Malinallitzin and Hernán Cortés in the city of Xaltelolco, in a drawing from the late 16th-century codex History of Tlaxcala
A Letter From Malinallitzin by José E. Valdivia Heredia
A quien lea mis penas:
Me llamo Marina; o quizá Malinche; o quizá Malinallitzin; o quizá la madre de Martín, a veces temaktekauani, la puta traidora que me llama mi gente… En estas noches eternas, en la penumbra de mis penas, no recuerdo mi nombre, no recuerdo quién soy, ni creo tanto que me importe. Aborrezco cada día que pasa y no tenga a mi lado a Martín, piltsintli, amado hijo; aborrezco el día que Hernando se lo llevó a ese infierno lejano que es España; aborrezco el día que mi lengua pronunció el primer sílabo de esta lengua diabólica que es el castellano, kaxtitl. Me siento enferma. El mundo alrededor de mí se derrumba. Mikistli: La muerte subsiste en estas tierras abandonadas por los teteo, los dioses. La plaga se roba mi tranquilidad, se roba mis recuerdos y deseo grabarlo todo antes que los teteo me despojen de este cruel mundo.
Algún día yo era de Paynalá; algún día yo era la hija de un cacique, venía de una madre poderosa, de una madre que tuvo que sacrificarme para salvar a mi gente de los mayas invasores, tlapoloani. La perdono porque sé que no fue fácil y sé que mi destino me lo obligó, que yo tuve que llegar a las manos de los españoles aunque mi gente me lo despreciara. Fui esclava de los Tabascos, quienes me regalaron a los sucios españoles, gente que atraía y repugnaba a la vez. Algunos decían que eran dioses, pero yo lo sabía diferente. La gente contaba de las bestias, tekuani, que montaban, que eran parte hombre y parte animal, que eran profetas venidos a rescatarnos. Otros decían que eran tsitsimimej, demonios blancos, que venían a matar con sus armas mágicas. Mikilistli: yo reconocí su humanidad, su mortalidad, su repugnante egoísmo.
Naturalmente, al saber los idiomas y las costumbres de estas diversas regiones, me encontré obligada a ser nenepili, la lengua, y auiani, la santa puta, de Cortés. Me regalaron de un hombre a otro como si yo no tuviera el derecho al amor. Y amor sí encontré en el hijo que me dió y después robó Cortés. En los días que pensé no más poder, mi hijo Martín, piltsin, me animaba a seguir luchando, y todo lo di por él. Ahora me encuentro en estas tierras vastas, abandonada y enferma de la plaga con la que nos castigaron los dioses. Alguna gente me mira y me adora; para ellos soy diosa aunque me sienta yo menos que un pobre insecto. Otros me miran y me desprecian; no saben que más me desprecio yo por haber pronunciado las palabras que serían mi fin; no saben que más me desprecio yo por haber sido vendida como animal entre hombre y hombre; no saben que más me desprecio yo por haber perdido lo que más me importaba en la vida, mi dulce Martín.
Si alguien lee estas penas mías, recuérdenme. Recuerden lo que sacrifiqué y justifiquen mi vida, que en estos últimos días no puedo justificar ni estas miserables palabras, ni mi miserable respiración.
Tonameyalotl, la sombra de una pobre mujer.
José E. Valdivia Heredia is an undergraduate student of Religion and Latin American studies at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. They are a Chicanx writer from Northern California born to two parents from Michoacán, México. José has published a short poem in the Harvard Latinx literary publication Palabritas.
A community of diverse poets and writers supporting literary arts in California. Somos en escrito provides a venue for these aspiring poets to feature their poetry, interviews, reviews and promote poetic happenings.
THE POET: IN HER OWN WORDS I was born in San Francisco, and then around the age of four or five we moved to the Los Angeles area. We lived in many L.A. suburbs, Downey, Pico Rivera, Cerritos, and Torrance. We moved around a lot. I went to a different school almost every year. I learned to adapt and understand U.S. suburban culture. I also learned how all fluctuates and is indeterminate.
My love of writing and ability to play between two languages arose from the randomness of my childhood. My early years were filled with what can best be termed chaotic love, and so I came to understand how the world is not set in one place, language, or mode of seeing, which just happens to be the perfect upbringing for a poet in a post-modern world! I have done a lot of inner work analyzing and articulating my childhood. My family, my memories, mi pasado, fuel my poems, though perhaps not directly in a one-to-one translated narrative.
My early memories focus on my father. In one, he is carrying me from the car to the house. My head rests on his shoulder and I have my arms wrapped around his neck. We lived in San Francisco, at the time. We are going up the stairs to the door. In the other, I am in the same doorway, and someone asks my name. I reply “Adelita.” He tells me that my name is Adela and that Adelita is a term of endearment used in the family. Of course, he didn’t use those words since I must have been around four years old and this would have taken place in Spanish. I also have a memory of standing at the top of a street in San Francisco and looking down. I fear falling.
My parents and grandparents were born in Nicaragua. Some of my cousins were born here in the U.S. while others were born in Nicaragua. Nearly all family members are now living in the United States. I’m sure there are a few distant cousins in Nicaragua. I don’t know them, but I would like to. Instead, what I do is travel to Nicaragua through my imagination—what was Nicaragua like for my mother, my father, mis abuelas? I love to imagine los pericos in the tropical rainforest and iguanas sunbathing in the branches of barren trees.
I have always written. I have memories of writing poems in elementary school. I write to understand my place in the world
THE POET'S BIO Adela Najarro is the author of three poetry collections: Split Geography, Twice Told Over and My Childrens, a chapbook that includes teaching resources. With My Childrens she hopes to bring Latinx poetry into the high school and college classroom so that students can explore poetry, identity, and what it means to be a person of color in US society. Her extended family’s emigration from Nicaragua to San Francisco began in the 1940’s and concluded in the eighties when the last of the family settled in the Los Angeles area.
She currently teaches creative writing, literature, and composition at Cabrillo College, and is the English instructor for the Puente Project, a program designed to support Latinidad in all its aspects, while preparing community college students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Every spring semester, she teaches a “Poetry for the People,” workshop at Cabrillo College where students explore personal voice and social justice through poetry and spoken word.
She holds a doctorate in literature and creative writing from Western Michigan University, as well as an M.F.A. from Vermont College, and is widely published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. Her poetry appears in the University of Arizona Press anthology The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, and she has published poems in numerous journals, including Porter Gulch Review, Acentos Review, BorderSenses, Feminist Studies, Puerto del Sol, Nimrod International Journal of Poetry & Prose, Notre Dame Review, Blue Mesa Review, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere.
Adela Najarro & Juan Felipe Herrera
POEMS FROM TWICE TOLD OVER
Early Morning Chat with God
This morning I’m back to asking for patience. With my cup of coffee I sit outside to say hello to you God, my Jiminy Cricket, my salsa dancing quick-with-a-dip amigo. We have a very collegial relationship. I laugh at all your jokes and praise the wonders of a sky’s watercolors. I know you like me, a benign affection and tolerance as I run around like a chicken with its head cut off, a truly gruesome image, nevertheless hilarious like a grisly cartoon. The blood spurting. The body winding down to zero. The crashing into unforeseen objects. I think if I were back on my great-grandmother’s farm, the farm that I know only through stories my mother tells of Nicaragua, Bluefields, a tortilla filled with just enough, and I saw the long scrawny neck and the axe, I would be sick to my stomach: the aimlessness of her final strut, the reality of blood loss, her claws scratching the dirt, kicking up rocks, a panic. But when she stops, into the pot she goes. A meal, what we need to continue, her flesh simmered off the bone. Truly delicious in a tomato sauce flavored with green peppers and onions. Transformation. The feathers plucked, soil and dust washed away. The table set. Goblets of red wine, white china plates, a cast iron pot twirling a bay leaf scented steam. Then a prayer and gratitude that we have enough to make it through another night alone, a night filled with longing whispers and the turbulence of dreams.
Between Two Languages
Misericordia translates to mercy, as in God have mercy on our souls. Ten piedad, pity us the poor and suffering, the lost and broken. Have mercy. Ten piedad. Misericordia, a compassionate forgiveness, carries within miseria, misery, the stifled cry on a midnight bus to nowhere, and yes, the hunger, a starless night’s piercing howl, the shadows within shadows under a freeway overpass, the rage that God might be laughing, or even worse, silent, gone, a passing hallucination. Our nerve-wracked bodies tremble. Our eyes have trouble peering into night. Let us hope for more than can possibly be. Señor, ten misericordia de nosotros. And if we are made in the image of God, then we can begin heading toward the ultimate zero, the void that is not empty, forgive ourselves, and remember the three seconds when we caught a glimpse of someone else’s stifling cry. Compassion, then miseria, our own misery intensified by the discordant ringing of some other life. Our ultimate separation. Our bodies intolerably unable to halt the cacophonous clamor of unanswered prayers. But nevertheless we must try for no reason at all. Once more, Señor, ten misericordia de nosotros, forgive us for what we cannot do.
I'm coming to the conclusion that I'm simple, like my mother, my grandmother, father. All of them from Nicaragua where time goes back further. Here, wagons and rifles, the prairie plowed into fields of soybeans and sunflowers. Sunken wood barns and tombstones rattle as a six-by-six tractor-trailer rumbles through exit 41a and on past peach cobbler, a shot of Jim Beam Whiskey, and the Stop'n'Go, 7-11, Circle K, whatever name on that one corner, in that one place, where someone calls the intersection of a convenience store and a gas station their town, their home, their grass. Paint or aluminum siding. A kitchen and carpet. Photos of Aunt Edna and Uncle Charlie. That summer Chuck went for a ride on a Harley under redwoods and past cool stream shadows while Julie, as little girl, slept in a Ford station wagon. Faded blue. Wood paneling peeling open to rust. The back flipped down for her and Ursa Major poured out sky. * In Nicaragua the colors are electric water in air. The weight of clouds on winged cockroaches and crocodiles in streams. La Virgen de Guadalupe. My cousin, Maria Guadalupe Sanchez, on a bike with Brenda through a suburb of Managua on the handlebars. The streets were Miguel, her brother, with a rifle shooting iguanas from a tree in a pickup or Jeep. The huge overbearing green of myriad plants inching their way past monkeys and chickens to a patio whitewashed and cool. The distance away from grandmother. Actually great-grandmother and her son, the witch doctor who could stop malaria with powder or a gaze into trembling hearts. The known ancient crossing to psychology, biology, chemistry. The workings of ourselves. A railroad blasted through mountain. * I want to dance during the Verbenas. I don't know the word or correct spelling. V or a B? Just a sound from a one-time visit to Nicaragua. A celebration. A truck lined with palm fronds in a parade, then dancing. At three in the morning, it was still warm. Verbenas. An old colonial colonel's name? A street? A time to celebrate the harvest of bananas, yucca, corn, beans? I don't know. There was a monkey on a leash, on the roof. The tiles curved from Tía Teresa and Tío Rafael to me being pretty sitting at a table with my first rum and coke. The loss of my virginity was to be a golden icon mined from history where my grandfather was a child hidden under a loose brown skirt and delivered to a convent. Mi abuelita with her eight kids. My aunts and uncles. My mother with us. In college with Philip, a boy standing naked looking out a window, his butt prettier than mine, it was California. There were palm trees. I was correctly 18. I had gone to visit Planned Parenthood. The ladies behind a desk were asking questions and taking notes. With a brown paper bag I waited on grass, in the park, knowing already Interstate 80 divides this nation in two, beginning in San Francisco cutting straight through to New Jersey on the Atlantic Coast.
Adela's father, brother & mother (early 1960's San Francisco)
IN CONVERSATION: ADELA NAJARRO (AN) AND LUCHA CORPI (LC)
LC: Adela, I have enjoyed listening to you read some of your poems a few times. Mostly, when we happened to coincide at meetings and readings sponsored by Escritores del nuevo sol in Sacramento and Círculo de poetas and Writers in Oakland. It’s been a treat every time. But quite a double and triple treat now to read and reread your exquisite poetry in solitude, as I prepare for our charla here today. And I am in awe, not just for this pleasure of hearing and reading your poetry. I have also had the opportunity to see you organize public events with an ease that never ceases to amaze me. Also because reading your biographical material I realize that you are a wife, mother, indefatigable professor, community organizer, a “dynamo” poet… and so much more.
Above, in your biographical information of your early years, you close your narrative with a line that immediately held my attention: “I write to understand my place in the world.” Could you elaborate?
AN: That arises from the idea that poetry is discovery. A rant, a diatribe, a polemic , all make statements about what is already known. The rant is yelling, screaming, crying on the page over events that have happened; the diatribe is an attack; the polemic tries to convince through astute argument. All of these begin from a standpoint of knowing, knowing how one has been wronged, knowing the wrong itself, and knowing how to correct and proceed. That’s not poetry. Poetry has to begin with an open mind that follows language into a discovery or truth. It is through writing that I discover the truth of what surrounds me, in the past, the present, and even in the future; in that sense I come to understand my place in the world.
I have no fear. If the truth I find is one of betrayal, hatred, violence, anger, then that is a part of the world I live in. Even so, it surprises me over and over, how writing always takes me to hope. Even when I write about issues that have broken others or myself, I always find beauty. Maybe it’s about being alive, being able to breathe, being able to wake up one more day. Praise God and sing Hallelujah! Poetry and religion merge onto the same roadway in that they both seek the human spirit and lead us to compassion, again, our place in the world.
LC: In “Redlands, California,” you tell the story of living in the United States while imaging life in Nicaragua. Could you talk about the context you had in mind when you imagine a homeland, Nicaragua, that you don’t know since you grew up in the United States?
AN: My brain developed a duality of language and culture as I grew up. I learned English in pre-school while my first language was Spanish. I was living in U.S. Anglo culture while at home it was all about Nicaragua. So—"Los dos fit better than one alone.” That’s my line from “Conversation with Rubén Darío's ‘Eco y yo’,” which was first published in Nimrod International Journal of Poetry & Prose and appears in my collection, Twice Told Over.
Los dos. I view myself in terms of Whitman and Anzaldúa in that I contain multitudes in my mestizaje. I seek an American literary tradition that contains the Anglo, the male, the Latinx, female, and all the range between. There is no set answer, just the flux of words, our thoughts, the daily wakening to a new day that somehow seems old and familiar.
“Redlands, California,” has three sections, the first is about life in the States; in the second, I imagine life in Nicaragua; the final section tries to create a new juxtaposition between these two states of being, and, of course, it ties in with sex because what else captures the union of two distinct bodies?
The Nicaragua I know is the Nicaragua of my imagination and that of the stories told by my parents, abuelitas, cousins, tías y tíos. I tell and retell their stories to bring them into the literary conversation of the Americas. They matter. They are part of the American story. As a writer it falls to me to create poems that capture this duality of language, culture, immigration, las penas and the joy.
LC: Tell us what you will about your creative process. Do you sit down to write at certain times of the day on certain days? What happens if you get inspired while driving or in other similar situations? Do you memorize the lines for the time you finally write the poem where they belong? Or hope for the best?
AN: There was a time when I wrote nearly non-stop. I remember being at a job training and writing a poem. I have written poems on napkins. I have written using big orange markers. I feared that if I stopped writing, then the Muse or inspiration would vanish. But it never has. As I accepted that writing was part of my identity, of who I am, and what makes Adela, Adela, I took a couple of days off. Then I wrote about those days. Then I took a few more days off, then wrote new poems. Eventually, I realized that my mind collects ideas, images, language, every waking and sleeping moment. When I sit down to write, it comes out. Then the work becomes revision. Editing. Cutting that which doesn’t belong and expanding that which is hidden, all the while finding the exact words and rhythms. Doesn’t that sound like joy? It is to me. When I write, I am at one with everything. I accept whatever shows up. The pain, the horror, the laughter, the jokes, the image. Right now there is an owl in the eucalyptus tree outside my bedroom patio. Earlier coyotes were howling at sirens, not the moon, but sirens. Someone on their way to a hospital. Tomorrow, a mint leaf will open in a pot. There are spiders in the eaves. Every waking moment holds something and then the world of dreams, the imagination, the possibilities. Here are the final lines to “Conversation with Rubén Darío's ‘Eco y yo’”:
Out of the delirium, the sweat, the anxiety of every morning, we weave a soft and tender sea,
the mermaids, the song,
and all begins again.
Thank you Lucha for this conversation. It is always such a pleasure to see you and collaborate! Hasta la proxíma.
Erasure of a Teenage Daughter’s Letter to Her Deported Mother
It’s been a long time since . I think how long photo album we made that summer. Do you the copy I gave you? Or did they take it too? I still have mine. some of are torn -- I couldn’t stop shaking hands from the afternoon you left.
One photo is whole — we hold hands at the peak of that North Carolina mountain, out of breath and trembling; wind shoves our clothes against skin, but we ground our feet on soil beneath us and refuse to fall. I wonder if we could have .
Maybe you wouldn’t other side of a man-made border. Maybe I wouldn’t vomit questions on crumpled paper: Did the air different when you crossed ? Did you feel future , , and slip out of your hands? Did you even notice your foot crossed south? Are you less an outsider back there? Or still a traitor that tried and failed?
Rift of Red and Rojo I’m stuck in a rift between two stars. One red, the other rojo. They blind me. I need to close my eyes. Won’t they dim a little? Share light? This reversed vacuum spits out held-in polvo. My light dims, there’s too much dust. The stars shine brighter now. Dos tres cinco siete. Brighter still. I was red for three six seven years but my star grew caliente, switched to rojo but my tongue tripped at the rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Forgive me, for “rat” and “rata” sound so similar. One of you should come get me, claim me, take me. I swear I’m a star.
Karen Gonzalez-Videla is an undergraduate student at the University of South Florida. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Creative Writing, and she loves combining these two passions in her fiction. Although she writes about a variety of subjects, she focuses mostly on the immigrant experience and the exploration of one’s womanhood. She has upcoming work at Sidereal Magazine, Ghost Parachute, and Vita Brevis Press.
Es el dolor de un pueblo el que se desliza en la sangre de la tierra.
Acantilados bermejos contienen la angustia y las rítmicas palpitaciones.
La gente murmura en las doradas esquinas de la ciudad, se desliza la esperanza con sutileza acuática.
¿dónde están los héroes del agua? ¿dónde las mujeres pez que cantan en la aurora? ¿dónde las ilusiones del nuevo amanecer?
Todo se inunda.
Escurre la lluvia en los cristales, de los acantilados brota el agua densa.
Canta, mujer pez, canta.
It is the people’s pain sneaking into the blood of the land.
Crimson cliffs contain the anguish and rhythmic palpitations.
People murmur in the golden corners of the city, hope slips away with aquatic subtlety.
where are the heroes of the water? where the fish women and their song of first light? where the illusions of the new dawn?
Everything becomes flooded.
Rain drips down window panes, dense water sprouts from cliffs.
Sing, fish woman, sing.
Hay corrientes que llevan el silencio entre sus densas aguas.
Hudson de caudales de azogue.
Afuera el ruido que dejan las aves transitorias.
La luz rompe las nubes, relámpago que se entierra en las frondas.
Trueno apasionado, el agua y el viento escarifican la piel de la tierra.
Sangra el silencio, el agua corre y la tierra pulsa contenidos deseos.
There are currents that transport silence amid their dense waters.
Hudson of quicksilver fluidity.
Outside the noise left by transitory birds.
Light shatters the clouds, lightning bolt buried in the foliage.
Impassioned thunder, water and wind lacerate the flesh of the land.
Silence bleeds, water flows and the land pulsates restrained desires.
Medita en este navegar mecánico.
No queda nada, solo el angustiante ulular del viento antes de llegar al agua.
Tiemblan las suaves manos al escribir, son las dueñas de los pensamientos salvajes, de la ira de los oprimidos.
Agua del Hudson: despierta y desenraiza el dolor: las pesadillas de niñez que se hacen realidad.
Meditate in this mechanical navigation.
Nothing remains, only the agonized keening of the wind before it reaches the water.
Soft hands tremble as they write, they possess fierce thoughts, the fury of the oppressed.
Water of the Hudson: awake and uproot the pain: the nightmares of childhood that become reality.
Xánath Caraza es viajera, educadora, poeta y narradora. Enseña en la Universidad de Missouri-Kansas City. Escribe para Seattle Escribe, La Bloga,Smithsonian Latino Center yRevista Literaria Monolito. EslaWriter-in-Residence en Westchester Community College, Nueva York desde 2016. En 2014 recibió la Beca Nebrija para Creadores del Instituto Franklin, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares en España. En 2013 fue nombrada número uno de los diez mejores autores latinos para leer por LatinoStories.com. Su poemarioSílabas de viento recibió el2015 International Book Award de poesía. Sus poemarios Lágrima roja, Sin preámbulos, Donde la luz es violeta, Tinta negra,Ocelocíhuatl, Conjuro y su colección de relatos Lo que trae la marea han recibido reconocimientos nacionales e internacionales. Sus otros poemarios son Hudson, Le sillabe del vento, Noche de colibríes, Corazón pintadoy su segunda colección de relatos, Metztli. Ha sido traducida al inglés, italiano y griego; y parcialmente traducida al portugués, hindi, turco, rumano y náhuatl.
Xánath Caraza is a traveler, educator, poet, and short story writer. She teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She writes for Seattle Ecribe, La Bloga, The Smithsonian Latino Center, and Revista Literaria Monolito. She is the Writer-in-Residence at Westchester Community College, New York since 2016. Caraza was the recipient of the 2014 Beca Nebrija para Creadores, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares in Spain. She was named number one of the 2013 Top Ten Latino Authors by LatinoStories.com. Her book of poetry Syllables of Wind / Sílabas de viento received the 2015 International Book Award for Poetry. It also received Honorable Mention for best book of Poetry in Spanish in the 2015 International Latino Book Awards. Her books of verse Lágrima roja, Without Preamble, Where the Light is Violet, Black Ink,Ocelocíhuatl, Conjuro and her book of short fiction What the Tide Brings have won national and international recognition. Her other books of poetry are Hudson, Le sillabe del vento, Noche de colibríes,Corazón pintado, and her second short story collection, Metztli. Caraza has been translated into English, Italian, and Greek; and partially translated into Portuguese, Hindi, Turkish, Rumanian and Nahuatl.
Xánath Caraza es y continuará siendo, sin duda, una de las voces poéticas más innovadoras en el idioma español. Hudson, su nueva colección de poesía, es más que un viaje por un río que fluye e inevitablemente vierte sus aguas en el mar. El río Hudson no es un río ordinario ya que sigue un curso doble. Por lo tanto nuestro viaje comienza en el punto de su origen, un estuario—un habitante en flujo constante—donde nace y también se vacía en el mar, donde cohabitan las faunas de agua fresca y salada. También fluye tierra adentro, provee rutas y caminos para la gente en las ciudades a lo largo de su cauce para también hacerlas prosperar. Le da vida a otro río en el camino. En el lecho del río Caraza escribe su “texto”—la historia del río, que es también la historia de la poeta. Las tumultuosas corrientes-salinas-frescas de agua se convierten en el tempo de su torrente sanguíneo. Guiados por los versos en negritas, incrustados en el texto, la poeta nos reta a buscar el espíritu del río—la belleza lírica. Una tercera lectura de los versos en itálicas nos lleva a un nivel más profundo, a los cuestionamientos filosóficos y búsqueda de vida que Caraza se hace y que todos nosotros cuestionamos en algún momento. He encontrado mucha riqueza en Hudson. Todo accesible, para lectores angloparlantes, a través de la bella traducción hecha por Sandra Kingery. Hudson es un libro que debe ser leído por poetas y amantes de la poesía—¡definitivamente por amantes de los ríos también! Bravo.
Xánath Caraza is and will no doubt continue to be one of the most innovative poetic voices in the Spanish language. Hudson, her new poetry collection, is much more than a journey down any river that flows onward and inevitably empties its waters into a sea. TheHudson River is no ordinary river as it follows a dual course. So, our journey begins at the point of its origin, a tidal estuary—a habitat in constant flux—where the river begins and also empties into the sea, where salty and fresh water fauna cohabit. It also flows inland, providing routes and ways for people in cities along its course to prosper as well. It gives birth to another river along the way. On its riverbed, Caraza writes her “text”—the river’s story, which is also her story. The saline-fresh-water, restless currents become the tempo of her bloodstream. Guided by the verses in bold lettering embedded in the text, the poet challenges us to seek the spirit of the river—the lyrical beauty. A third reading of verses in italics takes us deeper into the poet’s mind, into Caraza’s lifelong quest for answers to philosophical questions all of us ponder from time to time. So much more richness I have found in Hudson. All made accessible to an English-speaking readership by the beautifully crafted translations of Sandra Kingery. Hudson is a must-read for poets and lovers of poetry—most definitely for lovers of rivers, too! Bravo.
Lucha Corpi, poeta y narradora/poet and writer Oakland, CA, July/Julio de 2018
Rinconcito es un rincón pequeño especial en Somos en escrito para escritos cortos: un poema, un cuento, una memoria, ficción de repente, y otros. is a special “little corner” in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
Por/By Sylvia Eugenia
Meintren tegas a las botayas something something (we will live with the bottle until we die with the bottle.) My mom had whiskey for the first time at nine; "tu flaca,” a Catholic martyr in the making in Managua. We had more in common that skin would tell. “aww, who’s this cabvrona?!” So, the conversation happens and my brain starts. I could try to talk about my fathers’ fathers’ father in Syria, offer up some patriarchal evidence of who this body is made up of. I would be telling a blood truth; but, nothing in me exists attached to that country or custom or people. I could talk about kibby, silt-coffee, un-filtered cigarettes; what is to be a man. My primary leaned lesson from that truth was not talking about “it.” By “it,” I mean, anything, like, ever. But, let's set aside a part of that part of skin steeped in side-stepping emotions and focus on the Pisces. By that, I mean, the woman. The female, the femme. The bruja of us. The emotional from us. I’ll conjour the grit of the saintly body that takes up the most space in me. My mother. I will tell you about mi mama, deliver my cred. Mira, I am the “simberguensa” crying crocodile tears that will never, could never suffer enough or know what real suffering was like. I’ll tell you about this potty mouth “chavala” that would cause my mother to gasp dramatically (inhale) “Que vulgarite, que vulgar” This is a story from the outside of an insider. Pero, an assimilated gordita. Por supuesto blanco, that is. Que?! I haven’t a clue I speak Spanish poorly, comprehend it fairly and understand it from the warm rain coming through pores. I agonize over this, I abide by this, I lose myself. I instinctually, move forward with the cross. My cross is only second hand but still holds like brand new. Thorns and nails are upkept to fashion my own contemporary guilt. Self-torture and my ability to say words that I didn’t even know existed on my tongue. “Aye dios” without a second thought” has turned into “aye dios; fuhckkkk” A Central American mujer walks away to suffer in silence as the Middle Eastern man stays to have the final say. Look at me, my everything “all nalgas peladas” This is my body, mi corazon, for all to see. Es mi vida.
Sylvia Eugenia combines elements of fiction and memoir into a prose poetry. Her poems have no structure except, the pauses in her breath and metronome of her heartbeat. She graduated from Mills College, Oakland, California, with a BA in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She has presented her work at many small readings in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2013, she performed at Beast Crawl in Oakland and Lit. Crawl in San Francisco. She lives in Santa Cruz, Cali.