Archives for posts with tag: Mexico

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Guaymas
by Catfish McDaris

The town was sleepy, my pockets
were light, I needed work of any
kind, a Yaqui man watched me, he
knew I spoke Spanish and approved

Of my silence, he invited me to beans
and tortillas, it tasted better than steak,
we walked to the beach, fishermen
sat with heavy poles and curved knives

They fished for red snapper or yellow
tail, but kept the blades handy in case
of a tuna dragging a man into a watery
death, it had happened a few times

There were long thin ribbon fish on the
beach, men were surf casting big chunks
of meat on treble hooks, one was soon
in a battle with a sand shark, when it

Was on the beach, it took five blows to
the head to kill it, the Yaqui said it was
for soup, we got jobs cleaning fish and
icing down shrimp, the water, sun, and

Cloud of blood over the Sea of Cortes
removed the January snow from inside
my weeping heart, a woman had made
me a prisoner and I was trying to escape.

PHOTO: Yaqui fishermen prepare for a long day of work at the height of shrimp season in Guaymas. Image by Dominic Bracco II. Mexico, 2012.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. He’s been active in the small press world for 25 years. He’s working in a wig shop in a high crime area of Milwaukee. His newest book is Sleeping with the Fish (266 pages fo $13).

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THE CARNIVAL WORKER’S PRAYER
by Kevin Casey

O San Julián, the summer is close to its end
and I am still here at the end of the Earth,
in this Nueva Inglaterra, driving through the dark

to park nuestras caravanas onto their fairground fields,
to open up the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Hurricane
like half-rusted flowers in the morning at the sun rising.

Dear San Julián, my home in the green hills of Tlapacoyan
is missing me, and also my mother. I have comfort
only in the guitar music they make at the Melody Tent

when the night comes, and also in the sad, dumb vacas
they always show. But from these tractor pulls
and the groups of chamacos, unattended and disrespectful,

these corndogs and their cotton candy, I feel such longing
for the falls that measure out the length of my jade-cool river.
I will go back, with your blessing, San Julián, to pick bananas

every day in the weather, or to climb for the coffee beans
that grow on the sides of mountains that rise to heaven
from the arms of my blessed valley.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Sunrise, Veracruz, Mexico” by Robert Swinson. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Though this poem is written from another’s perspective, I do live in New England and frequent the county fairs the narrator describes. The poem is therefore about my home, the narrator’s home, alienation/ dislocation, and simple homesickness. Each August, these traveling carnivals travel near my home in Maine, and the workers are predominantly from a certain part of Veracruz, Mexico. The Saint to whom the narrator appeals (Saint Julian) is the patron saint of carnival workers, of all things . . .

IMAGE: St. Julian, patron saint of carnival workers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kevin Casey is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and received his graduate degree at the University of Connecticut. Recent works have appeared in Grasslimb, Frostwriting, Words Dance, Turtle Island Review, decomP, and others, and a new chapbook is due out this spring from Flutter Press. He currently teaches literature at a small university in Maine, where he enjoys fishing, snowshoeing, and hiking.

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TO BE FRIDA KAHLO
by Daniel Olivas

Never conventional
about anything she did.

Never apologetic
about who she was.

And it was not easy.

From paint,
she did art and poetry.

From the infidelities
of her husband,
she found freedom.

Frida was the only woman
that kept challenging Diego

: for the right reasons

: she always surprised him

: he truly believed she was a genius

And it was not easy.

SOURCE: Salma Hayek interview conducted by Rebecca Murray and Fred Topel around the time of the 2002 release of Frida. 

IMAGE: Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo in the 2002 film Frida.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  For many of us who grew up in the Mexican culture, Frida Kahlo has been part of our lives since childhood. Her “rediscovery” by the general public was somewhat surprising (for some) but quite welcome. If she were alive today, I believe she would have used the Internet, Twitter, Instagram, etc., as yet another canvas. I Googled Frida Kahlo and found an interview with Salma Hayak who played Kahlo in the 2002 movie Frida which was based on the truly remarkable 1983 biography by Hayden Herrera.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Daniel A. Olivas is the author of seven books including the award-winning novel The Book of Want (University of Arizona Press), and Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews (San Diego State University Press). He is the editor of Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (Bilingual Press), and has been widely anthologized including in Sudden Fiction Latino (W. W. Norton), and You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens (Arte Público Press). Olivas has written for many publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, High Country News, and California Lawyer. Visit him at danielolivas.com.

If you don’t know why people celebrate Cinco de Mayo, here’s a fun, fast way to get a history lesson from a song written and performed by Jonathan Mann. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

“When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez and it’s Eastertime, too…”

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TRYING TO NAME WHAT DOESN’T CHANGE
by Naomi Shihab Nye 

Roselva says the only thing that doesn’t change   
is train tracks. She’s sure of it.
The train changes, or the weeds that grow up spidery   
by the side, but not the tracks.
I’ve watched one for three years, she says,
and it doesn’t curve, doesn’t break, doesn’t grow.
 
Peter isn’t sure. He saw an abandoned track
near Sabinas, Mexico, and says a track without a train   
is a changed track. The metal wasn’t shiny anymore.   
The wood was split and some of the ties were gone.
 
Every Tuesday on Morales Street
butchers crack the necks of a hundred hens.   
The widow in the tilted house
spices her soup with cinnamon.
Ask her what doesn’t change.
 
Stars explode.
The rose curls up as if there is fire in the petals.   
The cat who knew me is buried under the bush.
 
The train whistle still wails its ancient sound   
but when it goes away, shrinking back
from the walls of the brain,
it takes something different with it every time.
***
“Trying to Name What Doesn’t Change” appears in Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Far Corner Books, 1995).

PHOTO: “Train Tracks, Mexico” by James Maher, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. To see more of the photographer’s work, visit  jamesmaherphotography.com.

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MAKING A FIST
By Naomi Shihab Nye

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
 
“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
“When you can no longer make a fist.”
 
Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.
***
“Making a Fist” by Naomi Shihab Nye appears in Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab American Poetry (University of Utah Press, 1988).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1952, Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, songwriter, novelist, and children’s book author. Her many honors and awards include four Pushcart Prizes, The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association.

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NOVEMBER

Poem by Elizabeth Coatsworth

November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

Photo: “Curios” by Tomas Castelazo

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Lola Alvarez Bravo: El Sueño del ahogado, c.1945

Poem by Gerald Locklin

Ambiguities haunt our languages
Of dream, desire, figuration.
Are there little quince princesses
Posing upon the river, fallen branches,
Rocks, and diving-board pilings—
The inhabitants of the slumbered Head
Of the decapitated, recapitulated Orpheus,
Or is he the handsome cynosure
Of their collective virginal lust?
 
Do we meet our Incubi and Succubi
In the colorless weather of the night?
Are we allowed to remember
Our silver seductions
In monochromatic flashbacks,
Or do they only remain as muscle memory?
 
My wet dreams are getting drier,
But awake I can shoot down every aircraft.
 
How damp are a woman’s humid dreams? 

Illustration: El Sueño del ahogado, c.1945, photograph by Lola Alvarez Bravo. According to photoicon.com, “Lola Alvarez Bravo is widely recognized as Mexico’s first woman photographer and a pioneer of modern photography…[her work spans] six decades…images include street photographs, images documenting indigenous people and traditional culture in Mexico, portraits, and Surrealist-inspired photomontages.”

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Note: Gerald Locklin wrote the above poem after visiting the “Women and Surrealism” exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the spring of 2012. The poem and several others inspired by visual art at the exhibition appear in Issue #5 of  The Más Tequila Review, available at Amazon.com. The 130-page issue, edited by poet Richard Vargas, includes 66 poems from 37 poets. This is an amazing collection in a beautiful large format edition that includes Richard Vargas‘s homage to one of L.A.’s finest entitled “salvation…for Ray Bradbury.” Highly recommended — and a bargain at just $7.00! 

The Más Tequila Review is now accepting submissions for its Winter 2013 issue. Details here.