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

Friday, December 16, 2016


All jewelers are bastards; they run after capital all day. They run after gold dust and forest green wax models. They chase and hunt, they root for loot, they sprinkle diamond milk onto rice krispy gold ingots. And in many ways, they get high on their own supply; they disburse bracelets, necklaces, all linked with chispitas de hielo, like some tiny bridge gone slack, some scintillating centipede getting it's stomach rubbed.

Bastards because they need to get their price of labor in there and probably a finder's fee or handler's tax, a mordida that says I was at this deal when it was jumping from one testicle to another. There's an if you-hurry-me-fee and a fee for if you tell me the wrong size or talle and I have to recast. Bastards with no price fix scruples, no threshold for graft, no subtle finagle. They have the product, handle the manufacture (even if they have to send it out) and give you a price that involves labor, parts, splendor, and awe.

But the annals are reserved for those especially unscrupulous puss-sacks that prowled the Seybold when Cocaine was king. I remember the jewelers all lined up outside the cafecito window in one enormous huddle of guayaberas, Tommy Bahama hats, and cigar cologne. All nationalities, all religious affiliations, huddling outside in the ninety-three degree afternoon sauna, sharpening their gouging knives and rubbing their sausage-link fingers together. The cafecito window is where the deals were sprung, where affiliations were launched, and where treachery reared it's fuck-ugly mug.

Werner was a Brazilian jeweler; his specialty was diamond-setting. He was a Black Belt but very delicate with setting diamonds. He was also extremely racist, but all the other jewelers liked him like that because going out on a limb like that gave them an opening, a weapon they might use on you in later transactions. His grandparents had been German, so the handlebar moustache Werner wore only needed liederhosen to compliment it; he was just below tall, bald, and passed for White. He could split a papaya in half with his katana while getting the pose right.

The smart jewelers had more work than they could possibly finish, so they outsourced a great deal of the work they did on their jewelry, but it's like this in most industries, que no? However, some of the jewelers outsourcing labor didn't want other jewelers to know for various reasons. So, work around the Seybold always had this spy code of reticence. If you pulled away from the cafecito window earlier than usual, the other jewelers already knew whose job you were rushing off to fulfill. You can imagine that some of the jewelers amassed outside the cafecito window were not really jewelers but fences.

There was one fence, Humbertico, that actually bought a used Crown Vic from the police because he wanted everyone to know who he was in cahoots with. Humbertico always wore Oakleys and had his hat backward; he looked like a man in his mid-forties that had been sequestered by his fraternity and kept in a dungeon for 15 years. Humbertico could get you whatever you needed, except drugs, drugs were someone else's dominion, but he did a swift trade in stolen laptops, video cameras, and televisions. He wasn't a jeweler, but they had given his honorary status because Humbertico was stupid busy come Christmas, and he could get you that thing your wife most needed in her life to shut the fuck up and let you be a scoundrel again.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Bro, my dad used to get his hair cut in the sotano of the Seybold Building. Sotano is Spanish for basement, bro, and if you can believe it, skyscrapers in Miami do have basements, dude. However, with Miami's liminal sea levels, i.e. most of Miami is three feet under sea level, most of the sotanos in South Florida are pool-side bars?

But, this was 1987, so te imaginas. Anyways, there used to be a barber shop in sotano of the Seybold, bro; tremendo barbershop with black diamond tiles on the floor and large windows, you know like a throwback barbershop except it wasn't throwback because this is the mid-80's. Anyways, my sister and I got into a fight, and that was the first time mi viejo threatened to make us drink each other's pee if we couldn't get along. Also, the barber my father had was gay because my father told me he was gay, but he seemed like all the other men in the sotano.

In Miami, siempre, the possibility of things is suuuuuuper finite, bro: por ejemplo, there is just so much pressure you can apply to a package of land in South Florida before it goes, kerplunk!, like a crisp particle board, dude, and you shoot to the other side. And, who knows if there is water under the water? Immense is the damp, te imaginas? Suuuper immense was the damp in that sotano, bro.

Musty, muddy, feral. The barbershop there was these three smells plus Barbicide, which sentineled the four stations in the basement barbershop. I probably got my hair cut there once or twice, but I bet the barber's been gone for more than 20 years. Ya hace tiempo, my Miami details, bro, are slurry and full of like opaque syrup, bro, things perhaps, that were never there, I am beginning to believe, are trying to be the forefront of an intense remembering?

Mi viejo dice the basement brota agua, it blossoms water at all times like some sacred Hindu river, or some Mesopotamian spring. Maybe, it's because there is a river under the sotano. Maybe, bro, the foundation has become so colloquial with the limestone that it has turned into petrified sand. Maybe, the Bay gets hungry after it moonlights as a nostalgist? Maybe, downtown Miami will finally just wash into the Atlantic like a spot of India ink bombarded by a droplet of green salt water?

Maybe the center won't hold for the residents of Seybold's sotano who have all recently been told that the city and administration are trying to figure out when they can re-open the sotano. They have been put on hold for close to 8 months, and no one is doing anything about it. My father says, bro, that the owners have every right to do what they want while the jewelers have the right to find other accommodations.

He also says that I should stop thinking with my heart--that my heart don't know shit about the world. And, he's right. Getting nostalgic about a place that the city has closed down for health reasons is just plain dumb, bro. But, this space, sooner than later will find itself being filled in with bureaucratic concrete and smoothed over.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


My pops had a taller on the sixth floor of the Seybold for, at least, the last ten years. Cuidado, I'm not calling his workshop a taller to make reference to atelier, the word in French for workshop, but calling it taller because that's what my dad, a Spanish-language speaker that spoke grammatical English with an accent, would call it as well. He didnt renew his lease after the Seybold administration came up with unfavorable lease terms, like for example, that he sign a lease for five years instead of the standard two.

He feels the owners are getting ready to make a move towards transforming the building into residential, instead of, commercial spaces. But, let's be clear: #651 wasn't his studio because he was a tinkerer or hobbyist. Like, it was his refuge because that's where he spent the majority of his day, but dad is an actual jeweler and caster of jewelry. And, his diamond-setting and wristwatch games were super strong; my pops can tell you the province in China where the knockoff Rolex you just bought emanates from. He put two kids through college with the work that he did, but was always very careful to avoid the moniker artisan, or implication that there was any type of duende in his work.

Maybe, this is why, while disagreing with their tactics, my father looks at their play as part of the deal that's dealt when you do business. But, is it? Is it wise to scrub the cultural detritus of a space simply because of commerce? Is it wise to, through inaction and misadministration, allow the tenants of a commercial space you rent to relent and release their leases? There is history in this building, regardless of if the Seybold prompts erasure. And, that history involved it being the building where common slobs went to buy jewelry for their girlfriends and wives, daughters and mistresses, baby dolls, sugar pies.

His work was commercial and soul-less, not snowflake-original and quixotically priced. #651 was just the last ten years of his working life, but he's been in the building for a good 30 years. The years clasp nicely into decades: a decade working with his brother-in-law (an irascible sidekick and nihlist); a decade working with Michael Patel (a PhD in Physics funded by a diamond mine); and about a decade or so working for himself (manufacture, repair, bullshiterio). Actually, because he works in cash, he's always sort of worked for himself, but he's had different masters and has been his own master for spells.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


As you walk in to the Seybold, some of the first fronts are or were wrapped in black marble to give it an elegant sheen. Some of the fronts even have gold Art Deco accents, and dull, opaque siding that runs under and over the display windows.

The floor has a diamond checkerboard pattern, and all the fronts have enormous 1,000 gallon jewelry displays of their most valued pieces or watches or whatever pendant is in at the moment. I remember the displays for when spinning rings were popular had necks that jutted forward and back to give the tier on the ring some momentum. The jewelry displays in the arcade of the Seybold building could put you up for life and maybe send your kid to college in the future.

You will want to stray at this point and go down the rows of rings and watches and bracelets and take a look even though you have six dollars to your name. Why do you look? For the same reason that these jokers put their best, most expensive alajas just outside your reach: it is to make you want nothing more than to caress, and run your digits over these pieces, like some thief that can read Braille or denominations in paper money.

Look at those diamond-encrusted Rolexes, peep those Tags just sitting back in their ergonomic, velvety displays. The world is an oyster with overflowing pearls if you can figure out how to smash a three-inch plexiglass wall in under 15 seconds. The people milling about are wearing their Sunday best which makes no sense: when you go to buy jewelry, if the jeweler sees you rocking name brand he feels less of a sting when he charges you name brand, so from now on let's wear our rags to the jewelers so we can get basement barricks price.

Inevitably you come to the guard kiosk which is being guarded not by kiosks but by middle-aged men with flood pants, white socks, and athletic security guard booties. Their hand is reflexively on their holster, as if a memo had been issued by the administration that touching your peepee in public was now allowed. Who were they going to scare when they were always in their witches coven huddle, stroking their chins at all the viejas squeezed into spandex faldas, meng.

There's also an entrance on East Flagler with a narrower espalande, and the display windows are like unknown lodes of a couple of thousand dollars of trinkets and exotic doodads. The shops on the East Flagler side are smaller but somehow more compressed and thus packed. Like if people were going to go the Seybold to buy jewelry it was probably going to be done on the arcade because while access is not denied to strangers, the kiosk might get curious if they were to see you milling about, doing a close reading of the registry. It is here that my sister and I came to the least, the place we rarely trespassed, even when left to our devices. But, it is the place where we would have seen more a more normal Miami, than the rabble of fences, forgers, and pharaohs of smut.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


I forget the guy's name but we called him Pancho. In Argentina, they call hot dogs, panchos. So, I don't know if we called him Pancho because that was his name (a variation of Frank) or if because he sold hot dogs. He was a hot dog vender with a bona fide aluminum shinning hot dog cart, and our pops would take my sister and I to lunch at his hot dog cart every day during the summers when we went to work with him. I remember his cart used to be across the street from the fancy looking bank on the corner of Flagler and First. That was his spot, and he worked it incredibly well. These were the days before the Miami-Dade CC expansion (back when it was still a CC) and reinvention of downtown Miami, back when the arena was still a stone throws from the Mason-Dixon between downtown and Overtown.

Pancho had thick set librarian glasses and wasn't very tall. If he was Argentine, he was a provincial because his asshole quotient was always low, not unlike my father and my uncle who were two Sudacas with enough soccer knowledge to make them helium egos. Pancho always wore his socks up to his knees but always wore expensive tennis court sneakers, as if slinging hot dogs was his side gig. He wore cargo pants in the mid-80's, back only when mercenary tacticians wore them, and a plain, green apron with two pockets down the front, from which a pair of rubber-gripped tongs hung near his nuts. He usually rocked Polo shirts but had exclusive license to ones that were stripped vertically. In essence, he dressed like a dad, he dressed like my dad dressed, which is probably why I remember at all what he looked like. Also, he was not my parents' only friends that made a living selling concession. Years later my folks would befriend and go halfsies with another Argentine couple that made a living with concessions during the 80's.

I used to take advantage of the situation while scarfing down my hot dog and throw crumbs at my sister's feet because she was terrified of pigeons. They would flock to her foot and she would bug out and ask my dad to reprimand me, and I would point to the ground and signal the lack of bread evidence. It was a game we'd play partly because my dad would be so busy talking to Pancho and Pinino that he wouldn't notice my sister having an aneurysm on the corner of Flagler and First. Also, Pancho's panchos now that I think of it were mostly the sauerkraut and relish we used to balance precariously on that hot dog. And, of course, there was the selection of the sodas which turned into a feat of bravery and pain for my sister and I. By the time we came down it was well past noon and Pancho had been sitting out in the sun under a parasol for a very long time. By the time we would come down the water in the little tank where Pancho kept the sodas was as cold and painful as arctic lemonade. My sister and I would see who could keep our hands in the icy water for longer and I would invariably always lose because I am a pussy and my sister developed the ability to snap the heads off pigeons with tiny incisor kicks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Hinchas Press was super honored this year to be a part of the 2016 Los Angeles LitCrawl. LitCrawl is a smorgasboard of readings that transpire in one night in North Hollywood. Hinchas presented a program called "Pushing Past Neruda," which challenged the readers to engage with a piece of Latin American Poetry. The focus of Hinchas de Poesia is certainly not Latin American Poetry, but the continent figures prominently in our aesthetic cache.

Regardless, Annette Cruz, Sara Borjas, Ryan Nance, William A Gonzalez, and Mike Sonksen all agreed to read and showed up to read in the Snyder Breezeway. I had never organized a reading in a breezeway, so you can imagine when I showed up and it was a simple callejon with bamboo accents. We did receive a battery operated amp and a mic which did enhance the experience of the reading quite a bit. I do think that LitCrawl Los Angeles, given their budget, did a stellar job of organizing the readings.

I can't thank the readers enough for bringing it on a Wednesday night to North Hollywood and for engaging with the city in a way few people know how to enjoy. Hinchas Press was super honored to be able to organize this on behalf of the amazing readers and their superior efforts.

Official LitCrawl slider

These are the flyers that we came up with to promote and publicize our efforts.

Sara Borjas y'all!

Sara Borjas y'all!

Sara Borjas y'all! (Dennis Cruz foreground)

William A. Gonzalez

William A. Gonzalez

Annette Cruz

Annette Cruz

Mike Sonksen

Mike Sonksen

Mike Sonksen

Monday, November 7, 2016


I have been going to the Seybold since about the fifth grade. You see, my father, a jeweler in the building, would take my sister and I to the Seybold because it was cheaper than camp. We had tried the camp summer before and truth be told it was as harrowing as going to work with my father all day. Plus, it was always the same campers at summer camp whereas when we went with my father to work there was no telling who we were going to be forced to say hi to. And, my father let my sister and I play with as much boiling wax that our epidermises could withstand; we would sit at his "molds" table and push the nozzle on the kettle and out would come super hot wax, green or blue, dripping down our eager hands, and the first to say "ow" or any variation thereof would lose and have to hang their heads in shame the rest of the day. My sister always beat me at this game because she was as hard as seven-year-old-nails are straight.

On days we went to work with him, my father would drive to the Dadeland Mall or South Miami station and just take the MetroRail into Government Center. It's a two block walk from Government Center to the Seybold, and in those two blocks you will have to traverse several homeless encampments, the steps of the Federal Court House and several disgruntled parking lots. Right where we used to turn left on Flagler, we used to run into the homeless guy my dad called, Pajarito (little bird). Pajarito was or still is a homeless scamp in downtown Miami, so he wears the typical raiments of the homeless, like parkas in the dead of summer; his beard looked like a dirty asterisk, overgrown with blurriness, and I forget whether he ever wore shoes: it might have been he used to wear newspaper slippers but his pathology was not violent, his demeanor was kind of Chaplinesque. So, pajarito would be under a tree, chewing on a sprig or mulling an idea without the aid of his teeth, and this bald Latino man with two kids in tow would just appear out of nowhere and greet the man like a super distant cousin, talk to him for a minute, tops, and just keep pushing towards the Seybold.

Every morning my father lingered to talk to Pajarito, my sister and I, preternaturally frightened by a homeless dude, would walk ahead and wait, indecorously with arms akimbo (mostly my sister). Their body language displayed a negotiation or solemn entreat, where my dad would point his upturned hand at Pajarito and Pajarito would listen with his head half-cocked. My f ather always gave Pajarito money, the denominations unknown to us, as we were out of focus, but there was always an exchange, and as my father would catch up to us, Pajarito would be looking down Flagler toward Seybold, hidden by the corner but peeking on his tiptoes. According to my father, Pajarito has made deposits to my dad's business account. If I am not mistake these deposits were a way for my father to fuck with the bank's tellers. Could you imagine a homeless guy walking into your bank and making a deposit into a business account with less than ten grand in it? I am pretty sure this was my father's idea of practical joke. And, if you think about it, especially if you take into consideration that he probably gave him less than $50 to deposit, it at least seems plausible.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Today was my father's last day as a jeweler in Miami's Seybold Building. He turned in his keys for #651, retired his two bathroom keys, and moved all his tools and machinery from his taller to his home garage. By all accounts, it was an uneventful day full of facile protocols of handing things in and receiving receipts and slips in security envelopes. If my memory serves me right and helps me recreate the ante, my father had been at Seybold working for himself, or for someone else, for almost 30 years.

Moms tells me mi viejo is exhausted from all the machinery he's been moving for the last couple of days; some of the tools in his shop were as dense as dying stars, and some of the grime had begun colonies of mugre. I suspect my father feels this is the end of an era for him, a sort of coup de grace of his identity as breadwinner. The way I see it: my father put two kids through college as a manufacturer of jewelry. There were periods when he worked for himself, and there were periods when he worked for other manufacturers, but there were always periods when he worked.

As early as 2011, CNN was reporting that Gold had reached a record high fetching $1900 for an ounce or a little over 28 grams. What this means is that less people buy jewelry and more people hoard gold during times when it is really high. But, by December of 2013 the Telegraph was reporting on gold's crash (as a commodity) and subsequent roller-coaster behavior throughout the year. Andrew Critchlow writes, "Gold has suffered its sharpest fall in 30 years, down almost 28pc over the past 12 months to close 2013 at about $1,200 (£725) an ounce."

Click Here: 100 Years of the Price of Gold

If you've never seen the Seybold, imagine an 10-story sandstone building with a half dome portico at the entrance. At the top, the corners of the building have square cornices that makes them look like bezels, or settings where a seminal stone might lie and let out a shine to attract shoppers. The columns between the mezzanine and the second floor are a darker sort of sandstone and make the Corinthian columns between the mezzanine and second floor kind of jut out, like tacky teeth. I have been looking at this building for almost fifteen of those years, and I have to recreate the image of it; so, there is also something very nonchalant, almost flippant, about the Seybold.
It was one of Miami's first skyscrapers, designed by the firm of Kiehnel and Elliott, an architecture firm from Pittsburgh responsible for many historical buildings in downtown Miami, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables.30 years seems like a lot, but given the iterations of what the Seybold Building is or was start in 1915, when John Seybold--a baker and confectioner--decides to build a dumpy "three-story building", I realize that the Seybold Building is merely 101 years old. By 1921, a rear annex two-story building was added, and by 1925, 8 additional floors were plopped on top of those tiers. The Seybold is on the register of historical sites (pg 9 of 40) in Miami, and it has several art deco flairs inside, like an exaggerated, sweeping staircase up to the mezzanine, and ornate, wooden banisters that look like they were plucked from the aquiline nose of a Gatsby.

According to my father, this move has been coming for a while. For a while, the new owners of Seybold have been quietly pushing out the jewelers, specifically the casters and other hazmat-Vulcans. I know you know this but it is standard operating procedure for jewelers to use cyanide as a cleaning agent and sparkler; furthermore, gold starts melting at a little below 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can imagine that it can get a little musty and toxic when the acetylene torch gets cooking. You don't even want to know what kind of noxious fumes circulate in the Seybold when it's close to Xmas. Mi viejo has no idea what they're going to do with the building, but he's astute enough to know that the new owners are going to try to maximize their equity by converting talleres into residential apartments, lofts, and luxury efficiencies and studios. Government Station in Downtown Miami, former repository of leagues of homeless, is set to welcome high-speed rail, the Brightline, a direct shot promising Orlando in three hours.

You do the math. And, yes, this kind of push is inevitable, pitiable, and yet people shrug their shoulders like I would be shrugging mine if this wasn't about my father. Your're right, you shouldn't give a shit, except my father raised my sister and I and put us through college with the jewelry he made and sold in Seybold, so yes, I feel like the final splinter of my tenure in Miami is being finally excreted from Miami's toe, a city I haven't lived in since 1999. But, progress can look different, and there are ways to honor the people who ensured you were hale and salient (I'm talking about the Seybold here) by being hale and salient entrepreneurs and ambassadors of hustle. My father is definitely an ambassador of hustle, and this isn't the last of his aesthetic stylings on the drill-bit mic because that guy can really speak with his hands.

Friday, October 14, 2016


My favorite library patron is a biker named Sully. You might think that an Irish-American biker in South Central might be out of place but you would be wrong. Sully practices Calligraphy and has read widely on the art of living your life through Zen practices. Sully is definitely a standing member of a historic biker social club, and is definitely a letter writer. In the very near future, I hope to work with Sully to help him tell his life story and publish it through HINCHAS Press. Let's see what comes of that, but this calligraphy of a poem I wrote for my friend James Foley is just amazeballz!!!

Monday, April 18, 2016

METRO(polis): 705

Cadillac? How about that?

This firetruck-red accordion
on wheels is picking me up
on Cadillac and Venice:
an alien car-
toon of a comic hoisting up
the King of Cars on a boule-
vard known for speed demons?
It stops, kneels
to kiss curb and begins to belt
a succession of beeps for me
to embark on my blerp blerp blerp.
I pause aloud, step
into thorax of accordion and
there are zero seats, zero.
there are two Babyzilla Destroyer-
Strollers, eight cotton-candy-on-a-stick
vendors, 18 blind wenches on sentient
Rascals, 64 Identical Eminems, jabbing
bars into black books, and 3,421 unicorns
with security guard uniforms on.

In other words, this bus is thick,
always and forever, with the promise
of raises, increases, and aumentos.

At least they turned the tundra on
is what everyone is thinking, except,
maybe, they are also thinking
variety is the spice
of strife, both in genetics and
interpersonal singularities.

Maybe, they are thinking, I
thrive in a province of fossils
and ride a beast to work?

Regardless, Crenshaw creeeps
up repositories of things that have
transpired, some singular
and devastating and some just
this side of a yawn at work.

Like, I read somewheresss that
Puerto Rican women are closest,
genetically, to the ideal of perfection
in a geneticist’s playbook.

It was an article wielded by a woman
wearing Sphinx earrings who told me
her information baton is at the heart
a battery of inconclusive printouts.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

METRO(polis): 105

I might blow the whole pot of my morning commute on this one transfer.
Might spot bus as my Expo car pulls up to the stop at La Cienega
and biff the tempo of the movement, might turn the corner as the 105
is already onto its next gesture, next angina of time compounded location.

The 105 swoops through Coliseum to MLK to hook up with Crenshaw
and thus Vernon through Santa Rosalia Drive, a nest of Black communities
hanging on by scruff of the starch in uniforms and scrubs and stiff walks
in purple dawn day after day after day for what (to be pushed out to Lancaster?)

I’ve caught the jackpot connect and avoided the squinty wait in pure sun fuckery
on Venice smack dab in front of the Keiser Wellness Fortress with the overpass
of the Ten impudently whizzing blurs past the offramp of the West Ten a los pedos
a garrison of homeless centurions hidden by the hungry concrete shadow.

Today, the 105 unclenches pneumatics and exhales into idle, and I enter the silent
wagon of thought this bus represents in all the quadrants barreling clean periphery
down La Cienega from Sunset to Rodeo then vectors left on Vernon and doesn’t heel
until the Long Beach Blue. I am on one line thinking about the trajectory of another line.

I’m on the eastbound Expo because I don’t always take the 733 to Cadillac;
sometimes, I might debark Robertson, and Expo-line it to La Cienega and Jeff.
whoop down four flights of steps like a deranged ibis before sprinting to foot
of self-storage galpones and the non-descript front of a See’s.

Monday, March 28, 2016

METRO(polis): #33

There's this spot in the back
that you cop once you hop on
at Windward Circle that is not
a perch per se but more quizas
like a spot of honor so you can
lay your forehead on your fore-
head as Venice Blvd reels out
the panes of this orange reggae
whale, this diesel sperm lozenge
unconcerned with the unholy numb-
er of stops, the swift currents
of speedwash and effervescent
lullaby suds, dirges de polvo
that the turbo sign will ding get-
ting out of the gate from shore
to garden hardware stores, from
the statue of Youth sculpted as
a silent movie starlet to Oaxacan
wizards slicing the heads straight
off obstinate pineapples and not
even wincing before catastrophic lob.
By LaBrea, the seat is grinding
vibratto spine therapy and the sun
has turned you into a giant cat-like
moosh, a puddle of short-haired
fur, a coin-op suntan spot with
yellow-and-black striped emergency-
tape over your sunburnt face, or
what is left of it after the were-
wolves get on at the Bzyantine
Gates of the Dead, those stifled
by mofla gigs and minimum
sentinel circuits. And so Venice
tributaries into Main at this junc-
ture and you are still on spot
so behold The Mayan, Pershing
Square and past Little Tokyo's
doorstep into the Union berth
at the foot of the builders
of jails, of Oz, of brown brick
driveways and escalator bling.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Thank you for coming out tonight to help us celebrate the release of "Ghazals for Foley," an anthology of ghazals or guzzles or khazils, a nearly ancient Arabic poetry form that Hafiz, Rumi, Mahmood Darwish, Mirza Ghalib have all used at one point in their careers.

This night is special for several reasons. For one thing, this anthology we celebrate tonight is a volley of light, love, and solidarity for Jim (and other combat journalists like him) and our Syrian brothers and sisters who have born the brunt of the Syrian Civil War. To date, since 2011, the civil war in Syria has devoured more than 200,000 civilians and created one of the largest refugee emergencies since WWII. In many ways, Jim fought to bring to light these atrocities, and so we dedicate tonight's readings, performances, and ethos to Jim (and other combat journalists like him) and the people of Syria.

Two, Jim lent me the $300 to buy the two years of initial server space for Hinchas de Poesia, and we are currently working on our 18th issue, all the while not selling a single scrap of advertisement. So, let's just say that if it wasn't for Jim lending us the money, Hinchas would not exist. That is mostly why I felt such a responsibility to put this volume out and help to shape the narrative of who Jim really was. And in true Jim fashion, his senseless death has pushed Hinchas to become a print publisher well ahead of any timeline we had envisioned.

To me, Jim's latest incarnation as combat journalist was at the bottom of all the roles he had already played. Many of you who knew Jim for a minute know he came to journalism already an experienced, combat-proven teacher, and that he has an unpublished novel called, The Hungry Sons. Why am I telling you this? I am telling you this because there were several integral facets of Jim that you are not going to get from media outlets who are trying to sell their side of the story. And because Brian Oakes, the director of the "Jim" documentary and his childhood friend, focused on Jim's work as a combat journalist, I feel a YUGE part of who Jim really was keeps getting left out.

Third, to me, first and foremost, Jim was a TEACHER. He was the type of teacher that was so good that he taught other teachers how to teach. He was that good at teaching teachers. He taught me how to teach, teaching alongside his example from 2000-2001, as we helped to get countless pregnant Puerto Rican young women to pass their GED. After I graduated from ZooMass in 2002, Jim stayed on a year longer and changed even more lives in the part of the Pioneer Valley which isn't very pioneering and most forgotten and overlooked. You will not hear this story, but in Martin Espada's poem, "Ghazal for a Tall Boy from New Hampshire," this fact is front and center.

Jim was also an enthusiastic writer of fiction. Wait, let me say that again, Jim was a voracious reader of Fiction, not only being familiar with works in the America canon, but also hard at work rooting out new and exciting fiction writers that don't exist in English. He loved Saramago, for instance, and I remember him really getting into "Blindness" when we were in grad school. I myself turned him on to Ernesto Sabato's "The Tunnel," a harrowing work of fiction by an Argentine master. Jim and I talked a lot about Argentine fiction writers. Actually, let me rephrase that, I talked Jim's ear off about how awesome Julio Cortazar's novel, "Rayuela" or "Hopscotch" was and why he should definitely read, "La Invencion de Morel" by Adolfo Bioy Casares. In 2001, I think, he won an award at the University of Indiana for a short story he wrote. The story is called, "Notes to a Fellow Educator," and it highlights his teaching in Phoenix, a job he was wholly unprepared to helm.

In other words, like most writers, like myself, he could not compartmentalize all his forms of being--like most writers he had a messy ser and was not afraid to display it and use it in his writing. It is no coincidence that a young man of color that has gone through the Cook County Youth Authority Boot Camp figures prominently in his novel. In fact, in January of 2013 when I was given the opportunity to teach for a crappy charter school inside the LA County Jail, I jumped at the opportunity after having hashed it out with Jim. Jim was very sincere with me about teaching in a place like a jail. He said I wasn't going to understand most of the behavior inside, but that teaching that sector of society was probably going to be the most fulfilling for me. And, he was right. I still don't understand most of the things that I saw while teaching inside the LA County Jail, but two of my students got perfect scores on their CAHSEES, which is not an amazing feat per se, except if you think about the learning conditions inside of jail. For example, all students have to use golf pencils to write essays, regardless if it's for a class or for the essay portion of the ELA/CAHSEE.

And, like him, I was unable to disassociate my teaching ser from my writing ser and had no better idea than to write a crown of sonnets titled, Los Angeles County Jail Sonnets, which I have placed in journals like Huizache and others. Make no mistake, we are here tonight to remember our friend, but also to let the cowards in balaclavas know that we have their number, and disagree vehemently with all the being in our souls against their literal, disingenuous, fake interpretation of religious text to fuel their myopic, murderous, women-hating zeal. We are here to take back the beauty, mystery, and scholarship that we can gain when we open ourselves up to a form that is nearly ancient and most concerned with helping writers to express their love, camaraderie, and light.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


This is the proof for "Ghazals for Foley," (ISBN:978-0-9845398-7-1) the first print publication of HINCHAS Press. As you well know, HINCHAS Press is the imprint of Hinchas de Poesia (www.hinchasdepoesia.com), and well if you've been keeping score or reading my blog then you know what Hinchas is. I shouldn't have to explain that bit.

"Ghazals for Foley," (ISBN:978-0-9845398-7-1)

The money for this endeavor was supplied by a successful Kickstarter campaign (http://kck.st/1SJcJEg). We were able to raise $1,300 through the website. This publication represents months of fine tuning and wrong turns and awkward embraces. But, this is the book HINCHAS Press is going to cut it's teeth on.

The cover illustration is by Carlos Folgar, the brother of a life-long friend in Miami (Abelito), and this edition contains, "Compound Memorandum" which is the title of an illustrated short story that James Foley published via print-on-demand with HINCHAS Press (http://bit.ly/1PRxesf). But, "Ghazals" represents thrust, naivete, and reach on a whole new level for me and for the work I do through Hinchas.

In the next coupe of weeks, you will witness me pull my hair out as I contend with the logistics of sending books out to donors, contributors, and distributors. Stay tuned, it should be fun to watch me have to learn everything.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


This is the ad we took out in "Poets and Writers" to highlight our upcoming Diennial Prose Issue edited by Jamie Figueroa of the Institute of American Indian Arts. Please spread the word and submit!