A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Friday, December 23, 2011


why do crazy people always have luggage?
where are they going with so much nothing?
why can't i find that place, and where is my luggage?

how do mountains wear appalling little so unabashed?
where are they going with so much nothing?
why make my delirium look terrestrial when Jove’s pissed?

why parse yellow yarn for cage-free, locally-grown guerillaknitters?
where are they going with so much nothing?
how to stretch jejunely over trees like turtlenecks and tunics?

what engine belch to piston ratio blathering, Exude Acceleration!?
where are they going with so much nothing?
where millions of civilians say, Back Door!, without seeming Borg?

where wattage of queries somewhat supersedes your paygrade?
where are they going with so much nothing?
how interlocutoring towards “sticking” barks Brownian?

how your amperes functioned through the Great Bombardment of Acumen?
where are they going with so much nothing?
were I not an atrocious apology from an excited orbit of self-gravity?

where are they going with so much nothing?
how protoplanets wake rage at dangerous decibels of the Mach gauge?
where are they going with so much nothing?

*Portions of this poem were inspired by the Wikipedia article on "Planetesimals". Click here to access the article and support Wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The young lady said, your hair,
may I touch it? And I obliged, sort
of swan in an injured, curtsied bow.

She pawed and graded my exquisite locks
and confessed the purse my hair
could fetch in the black markets of the world.

I had been summoned to slay mawfuckers
with my pizazzy Powerpoint for Playas’
and now, like a genie, I could not be rebottled.

The thought of follicle bazaars in Tangiers
or the Sarajaven mob trafficking my now
very valuable head ricocheted in my synapses tanks.

I had been thinking of nothing lucrative at all, nothing
like pure poetry strawberries as large as the heads of Shih Tzus
or contraband submarines forged in the jungles of Colombia.

I had been thinking that I don’t listen to Otis Redding enough
that I take too many scalding showers and don’t leave my hair
the chance to fume the bouquet of my wholly singular odor.

And now I am finally thinking of the young lady, her fingers
comb the epicenter of my vanity, they graze my thick head
my dull, oaken dome from which spectacular beauty glows.

Monday, November 21, 2011


The fifth issue of Hinchas de Poesía went live the first week of November, right on the heels of a new harvest moon (In fact, I have recently spoken with Jim Heavily, poetry editor extraordinaire, about how our humble little digital rag follows a schedule dictated exclusively by that rock.) and the spurs of an asteroid poised to play chicken between the Earth and the moon.

According to our counters on the Hinchas site, provided by gostats.com, the third week of Hinchas cinco had seen 57 new visitors and 153 hits, which is not bad but not necessarily great. These metrics are pretty similar to what the core audience of Hinchas might be; although I am extremely grateful for all readers, it has been hard for me to overcome this audience plateau.

The banners and ancillary design elements were inspired by the bookLos Angeles in Maps by Glen Creason, the map librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library. The book is a cartographic history of Los Angeles and seemed perfect for our fifth issue since our base of operations has moved from New York City to Los Angeles. Moreover, through my current job I am traveling through Los Angeles county and meeting people in all of its myriad neighborhoods.

The variety of writers and thus aesthetics is primarily what's on view in Hinchas cinco. Jim Heavily, the poetry editor, selected 14 poets and 2 fiction writers based only on the power of voice inherent in the piece they sent Hinchas. At the same time, the voice of these poems are not only in English, Spanish, and Spanglish but Nahuatl as well.

Melinda Palacio has one poem in cinco called "Sirvenguenza Swagger" that is sexually charged and anthropological at the same time and ends with a benediction for the narrator's father who has seen jail time.

David Spicer's are dope incantations and suave cinematic tableaus. We were lucky enough to get him to let us publish four poems from a series he is currently working on called "Lena and Schopenhauer."

Louis Bourgeois' poem is a motherfucking gem! After reading it, I am left with more questions than answers, and yet the indictment the narrator mounts precludes me from doing so because the voice is so bitchy and bombastic.

In a bit of serendipity, Jeffrey Tucker's poem, "Te Quiero" is the second one that involves feral vermin and their indiscriminate slaughter. Whereas, Louis http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifBourgeois' poem, "The Bermuda Triangle" is purposefully offensive and exciting, Tucker's poem ask its readers to envision themselves as the roadkill that time has bumrushed.

Steve Busonik has written a poem so pure and honest, you know he couldn't be a writer writer; that's because he used to be a professional cellist, and entertains a force of sophisticated observation that is essential and undervalued. Busonik's poem reminded me of Carine Topal's two poems, "Apologia" and "Neon Behavior.

Carine Topal's poems are startling and kind of creep up on you; I'd also say they're wonderfully "Catholic," or imbued with a sentiment of the absurhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifdly holy. A piece of literature exhibits "Catholic" tendencies when it traffics freely in guilt and the pleasures of confession.

Juan J. Morales is a new contributor, and his poem, "The Cursing Chorus of the Mob" is about a cloister of brujas in Ecuador and the costs of inflicting violence on practitioners of Dark Arts. In many ways the violence is exacted, kind of like the violence in one of Kristine Chalifoux's poems, "Kings’ World: The Tarot Reading." She manages to mix tarot cards, gangster delirium, and the only possible Future into one poem.

Liz Dolan's poem crackles like starchy sheets. July Westhale's poem is about getting cut on public transportation and possibly not passing for a native.

Luivette Resto's got two poems, one has the word Jesus in the title and the other one is written about the 27th letter of the alphabet. Kurt Mueller's fiction piece is sly and tremendous; Frank Izaguirre's piece is a micro fiction piece that cleverly distills the history of the word, guajiro, or cowboy/peasant in Cuban Spanish.

José Hernández Díaz and Claudia D. Hernández both have poems in Hinchas #5; both poets have worked directly with Alarcon's Facebook page protesting Arizona SB 1070 called Poets Responding to SB 1070. Tapenade Chiffon-Baton's figures on multi-colored construction paper. For musical accompaniment, we have Mr. James Booker.

Last but not least, two amazing reviews. Bojan Louis reviews Melinda Palacio's first novel, Ocotillo Dreams, and Jim Heavily reviews Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


In my time of need, she is there
in her power black polka dot skirt
and spartan high heels.

As the middle class folds in on itself
she's at the table with the gorgons
of several mirror manufacturers.

Then, she's flossing her rhetoric
at the no-taxes conference, rereading yore-orators
un-contextualizing Jeffersonian snippets.

Later, much later, she's up early to file motions
and throng the halls with snide press releases
that put people on high, color-coded alert.

She's dancing on tables with the daughters
of the losers of the Revolution, and battleshipping
lines with them in chic, metallic powder rooms.

She's fashioning cyanide bullets
for Albanians with pizzerias on the Concourse.

She's interpolating the fluoride in toothpaste
with radiator fluid, and selling it in dollar stores.

My lobbyist is throwing performance artists
into endless interrogation holes for questioning
the auguries of The Filter Politburo.

She's fundraising with Christian mercenaries.
She's toppling welfare caliphates.
She's fasting with Shiite and Sunni heroin herders.

Thursday, September 15, 2011



Mr. J. Bha%@^%h

Yago S. Cura
#$%28 Venice Blvd
LA, CA 900&*

Dear Mr. B__________

On Saturday September 10, I opened a business account with Chase for the first time. I am a switch-over customer from the days of Washington Mutual, and love the Chase service but am not crazy about the Chase fees. I am the proprietor of a small press and online journal and have been needing to open a separate business account for some time now, but have been precluded from doing so by our horrendous economic times.

I am writing today to you to notify you of the excellent customer service given to me by J_______ Br_______. I have been offered many promotions though Chase and to date have taken advantage of zero of them, but after Ms. Br______ took a look at my personal checking account, she offered me several good reasons why I should take the plunge and open a business account with Chase.

I am a part-time librarian and part-time publisher of literature and part-time interpreter, and a full-time dad. I like when people take time out of their day to explain to me in simple dollars and cents. This is something that Ms. Br_____ did for me, and it is something remarkably difficult to cultivate with employees.

I have been a teacher for most of my professional career and it has taught me a simple truth. Theories concerning things are sometimes useless because if your teacher knows the theory but can't transmit the content then that's a bad teacher. Likewise, just because you know what the price of gold is in the morning, doesn't mean that you can provide expert customer service.

Ms. Br______ knows how to do both, and she knows how to talk to people like people, which is a very difficult thing to do and almost impossible to learn. I'm afraid it's a no-theory kind of thing. Either you got it or you don't. Ms. Br_____ clearly does. I appreciate your time, and look forward to a long and salubrious business partnership with Chase. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance

Thank You Greatly!


Thursday, September 8, 2011


I moved to New York City the summer after 9/11. I was born in Brooklyn, but raised in Miami, so it was a return of sorts. The city was still visibly stunned and the country was astir with its color-coded thing; "Ground Zero" had stopped smoldering months ago, but the clean-up was well under way. Thousands had died which meant that hundreds of thousands were being directly affected which affected the millions grinding it out in the city. A deep sense of distrust, especially towards Arabs and East Asians, descended on the city like some medieval plague. The summer after 9/11 jobs became scarce as state and federal monies were put on hold so that our "response" might become apparent (nation building price tag and all). The Department of Ed and City University of New York had freezes; this or that Association was only hiring internally. The summer after 9/11, New York City still reeled from the pelagic psychic pain and ultra-deep remorse inflicted by those two planes.

Truth be told, the blackouts of 2003 left a much larger imprint on my experience as a New Yorker. I had not survived the simultaneous attack on the Towers that day so I could not rightly say that 9/11 had directly affected me, but being left without electricity for three days in 2003 is my infinitesimally small 9/11. Especially since, everyone completely assumed that the blackouts had been caused by another terrorist attack, and not overheated, overtaxed utility and power generator stations. The blackout of 2003 was an exercise in controlled chaos because many of the people that I encountered those three days were convinced our republic had imploded. The summer after 9/11, the subways were thronged with anti-terror police in body armor, scaring the shit out of everybody. Of course, though, it was for your safety, so unless you were heading up your own cell you shut your mouth and shared the platform with the swat squadron.

We were told numerous times a day that it was the new price of freedom. According to the Daily News, by 2008, the NYPD was already "reinventing itself as an intelligence and homeland security agency" as well as "the nations largest police department". As the country's hawks played with smoke and mirrors at the United Nations to obtain legitimacy for their eventual invasion of Iraq, New York City became one of the safest and best patrolled cities in the world with "37,000 officers," and "tens of millions of dollars - much it from federal grants - on an array of high-tech security measures designed to thwart threats." This is the reason that the NYPD is the only police force in the world with an international presence as many of its officers work in conjunction with Central Intelligence Agency analysts.

I lived in New York for a total of 8 years, the last 5 living in a Harlem enclave (Striver's Row) in a neighborhood were I stuck out like a thumb because I was Latino and not Black. I have lived in an attic on Church Ave in Brooklyn, and right on third Ave in Spanish Harlem; I have lived in a Hasidic Brooklyn neighborhood where the world would shut down on Friday evenings in preparation for Shabbat. And I have been out and about to the wee hours of the night, intoxicated and stumbling, bumbling through wind-slapped city streets, industrial zones, and hipster kingdoms. And nothing has ever "happened"; I have never been mugged or pistol-whipped or knifed in the gut or taken advantage of in a violent and aggressive manner. I also taught high school for three years in the Bronx in a poor neighborhood with a large gang presence. So, I have seen fights, melees, and minor bar brawls, but I benefited directly from the safety and surveillance of a post-9/11 heavy police presence.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


The dead don't pull U-turns, they don't reconstitute on the wrong side of the Mirropane, or heckle the horses at the track. You won't find them returning an alternator belt, or buying peach ice cream from the Oaxacan.
The dead stay dead, like, well, like, we try to stay undead--with that verve and repugnant confidence. With that neck thrust forward to break the winning tape. With that beam of teeth and nose, with feral gumption and berzerker battery will.
Now, Harry Houdini had the eyes of a Siberian husky and the sinister countenance of a Bond villain plotting Atomic Mayhem Sequence, Doomprints, errant launch
key codes.
Inside Houdini's head possibly the closest megaphone for speaking to the dead.
And yet, he judged Spiritualists, seance mediums, and Coteries of Nostalgia to be bunkum bouyed by Philistines. And yet, Houdini went before Congress to tattle on the influence of the Fox Sisters, pesky mediums fleecing World War One widows, and the unjustly bereaved.
You can't convince me, though, that Houdini the Mysteriarch, the Emir of the Air, didn't know how to decipher frequencies of post-mortem supplication with elan.
I have seen him levitate amperes with Tesla; I have seen him juggle Torrs in Eiffel's laboratory salon. You ask me about my collection of fetters; there are none which can contaminate or contain me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


It's not words per se he peels from the air.
It's imperative Gibberish, forceful convolutions.

The front vowel "e" in see, tree, Daddy.
Over and over, with little regard for modulation
but almost identical in tenor and timbre, volume.

"e!," "e!," "e!," spliced on some Exultation Reel,
like a song long-distance swimmers repeat stroke
after stroke in their waterlogged minds.

Berlin can't rattle off the word, steam, but he's
breaking ground on ice chips and slivers of phonemes.

His tongue is starting to shove declarations, so it's only
a matter of seconds before he's gargling scaffolded utterances
and phrases mimed to our positive feedback?

How pregnant the now of his affricatives, how urgent
the "tch, tch, tch" of his future forays with words
like toy, church, judge, and eventually, torsion.

Monday, July 25, 2011


That the Republican Party is busy recruiting Latinos is not surprising, http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifgiven the recent success of Marco Rubio in Florida and Raul Labrador, the first ever Hispanic elected to the senate from Idaho. The Republicans have to keep the momentum going if they plan to make a dent in the Latino, Democratic faction. According to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, there are currently 158 Republican officeholders versus 1,380 Democratic officeholders. What this means is that Democratic officeholders outnumber Republican officeholders almost ten to one. But, does that mean those figures are going to hold? More importantly, in what ways will the conservative fringes of the Latino community attempt to bum rush our progressive, Democratic core?

Should Latinos be wary of the Republican Party's current desires to enhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giftice them to the dark side? Well, according to N.A.L.E.O., "Roughly 22 million Hispanics are projected to be eligible to vote in 2012 — perhaps more — and...[turnout]... could reach...a record 12 million." And, according to NPR, "Last week, the Republican State Leadership Committee announced a plan to invest $3 million into the recruitment of 100 Hispanic candidates for state legislative seats across the nation in 2012." The Republican State Leadership Committee's "investment" is a smarmy attempt to elicit our votes without providing any assurances that our votes will benefit our communities.

So, what is to be done? How can the Democratic party cement its supremacy, and rejuvenate its scrappy creed? Well, the first thing the Democratic Party can do is use the bullhorn to extol its victories in the area of Labor and Legislation. Unions have taken most of the brunt of this economic meltdown; but, unions and the Democratic Party have been aligned since Roosevelt's New Deal; their hard work earned the working class several privileges we take for granted (the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security and Medicare, over-time pay, etc.). The Democrats have a reputation for being squeamish and mild-mannered, for apologizing for things that Republicans get away with all the time. If Democrats want to keep Latino votes they will need to get their elbows dirty, and start talking to people where they understand it most: in the pocketbook. And they will eventually have to address the Immigration Question, and come out strong on the side of naturalizing undocumented workers en masse because there are too many Latino families rent apart by our unfair immigration practices which allow our country to exploit undocumented workers and not provide for their basic, human needs.

I feel like I got hoodwinked by the concept of "Hope and Change," and that the Democratic party used me in the last election. It is well documented that two-thirds of Latino voters cast their ballots for Obama, which speaks leagues about how little race played a part in our decisions. The sad truth is Obama has had to make many concessions and has faced much resistance from the Republicans; I find it miraculous that he was able to get any legislation passed. But, at the same time, I would be remiss if I told you I wasn't nostalgic for a time when Democrats, like Johnson, envisioned what a Great Society might look like. I understand the Republican penchant for idolizing small government, but I look at something like Social Security, which used to stand as a guarantee that growing old didn't necessarily mean growing poor, and genuinely feel nostalgic and want to retain that image of my country.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


All the stress was on the Argentines as they came out to meet the Colombian Copa de Oro squad in Santa Fe, Argentina at the Estinaslao Lopez stadium. As the host nation, Argentina was going to have to show considerably more effervescence than it had recently shown. Mediocre showings are not Argentina's strong suite, and most of the time they come undone by themselves.

The Argentine dominated from early on, moving the ball laterally and keeping control. The Colombians buzzed around the midfield like curious bees, while the Argentine squad poked it's head in places where it doesn't belong. For example, Colombia's first foray into Argentine territory came almost five minutes into the match.

Aguilar was the first player to make it personal, sliding cleats first into Messi a little after the sixth minute. This only served to ignite the Argentines and makes it's potent naptha take flame. But, then the Argentines started throwing themselves on the floor and taking every evasive maneuver like some personal affront. And this dragged on for several minutes until in the 17th minute, Negron took a penalty shot that skimmed the pole.

And then in the 20th minutes Ramos take it to the front door of the goalie and was not more successful because of a miscalculation on his part, and the tide seemed to be shifting a little. By the 25th minute the sense of touch had returned to the match, but Argentina was showing signs of the Chilean stoppage exhibited yesterday in the match against Mexico.

The game was so physical that in certain spots the match seemed dragged down and muddled by the intense physical showing. In the 26th minute, Colombia's Moreno took it, again, to the front door and was stopped only by his inaccuracy. By the 40th minutes it was getting more and more customary for Colombia to be taking shots on goal.

The 60th minutes did not see much difference. If anything, on the Argentine side, Aguero was put in and La Velce was put on the bench. It got to the point that Cantor and his sidekick were already talking about the advantage for Colombia if it tied. And withing seconds of Aguero coming in, Argentina was already looking a little more lethal. It makes one wonder why Batista would have taken so long to put Aguero in.

In the 65th minute, Burdisso gets a bloody noes and Aguilar almost scores again, but no dice. The game ended in a 0-0 score which benefits Colombia which scored two against Costa Rica, while Argentina just had 1 goal from another tie with Bolivia. Lackluster, completely lackluster match.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Anyone who says having a child was the best moment of their life never had two Kit Kats fall out of a vending machine at once.
Likewise, smoking spliffs with your daughter in Amsterdam might be an ill-advised venture or joint or whatever zanganos are calling it nowadays.
Sometimes, I even pass out for a minute from the monster toke like some somnambulant
Buju Banton, and I feel the CHiPs come after my Shiloh with dilated pupil charts.
Obviously, I am after apparent largesse randomly dolloped from the ether of boring,
dilapidated ouevres involving public dispensaries of chance and loot.
But vending machines hold special scrim with my maneuvers of faith, my rabid tautology
of disbelief when exceptional things absorb the surrounding gravity.
When spectacular decrees of hiccoughs herald the system, when nougat logs or diabetes lozenges rain from one of the floors of a vending machine to the pit below.
Listen, I've driven through terrain with my tendrils at bay; I’ve wished Tetanus
Armageddon on vending machines from Miami to Astoria to El Segundo.
And, the only thing I have to show for it is a crowbar in my heart, a boulder tome of a snow globe through the security glass, lead pipe surprise, intelligent brick.
Therefore, as they dropped their payload, I dropped pretense and waited for the register to manifest the seemingly impossible: twice the prison of vision, twice the mundane turned gloriously verboten.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Daniel Johnson was in town this week, and he left me this beautiful little poem by Portugese poet, Eugenio de Andrade. We were quite tickled by the randyness and simplicity of this little poem, and of course what the speaker names his goat when he gets one: Maltesa!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Alabama's state law H.B. 56 that passed on June 9th, 2011 is a racist piece of legislation because it deputizes state officials to carry out federal appraisals solely based on appearance and circumstance. In other words, if a child is entering kinder garden in Alabama, the school is required to determine the child's immigration status before enrolling that child. If you are thinking about getting a doctorate at the University of Alabama and subsequently renting an apartment in Tuscaloosa, you have to prove that you are a U.S. citizen. Before you take that job in Montgomery, make sure you can prove that you are authorized to breathe in the United States.

Alabama's H.B. 56 prompts Alabama school system officials to verify the status of any child entering kinder garden. But, this is not a regular function of school officials; this law burdens school officials with more bureaucracy and paperwork than they already ignore. So, worsy case scenario, Alabama's H.B. 56 creates an index of all "undocumented" children in the state of Alabama. A slightly more-worse case scenario looks something like the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. Except, what does an "undocumented" child look like? Or, why stop there? Why not proffer legislation that requires school officials to make a list of all the red-headed children, or all the children that don't want to play dodgeball because of the inherit violence in the game.

Moreover, Alabama's HB 56 is sure to be shot down by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. So, Governor Robert Bentley is going to have to go back to the ole' drawing board and draw on a slightly less racist piece of legislation, creating more bureaucracy and government oversight. You know the conservative sectors of the political spectrum talk a great game about not wasting taxpayer time, and making government smaller. Do they understand that wholesale repeal of hard-fought accords create more government and more need for cult of personality politicians that will tell you everything you want to hear?

One of their favorite yarns is that undocumented workers don't pay taxes, that "undocumenteds" are the only ones using food stamps or social services, that they're the reason there are no jobs in the U.S. What conservative officials don't mention is that bills like Alabama's H.B. 56 have already been proven unconstitutional. In 1982, the United States Supreme Court denied state laws that attempted to block funding for illegal aliens in Plyler v. Doe. In Plyler v. Doe (1982) the U.S. Supreme Court found that "any state funds for the education of children who were not "legally admitted" into the United States, and which authorizes local school districts to deny enrollment to such children, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Alabama's H.R. 56 encourages xenophobia and wholesale racist doctrines, decrees, and diatribes. Moreover, it creates more government oversight, not less, by unduly involving the federal government in what is clearly a state's right issue, or a problem encountered by state governments. This law speaks to the worse in Americans because it punishes people in the country with the least assurances. I understand that they are undocumented and illegal, but I do not think it is fair to prosecute those with zero options or demonize their desire for better lives. Maybe, the U.S. works just hard enough to ensure that undocumented workers don't throng into our country. But, undocumented workers are here, and they're an integral part of our service industry, our states, and our country.

Friday, June 24, 2011


planetoid rules don't govern molecules
planetoid rules are all philosopher's stone
molecules are lil' anvils made of lil' anvils
they tyro their heft to better gravity's raiments
hair is the epicenter of every avatar's esteem
no, hair, nonsense, is your genes' state i.d.
the argument is about the Earth's age in years
the argument mostly coming from admiral flaneurs
telescopes that size can even pick out corpse noise
telescopes size that signature, but the calculator-
interfaces do all the aggregate recognition
piano octaves, born of woozy sentiment, sound like
guitar whineys in the pressurized cabin range
and whether you are drunk, like a Pepsi legionnaire
and whether whence is enough of a thirsty posture.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spare Parts and Dismemberment by Josh Fernandez
R.L. Crow Publication (2011)

Fernandez's 70-page book of poems is heavy on the lyricism, but medium-rare on voice and scope. Ultimately, the ethos of his message gets gets muddled by the various incantations of wry, ironic, and vengeful that Fernandez imparts to the narrators in his poems. However, poems in which he uses simple registers convey great, undiluted wisdom.

For example, the narrator in "The Outsider" begins with a simple rumination, "I wonder what happened/ to that kid/," about a kid with a kinky physical defect, "who looked like/ a dropped potato-one cruddy eye/ too close to his nose," and ends with, "And I wonder if he knows/ that we still think of him/ from time/ to time." And the poem, "There Were More of Us," in which the speaker discusses his cousin, "Carlos, the dark-skinned boy/ built like a wild mustang" that joined a "Sureño/ gang/ and inked 3 dots". The speaker's cousin is dead by the end of the poem, "a cliche," but the final image is of Carlos' stone-cold hard demeanor, even in death, "At his funeral/ he still looked mad/ even with his eyes/ closed."

Fernandez is a journalist by trade, writing music and concert reviews for publications like Spin.com, and covering crime for the Sacramento News and Review. Therefore, Fernandez is a writer that has seen a substantial amount of municipal malfeasance, personal trauma, and chemical addiction. And, there is no doubt that Fernandez has at one point have inhabited some or all of the bleak scenarios in Spare Parts and Dismemberment, but there is little in the way of guidance, redemption, or the bigger picture to take away.

And, pretty soon all that holds the book together are the anecdotals of human frailty, and the power of personal saviors (like Crystal who appears in many of the poems; the book is also dedicated to her, albeit not solely.) To be fair, the book stands as testament to the health of independent publishers, like R.L. Crow, and the hale book market present in the U.S. and specifically in northern California. If you like Bukowski or John Fante, and find their fiction entertaining then this book might be for you. If you like Sharon Olds, or Jim Carroll, then Josh Fernandez poems might be for you. Say what you want about the poems, this young poet has poured their heart into this endeavor of a book, and any missteps must be taken at face value. This is, after all, a 70 page book of poems; with that number, some poems are just going to be stronger than others.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Hinchas issue number four is finally ready to be consumed by the masses. Guest-edited by Jim Heavily, the fourth issue of Hinchas represents two months of stellar work, compiling, editing, and localizing the work contained therein.

What writers are represented in the fourth issue of Hinchas you ask? Well, we got two poems by Campbell McGrath, an amazing poet and teacher. I had the great fortune of taking several semesters with him at F.I.U. as an undergrad. We have three poems by James Cervantes, and a short story by Agustin Martinez.

In terms of art, Hinchas was able to use the work of visual artist, Ambiorix Santos, and photographers, Jennifer Therieau and Brian Hawley. This represents a new trajectory for us as we generally like to include photographs and art and have tried to for each of our issues.

I would love to hear your comments, suggestions and feedback. Next up for Hinchas and Jim Heavily is Postcard Feat #2 which was created from August 2010 to March 2011.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It was crucial that the 2010 Census included illegal, or undocumented, and legal residents currently in the U.S. Doing so has ensured that Latinos have a more equitable dispersion of federal, municipal, and community services. A successful Census should ensure that everyone receives their share of the municipal largesse, and that the political realms cut up by politicians adhere to population and districting rules. Politically, the U.S. Census has always had an adulterous affair with the figures depicting illegal immigrants. However, undocumented immigrants use community services (like libraries, schools, and parks); undocumented immigrants pay taxes (sales tax--many own homes--property tax) and use community services, incorporating themselves into our lives. So, their need should be taken into account; leaving illegal immigrants out of U.S. Census has everything to do with the politics of intolerance.

Pretending that the needs and services consumed by illegal immigrants are negligibly invisible is not only irresponsible, it's akin to cutting off our noses to spite our faces. The U.S. Constitution instructs the Census to count all residents; whether or not the Constitution instructs the Census to count illegal residents, a.k.a. indocumentados, is not readily obvious, and arguments, I believe, can be made for both camps. However, one thing was blatantly obvious from the 2000 Census: "Hispanics", "Latinos", "Spanish" were egregiously under counted in the 2000 Census. According to a December 22, 2009 article in the N.Y. Times, "Latino groups contend that there was an undercount of nearly one million Latinos in the 2000 census, affecting the drawing of Congressional districts and the distribution of federal money."

The numbers are clear, though. For instance, there are currently 308, 745, 538 residents in the U.S.--of those, 50, 477, 594 were Hispanic or Latino residents. So, I guess you could say that Hispanics or Latinos account for a little less than one-sixths of the total U.S. population. In terms of numbers we are looking good, however, what has so many people reading the augury in these figures is the rate at which Hispanics or Latinos grew, and the rate at which Anglos and African-Americans shrunk. According to the 2010 Census, the most dominant Hispanic or Latino type is Mexican. Currently, Mexicans are 63% of the total Hispanic or Latino population; Puerto Ricans on the other hand constitute 9.2% of the total Hispanic or Latino population with 4, 623, 716. My people, the Argentineans, make up a pretty small fraction of the total Hispanic or Latino population. According to the 2010 Census, in 2000 there were approximately 100, 864 Argentines in the United States; by 2010 that number was 224, 952 which means that from 2000 to 2010 there were only 124,088 added Argentineans in the U.S. for a .1% growth in ten years (which might make many very happy...don't get me started!)

The great news is that, "The Hispanic population accounted for over half the growth of the total population in the United States between 2000 and 2010." This can only mean more leverage for Latinos at the national level and possibly at the district level as some districts get shifted. Also, if Latinos, legal and illegal, are lending their increasing numbers to the future of this country, this country has to address the inequalities in education, salary, and quality of life it has historically dispensed to Latinos. Also, even California, Texas, and Florida are the three states with the greatest amount of Hispanics and Latinos, there are several states which are seeing increasing numbers of Latinos. For example, "The Hispanic population in South Carolina grew the fastest, increasing from 95,000 in 2000 to 236,000 in 2010 (a 148 percent increase). Alabama showed the second fastest rate of growth at 145 percent, increasing from 76,000 to 186,000."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I get up at 7 and make coffee. By 7:30 my wife is looking for her keys to jet. By 8 my son is already rolling around in his bed, waiting for me to change his diaper. We gargle syllables for a spel, then I change his outfit. Shortly thereafter, I plop him in his bouncer and play a Baby Einstein video while daddy sips his coffee and seeps into his e-mail accounts. By 9 or 9:30, I switch on the Pandora or NPR and let him crawl around on his stomach. He works up an appetite and I mix some cereal and banana baby food in a plastic saucer and crane it into his mouth. If it's not too hot, we walk to the park three blocks away, and go on the swing for a bit. By the time we get back, he's ready for a nap. After noon, it's pretty much the same drill of changing diapers and feeding until my wife walks through the door and I can be relieved.

Sometimes we go jogging, and I am somewhat taken aback as middle age women give me thumbs-up a as I jog by. I also get a lot of looks of derision from my masculine contemporaries that feel that I've turned soft, somehow, by stepping up and raising my child while my wife works. Those people don't pay my bills, so I am not really interested in what they're trying to sell. Most of the time, though, I am most happy when I know that I am giving my child my undivided attention and care as he grows from infant to toddler.

According to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of June 3, 2011, "the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 9.1 percent." Therefore, if at least almost one in ten Americans is currently unemployed, then there must be many more men in my situation. I am a Stay-at-Home-Dad via unforeseen consequences, but it has turned into one of the most fulfilling accidents of my career as a Human. After teaching high school in the Bronx for several years, I realized the best thing I could do was bestow the best of my attention, creativity, and patience to my son so that he does not grow up maladjusted, and helpless. I had seen too many kids that were going to end up statistics; instead of a statistic, my kid was going to become a Statistician. I have been there every morning he's woken up, and there are few diaper changes I have not had a direct hand in.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


On May 27, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis hosted a town-hall style meeting in the Recital Hall of East Los Angeles College. The "conversation" lasted 90 minutes and included the expertise of seven civic leaders, like Dolores Huerta, noted labor activist, Father Richard Estrada, from Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, and Laphonza Butler, president Service Employees International Union. Solis spoke with preternatural ease to an auditorium pulsing with E.L.A.C. students, card-carrying S.E.I.U. members (clad in purple T's), a column of cameras pointing at overdressed telejournalists, and a cadre of local reporters snapping indiscriminate shots of the proceedings. Plus, the amount of pressing flesh, handshakes, and brown man pounds was enough to make any person blush.

According to the U.S. Dept of Labor, "The event...[was]...a continuation of the national conversation that President Obama started in a speech in El Paso, Texas on May 10, 2011." Solis spoke in a conversational manner about immigration reform, and allowed the "stories" that lose volume behind jingoistic doggerel (don't inhale the Foxygen!) to speak leagues. She spoke with great conviction, adagio, so that every phrase carried the strength of time. And even though the purple acoustic panels in the Recital Hall surely helped Solis' timbre, her tone became resounding, and her credentials obvious: First Latina in the California State Senate, First Latina Secretary of Labor, etc.

In short, her speech advocated for the nation to realize the "economic benefit immigrants bring" and that "comprehensive misrepresentation is not in our best interest." In terms of whether states or the federal government should decide the future of immigration, Solis was transparent. She said it was "not about 50 states entering legislature, but about a federal program," hinting that it was up to the federal government to decide what should be done with illegal immigrants (asylum versus extraction). Solis used the power of stories about immigrants to drive the point home; she even cited her story of sacrifice and struggle being raised by immigrant parents, who experienced great bouts of anxiety over their work situation in the U.S.

Solis cited compelling statistics to reinforce her contentions that immigrants are a positive, vital, and law-abiding sector of our society. "For example," Solis said "In the U.S., immigrants file three times as many patents as Non-Immigrants." Therefore, what needs to change is the perception of immigrants; what needs to stop is the rampant scapegoating they are constantly subject to, and the vitriol our more conservative citizens like to concoct every time dismal unemployment figures go public. Solis' introduction was given by Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America. Huerta's introduction emphasized Solis' commitment to all the people of California, reminding us that Solis went after exploiters in her district, but did not let that stop her from going after agricultural employers in say Pescadero, California.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Celebrating Cuentos: Promoting Latino Children’s Literature and Literacy in Classrooms and Libraries. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, editor. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited, 2011. 381 pp. $55.00 ISBN 13: 978-1-59158-904-4

by Yago S. Cura

I like to think the results of the 2010 Census caught everyone by surprise except Latinos. Latinos have been following the writing on the wall since the 2000 Census, and its fortuitous projections. Latinos still lag in terms of educational attainment, broadly, and high school graduation rates, specifically. Moreover, even though “22 percent of all children under the age of eighteen identified as Latino,” (2010 Census) Latinos were severely absent from the children’s literature available to students. Naidoo’s book cites a study conducted by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center which shows that of the roughly “5,000 books published in the United States in 2008…roughly 48 were created specifically by Latino authors/illustrators.” Therefore, Naidoo’s book is a phenomenal resource for Latino grammar school teachers, as well as professors of Education, priming the new crop of educators that are going to tackle these disparities in achievement. The first section provides stellar reference on the history of Latino education via landmark cases; the second section of the book presents a doubletake on the development of Latino children’s literature in the United States. And, the third section delineate resources for augmenting collections and planning for seminal Literacy events like Día.

Monday, May 9, 2011



On April 5, 2011, James Foley, a war correspondent for Global Post was captured by Qaddafi army officials. This happened outside of Brega, a petroleum-rich town to the south of Benghazi, nestled in an armpit of the Mediterranean.

Jim was doing something that he had studied to do, and he was doing it with little to no technical, logistical, or communications support. He was documenting first-hand, and in first person, a lode of raw History: it's been more than 40 years that Qaddafi's ruled Libya unperturbed, after having power-grabbed in a paint-by-numbers coup d'etat in 1969.


I imagine Jim's car being taken over on some blanched highway, and that the driver slowed out of necessity. I imagine there was confusion in the air, and plumes of explosive soot--people running verso to a popping noise. Many of the posts that Jim had already uploaded from Libya were pretty Helter Skelter.

In one, a soldier operating a mortar runs away from the mechanism as it hiccups and belches its ordnance into the immediate air of a paramilitary crowd. In another, several infantrymen, dressed like Hip Hop track stars going to breakfast at IHOP, jump out of the flatbed of Toyota pick-up as it spits several surface to air missiles into the stratosphere.


Jim's videos show a nascent rebel army, part Gomer Pyle, part Ali G, ironing out what it thinks are wrinkles, when in reality they are major body dings. They show rebels in desperate need of the Sparknotes versions of Bootcamp, as the majority of volunteers have zero prior military training. But, they also show an army possessed of great verve and common, blue-collar courage. They show lambs dressed as lions dressed in track suits and keffiyehs, strafing the sky with Kalashhnikov spatter for the hell of it. They show unfettered idealism, brazen optimism, and a hunger for normalcy and

The Libyan rebels had taken advantage of a tactical victory in their pursuit to rent the country in two, and it seemed that they had Qaddafi's army on the run. Around this time, it was becoming very clear that Qaddafi was not going to unhinge his mandibles, and that a very clear civil war had commenced in Libya.


The phrase, bear witness, carries an immense connotation. For one thing, you have to carry, withstand, or bear, witness; you can't transcribe it, or pass witness; you can't even give witness. Bear witness is an devious, onerous phrase; the infinitive should come with medical labels that proffer advice on dosage.

This must be the reason that teachers make efficient social drinkers, maybe being a teacher should come with a warning label. Jim taught me everything I know about teaching, which is actually a measly inheritance; but, he taught me to be confident in my assertions and humble in my presumptions. He also taught me that if a quarter of the class you teach are with you, then that's a great minority for you to have as a teacher. In other words, convince a quarter of the class that what you bring is of value to their ears, and the other aspects fall into line.

Inner-city teaching is the only teaching worth squat in my book, which is convenient for me because I allowed myself to be consumed by a fledgling inner-city high school for three years. That's right, for three years, all the toasts I gave in my head were inextricably linked to my role as an inner-city facilitator in the Bronx.


The implications of the denotation of witness are fraught with living up to the definition; and yet, the anecdote of what has been seen, the story that comprises the witness you "bear" must be sieved through a narrator. Without the narrator to do the bearing, who will do the hauling when it comes time to carry the story?

This one time Jim was in New York City for the wedding of a mutual friend, and I was still teaching in the Bronx so I invited Jim to sit in on sixth period English. I was doing Othello with a mixed class of English Language Learners (ELLs) and SpEds (Special Ed kids), even though I didn't have a license as an English as a Second Language or Special Ed teacher. Jim came in with his lunch, and shortly thereafter, he put his head down and went to sleep. After class, several of my students asked me about the "teacher" I put to sleep with my boring-ass lesson. Maybe to Jim, the story was what my students would make of the person they thought was observing their teacher?


For all the intricacies associated with witness, you'd think that the phrase might try to hide the implicit duty of its existence. It is no easy task to carry this responsibility, and many journalists shy away from bearing witness as soon as it is convenient. In many ways, the work Jim has been doing as a teacher, journalist, fictionist all serve to bear witness to a pervasive social ill. Was Foley stockading Boyscout badges by Bruce Wayning his way into the minds of the invisibly destitute?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I know Jimmy is running through cyphers, writing rhymes in his head, and staying strong through stamina epistles.
I know smokescreen dope, cilantro boudoirs, stringing the Higgs-Boson along like
a pearl instead of a pussy stone.
The writer factory done made us soft as pretzel gazelles, and all those politics
turned my seersucker into a poncho.
I know rapid-fire sobriety, pajama manamana, the sound large calibers make as they
darn kevlar at eight hundred miles an hour.
I know a bassmobile with resonate frequency turret for to wisk you from the pen
of inequity, the illegal corral.
I know you as handsome punching bag, an individual of interest with severe heat-up
doldrums, and zero violent priors.
Just a little malfeasance between friends, two rentals retired to the infirmary,
and a topless chick in the Pioneer hot tub.
I know Jimmy is looking for a word that rhymes with kaiser, or mumbling rapid core syllables, or lobbing foul balls.
I know the conditions are inexorable for you, while for us the banter makes us remember the rapport off your dome.
Hold on familial horse! Keep your regiment, adagio. Juggle the supple invocations
to return home safe, an adjunct of fortune.

Friday, April 29, 2011


"Still sipping wishing well water imported from Pluto/ 360 milliliters for all the believers and mouths of kilometers, most cats can not proceed us"--Mos Def on Black Star's, "Definition"

Foley, Jim, Jimmy James, I say Humongous Jimena
Hueso de Caballo, trident quiver, wolverine slipper,
solipsistic fibrosis, sloth yokel, discreet in the sleet.

I say, Former Fox Navigator, Operator of the Teal Bassmobile,
miliner of jargon, billboard dimmer, aperture craps shooter,
Snake Eyes vanguard, Cobra Khan Do Jo Floor Supervisor.

Digo, Athlete's Foot fomenter, boner knight errant,
gristle apostle, sheer tactician, squirrely progenitor,
lanky stevedore, New Hampshire Catholic Vortex,
Bumbling Bouillon Buble Bard, sylvans of Sleuth, Inc.

Foley's a rider in the Public Enemy Armored Low-Rider,
a buxom battery of sixbynines in the personnel Jeep carrier,
Bantam star ship contortionist, Ginsu Elbow Forward,

Check my Timberland Dowry, dude. Check my little brother
Dickensian Coal Dumper, and my roomate, the Quasar,
the hard-on chef that thinks you should stop
inviting the rappers over.

Friday, April 22, 2011




YAGO CURA (646)207-9441

Los Angeles, CA—On Saturday, May 7th 6 Angelino poets— Billy Burgos, Rafael Alvarado, S.A. Griffin, Jeff Rochlin, Luivette Resto, Annette Cruz, Yago S. Cura, and Dennis Cruz—will read their original work at Ave 50 Studio (131 North Avenue 50 L.A., CA 90042-3903 / (323) 258-1435) to publicize the plight of James Foley, and call upon the Libyan government to release James and three other journalists that were detained with him (Clare Gillis, Manu Brabo, and Anton Hammerl).

According to eyewitnesses, Foley, one of the first journalists to arrive on the scene of the Libyan unrest, was stopped by security forces outside Brega on April 5, 2011. Foley was an independent correspondent working for the Global Post traveling with three other journalists (Clare Gillis, an American correspondent for The Atlantic and U.S.A. Today, Spanish photographer, Manu Brabo, and South African photographer Anton Hammerl), when eyewitnesses report their vehicle was fired upon and they were taken. They were later spotted in a Tripoli detention center. No further information has been reported on their safety, anticipated release or any charges against them.

Raised in New Hampshire, James Wright Foley worked for years as an inner-city teacher with Teach For America in Phoenix and the Cook County Boot Camp in Chicago before pursuing his journalism career. He attended the graduate program in journalism at the Medill School of Jouralism. Following graduation, Foley embraced war reporting and traveled to the Middle East in 2008, where he embedded with the Indiana National Guard and 101st Airborne in Tikrit, Samarra and Mosul. Following Iraq, Foley covered the war in Afghanistan as a multimedia reporter for Global Post. He worked from the frontlines during the 2010 troop surge on volatile mountain outposts and the offensive in Kandahar. His story for Global Post, “On Location: A firefight in Kunar Province”, September 19, 2010, is a 2011 Webby award honoree.

Please help us press for the release of James Foley, Clare Gillis, Manu Brabo, and Anton Hammerl!

AVE 50 STUDIO—(131 North Avenue 50 L.A., CA 90042-3903 / (323) 258-1435)
FEATURING: Billy Burgos, Rafael Alvarado, S.A. Griffin, Jeff Rochlin, Luivette Resto, Annette Cruz, Yago S. Cura, and Dennis Cruz.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


After you were corralled in Brega, before they transferred you to Tripoli, Berlin starts teething hard, I mean I can hear the teeth
coming in and it sounds like slack getting waxed;
meanwhile, several other journos have disappeared,
and some have recently been released, the whole
thing is a mess of nerves, a hive of manners colliding
with a thick oak trunk. So, I'm not sleeping as I imagine
you're not sleeping so possibly there is some telekinesis
we might discharge, except I can't find sleep, whereas
you're obstructed from sleep as a way to standardize
or control the exhalation of your incarceration. Teeth,
funny conspirators, take brunt to flower, but easily
wilt away into maw, as when in dreams you chew your teeth
and the sensation is not unlike a mouthful of pebbles.
Then, I wake up at night and make homeopathic concoction
and Berlin's mother, Panda, rubs his gums until he hushes
up and whimpers to sleep so then I am up watching ribald
contraptions and flashing numbers, pure distraction but
soothing nonetheless, soothing longitudinal duress on
the glowing idiot box with zero news of your status.

Friday, April 15, 2011


The first time regime-ists detain you
on the fringes of the accidental skirmish
mortars flop down on bazaars in Tripoli;

Accountants man machine-gun pick ups in Brega
and Adjabiya is like some stratus of gun-brunt powder.

Fools have rigged minivans with anti-aircraft missiles,
and the conscripts keep prostrating on the skirmishfield
or firing wildly in the air without having secured
a victory in ink, courtesy of the play-by-play machine.

All those indivisible bolts we've been peddling
assembled on the blanche Sahara tableau,
poised against the indignant citizens.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


These are the images that you can download and use as your profile pic to generate awareness about the plight of journalists arrested and detained simply because they are doing their job and bringing to light abuses and civic injuries perpetrated by dictators and their beneficiaries. Without the important, balanced work of these journalists, dictators get to operate with impudence and turn on their own citizens.

The work of James Foley, Clare Gillis, Manu Brabo, and Anton Hammerl is an important function of Democracy. We can't fund dictatorships across the middle east, and then tell the citizens living under those conditions to be patient, that Democracy takes time. The work of these journalists highlights the important work Libyans from all walks of life are willing to fight and die for.

Please support their work and if you would like to apply pressure on behalf of James Foley, there are several things you can do.

1.) Sign the petition! (click here)

2.) you can write a letter to the mayor of Chicago, or Congressional reps asking them to push the State Department--Jimmy was a model Chicagoan and they can apply pressure too!Jimmy's been slugging it out in Chicago for several years, and taught at a boot camp for young offenders.

3.) Write Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) right now. She is one of Jimmy's senators. Write her office and advocate that she do something for him & the other journalists.

4.) Watch Jim's video on the Webby's awards page (click here), or on the Global Post website (click here).

5.) "Friend" and "Like" all the pages that appear in support of the four journalists, and monitor the situation, yourself. (click here)

This is a larger version of the image that was on here earlier.

This is a version that is best for web and similar devices.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Journalist James Foley is currently being detained by the Libyan government. According to the Associated Press, on April 7, 2011, "An American correspondent for GlobalPost and three other journalists were taken prisoner by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. (article)

Jimmy has been working in the middle east now for some time, with stints in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya. Mr. Foley has written for several local newspapers, Stars and Stripes, Global Post and has had video picked up by CBS Nightly News.

The very important video work (click here) he has been doing in Libya on the rebel forces is widely viewed on the Global Post website and forms a necessary part of the debate about Libya. For example, Ghadaffi has repeatedly said that the rebels in his country are part of Al Qaeda while hiring mercenaries from Sudan and Somalia to come and kill in Libya. Foley's videos clearly show the work the average Libyan is doing to free their country of Ghadaffi's rule; Foley's videos show accountants and offshore welders picking up arms and telling the corrupt Libyan government that they are fed up of the terror and instability.

What makes people run towards gun fire? What kind of constitution allows the headlong rush into danger, the rapport with mortality most of us only see on television and in the movies? Independent journalists that cover these hot spots of strife and rebellion often do so without the drivers and handlers and resources that established journalist can rely on, and yet these independent journalists break stories, and since they aren't beholden to newspapers which are beholden to advertisers then the only obligation they truly have is to the story. And regardless of the lede technology you studied, the seminal part of any piece is the story that gets related when the journalist sutures the threads.

War correspondents are fashioned out of necessity and meddle. Some are born just nosy enough, but don't have the acumen for description and analysis that necessarily makes them correspondents. Some have great writing chops, but could not connect with an Italian prostitute, and thus are resource-poor and awkward and hard to trust. Regardless, the squares out there, like myself, believe that whatever composite goes into making a war journalist, one of the ingredients has got to be a blatant disregard for one's own well-being and safety.

However, someone's got to relay the abominations as they happened, someone's got to transcribe the actions of the desperate as they transform into monsters, someone's got to stand up to these motherfuckers because they are wiping out whole brigades of humans, people, citizens in the middle. While it is true that war correspondents speak for those who can't speak, they are also referees, in writing, framing the conversation, reporting what they see like some musty camera, or absentee landlord surveillance system.

However, if you are just un-square enough, you could freely speculate that war correspondents are vital to democracy. What gives me certainty about my last statement is that one of the first things that regimes do when pressed with civic unrest is switch off the internet. This makes it very hard to get a real-time, accurate picture of what is transpiring withing the country. Dictators have an amazing propensity for fiction, and the justifications they spew to corroborate their actions provide quite a mezzanine for future absurdities, which are surely guaranteed to elapse.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011


One of President Obama's goals is having the "highest degree attainment rate in the world by 2020" (Kolowich, par 3). If this is to happen, the United States must seriously consider how it is going to booster Latino graduation rates, both at the secondary level and in higher education. Are Latinos facing obstacles that other demographics do not experience? Why is the achievement gap so entrenched when it comes to Latinos? Are we so busy ensuring Latino kids get into college that we haven't the slightest clue how to teach them the self determination and academic discipline that is going to keep them engaged and willing to play the game and graduate?

If you think this is a problem that doesn't have to be addressed, I can guarantee you that it is going to get tremendously worse. According to Excelencia in Education, "Between 2005 and 2022, the number of Hispanic public high school graduates in the United States is projected to increase by 88 percent, while the number of white school graduates is expected to decline by 15 percent." This is not a matter anymore of class versus ideology, of bitter inequalities that plague the system for the endemically destitute. The bottom line is that with a quarter less Anglos receiving degrees and an almost 90 percent increase in Latino high school graduation rates, to remain technologically equal and retain supremacy over nations on the up and up, the United States is going to have to rely, more and more, on Latinos for it's skilled as well as manual labor.

To remain competitive in the world, the U.S. and specifically the administrators of the Obama legacy must find ways of engaging with the Latinos that drop out after the first year, or more likely, have to leave school because they can't afford to be a student. One often forgets that to be a "student" takes a lot of money, not because students spend ostentatiously but because they apportion nothing to the market by studying Moliere or re-reading a Hemingway with a Marxist lens or translating one of Pessoa's alter ego nom de plumes. The simple fact is that only the middle class can really afford to dawdle on campus in track pants and skarf on falafel or vending machine trophies like Twizzlers and Sunkist.

One of the biggest problems that Latinos students face is that they have to work while they go to school; the majority of Latino students are forced to either take the mantle of the wage-earner or watch their families suffer as their earning power is diminished. For example, "At Northeastern Illinois, Green and Thill have found that Hispanic students are more likely than others to be working full-time jobs and supporting families" (Kolowich, par. 6). In Sam Petula's article in Inside Higher Ed, he mentions the report conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities that "recommends that higher education institutions search for ways to be more flexible in accomodating working students. Latino undergraduates had the highest average work-study aid award of any racial or ethnic group in 2007-8" (2011, par. 8). Another accommodation that schools and especially personnel that service Latinos are going to have to make is patience. Many of the Latino students have had to serve as translators of important school documents, and in essence, solo navigators.

People that service Latino students are going to have to realize that many Latino students would rather figure it out than ask for help, and that might include the schema that will allow them to navigate the brick and mortar library. Maybe the best thing we can do is predict the aspects that require instruction and place landmarks along the way so that we assure ourselves that these students are getting the academic attention they require while allowing them to retain some of the wonder and meddle involved in inquiry and discovery learning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thinking About Education – Initial Impressions of Robert Logan's "The Sixth Language" (2000)'

Education has been on everyone's mind lately, especially in lieu of unionized teachers in Wisconsin having to "justify" their "immense" pensions and wealth-killing benefits, like health care and the right to see an optometrist or dentist once a year. I believe teachers should be held accountable to standards of efficiency, but the way they are being demonized leads me to believe that the powers that be are drawing focus from the real problem: namely that we don't want to recognize that our models might be out of whack. In other words, what if what used to be taught, pre-Internet era, is not good enough anymore?

To be fair school districts are making some changes with respect to the Internet and technology. High schools and even grade schools are now using new online-based courses that have been adopted from online university programs
and distance learning courses. This teaching format utilizes the web and tools like social media, but online k-12 classes have significant drawbacks. In general, it is simply taking the same school models, curriculums and criteria from the classroom to the online setting. It is more of a cost-cutting facelift than a true reform of the education model.

It is no coincidence Robert Logan's book starts with a section titled, "Why Our Schools Don't Work." In this section, Logan presents his main argument while highlighting the failures inherent in the history of our public education system, "Our schools are based on an industrial model, with a delivery system patterned on the factory. Millions of schoolchildren are taught the same content in the same linear sequential order, guided by a uniform curriculum dated by a centralized bureaucracy at a municipal school board or state department of education." (8) While broken, the system does work for a select few, "Many students endure. Doctors, engineers, lawyers, and accountants continue to be trained. The success of our schools is limted, however" (8).

Our schools have not kept up with the body of knowledge that needs to get know, "it is not so much that the content of the curriculum is out of date as that the style of education is not suited to contemporary needs and challenges." (9)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Interstate 15 in Califas
northeast through Saguaro timpano
and flinthead basalt wrinkles
galore in the gore of gigaclouds
botched cottonous affairs
fingerbanging the stratosphere
four thousand feet from measly sea level
sticking it in third to ascend or else-up
facade start slowly slimeing back
banks de viento, wind flanks, drizzledslush
embankments of crushed glass and trapos
channels in the eyeballs, the remote
eighteenwheelers used as rotting billboards
and booster bulleting boards for Ron Paul

Thursday, March 17, 2011


My Tia Martha has this little gem of a book, aside from other great cultural talismans. From the title we get that this book is a Civic Calendar published by the National Indigenous Institute. The information inside describes key events in Mexican history, so in a sense the book is a primer on Mexican citizenship. I am certain that other countries invested in these publications; regardless, the book is a gem and a master work of mechanized printing, as it must have had the colors run seperately, one at a time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011



Why send a letter when you can jettison an electronic mail down the backbone of the Internet? Sending an e-mail instead of dispatching a letter through the U.S.P.S. saves you time and effort; and, there is little chance that your email is going to be displaced, or flat-out lost; there is no Bureau of Dead E-mails because that type of anomaly is not built into the system. An electronic mail can not not reach it's destination (despite being imploded as a packet or getting re-arranged in "flight").

Maybe, the best part about pushing the "send" button is not having to interact with the surly clerk behind the plexiglass. The only real advantage the U.S.P.S. has over e-mail is that when you patronize the U.S.P.S. you are patronizing an institution that has been refining its "game" since 1775 when Ben Franklin was appointed the nation's first Postmaster General by the Continental Congress. By all means, the U.S.P.S. is a tight ship, but even tight ships spring leaks. Is the U.S.P.S. an ironside whose time has come? Are there other institutions out there that seem to be in as much flux as the postal service?

The idea we have outgrown libraries dovetails with the idea that the U.S.P.S. is a relic of a Norman Rockwell era in America, where John Wayne was God, Ike was Buddha, and Ed Sullivan a Cathode-Ray Jesus. Both institutions symbolize the United States in a way that little things do, and yet both are rushing headlong into obsolescence. This may or may not be saying something about Americans are evolving as a people. Technology has given us the mode to render both useless and almost beyond salvage. The electronic book has killed the print book as the electronic mail has killed the parcel affixed with postage. Perhaps, the only interesting question is how long can these institutions hemorrhage money? In other words, at what point does nostalgia become an impediment?

I read Adam Gopnik’s article, “The Information” in the New Yorker magazine recently. Stylistically, Gopnik’s writing is fluid and without frills, almost primitive, which is a ridiculously difficult bit of artifice; in Gopnik's article there are turns of sleight, sprinkles of “print” history, and a more-than-thorough assessment of where media is going vis-a-vis where it's been. And, Gopnik provides a classification of the three major media factions that have evolved: "the Never-Better, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers." It is this last faction that caught my interest the most; the Ever-Wasers believe that "at any moment in modernity something like this is going on, and that a new way of organizing data and connecting users is always thrilling to some and chilling to other." I am hoping that both the U.S.P.S. and the Public Library system in the U.S. can stay clear of the "Better-Nevers" and make their way to the "Ever-Wasers" and hit on a way to remain relevant.

Jim Heavily is a poet Hinchas de Poesia published in its third issue. He lives in North Carolina, and has time enough to correspond with me via email and Facebook. Those are pretty much the three things I knew about him when I decided to engage in a postcard feat with him. I also knew that we shared a nostalgia for the United States Postal Service, and a preoccupation for how electronic mail was affecting the work horse of through-sleet-and-snow. And now I think that I know something else about Jim Heavily; of the three factions, he is most likely to belong to the Better-Nevers because while he enjoys the bells and whistles of an interface or platform, the analog will always feel like a more authentic experience to him. I agree with the way Jim sees it, but I have no qualms about buying stamps online.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Annete Cruz and I recently read at Ave 50 studio in Highland Park. The video is courtesy of Annete's husband, Dennis Cruz. You can link to the video here.

Monday, February 28, 2011


As a kid, I distinctly remember working on models of fighter jets and muscle cars as a way to satiate the curiosity I felt for the inner workings of things. This curiosity led me to perform exploratory surgery on various appliances and electronic systems with little to no success. I could take things apart, but putting them back together was the part I couldn't wrap my head around. Unfortunately, I was not endowed with a manual prowess, like a mechanic or jeweler might have; I was born always holding extra screws.

Dioramas as artistic product have a pedigree that may extend to sixth century Japan and the artform known as Bonkei, and nowadays as Tatebanko. According to Wikipedia, Bonkei is Japanese for "tray landscape" and "is a three-dimensional depiction of a landscape in miniature, portrayed using mainly dry materials like rock, papier-mâché or cement mixtures, and sand in a shallow tray." And, of course, in the last 50 years, we have Marcel Duchamp's Étant donnés, a diorama that took Duchamp 20 years to make and was the primary reason for him absconding from his self-imposed chess retirement.

The dioramas sculpted by Armando Arreola and currently on view at Ave 50 Studio in Highland Park draw viewers into them like some mystical well, or forbidden keyhole. Viewers peer into the tableaus with the senses, and are amply awarded by meticulous, wicked props which easily prompts viewers to make their own narratives. Armando is also able to construct a tiny dialect from the seemingly haphazard repetition of theaters, cinemateques, and mesmerists. The matted hair of the dolls make it appear as if the dolls have mange or some other medieval scourge. You could even say that Arreola's scenes are the frozen shards of apocalyptic doll events.

Arreola's sculptures are part dioroma, part tableau, and yet all overwhelmingly cinematic. The exhibition, aptly titled Magic Circle,is a celebration of magicians, and their retinues, cinephiles, and their haunts, and theater patrons. It's aim is to show the meditative and baroque flair of the artist, but it is also nostalgic like the work of Joseph Cornell and bulging with whimsy like the works of Tracey Snelling. I think it would be safe to say that the characters in the sculptures look like recycled dolls, and run the gamut of physiognomies.

Photo credit: Martha Benedict

Some of the sculptures depict dolls with dirty faces dressed as seers and mesmerists holding seances in dark parlors illuminted by ambient light and the sheen of turqoise ceremonial robes. A swami in matching turqoise turban is about to enact the protocols for calling the spirit world. On his neck: a dazzling star pendant; and, on top of his turban: a decadent feather that makes the doll look more like a gendarme than a palm reader/grifter.

Photo credit: Martha Benedict

Another piece depicts three dolls engaged in a bout of vaudevillian sword swallowing. As a means of titillating the crowd, the two dolls that are assisting hold up an X-Ray to prove the sword swallowing is legit. Audience members look on with bulbous, matted hair. A common element in these sculptures is a frame within a frame architecture, so this particular piece contains the symbols of the spiritual arts in several of its frames.

Photo credit: Martha Benedict

While other sculptures find dolls hanging in ticket sales booths awaiting the second coming of Goddard. As I've mentioned before, the wild card in many of these sculptures is the cinematic aura that Arreola is able to concoct. For example, in the doll sitting in the ticket buying kiosk could be right out of a little cinemateque in Montmarte, but the gigantic doll face and accompanying follicle plummage give the scene a mordant, dreamy quality.

At first sight, I was struck how much these sculptures reminded me of a filthy confessional booth teeming with Hail Mary's. Because the viewer has to peer into them, I was drawn to the immediate sense of intimacy and play the artist was able to convey. In 1822 Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, the guy who would eventually invent the process of photography, opened the Diorama theater in Paris. He entertained crowds of people by animating gigantic landscape and cathedral representations by changing the light source.

Arreola's sculptures change the light source of approach for dioramas. The people depicted in them can be grotesque, apocalyptic dolls, and the tableaus can be esoteric, nuanced tales particular to no one and thus everyone. "Circulo Magico" by Armando Arreola opened on February 12 and will run until March 6, 2011 at Ave 50 Studio, Inc. in Highland Park. You should see these immaculate, delicate sculptures before Ave 50 progresses to its next exhibition.


Westbrook, Lindsey. The 'Art of Diorama' at Bedford Gallery. Artweek. 39 no7 S 2008.