I want to never leave Brother’s

side as he is moved from concrete–gurney–hospital bed.
I want to be lightning, nature’s muscle that can crack

bullet from gun. I want the stars in my palms, fire in my hands.
I want to hold Brother’s warmth a bit longer, for his heart to thump

and thump and thump. For it to sing me the song I need
most. Thorpe’s son dies still filled with such want, longs for his father’s

remains, for them to be returned to their homelands, for ash to find
its place in their red earth. I keep Brother within me, next to

grandmother’s river valley and grandfather’s orange trees—sweet
rind of history I cultivate even as I run from it.

Casandra Lopez is a Chicana, Cahuilla, Luiseño, and Tongva writer raised in Southern California’s Inland Empire. She has been selected for residencies with the Santa Fe Art Institute and the School of Advanced Research, where she wasthe Indigenous writer in residence for 2013. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in the literary journals Potomac Review, Hobart, and Acentos Review. She is a founding editor of As/Us: A Space For Women of the World.

Maceo Montoya’s New Book

We’re excited to share news of Maceo Montoya’s latest publication, Letters to the Poet from His Brother. Montoya will be published in HUIZACHE’s fourth issue, coming this fall.

Here’s what he has to say about his book: “I’m writing now to announce the release of Letters to the Poet from His Brother, published by Copilot Press. A combination of both my written and visual work, the book is described as ‘hybrid memoir woven between essay, painting, drawing, and poem.’ Letters to the Poet from His Brother is a deeply personal book, delving into my relationship with my late brother, poet Andrés Montoya, as well as with my artist father Malaquias and the cultural legacy of the Chicano Art Movement. It’s an important moment for me to share these thoughts with family, friends, fellow writers and artists, and the greater community.


“Perhaps most importantly, I also see it as a way of sharing Andrés, my memories of him, and his impact on me. For that reason I wanted to find a way of connecting Andrés more directly to the project. So in his honor, proceeds from the first 300 copies sold will be donated to the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize Initiative–a project of Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. This will eventually help to fund a symposium focused on Andrés’s life and work.”