recent publications

Quick post to share some recent publications both poetry and essay, online and in print!

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of colorHappy to share that my essay, “Becoming the Weather: Reflections on Poetry as Cultural, Political, and Spiritual Act,” has been recently published in Of Color: Poets’ Ways of Making ~ An Anthology of Essays on Transformative Poetics (The Operating System, 2019).

This anthology includes work by 15 wonderful poets, including Ocean VuongCraig Santos PerezSasha PimentelChing-In ChenKenji LiuKhadijah QueenTim SeiblesAbigail LicadAddie TsaiRemica L. Bingham-Risher, Wendy A. Gaudin, Melissa Coss AquinoTony Robles, and Ernesto Abeytia.

I’m grateful to editors Luisa A. Ingloria & Amanda Galvan Huynh for including my essay in this necessary and engaging anthology!

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unboundIn further anthology news, I’m happy to share about having work featured in the following two anthologies:

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Lastly, I am proud to share that 8 of my poems are featured at The Zen Space as part of the Spring 2019 Showcase guest edited by Daniel Paul Marshall. Special thanks to Daniel for showcasing these particular poems!

* excerpts from a new anthology!

I Collected Dead Things As A Child – Nita Penfold

starting with insects, variegated and delicate,
pinned carefully into the cigar box —
iridescent Tiger beetle, round striped bumble bee,
green stick figure of a praying mantis —
my whispers to them went unanswered.

Then a pheasant wing with my feathers like intricate lace
in the wild thrush colors of earth;
turtle shell green and mosaic-patterned,
raw fleshy part inside rotted away;
small skull I could cradle in my hand,
its bone tarnished with a dark shine.

Each one a message from something large
that beat against my eyelids at dusk
dusting them with mystery.

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the-absence-front-cover613This week I am sharing excerpts from a new anthology offering variations on the theme of drought entitled The Absence of Something Specified which features a strong range of poets including Emily Rose Cole, Carrie Etter, John Sibley Williams, and Laura Madeline Wiseman among others. The editors have collected poems that range from a direct treatment of the subject of drought to how it plays out as a metaphor in people’s intellectual and physical lives.

The poem above navigates its meanings through both the mind and body. I’m moved by the way each stanza of the poem knocks on imagery and physicality for something beyond. Whether it is “whispers…unanswered” or the “dark shine” of bone, the absence of the anthology’s title is engaged with a near-spiritual directness and fascination. The poem ends with a turn: the speaker senses their interrogation “beat against my eyelids at dusk,” and the analytical world becomes mysterious again via physical means.

I share my own contribution to the anthology below. My poem, “Reading Hunger” (originally published in Gulf Coast), comes from my experience of reading Knut Hamsun’s stark and stoic novel, Hunger.

Special thanks to the editors – Quinton Hallet, Colette Jonopulos, Laura LeHew, and Cheryl Loetscher – for putting together such a fine collection of poems!

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Reading Hunger – José Angel Araguz

after Knut Hamsun

He calls it: the festival of what is not eternal,
then goes on describing
an old man’s eyes
as being made of dry horn,

and you can see it,
the almost animal beauty in each person
when unaware of anyone around.

Each person’s solitude bubbles up
like a spring,

a short-lived light
over rocks.

As the rock dries,
the dark gives
more and more gray.

Soon, you will be like this: rock, no water.

*

Happy bubbling!

José

* meeting at the Café San Martín

I came across this week’s poem – “Café San Martín” by Agustín Cadena – while reading through the anthology Goodbye Mexico: Poems of Remembrance. I find in the lyric a  subtly profound meditation on the past, or rather the past we live with in our memories which is always juxtaposed against the ever-changing the present.

This being the first week of June, I thought this an apt piece to share. In the poem, it is always June. The speaker’s address is one of emphasis: the name of a cafe no longer there is repeated until everywhere there are cafes. The moment the poem wins me over is when the speaker’s shoes fill with water, as if the rain were a memory seeking him out.

* plaza lo que plaza *
* plaza lo que plaza *

Café San Martín – Agustín Cadena*

Do you remember the Café San Martín?

I do, sometimes,

when it rains in the afternoon and it’s summer.

We liked to go there and drink coffee

and smoke while we looked at the rain.

The Café San Martín was small,

lukewarm, and it had big windows

that looked onto a meridian of June.

But it is no longer there.

Now on that corner where it was

they sell video games.

Have you tried to go back?

Have you walked in the rain, alone,

remembering the girl you were

and asking yourself where would these people have gone,

with their pink curtains and old spoons

and their Café San Martín?

Yes, I have wanted to go back,

many times,

when I happen to think of you,

when my shoes fill with water

and I wish I were that age again

and not so foolish

as to let go of your hand that afternoon.

Once again it is June and raining.

Everywhere there are cafés

in certain neighborhoods.

The present erases all traces.

*translated by C. M. Mayo

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Happy tracing!

Jose

* new anthology: Goodbye, Mexico

We Are Of A Tribe – Alberto Rios

We plant seeds in the ground
and dreams in the sky,

Hoping that, someday, the roots of one
Will meet the upstretched limbs of the other.

It has not happened yet. Still,
Together, we nod unafraid of strangers.

Inside us, we know something about each other:
We are all members of the secret tribe of eyes

Looking upward,
Even as we stand on uncertain ground.

Up there, the dream is indifferent to time,
Impervious to borders, to fences, to reservations.

This sky is our greater home.
It is the place and the feeling we have in common.

This place requires no passport.
The sky will not be fenced.

Traveler, look up. Stay awhile.
Know that you always have a home here.

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* new anthology! *
* new anthology! *

Happy to announce the recent release of Goodbye, Mexico: Poems of Rememberance, a new anthology edited by the illustrous Sarah Cortez. The anthology includes CantoMundo fam’ Celeste Guzman Mendoza as well as Martin Espada, Jim Daniels, Larry D. Thomas, and Alberto Rios, author of this week’ poem.

I also have a poem in it 🙂

Along with poems, the anthology includes statements from each of the contributors on their relationship with Mexico. Here is mine:

My relationship to Mexico is one of leaving and looking back: my mother left my father in Matamoros and crossed the river into Texas to raise me, but would wonder aloud about him to me. My father, his mother, my mother’s father – each has died in my lifetime in Matamoros, and left in that way. My childhood was visits to Mexico, until the drug trafficking made travel dangerous, and so I look back in my writings at what is left in those visits.

To learn more about the anthology, check out Sarah’s site here.

Happy remembrancing!

Jose

* more from desde Hong Kong

* taking another Paz at it *
* mas Paz *

I recently received my contributor’s copy of the anthology desde Hong Kong and have been enjoying dipping into the collection of great tributes. One in particular stood out in my reading. I share it below to further celebrate this anthology’s publication.

In “Going Home,” British-Canadian poet Phoebe Tsang delves deep into an image (a la Paz) and has the subject matter, and the reader, come out different on the other side.

Going Home – Phoebe Tsang

At dawn, the carts glistened with wet scales
as if the fish were still alive,
not drowning for lack of water.
They slept just like the rest of us,
breathed city air.
As the sun rose, the glitter faded from their gills.
By noon, the last dregs were fins and bones
kicked to the gutter,
entrails slick under fishermen’s boots.
The fishermen gone home,
back to the sea.

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Happy homing!

Jose

p.s. Information on ordering a copy of the anthology can be found here.

* quick post: desde Hong Kong & some news

* can't Paz this up *
* can’t Paz this up *

Just a quick post to announce the release of the anthology desde Hong Kong: Poets in conversation with Octavio Paz (Chameleon Press), which includes my octave sequence “Octaves for Octavio Paz.”

I was excited by the submission call early this Spring and came up with some rather different takes on the octave. Using a line by Paz as a guide, each octave (nine total) explores a seven syllable syllabic line, playing with the magnetic tension of words and phrasing. Here’s one sample from the sequence:

sobre la hoja de papel/el poema se hace/como el día/sobre la palma del espacio[1]

could we write: morning, window,
light: and write: afternoon stretched,
and so on: write past things missed
by the eye, missed by being
alive, write: the tree outside:
the feeling of lines moving
past you, write: the paper wind
moves: O, we’d miss the missing.

[1] “El Fuego de Cada Día”

Gestures like the play on “O” as address and declaration as well as the unique take on Paz’s words played out in each octave is my way of tipping my hat to the great poet’s Surrealist leanings.

The editors have made available both their Introduction and Afterword which give a more in depth description on the project. More information on the book can be found here.

Thank you to editors Tammy Ho, German Munoz, & Juan Jose Morales.

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I also want to take this opportunity to announce that my pieces “Relinquished” & “Look” have placed 2nd in Blue Earth Review’s Flash Fiction Contest and will be published in an upcoming issue (BER#13).

Thank you to the editors & staff of BER! I’m greatly honored.

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See you Friday!

Jose

* Donald Justice & the friday influence

The Assassination – Donald Justice

It begins again, the nocturnal pulse. 
It courses through the cables laid for it. 
It mounts to the chandeliers and beats there, hotly. 
We are too close. Too late, we would move back. 
We are involved with the surge. 

Now it bursts. Now it has been announced. 
Now it is being soaked up by newspapers. 
Now it is running through the streets. 
The crowd has it. The woman selling carnations 
And the man in the straw hat stand with it in their shoes. 

Here is the red marquee it sheltered under. 
Here is the ballroom, here 
The sadly various orchestra led 
By a single gesture. My arms open. 
It enters. Look, we are dancing.

(June 5, 1968)

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*carnations*

This week on the Influence: Donald Justice.

Picked up the poem above from reading through John Drury’s Poetry Dictionary.   The assassination in the poem is that of Robert Kennedy’s in 1968.

Drury places the poem in the chance poetry category.  In writing this poem, Justice wrote words on cards and picked them out at random as he wrote.

I sense some of the risk-taking of this practice in the “charged” words of the first stanza, and in the phrase “soaked up by newspapers” in the second.  It’s only a guess, but on my third reading of the poem, the phrase struck me as masterfully plucked from its context of what to do about a spill and given a new life in this poem.

I am moved by the menace and epic feel achieved in the indirect take on the subject.  Here you have a poem about a political misfortune that delves into the human aspect of it – how news travel into our lives.  I noted on each rereading of the poem how the word “it’ becomes sinister and carries the emotion of the poem to the end.  The end itself drives home a sense of mortality, of interrupted life.

On a lighter note: the carnations are brought to you courtesy of last week’s birthday celebration.

Bought them on the fly before dinner.

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Also: I have two poems in Turn, an anthology of poems about seasons put out last month by Uttered Chaos Press.  Copies can be purchased on the Uttered Chaos website here OR on Amazon here.  Special thanks to UC editor Laura LeHew.

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Happy uttering!

Jose