Monday, May 16, 2011

Publishing News and a Poem for My Grandmother

I'm excited to share that Writer's at Work has chosen my poem, Ghazal of the Traffic, for their Poem of the Month series. It's great to have one of my "My L.A." poems finally find a home. You can check it out here.

From Ghazal of the Traffic

On a corner a child sells ripe mangos, yellow and green.
She looks familiar, but I have traveled too far in the city.

A hipster girl draped in vintage wails down Hollywood Blvd.
Countless are the broken dreams and scars in the city.

Radio gossip: coke-filled-photos, anorexia, Anna Nicole.
We keep our famous in air-punched-holed jars in the city.

In other news, this past Wednesday, May 11th, marked my grandmother's 90th birthday. That's right, 90! We had a mass to celebrate this past weekend, much like the one we had last year that I wrote about in this post. To commemorate the day, I wrote a little poem about my grandmother. It is a bit of a love letter to my grandmother and to all my cousins. I feel lucky to have had 3 brothers and 15 cousins to grow up with. Like I tell my cousins, Erika and Gloria, at every family wedding (after a couple of rounds of tequila), "I'd kill for you!" Of course, actual blood shed is highly unlikely, but there is little I wouldn't do for my family. I think it also fits into the "My L.A." poems because when I think of L.A., I often think back on weekends spent at my grandmother's home in Boyle Heights.

A shot of my grandmother's front steps.

On the Front Steps

We ate pink and blue ice cream
shaped like feet and rockets
bought from rusty trucks
singing down Fairmont. We gossiped

and giggled into cousins’ ears,
sugary colors dripping onto the
red concrete below us. We watched
the boys play football in the street,

and our grandfather manicure his lawn.
We inhaled the fragrances of orange,
guava, rose, fern, and every other plant
that grew green and full around us.

We grew much the same way
over years, maturing like plants
around her as she nourished us
with tacos de crema, bowls of conflais,

huevos con weenies smothered
in katchun katchun. She tended
to our insatiable bellies with pieces
of chocolate and cookie, and fueled us

with spoons of frijoles from a pot
that never emptied, and like magic
she nursed her little plants
from a tiny kitchen, and we sprouted

into wild creatures too big for front steps.
Knowing we could never be potted
and still, she sent us off with a kiss
and a prayer, “Que Dios lo bendiga,”

and stood at the top of the steps—
yellow light of the house framing her
small body like a saint—to wave us goodbye,
our bellies full, our hearts and minds strong.

My niece, the next generation of little plants.

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