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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


It is with ginormous purple buckets of panache that we at Hinchas de Poesía (www.hinchasdepoesia.com) present to you, our faithful readers, issue number eight. Issue eight features our most eclectic amalgam of poems, reviews, and artifacts--all in service of Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, the last day on the Mayan calendar.

There's a couple of things you should know, a couple of emendations concerning our masthead. Our trusted Fiction Editor, J. David Gonzales stepped down so that he may concentrate on his thesis and focus on his transcontinental move from Miami to Los Angeles. We thank him for his service during Hinchas' formative years, and wish him nothing but the best as he crafts his first book.

Our old Poetry Editor, Jim Heavily, is our new Editor in Chief. Earlier this week, I personally asked Jim to become the Editor because his horsepower and gumption have far exceeded mine for several issues. Issue after issue, he has worked tirelessly, most of the times in an under-resourced capacity, to bring forth some very beautiful literature. It would be disingenuous of me to underestimate Jim Heavily's influence and acumen at work between the digital pages of Hinchas de Poesía.

Moreover, we now have a foreign correspondent, James Cervantes, a node in our network that know the terrain below the Rio Grande. James Cervantes was editor of Porch, a print journal, The Salt River Review, an online magazine, and is currently editing poetry for Sol, out of San Miguel de Allende. He has been publishing poetry in print since 1969 and almost exclusively online since 1997.

Last, recently we started a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough scratch to publish Jim Heavily's "The Bringer of Culture," all allow us to break our teeth in the publishing racket. We have been able to garner fifteen "backers" and plan on reaching our goal shortly before the cut off dates of January 2, 2013. If you would like to make a donation, or know of someone who might like to make a donation would you please pass this information along. Our kickstarter page is here: http://kck.st/TwzPM0

Tuesday, December 11, 2012



El que tiene el mando es el que manda;

conversely, sin mando, uno no manda, ni man

do. No, el que no tiene mando are the mando-less

the nickel and dimed, hoodwinked and periwinkled

misbegotten and desarriesgados. She who holds the remote

control controls the command console on the programming,

commands channels of things to come, strong premonitions.

She who holds the structure of el mando manda astonishing

cleavages of anthems, makes things happen, stirs my tine of tenor.

El que tiene el mando es el que no tiene el no manda, entonces;

She who holds el mando manda, holds a turbo just outside thresh-

old of a prosthetic stylus, holds our task manager for ransom in

silent index technicians, holds binary repose.

She who has command nears command

Without possessing el mando.

El Mando son ojos Infra-rojos.


In 2007, I resigned my high school teaching position in the Bronx and started library school at Queens College. Because my library science degree had evolved to incorporate an invisible "I" (MLIS vs. MLS), I took several classes on web and image design in library school. As a result, the whole Internet-veil thing became demystified and I could clearly see the Mr. Oz in the machine.

In 2009, I bought some server space in Canada and purchased a stack of ISBNs from Bowker and started a literary journal, Hinchas de Poesía (www.hinchasdepoesia.com). I used Dreamweaver to design the first couple of issues and we are publishing our eighth issue on December 21, 2012--the day the Mayan calendar ends. Hinchas de Poesia directly addresses the aesthetic interconnectedness between North America and Latin America, and attempts to comment on the evolving dialogue.

A week ago Hinchas Press started a kickstarter campaign to raise $2,000 to cover the costs of publishing our first book, Jim Heavily's The Bringer of Culture.
Jim's book of poems is a raucous ride through syntax and cognates and words we don't use anymore but totally should resuscitate (words like affect and emendations, et. al.) One of the great things about the book is how it flits from the steppes of a city in Mexico to the backalley compunctions in Metarie, Louisiana. The book is truly a wild ride which makes it a great read, and a book that deserves to be published and in wide rotation.

Jim Heavily also happens to be the Poetry Editor for Hinchas de Poesía, so I also believe in his poems and feel them to be part and parcel of the aesthetic we deploy every time we publish a new issue or try our hand in the publishing racket. Jim is not a Latino and that makes comepletely no difference at all to us because the work is solid. Jim's book is titled after Quetzalcoatl, one of the major deities of the Aztecs, and the one responsible for agriculture, culture, and astronomy.


This poem is from Jim Heavily's yet to be published, The Bringer of Culture.

The Logic of Facility Layout
by Jim Heavily

The wind & the rains provide all that we need, at least on this
conveyor belt. Maps of international cities taped together &
hung on the wall with push pins, emended & annotated with
sticky notes & gruel, neither conjoined, gerundive, subordinate
or sulcate. T he desert cries out for understanding. T rees &
gazanias list seaward. We upsurge & breech in the fallow moon’s
peach light stretching out to the horizon & the Canary Islands,
throwing nickels & dimes on the dark sea-surge, sparkling on
the wave tops & dorsal fins of night-swimming dolphins, the
better part of ourselves taken from us & borne out to the heart
of the rippling amniotic sea.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Post Chicano Stress Disorder (Tinta Vox, 2010) by Tomás Riley with images by Ricardo Islas

I don't imagine Tomás Riley’s message in Post Chicano Stress Disorder (Tinta Vox, 2010) to be a decidedly political one; his brand of poetry is political as a matter of existence, rather than of taste or style, "so what is young/ and brown so far a living/ corpse of language?" (33). In Post Chicano Stress Disorder, Riley spits sparse bars cadenced by Hip-Hop Mythology, PoMo's nuanced wordplay, and that threshold where the political becomes the factual. Riley’s book is a manual, bluesy sheet music, and a slowly-gentrifying, inner-city quirófano, simultaneously.

At the height of Reagonomics, Chuck D said, "Rap is C.N.N. for black people," and that operating principle could easily be what drives a poet like Riley to write Post Chicano Stress Disorder. His is a book of poems in which impetus comes not from other forms of poetry per se, but from canonical Hip Hop anthems, like Wu-Tang's "C.R.E.A.M.", and the swag of the blues, "an eloquence/ unflattering as game; the hold the/ note twelve bars and cry a/ little at the end" (39). In this sense, it’s just another mash-up, just another amalgam, hybrid, simply another component in a system; Riley intersperses that hybrid imperative with snippets of displaced narratives, and tectonic descriptions of San Francisco's Mission.

It's also a book of poems in which an experimental litany ("litanias") is also a "record that skips on all four sides." (Imagine what Terminator X could have done with Riley's four-sided record?) Maybe, it's simply a shiteater's pean to the reflective largesse of reconstructed meaning vis-a-vis wordplay; for example, what exactly does Riley mean with the phrase, Post Chicano? Is the contemporary Chicano somehow different than the Chicano that came before him, or is he saying that altogether, Latinos have moved past regional categorization? As Latinos, have we moved past our own selves? Have we enclaved ourselves out of a relevance of existence?

"Conjure," the first poem, reads like an abracadabra for a minority caucus, "say your name right/ be it bold/ or stand up treacherous/ bind myth back to the bone/ take shape again" (1). The invocation in "Conjure" is not only interested in producing magic, there's a playfulness that's evocative and discursive and ultimately sonorous, "drive cedar through the crevice of your accent" (1). At the same time, "Conjure" seeks to salve the wounds the Beauvoirian other might feel, "find protection in the meeting place of moments/ meant to curl the skin right off you" (6).

But, Riley ensures that the ethnic navigation system is not on the blind tourist circuit; in "hip: a sickle moon injunction" Riley has a frank dialogue with Obama in no specific terms, and takes aim at the marketing promises ("Hope" and "Change") made during his candidacy and re-election, "deplorable non-cause/ a mantra so perverse/ produces/podium acceptance speeches"(17). There is plenty of reflexive poetic exposition asking the inconvenient questions and seeking the ugly answers, 'my god," they say, trying to nod/ we wanted/ change"(19).

Moreover, Riley queries the negative forces at work within his community ("breakdown of a / brown on brown remix") (40), as well as the negative forces (gentrification, scapegoatism) that impose themselves and originate outside his community. Possibly what Riley is trying to achieve is to inspire the "best of us" to never "stop/ singing" (40), while at the same time being cognizant of the damage that unchecked ambition (hardheartedness?) can wreak on burgeoning minorities, "whatever violence/ efficiently/ installed us at the verge"(32).

To have grown up during the Cold War, to be a veteran of the Cold War, implies a certain way of looking at minorities, poverty, and U.S. militarization. During the Cold War, the country spent billions on Defense, but the inner cities fell apart as crack cocaine ravaged families and rent communities. During the late 90's those same neighborhoods were gentrified, pushing out long-standing residents for affluent young professionals, "(for Walgreen's and a few condos with insolent/ price tags)". Riley's Post Chicano Stress Disorder deftly captures the landscape of a community in flux and lays bare a foray, a response, and possibly a template for addressing the gentrification and disorientation that has polarized many communities.

This title is perfect for academic libraries wanting to accession collections of contemporary Latino poetry, or are seeking to augment their collections with Latino and African-American poets will definitely find this title of interest. Academic libraries that support programs relating to urban studies, ethnic literature, comparative literature, or even Chicano studies might also find this title of great interest, especially when paired with books by Mike Davis like "Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the U.S. Big City," Juan Gonzalez’s "Harvest of Empire", or "Eminent Domain" by Justin Petropoulos.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Hi, my name is Yago Cura, and I am the publisher of Hinchas Press, and the founder of Hinchas de Poesia, the contemporary digital journal of Pan-American writing. I am here today to ask for your assistance in helping Hinchas Press publish Jim Heavily's Bringer of Culture. We reached out to BookMobile for a quote on the suggestion of elena minor, the editor of PALABRA, an amazing magazine out of Los Angeles.

This is Jim's first book, and our first printing. Our Arts Editor, Jennifer Therieau, has layed out Heavily's book in a format that is 5.5 inches wide x 8.5 inches high. The insides are pretty much standard, except that the cover has been nicely conjured by Jennifer's evocative graphic design acumen. The cover is a 4-color cover on 10 pt C1S/white stock with gloss layflat lamination, bleeds, prints one side only.

For 750 copies, Bookmobile's quote is $1,697.26, so let's just call it seventeen hundred or $1,700.00. Now, our kick starter project is asking for $2,000.00 is because we will have to snail mail contributors who donate more than $25.00 a copy of our premiere book. And despite the fact that I will try to get the lower printed matter rate, we imagine that it might take us $2.00 to send a book through the snail mail. Therefore, we can send at least 150 donors a copy of the book, but it will only take 80 people donating 25 for us to reach out $2,000.00 goal.

If we send 80 people a book and the postage is $2.00 then our mail costs shouldn't exceed $160.00, but as we have conscripted Jim to send any person who donates at least $10.00 a signed poem from Bringer of Culture. We imagine it would cost $.45 to send those donors their copy of a poem, and with $140 ($300-160) we could send approximately 311 donors a signed poem.

As you can see, we are just hoping to break even, or not have to dip into our retirement funds, savings accounts, and mattresses (if possible) to bring this wonderful book to light. Furthermore, by allowing Hinchas to publish Jim's book, we not only amplify the roster of American poetry, but we publish the first book of a poet whose time has come.

Please help us to achieve this feat and enter in the publishing racket. Without your help, many small presses like Hinchas will not be able to overcome operations costs and stay afloat or at least solvent. By helping Hinchas you ensure that a healthy cross-section of poetry is available to poets and writers and readers interested in the Pan-American writing.

Thank You

Yago Cura

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Brother, if I were Michael Ballack,
I would kick back in the Poconos of the Pyrenees
with a carton of Shiteater Iced Tea.

I would move to the south of Germany, a village
known for tallest tower or most egregious bees

and run the high school Latin racket in rural
high schools, and Volvo my daughter to recitals of Carmen.

I would live in track suits, trainers, and logoless cotton shirts
that would allow my skin to inhale all the aerobic intent
of a given space until I reach my lactic threshold.

I would start a kraut musical junta and go on tour
with my model wife (different from standard wife-models)
until there is no hotel in Majorca which will render
us Rolling-Stones-shelter.

I would start an University of Power, a Cathedral of Brunt,
a Montessori Compound for Teutonic Bruins.

Brother, this Ballack guy, he can headbutt
I.C.B.M.s into the pocket-most-yonder on corner kicks.
He cracks balón like woodsman with vector know-how
and can arrest the balon on his chest like some Magnús.

There is no one can stop the laser-pointer once Ballack
lays it on you like the Lord's unequivocal retribution,
like a black rain that refuses to go into gutters.

Brother, there are some honors not granted despite hunger
for those honors, and there are hungers that amp the status
of a legend, but can’t do squat for their celebrity entropy.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Hinchas de Poesia, the digital codex of contemporary Pan-American writing, is set to publish its seventh issue on August 31, 2012; this is the same day in which a "blue moon" will appear in the skies above our heads. While the moon will not actually appear blue, a blue moon just means that August 2012 was a month in which two full moons encapsulated the month (meaning there was one on Aug 1 and there will be one on Aug 31).

What's special about this issue of Hinchas is that we have completely changed our look and aesthetic. Our Arts Editor, Jennifer, has switched us over to a CMS (Content Mgmt Site) so that our protocols and processes would be streamlined. To upload content the old way, all the respective editors had to wait for me to upload, FTP-style, the content that they had designated. Using the new way, respective editors can upload content themselves, but they have to ensure that the mechanics are sparkling.

Issue Seven is our most eclectic issue yet. We have two fiction submissions that are going to completely knock your socks off. I know this is weird, what with the title of our journal being Hinchas de Poesia, but these fiction pieces are not only strong but intense. And, both our fictionists have had successful books already published. Shauna Seliy is the author of When We Get There and Patricia Engel is the author of Vida, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Fiction Award.

In terms of poetry, we have a lot to offer this issue. We not only have experienced and seasoned poets like Madeline Beckman, James Cervantes and Brian Young, but we also have a repeat performance by Stephen Page, our scribe from the city of good airs or Buenos Aires. We also have two pieces by Gregorio Gomez, the emcee of Chicago’s wildest and longest-running poetry series at Weeds on Dayton Ave. We also have a Canadian poet, Daniel Hedges, who teaches in Quebec and is the founder and editor of the literary collective HUMANIMALZ. Truly there's a lot to like here and I imagine that readers looking for poetry will have lots to peruse.

In terms of review and letters, we have two poetry reviews and a letter to AWP President Steven Heller from LeAnne Howe concerning the wonderful work of the Indigenous-Aboriginal American Writers Caucus. There's also a review of D.A. Powell's "Chronic," and "This Side of Time" by South Korean poet Ko Un. Last, Cristian Paiz, a doctoral student at the University of Souther California has been nice enough to let us excerpt an essay he has written on The United Farm Workers in 1974 and there collusions with the Border Patrol. Paiz's essay is based on work he carried out at the UFW archive at the University of Michigan.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Ko Un's This Side of Time, (White Pine Press, 2012) Translated by Clare You and Richard Silberg

This Side of Time (White Pine Press, 2012), Ko Un's newest collection of poetry, is drawn from several collections of terse poems by the South Korean author. So, for example, the first chapter's, "Little Songs," are taken from Poems Left Behind, whose title suggests a natural disaster, or an ephemeral methodology. Clare You and Richard Silberg have manged to order and translate an eclectic range of poems that highlight Ko Un's utterly Korean, yet unflinchingly human registers.

I hope you're asking yourself what utterly Korean means, because the poems concern themselves with the natural world, "My poor old mule," and spirituality, "Zen Master Imje", but in acutely cosmopolitan and post-modern brushstrokes. None of the poems are titled or numbered, which aligns harmoniously with the voice in these "Little Songs," but the whit is whip smart. On page 32, a five line intimation anchors us to the bottom of the page, to the absurdity of existence,

On the trash by the road
a thrown-out fan
was turning in cold wind.
It fanned fiercely.

I stopped for a long time.

While the songs in Chapter 1 are stout, they expand the parameters of timeless themes, like pluralism versus xenophobia. On a continent that followed a a serious program of isolation, Ko Un is saying something especially salient about perception, and how contradictory and sometimes conflicting ideologies occupy the same moment in time and space. Ko Un is also saying something political about what constitutes "a foreigner" and how locals might never understand the pain and emotional numbness associated with exile

If she doesn't understand what I say
I'm a foreigner.
If I don't get her silence
she is just a mute.

Chapter 2, "A Few Small Songs," continues with its cavalcade of tiny, mostly nameless (title-less), almost random, procession of meditations that range from the expansive and humbling, "If wisdoms/ not love,/ love is/ not wisdom,/ wash them/ off our hands./ A breeze startled the calf from it doze," to the searingly political and preemptive, "Once/ when Iran's Tehran oil pipeline was laid,/ didn't he wallow in lust all night...The sun's going down; the darkness deepening." Likewise, the impending romantic history between two star-crossed lovers is put off once again by the pure caprices of Time. In "1:30 AM," (page 50) the poet writes

The light went out in Unit 506 on the 18th floor.
on the 19th floor, the light in 706 went out soon after.

Sleep Well.
Get to know each other tomorrow.

"1:30 A.M." sounds like something that Paul Auster might write about: two protagonists in opposing brownstones in Brooklyn, or what Murakami might pen about two loveless Tokyo types stuck in heartless publishing scenes. In other words, there are "songs" about natural subjects, "cranes," "Hwenggye Mountains of Kangwon Province," Yunpyung Island," "Ch'uja-do, the vacant island, etc., but there are just as many about the terrestrial and tangible, like the "pipeline to Tehran," or "Torture" (page 94)

If you're tortured
you know a human is inhuman.
Both the torturer
and the tortured
deep at night in the second basement room

Politically, and somewhat aesthetically, Ko Un reminds me of Turkey's Nazim Hikmet and the poets of Generation 27, especially Alberti whose poems are sometimes compact, nano dynamos. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little but of Jose Marti's crazy idea that South America and North America should be considered one America. Ko Un has vigorously encouraged reunification between North Korea and South Korea in full frontal view of the military games engaged in by both governments.

But, more than anything, Ko Un's poetry is full of the mind, that gnarly entity that stands before what is thought and all up in what is written. In many ways, if the mind is a variable just waiting for the light of understanding, then maybe a filament of pure light might help to unlock a higher order of knowing. Ko Un is South Korea's most revered poet to be sure, but chances are you have probably never heard of him. According to White Pine Press, Un has published "over 100 collections of poetry, and many volumes of fiction and non-fiction in his native Korea." Along the way, he has opened up the playing field for South Korean Lit., making it kosher for South Korean writers to write about things of a particularly non-Korean pedigree, to openly question the South Korean government, and the carriers of small tunes. Ko Un's little songs are not only keen in the sense of music, but also as a marker of space and time, transcribed through language.

This title would be perfect for community college libraries, or for any program on international relations with an emphasis on Asia. I think any class on contemporary South Korean politics would be greatly enhanced by reading "This Side of Time," and introducing students to the work of Ko Un, South Korea's greatest living author.

"Ko Un." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 21 July 2012.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


What if the Naviductor of the 733 blows past your express spot, your "stop," and it's another twenty minutes until that behemoth bitch of a bus comes rumbling down Spring?

Does one expend the manpower hours to fashion a letterfile Trident sophisticated enough
to make future overlords grouchy for sport?

Does one ask to speak to a surly supervisor knowing full well they couldn't even throw a knuckleball into a shitstorm?

At the moment the Naviductor blows past for sport, does one fantasize about going bowling with the adult fontanelle of the one they call the Naviductor?

I'll tell you what, find me some cactus pins with a fine patina of follicle flagella and we'll use them to gorge on the commotion of the pins as they collude?

But, standing there I sure wanted to talon a rock and curveball it right into that official exposition, the tart diction in a letter of complaint.

What is it in the adrenaline of boomerangs that seduces the Naviductor to robberbarron portents to hunches?

But without a bus number, or a service quotient, or a description of the Naviductor, or approximate time of disturbance, the most I could expect from my sigh would be a cruising altitude of erasure.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Why did we leave Argentina? Why did we leave Argentina?

We left Argentina because Argentina was going through political problems, and people began disappearing. We knew a lot of the people that had invested themselves, or were currently comprised and being monitored. We were probably being monitored as well. But, more than anything, we worked with the people in the shanty towns that needed the most help.

There was a person who directed, like the priest no buen moso, he was at the center of things. And then, there were the people who orchestrated us. Some were associated with the movements, and some were just sympathizers. They'd pass messages along by slipping pieces of paper under your door, so I guess they knew everyone's address, which was quite a feat back then. And, you never knew or expected the people that were compromised, just as much as you never expected the turncoats to be so brazen.

We left around the time of the Matanza de Trelew in 1972, where they had just gunned down 19 political pains-in-the-ass close to the Patagonia. Originally what had happened was that 25 political prisoners, probably the martyr vanguard of the Dirty War, had escaped from the Rawson Torture Campus in the province of Chubut. Six made it to Allende's Heaven of Socialism, but 19 were not able to dematerialize. Later, pacts were made with military leaders stipulating they would not be unharmed. They were (harmed). Repeatedly and with great gusto. With service revolvers at close range. Repeatedly. And with great gusto.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

These beautiful images are from an El Salvadorean primer. I would really like to use these images for the seventh issue of Hinchas, but would like to change the pattern that I typically use to lay out our online journal.

I want these images to create like a thematic kernel that is repeated through the issue, and maybe the biggest question is whether to use a limited but user-friendly software like Adobe Muse or just do the whole ish using a CMS.

I still don't know, but I do know that these images need to be resuscitated and that Hinchas will happily be the squad with the defibrilator.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I would like to thank you for coming out tonight to the Valley Contemporary Poets reading. Special thank you to Rick Lupert, Jeff Rochlin, and Rafa Alvarado and their tireless efforts invigorating the Los Angeles County poetry mundo.

But, I would like to congratulate you on choosing to interact with your fellow Angelenos at the Cobalt. Coming to a reading of poetry in the Age of Mass Distraction is a bold move. But, taking a chance on a writer is what makes a life of Literacy worth living.

Once you realize the buffet that abounds, in terms of interesting things to read, you find yourself reading the world with a my-eyes-are-always-bigger-than-my-stomach-approach. The history of print is so rich that anything printed has always held my interest. It is no coincidence I pay the rent as a librarian.

I have 20 minutes so let me not waste any more preaching to the choir. I hope you've never read my work, but I really admire the work of Nicanor Parra; he is the inventor of "Anti-Poetry" and a Latin American giant. And, I thought I knew the work of Mario Benedetti, but I did not at all and so I feel like I am re-discovering his work at a really opportune time in my writing life.

Nicanor Parra's "Test" page 67

Poem in Which My Hair is a Fanatical Quill
Harken! Endless Poxes
Cajon Pass
The Gazpacho is Enchanting & The Gazpacho Enchants Me

Nicanor Parra's "Mummies" page 49

Poem in Praise of Vending Machines Avec First Line Stolen From My Ex-Student, Hakeem
She's My Lobbyist
How the Phoenicians Invented Purple

Mario Benedetti's "Angelus" page 51

Derelict Specter
Insane Lake Michigan

Mario Benedetti's "Desaparecidos" page 205

Prologue to Detention
Longitudinal Duress
Cypher Adagio
Quasar Invocation

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


To the Metermaid that Spared the Totaled Crimson Volvo a Streetsweeper Ticket:

Dear Ma'am and/or Sir, first off, thank you for not feeling the compunction to ticket my beater. As you can tell, my car is a loyal herald, but has certainly seen better days.

Recently, I became separated from my meteor of keys in San Francisco; San Francisco is not a good city to become separated from your meteor of keys in. For one thing, the weather is always changing on you so that one day it's solstice hot, and the next day the cold comes through like some arctic chrysalis.

Dear Ma'am and/or Sir, the missive I left for you under my windshield wiper carried no monetary recompense, or moral reward; you did what you did completely as an agent of your actions, and your actions allowed me to evade yet another $65.00 ticket for not having moved my car on a Monday morning from 8-10 a.m on Venice Boulevard. For this, I would like to accolade you out the wazoo.

I'd like to accolade you out the wazoo from the bottom of my little shriveled, black heart until it starts pumping thank yous out of its charred aorta.

I'd like to accolade you out the wazoo from the nadir of my billfold, from the back of the classroom where they teach Life Skills, from the rote existence of your patrol tricycle.

I'd like to accolade you out the wazzo for your opaque, yellow sirens: how they clamor in my head like gallant, galloping coconuts signaling your transportation emergency.

I'd like to accolade you from the bottom of my reflective lapels, from the Soylent Green on your uniform, thank you from my ticket quiver perforated in the ass part of your flattering pants.

I'd like to accolade you out the wazzo for not being an interpersonal, styrofoam graveyard of municipal codes and the lame compunction of fines, tickets, or legal attestations.

You know your uniform is quite becoming. The umber tones really bring out the effervescence of your cheekbones. You know, your cheeks, those old pillars of your smile, your innocent, mercurial smile.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


My mom tells me the priest was neither good looking, buen moso, or homely; he was neither skinny nor tall, it's almost as if he had a face destined to get swallowed by fatherland forces. Or, maybe, he had the look he would always wear, as is what transpires between those that die young and those that die regrettably. I have to trust mother filtering his physical resonance because it's been over forty years since she's had to think about this man.

I also know he was disappeared shortly after my parents left Buenos Aires on that freight ship. I can only assume that had they not left, my parents would have also been disappeared, and chances are I would not have been born in Brooklyn in 1975. I would have remained an idea, an eye glint, an apostrophe without a sentence.

Therefore, this priest might knowingly unlock some another large province of conjecture and so finding him and or at least finding out what happened to him sometimes grabs me by my lapels. Either he was murdered by the military, but not before being summarily tortured for months on end; or, he was tortured by the military, incarcerated until the country went Democratic in 1982, and then reintegrated into society.

I imagine him a 40 year old of youthful hue, an Eternalist, someone who makes aging look facile and studied. Dark skinned and raven-haired, he was probably from the interior of the country, a sect of people already under scrutiny in a country where the caudillos openly walked over the provincials. I imagine him having a terrible memory, requiring the services of tiny notebooks and manuscript receipts in his pockets at all times, plus a ball-point pen.

I imagine him an hincha of Boca Juniors. Nothing too fancy. They call the hinchas of Boca Juniors bosteros, or manuremen, because the team was situated in the port and its fans were the laborers that made their living from the port. They were garbage men and stevedores, pick pockets and petermen. In other words, the priest could not have gone into the villas or slums without being an hincha of Boca.


On Saturday, May 25th, as part of the La Palabra reading series sponsored by Ave 50 Studios (131 North Ave 50 Los Angeles, CA 90042), the Taco Shop Poets performed at My Taco (6300 York Blvd, Ste 4 Los Angeles, CA 90042) taco shop in Highland Park. The performance, which started promptly at 5:30, starred Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, Tomás Riley, and Adrian Arancibia, and ended an eight-year hiatus from performing together. The host of La Palabra, Puerto Rican poet Luivette Resto, capped off the performance by reading three poems from her first poetry collection, Unfinished Portrait (Tia Chucha Press, 2009).

One of Resto's poems, "No More Tacos in Gwinett County (Georgia)," recounts how county administrators in Gwinett County, Georgie sought to curb Latinos from moving to Gwinett County by eradicating eateries and purveyors of Mexican food. Resto also read "Ode to Menudo," except she made an important distinction between what menudo means for Mexicans versus what menudo means for Puerto Ricans. Resto said, "For Puerto Ricans, Menudo is also the name of the world's first ever boy band: Rene, Johnny, Xavier, Miguel and Ricky," she said, affirming firmly that menudo is not just the popular anti-hangover remedy it is in Los Angeles among Mexicans. Indeed, show me what and how you eat, and I will tell you who you are. For example, Italians think it a crime to not take four hours to process a meal. Americans, in contrast, eat all their meals as if they're being pursued by the ghost of Adam Smith.

The reason the Taco Shop Poets perform in, well, taco shops is because taco shops serve as surrogate hearths for the Latinos that frequent them. For the most part, the ingredients in taco shops are fresh, al dente, and ready to be ordered. The Taco Shop Poets capped off their performance with the call to arms, the rhythm that marks the meter of many of their modes; in other words, under their musical tutelage, we pledged allegiance to the Clave. The Taco Shop Poets used the rhythm of the 3-2 clave to kick their performance off by flanking the restaurant and exclaiming vociferously, "Aaa, Eee, Iii, Ooo, Uuu," while asking the patrons to join in by clapping and repeating the sonorous vowel-clave mantra. It was a festive way to change the atmosphere in the taco shop from that of an eatery to that of an impromptu literary venue, and it clearly delineated the intent of their efforts.

Therefore, in many ways, this performance stands out as an especially emotive, rhythmic, and bombastic group performance of their poetry. At first, it seemed the energy might flag in places because it had been a while since they had performed together. But, Tomás Riley was able to put everyone at ease with several of his cyphers that made it seem as if Riley had Roy Ayers or Digable Planets playing on a continuous loop in the recording booth of his mind. He performed several spoken word poems that displayed his virtuosity; more importantly, Riley read a sestina he composed for Treyvon Martin, the black Florida teenager that was murdered by an overzealous community watch commander. Then, he read a poem called "Hip" that's about hipsters from his book, Post-Chicano Stress Disorder (Tinta Vox, 2011) that made all the non-ethnic people in My Taco feel a little awkward, but they got over it and pulled themselves up from their messenger bags.

Then, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez took the stage and switched the tempo of the thing to a more reflective, pensive mood. And, while he read his first poem, a poem in seven parts about the seven pit stops on the Taco Shop Poets tour circa 2002, forks clanked in the kitchen and the waitress still waltzed with backing-out-of-seats
patrons, and the cashiers still rang their registers taking orders for carnitas french fries or large drinks of Jamaica with little ice. Guzmon-Lopez's performance was characterized by harmony in execution. And, even though Guzman-Lopez is not as loud as Tomas Riley, his pieces were wending their way into our ears and accentuating the air with focused hearing. I especially liked, "Ray-Set-Ta," a recipe-poem, recipoem, that was stark and quixotic, and left me thinking that I was not listening to a poem or a recipe but a new sub-genre of spoken word.

Last to the stage was Adrian Arancibia in a starched white guayabera and an ink pen in his upper chest pocket. His performance, the most heartfelt and heavy, had me on the verge of tears several times, and signified in no short order that this space had now been turned into a place of great healing and verve. Adrian's pieces spoke great truth and induced in us all the great power of the written word. In my Latino immigrant home, the idea of not eating dinner together as an atomic family was unadulterated patrician blasphemy; it had to be okayed by my father, and he held his quiver of yeses close to his chest. My point is that the connection between how we eat and who we are is inextricable.

To be sure, all of the food in a taco shop isn't healthy, but for a taco shop to be successful it has to have fresh ingredients. The Taco Shop Poets brought the freshest of literary ingredients to My Taco taco shop for sure. Need I remind you, Latinos not only eat in taco shops, they use them much like the English used pubs or public houses. The taco shop is the epicenter of the chisme, el cuatro once, and the que es que. Taco shops make sense as venues for poetry because poetry in Latin America is a much more communal affair, just like visiting the taco shop. And, there are lots of flavors there, all lined up and ready for you to try, teasing your salivary glands. All you have to do is open your mouth to listen.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Fractured by Danny Baker (Punk Hostage Press, 2012) $12.95, ISBN 978-0-9851293-0-9

The poète maudit is a species of poet that lives on the fringes of society, on purpose, in the hopes of learning from its excesses an education of sorts. The French started this Office of Poetics (absolutement!) by adding exemplary models, like Verlaine and Rimbaud, the likes of which we are still trying to replicate. In the U.S., maybe the closest thing we have are the two Jims: Jim Morrison of The Doors and Jim Carroll, and Ginsberg, Bukowski, Boroughs, many of the Beats.

The speakers in Danny Baker's Fractured (Punk Hostage Press, 2012) are not afraid of rock-bottom; indeed, they gather gravitas as Baker slips into the shoes of "a runaway just taking a break/ from dark of Hollywood streets/ 14 years of wide aging eyes" in "Another Lesson Learned" or a spaced-out electrician postulating about "a circuit breaker on acid/on a perpetual loop/sequentially tripping out" in "Electrical Tape" or a denizen of Purgatory, "neck-deep in the valley of no return," that hears "herd[s] of feral humans splashing" and sees the horizon blotted by "a Haitian necktie" gurgling "flames in the distance" in "Seeking What's Lost Where I Fear No Evil".

Indeed, Baker's range is ample; the title of Baker's chapbook alludes to the number of personas the poet summons in this debut chapbook; maybe, it simply refers to the fact that despite our best efforts, it all goes to shit. In other words, entropy is a bitch. Fractured gives great slivers of style and dexterity, so naturally standout "maudit" poems abound. Let's not forget Baker's canvas is downtown Los Angeles & Hollywood, CA.: the Bootcamp for Vagrants and vampire Times Square of the world, respectively. "Skid Row L.A.," probably the most representative of Baker's in the "maudit" style, is a gorgeous verbal edifice dedicated to capturing how very throw-away the truly-destitute really are, and Baker is able to mural a variegated tableau that wends in and out of the territory of an epistle of misery in which people are so broken they almost hope to fail ("hoping to fail").

But, truth be told, "Fractured," didn't entirely hold my attention. To be sure, there is much to like in this chapbook, but the work's sense of friction, or action, gets bogged down in an aperture of singular taste In "A Matter of Price" the tone is so thick with the "maudit" style that the poem becomes predictable, pedestrian. Everyone has their price, the poem preaches, it's all, "A Matter of Price," and that's where Baker loses me: in his veer towards an overt didacticism, "don't seek chivalry in/hard-ons of he of/ smarmy Cheshire tooth/ none will be found," or "don't search for door/into souls sold cheap/they open to brick/ which often crumbles/before your eyes". In "A Matter of Price," these stanzas sag the intent displayed by other tightly wound lines like, "low rent style for low rent types/ in low rent neighborhoods getting pricier".

But, it's in poems where Baker strays from the confines of the "accursed" style that his poems open up like expensive succulents. For example, in "Electrical Tape" the speaker imagines that "everything's gone on strike/ worry not/ a bit of magic tape will/ do a trick," but makes a light jump to electric tape being enough to suture synapses in "neurotransmitters/jump synapses or simply/ transmit elsewhere/ if signaling at all anymore." It would be interesting to see where Baker could take the premise behind, "Electrical Tape," because as I neared the end of the poem I found myself wanting to hear more in that register; I wanted the poem to continue because the idea behind the poem was so enticing, full of discursive opportunities.

"What I Do" is a slippery treatise on the "work" that writers do; it also serves as an ars poetica of sorts. I just really enjoyed the length of Baker's lines in this piece. The piece is dynamic and playful, while at the same time sonorous and crafty, "infinite indications indicate infinite solutions/solving nothing worth effort but it's what I do." There are several lines in this piece that not only make great music, but also push the harsh charge words can have when put into a deliberate fashion. Likewise, "Oneloa" is a sparse fiddle of Pacific juxtapositions about a beach on Maui's south side. The speaker is "in Pele's embrace," and yet "cotton candy sand/soft cool kisses flow" and they find themselves in front of "Kanaloa's garden blue/gazing far/yet seeing so little/ mass incalculable." The physical beauty of the topography of Oneloa forces the speaker to contend with the land's vigor, "ebb and flow/tide's rapture," and Kanaloa's reputation as the Squid God of mischief and magic. The poem is a tiny gem of an engine, and amazingly well built; it showcases Baker's abilities as an architect of thought and journeyman of emotive landscapes.

Danny Baker's chapbook, Fractured, is a sojourn through the many dominions of the poète maudit, or accursed poet. This isn't necessarily new territory, and Danny Baker is no logos cosmonaut, but there are some standout poems in "Fractured," which only bodes well for Baker, and Punk Hostage Press. Punk Hostage Press is small, but it's run by A. Razor and Iris Berry, apostles in the Angeleno poetry scene. Moreover, the chapbook proves that print publication in the U.S. is actually pretty hale. The manufacturers of e-book readers, the makers of popular readers like the Nook, will have you believe that the book is on its last leg and fast-tracked towards obsolescence.

But, according to Bowker, the company that issues International Standard Book Numbers, "Output of new titles and editions increased from 302,410 in 2009 to a projected 316,480 in 2010." What the manufacturers of e-book readers don't want you to know is that there is a small Renaissance taking place among non-traditional publishers. What the manufacturers of e-book readers don't want you to know is that the price of self-publishing books has gone down dramatically, and this has given rise to many new publishers like Punk Hostage Press and many collections of poetry like "Fractured" by Danny Baker.

(cover illustration by Billy Burgos)

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Because, American History is a violent apparatus
taught by Yankee Doodle Gozers and Emotive Robocops
that use it to intimidate vast stretches of push-ups to whistles
so historians can launch rocket-armed patricians
that hold the pig until they circumstance themselves
a run up the middle for public office on platforms
selling the idea that what we might’ve done is twice
as bad as what’s been done to us in their name.

For example, Ben Franklin’s scrap-metal Corvette
super-mooning carburetor freakazoid that he was
siphoning gas from somnambulant Almanacs in the name of
wearing a small fortune in Mickey Mouse ties and pins of note
a meteor of keys with fecund braces on and an apocalypse football
coach at Sunset HS giving the orders that History and Government
ought to be thrust upon the plebian children to avoid having to ostracize
the memories of all those wars we lied our way into: the hearts, the minds.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I did not realize
why you might
not want to bring
a newborn to Las Vegas.

But, the girls had never.
And I had never.

Did not see the need
to push anything superior
to an economy-sized car.

Or, secure a horse-power
relative to the task of the grade.

But here we were, on 15,
northeast through Saguaro

timpano, in a shoddy capsule,
propelled by the badger of a
Japanese four cylinder.

All that second-hand smoke
depleted our constitutions, and
there was nowhere to push my stroller.

No municipal playgrounds designed
to resemble a bucaneer’s schooner
or makeshift inter-continental bullet.

Not one diaper-changing parapet
or whimsical, interior doubloons
for me to cash at my exit.

Only the promise of a town
started by a radioactive evangelist
and named Zzyzx in honor of
the last word in English.

Next time I cross the Cajon
I want it atop albino elephants,
and deranged ostriches, demanding,
we are your new leaders!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Gorpman called his company Quéseyo, Inc.
as testament to the fortune se atropello upon
first ear-hustling and later implementing the soft-
ware he now sold as telephony solutions.

Telephony solutions are the software that power phone numbers
to completely misunderstand everything you utter into the receiver.

Quéseyo, Inc. was publicly traded, but Gorpman
remained majority owner, and thus most vociferous booster;
but, he went to work every day, and drank a Scotch every night
from the deck of his contempo, eyeing the canopy of peon-lights.

Even Gorpman would call his bread-and-butter, mere Pseudo-Science
wrapped in assumptions, masticated by an Oracle of Mortar.

But, more and more, corporaciones want the Gringo Touch
and that means driving your clients to tears while prodding
them to engage ineffective voice recognition software
that won’t let you asterisk to a synchronous operator.

To play the Gringo Touch, obfuscate the operator in a call
center minaret doubling as a Walmart Congressional Franchise

Office: a forward-base in the hot province, a platform of
shiesty clans, a HQ in the world from which to launch
countless vessels of lop-sided, aggressive
enterprise and put them indelibly on hold.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012



Lewd calls from debt
collectors in the morning
sound like surly birds
in wampumdumpsters.

Aren't debt collectors just so smug
with your account innards on their screens?

Querying you on how you disburse
your sesame sums? Asking you for your
treasured sequences?

The nerve, the unfettered nerve,
of diluting my morning with such assclownery,
such premeditated, yet disjointed, ire arousal.

I would like to speak to a supervisor
and take my name off the Shitkicker Index
except when I answer, it automatically cues
to parlare with debt wraith from the Gobi

who I know full well pushes a black Navigator
with illegal tints as a statement on the illegitimacy of taste
who bluetooths through lunch hour on the deadbeat
treadmill and liquidates customer clusters during barre

My dear sirs/madams, the phone is not indeed
a fuchsia vibrator to be ribbed or unribbed
at your disposition! I have willfully engaged
in a see-saw of usury with you, this much is true.

But, this does not mean I must respect your
threshold for insubordination, or privilege
you pricks speaking ill of my icerberg.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I push a beat-up, 22-year-old Volvo through the streets of South Los Angeles. I am on way to a school or Family Source Center or Boys and Girls Club or Opportunity High School. I am packing a digital projector, generic computer tablet, and eight foot of extension cord. My flash drive (4 Gigs) weighs a ton (as does my Uzi).

Once there, I set up my shit, get into facilitator mode. I pass around a sheet (which artifacts the data I use to justify my existence) and/or pamphlets & literature for an array of programs. The seats slowly fill up with parents or administrators (real municipal hard-ons) and I try to light up the room like a Philippino Catherine Wheel.

Patrons: there are great streams of free available to thee, from sea to shining sea, in these United States of Green. Our decree is simple: Literacy for all. Our mission replete with the glut of centuries. Patrons: we move against the toxins of ignorance, against the impediments of equality. We believe in the right to education, political history, the protocols of democracy.

We believe in books, but not in legislating how they should be read. We believe in readers trafficking books and those supporting software. We believe the library is a community space and a spatial imperatrive. You should have the right to stretch out and take any book off the shelf and find an empty seat and launch yourself into a shallow orbit of occipital brain fireworks.

We reserve the right for you to disappear in the words of another person.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


My ms. is a finalist for the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize @ University of Notre Dame Press. I feel very fortunate to be competing against some of the best Latino Poets currently writing in the U.S. right now, http://latinopoetryreview.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The postcard of the medieval dame with headgear is from my illustrious Poetry Editor, Jim Heavily. The postcard of the Florida panther is from Karen Ristow, the mother of a great friend of mine. I just wanted to mash these postcards up and thank these senders with an individual aside praising their assiduousness.

Thank You/Gracias!

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Superintendent John J. Pedicone, Ph.D.
Tucson Unified School District
1010 E. Tenth St.
Tucson, AZ 85719
(520) 225-6000

Hinchas de Poesia
Yago S. Cura, Publisher
Max Macias, Librarian
1_9__ Venice Blvd.
L.A., CA. 90066

Dr. Pedicone

We have never met, and my son and/or daughter is not a student in the school district you oversee. I am writing today in my capacity as the publisher of Hinchas de Poesía (www.hinchasdepoesia.com), an online literary journal, and in collaboration with Max Macias, a Chicano librarian that lives near Portland, OR. We are both members of REFORMA, although the contents of this letter and the opinions expressed herein are solely our opinions (Yago S. Cura and Max Macias).

We are writing to express our intense gratitude for your continuing, yet albeit wholly indirect, support of Ethnic Studies in the United States of America. Put Simply, if it were not for you upholding Arizona state law ARS 15-112, which prohibits the use of educational materials that, "promote the overthrow of the United States government; promote resentment toward a race or class of people; are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group; advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals," then Ethnic Studies in the United States might still just be a tangential, ancillary artery of Literature.

As a small online publisher I may have had increasingly less and less to publish; likewise, with less Ethnic Studies books, Max would have less and less books to shelf (because that's the only thing librarians really do!)We understand that you are not only upholding the law, but your conscience as well! We salute your efforts and comprehend that without the pencil-pushing demagogues in the T.U.S.D. Governing Board and the myopic middle-management zanganos that could not teach their way out of a sopping-wet, paper bag, there is no way you could have marched into that classroom in Tucson High Magnet School, boxed up those books, and goose-stepped out.

We understand your leagues of apology press releases and we salute (heartily, as if from a fatherland) your press releases that negate Shakespeare's The Tempest as a banned text, or that the texts that are banned are available through the Tucson Public Library, which assuredly has enough Ethnic Studies texts available for every darn Arizonian. There is so much compassion in the Latino community that we blanket you with understandings, comprehendings, and cognitive integrative systems. But, let's be honest: without your sage and cosmopolitan bigotry, many of the writers whose books you rightfully banned might have been relegated to the status of literary conference hags and community college writing hacks destined solely to the erosion of illiteracy at the "hood" level.

But, as Sherman Alexie believes, you have made these texts sacred, eminently attractive to minority students, and a hive of rumors, gospel, heresy, and yellow journalism. You have a forced editors out of their editing chairs and deputized them (informally, of course) to become book smugglers or librotraficantes. Tony Diaz, the editor of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, could have just been another minority writer, editor, translator, teacher; you have made him aspire to justice and smuggle into your district relatively unknown texts which now smolder with the mesmerizing possibilities of something forbidden. You have empowered our texts at a time when less and less people are reading books, especially when the numbers of people of color is at an all time low-high not high-low.

Monday, March 26, 2012


The Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti is relatively unknown in the United States, but in Latin America the name Mario Benedetti is synonymous with Poetry. Even though the work of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is more heavily championed in the United States, Benedetti is the real workhorse of Latin American Poetry. By the time of his death in 2009, Benedetti had published over 80 books (poetry, novels, plays, etc.) in Spanish, and his poetry, plays, and fiction have been translated into more than 25 languages. Although Benedetti is primarily known as a poet, his work was the basis for two movies, 1975's La Tregua and 1992's El Lado Oscuro del Corazón (both produced by Argentine movie companies).

Benedetti's poems are the ones young boys in Montevideo plagiarize the most to their girlfriends. His poems are the ones on the lips of taxi drivers, sanitation workers, and salarymen. That is why, Witness: The Selected Poems of Mario Benedetti, translated by Luoise B. Popkin is such a gem. Witness not only brings Benedetti's best work to light for a discerning American public, it does so through a translator that knew and had a working relationship with Benedetti while the author was alive. A personal relationship with an author does not a translator make, but Louise B. Popkin travels frequently to Uruguay and knows the Uruguayan dialect and several of the registers Uruguayans utilize on a daily basis. Thus, in terms of proximity to source language, Popkin's translations are on some next-level, high-fidelity grind.

Reading Benedetti's poems are like listening in on a phone call to Montevideo, or ear hustling a pavilion of Uruguayan ingenues. Benedetti's poems are colloquial and direct in ways all poets would all like to emulate, but rarely can. In Office Poems (1959), Benedetti sings of the numbing drudgery experienced by the salarymen and salarywomen of Montevideo. These poems address that sense of financial obligation that suffocates office workers the world over, but Benedetti doesn't point his finger at them: dread is universal, an almost modern rite of passage,

"in this envelope stuffed with peso bills
dirty from so many dirty hands
which they pay me, of course, at the end of each month
for keeping their books up to date
and letting life go by,
one drop at a a time
like rancid oil."

Benedetti played a large part in legitimizing Cuban literary venues and endeavors, serving as a celebrity poet at several conferences and workshops on the island during the late 60's. Furthermore, he was politically aligned with the Tupamaros, an urban guerilla movement that gained notoriety after staging some dramatic fund-raising in banks and depositories. Benedetti was a lefty, but he was openly critical of the atrocities and the state-supported terror that Latin American military inflicted upon the populace during most of the 70's. With that said, one of my favorites from Witness: The Selected Poems of Mario Benedetti, is "Desaparecidos," the term used in Latin America for dissidents and students that were "disappeared" by police and military agents during most of the 70's.

"They're out there somewhere/ all assembled
disassembled/ bewildered/ voiceless
each seeking the others/ seeking us
hemmed in by their question marks and doubts
with their eyes on the ironwork in the plazas
the doorbells/ the shabby rooftops"

According to Margaret Randall, the feminist poet, writer, photographer and social activist, Mario Benedetti visited the United States in 1959, but was later denied an entry visa by the U.S. government. This might go a long ways to explaining why his allure is so dismal in the United States, but Benedetti doesn't strike me as a person interested in the court of American public opinion. Witness: The Selected Poems of Mario Benedetti (White Pine Press, 2012) is the definitive, comprehensive tome for enthusiasts of Latin American Poetry but the translations are so seamless that poetry fans writ large are bound to take notice and hopefully a revival of Benedetti's work might ensue.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Macarena Shoes

"most people doing the Macarena: 1,541"--U.K. Guardian, Thursday 17 November 2011

No coincidence the wrist:
a.k.a. most chismoso of the appendages.

Or, that a tier of Filipino inmates
could be coerced by Warden-Michael-Jackson-Fan
to execute the monster dance jamboree in “Thriller.”

Entonces, only in group dances do we jump
as one packet of certifiable, concerted entity?

Como es que hacen en Pyongyang, pues?

Or, perhaps, the answer is quite simple: they do it in Pyongyang
with state-issued Macarena Shoes.

O.K., then, my Macarena Shoes are assault slippers
that glissade vibratto fuzzicles of Amphibian Television.
that jete from Fad-Dance Tendons to Phalanges of Increasing Gusto.

No, sir, my Macarena Shoes move smoov', unbound by Physics,
deployed by Wizards on Alchemy Campuses, sought by several
low-level distributors.

My Macarena Shoes engender moves.
And, moves sleep deep in the bussoms of Boys
despite the consternation of fey shoulders.

Latchkey kids feel me on this: the minute the tumbler released
the bolt for me to enter my unattended home my moves became inspired,
and I swore I could move like a Belizean named Dunbar Bradley
or Basil Edgar Thomas.


I finally did this interview thing for Rafa Alvarado's World Wide Word Radio Network. Give it a whirl and listen to my chocolatey radio voice and Louise's awesohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifme answers, especially her beliefs against using Latinate cognates to translate Southern Cone Castellano which has its own way of saying things.


Saturday, March 17, 2012


I will be interviewing Louise B. Popkin for Rafa Alvarado's World Wide Word Radio about Benedetti's "Witness" (White Pine Press) on Wednesday, March 21, http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif2012 from 11:00am until 12:00pm.

According to the website, Louise "resides in the Boston area, where she teaches Spanish at Harvard's Division of Continuing Education. She also spends several months each year in Montevideo, Uruguay, and her translations of Latin American poetry, theater and fiction have appeared in such literary journals as Triquarterly, Mid-American Review, Kenyon Review, and Beacons, as well as in numerous anthologies.
Please tune in and join the conversation,

So, I thought I would come up with some questions to ask Louise B. Popkin since our interview is going to last for at least an hour.

1.) I see in Benedetti's poems a great love of juxtapositions, and odd pairings. Like in "Angelus," Benedetti describe an office environment where the tables are big enough "for all our elbows" and then follows that up with, "una silla que gira cuando quiero escaparme/ a chair that spins when I want to get away." I imagine this does not make it easy for you as a translator. Please talk about some of the difficulties you had translating Benedetti's poems?

2.) Could you please talk about your process as you translate, from what you listen to in the background as you translate to the type of computer you use? Is your process completely analog, or are there digital elements?

3.) In the introduction to "Witness" you new book out on White Pine Press, you talk about translating "Birthday in Manhattan" and how Benedetti's work is deceivingly straight forward, but rich with allusions and meanings you would have to coax out. Could you please elaborate?

4.) In what ways is literary translation like hunting or setting up a trap for an animal?

5.) In Office Poems it almost seems Benedetti is trying to incite the salarymen and salarywomen of Montevideo to throw off their cubicle-yokes and riot. Do you think Benedetti might have wanted to incite office workers to revolt against their immediate supervisors?

6.) Nowadays, having a job, any kind of job, is seen as a blessing. Do you think the tension in Office Poems might be lost on an audience that's weathered the severe economic downturn of 2008 to the present?

7.) Do Office Poems talk specifically about a malaise only felt in Montevideo, or is this Dread of Offices a global phenonmenon?

8.) In your opinion, did Benedetti do something specific against the U.S. government to deny him an entry visa? Was it simply his involvement in cultural events and the Cuban Milieu?

9.) What do you think Mario Benedetti might say about a person like Julian Assange and WikiLeaks? How does Benedetti's poetry stand as "Witness" against daily degradations and obfuscations that happen in Latin America?

10.) You write that the last time Benedetti was in the states was in 1959. Do you think this contributed to his limited publicity before an American reading public? In other words, might he have cultivated more of an audience in the U.S. if the U.S. government hadn't barred him from entering the U.S.?

11.) Why should we read Benedetti in the states? What poets do you believe he has directly influenced, much like Vallejo directly influenced Benedetti?

12.) I see that for this book, Witness, you collaborated directly with the estate of Mario Benedetti and White Pine Press. Where there times when they wanted different things? Was this an organic collaboration, or did you feel at times different players wanting different things?

13.) How did you go about selecting the poems in Witness? How does the title directly address Bendetti's involvement in political movements, and why did you decide to title it Witness?

14.) Was there an over-riding thematic approach you used to select the poems you were going to translate?

15.) What books are on Benedetti's book shelf in the afterlife?

16.) What might have Benedetti said about River Plate descending to a second tier futbol club? I know Benedetti belonged to Nacional, but do you think he would have been a fan of Forlan's?

17.) Why aren't there more poems about futbol? I know of Galeano's Futbol a Sol y Sombra but besides that one, I haven't heard of too many poems written about futbol. The format of poetry seems especially suited to the short bursts of creative energy that typifies the game.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


If you haven't heard, Beyond Baroque is offering a FREE Latin American Poetry Workshop on Mondays from 7-9 in the Beyond Baroque bookstore. Last night, we covered the atmospheric poetry of Uruguayan Mario Benedetti. Next week we will be discussing the poetry of Mistral and Storni, which might be a stretch given the differences in voice and tone exemplified by these poetesses.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Moods by Mario Benedetti from "Poemas de Otros" (1974).
Translated by Yago Cura

by Mario Benedetti

Sometimes I feel
like a poor hill
and other times
like a mountain
of repeating peaks

sometimes I feel
like a cliff
and other times a sky
blue but far

sometimes one is
a geyser between rocks
and other times a tree
with its last leaves

but today I barely feel
like an insomniac lagoon
like a pier bereft of boats

a green lagoon
immobile and patient
happy with its algae
its moss and its fish

serene in my confidences
confident that one afternoon
you will come closer and look at yourself
and see yourself in your looking at me.


"Christmas Bonus by Mario Benedetti, originally from Office Poems (1950). Translated in 2000 by Harry Morales and published by Host Publications in 2006.

Christmas Bonus
by Mario Benedetti

I've already added up my bills
and I'm not paying

Not the tailor who made these lapels for me
like cock pigeon wings
or the poor grocer
who doesn't sell me sugar
or the bank that hangs me
or the bookseller who complains
or destiny that surely doesn't collect
the tender prayers
that I pay cash on delivery.

I've already added up my bills
and I'm not paying

I'll collect the Christmas bonus in one dollar bills
and I'll go walking along Dieciocho
whistling a bitter tango
like another careless person.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Ma Dukes is currently moving at 600 mph above the Gulf of Mexico or possibly the sad, stringent plains of central Texas. Touchdown in 2 hrs. and 30 mins. at L.A.X. Panda and I definitely more psyched about this than 'Linnsters. The last two weeks a sort of marathon of stressed breaths and clenched invectives since we were counting on her being here two weeks earlier.

New Sunday chore: buying a harness for 'Linnsters so Ma Dukes can keep up with our fidgety midget. If we're lucky there will be a sale on toddler harnesses and we can gladiator with other parents about which designer toddler harness is ergonomically more appropriate for our child, while said children hoist poop kibble out of their pampers. What does one wear to a harness fitting at Toys R' Us.

On Friday when I called to buy her ticket, I gave the agent the birthday we celebrate and not the birthday registered on her license. So, there I am buying her ticket and I'm about as salty as Tom Hanks at a desolate Sandals and the operator asks me my mother's birthday. Naturally, I hesitate because I remember a similar fiasco the last time I was relegated to travel agent cum son. And despite all my best intentions, I gave her incorrect name and incorrect date and birth, and the agent totally laughed at me for not knowing my mother's date of birth.

Naturally, this slight is not taken for granted. I tear into the agent and explain that my poor old ma' was born at a time when it took sometimes two months to plan and travel to the nearest civil registry. Since it was a purely clerical procedure, most people planned accordingly and did not enter the orbit of this obligation for some time, sometimes months. The way it stood with my moms, she was born born on the __ of _________ember but was not registered at the civil registry until a good two days after the year had turned in 19__.

She's has always been Estela to my sisters and I, middle name Rosa. And, we have always thought Rosa to be like a champion carrot for a slow horse: nice, but also very cliche and groncho. So, we always knew Ma Dukes as Estela Rosa, but Rosa Estela is that second skin hanging in her bureau of bones; and, there is no way that you can get rid of that coat once you've decided to lug it around your life, like paperbacks you've grown out of, etc.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012


This is Abel's third postcard. I hope he ripped the image he used in his postcard off of some of Mathew Brady's Civil War photography . Truth be told the cabaret dancer's leg coming out of that general's groin is an apt tangent, especially if you take into consideration how military garb and feminine hosiery are both very ostentatious (dare I say flamboyant and fabulous) styles of clothing. According to Brady's Wikipedia article, Brady is the father of photojournalism. Perusing a bit, I caught some content that made me a little reflective: "During the war, Brady spent over $100,000 to create over 10,000 plates. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the war ended, but when the government refused to do so he was forced to sell his New York City studio and go into bankruptcy" and "His first popular photographs of the conflict were at the First Battle of Bull Run, in which he got so close to the action that he barely avoided capture."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

20th Century Latin American Poetry @ Beyond Baroque

Starting February 6, 2012 Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd Venice, CA 90291-4805 (310) 822-3006, will offer a 20th Century Latin American Poetry workshop on Monday nights from 7-9. Yago Cura, publisher of the online journal Hinchas de Poesia (www.hinchasdepoesia.com), will serve as facilitator of the free workshops. Each session will address the work of a different 20th Century Latin American poet, and allow students to generate a piece inspired by some of their signature poems.

In Spanish, Rubén Darío’s Azul (1888) is widely credited with ushering in the literary movement called, Modernismo. The work of 20th Century Latin American poets is important because their efforts predate the work of Modernists like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. As Ilan Stavans writes in the introduction of The FSG Book of Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry (2011), “Modernism, which, roughly speaking, came about in the English-speaking world a couple of decades later and includes Woolf, Stein, Pound, and Joyce.” It is not only erroneous to assume that modern poetry starts with Eliot’s The Wasteland (1922), but it also highlights our prejudices towards literary movements that don’t emanate in our country.

But what characterizes poetry as “Latin American?” What set of traits distinguishes it from say Icelandic poetry, or Urdu verses? Latin American poetry is eminently political and playful, sardonic, nostalgic. It has its roots in French symbolism, but was inspired by Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe. It is highly modern, and at the same time always harkens hindsight. The module starts with Rubén Darío and ends with Eduardo Galeano’s, Memory of Fire. However, Ernesto Cardenal’s epigrammatic forms will be discussed, and so will Robert Juarroz’s Vertical Poetry and Nicannor Parra’s Anti-Poetry. The fact of the matter is that Latin American poetry encapsulates many “poetries.”

Please join us on Mondays nights as we discuss the work of these great poets, and gain inspiration to compose our own works. Moreover, join us as we resuscitate the spirit and aesthetics of these writers and try to understand what makes them memorable. The work of 20th Century Latin American poets not only informs us about the history and politics of Latin America, but also about our predilections in the U.S. as many of our poets have emulated and embraced Latin American styles.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Some stories you remember because you were there, and your mind has a way of indexing random negatives. Other stories are pure incantation, either because your physical presence was not an ingredient, or because every time you tell the story you are working your way towards making the episode more real and whole.

In the winter of 1979, Estela entered LaGuardia Community College in Queens. Horacio and her had completed their G.E.D.s at Dewey High School in Bensonhurst the previous year and were primed for some vocational education. The concession machines in the student union buzzed with pure American products, and on the far wall a projector played an episode of "Sanford and Son." I can tell it was "Sanford and Son," because of the theme music (a jangly, gypsy chortle set to harmonica puffs), which even today makes me crave Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, and TAB.

Or maybe it was the following year, after Estela had worked her ways towards higher-level Fashion technology classes. Those where held in a refurbished, repurposed factory barracks and parking athenium; they had left the walls exposed brick and all the doors to the classrooms where china white. Inside the classrooms there were drafting tables and mismatched mannequins (brown heads and necks and pale torsos, etc.) and jeweler's repair tables. They had not changed the factory windows so there were what seemed like hundreds of glass squares each dolloped with a little landscape. I wish I could say that my mother created thousands of original, fashionable iterations but that would be like cheating because it never happened.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The hacktivist collective also known as DUBIOUS had struck again, disabling the websites of several law enforcement agencies, exposing their weaknesses and highlighting the severe limitations of their knowledge.

They had fucked with the code so that the websites for the DOJ, FBI, and HSD looked as if an imbecile had violated it with Paintbrush; they had literally defiled the site's integrity, and the violence of the strokes denoted that the fight had gotten territorial.

What to do with DUBIOUS? Most law enforcement agencies had profiles on who the leaders were and how they made their living. The problem was that many of those sought had been living off the grid for decades. And, these technicians were so nuanced, and such virtuosos, that they could pretty much ply their trade anywhere.

Their intimate knowledge of systems could be used as a tool or a weapon. And, that was what made it so hard to prosecute them: they were methodical architects while at the same time double-jointed escape artists. In other words, DUBIOUS had keys for both sides of the door, and how they used the door was completely at the disposal of their discretion.

I have a cousin, Juan Martin; he's some type of cellphone engineer or professor programmer in Barcelona. Juan's from the same jungle province as my mother, but he recently designed some concrete that conscripts your phone into acting as a visual transponder and relaying certain physical data, say for example lack of food in your upper intestine, to the vendors in your immediate digital environment.

Juan found a way to force his phone to scan and divulge whether or not he should be hungry, or could use a surge of sucrose or caffeine in his veins; it narcs on him because people are not to be trusted with knowing when their bodies tell them things anymore.

For example, I doubt whether his brain was not saying to tone it down the other day when he got all megaphone on one of his channels, egging on the efforts of DUBIOUS, the internet maven cadre, and their Denial of Service attacks. If I am not mistaken, the post was a mixture of flaming grammar, capital letters, and adolescent wit.

Something real subtle like:

La REPUTAMADRE K te pario FBI!!!! La informacion es gratis!!! YANQUIS DE MIERDA!!! FUERA DE NUESTRO INTERNET!!! Motherfucker Hijos de Puta! Que DUBIOUS te cage todos los sistemas y te resinde al Tiempo de las Cuevas.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I am currently engaged in a Postcard Feat with Abel Folgar. This is Abel's first postcard that I have received. As you can see it was made by a psychotic bouncer librarian; the poem on the backside is titled, Dusty Roads Beg Water. I predict that Abel will take to the roads sooner than later, and the United States will shudder as he traverses its veins. I would have put Abel's poem here as well, but what the hell am I going to sell if I let you read the actual poem. It's like someone's grandmother used to say, if you give away the milk, no one is going to want to buy your cow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


My mother's apartment had not been "marked" by the police for increased surveillance; word had not come down for an unmarked Ford Falcon to circle her block like a bull shark. No order came down for her to be shadowed.

Her address had not been registered at the cuartel, nor had it been the added to the lists the police were constantly smashing together. In a word, she was a nobody, and that suited her fine because of the anonymity being a nobody afforded her.

But, she had gotten to know people in the movement, and she sometimes feigned being a reporter so she could get into lectures for free. She was known to carry a tape recorder as a prop; shortly thereafter, it became her talisman. And once or twice, she even offered up her tiny departamento as a venue for lectures or presentations.

One time she hosted two Cuban compadres from the Administración Postal de Cuba. Because they called my mother, Negra, the two Cubans could pass for her brothers, cousins, or kin. The three of them together raised less eyebrows than my mother alone, somehow.

She had run away from Tucumán to Buenos Aires at 14, home being one of the thickest and at times remote provinces in Argentina's 23-stared province-diadem. On her own, my mother, stood out like a sore thumb; also, she had a mythological pair of gams she liked to flaunt in mini-skirts and boots.