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.

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.