* hollering with cisneros

Human beings pass me on the street, and I want to reach out and strum them as if they were guitars. Sometimes all humanity strikes me as lovely. I just want to reach out and stroke someone, and say There, there, it’s all right, honey. There, there, there.

Sandra Cisneros, from ” Never Marry a Mexican”

 

After last week, I’ve been enjoying hitting the books on my exams list again. This week I’m revisiting the work of Sandra Cisneros. In rereading her short story collection Woman Hollering Creek, written after The House on Mango Street with a book of poems in between, it’s interesting to note echoes of Mango Street, at least in terms of formal music and spirit.

The above excerpt, for example, has the nuance and linguistic power of evocation of the best short pieces that make up The House on Mango Street. Yet, even in this excerpt, one can see that the stakes are different. Where Mango Street is a book of childhood, of youthful observation and insight, here the speaker is possessed of the wildness of adulthood. And it’s there in the language. The last sentence’s “There, there, there” evokes the strumming of a guitar in an almost tangible way.

It is in this evocation that Cisneros builds off her previous collection of stories and continues in the spirit of what Charles Baudelaire, in dreaming and defining the prose poem, described as “the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without rhythm or rhyme, supple and agile enough to adapt to the lyrical movements of the soul.”

Prose poem, flash fiction, short short, microcuento – whatever banner the lyrical movements happen under, the eye and heart are first to recognize the signs.

Rachel says that love is like a big black piano being pushed off the top of a three-story building and you’re waiting on the bottom to catch it. But Lourdes says it’s not that way at all. It’s like a top, like all the colors in the world are spinning so fast they’re not colors anymore and all that’s left is a white hum.

There was a man, a crazy who lived upstairs from us when we lived on South Loomis. He couldn’t talk, just walked around all day with this harmonica in his mouth. Didn’t play it. Just sort of breathed through it, all day long, wheezing, in and out, in and out.

This is how it is with me. Love I mean.

Sandra Cisneros, from “One Holy Night”

*

Happy hollering!

Jose

p.s. Check out a previous post on a Cisneros-inspired microfiction here.

* new work up at apogee journal’s blog: perigree

* cinnamontography *
* cinnamontography *

Just a quick note to share that my flash fiction piece “Forgotten Conversation” has recently been published on Apogee Journal’s Blog: Perigree.

Check it out here.

Special thanks to Cecca Ochoa for working with me in shaping the final version.

This work means something special to me for where it took me towards the end, evoking Sandra Cisneros from her Loose Woman poems as a kind of patron(a) saint of the broken hearted!

See you Friday!

Jose

* weathering with sandra cisneros & sleater-kinney

Sometimes the books find you.

I remember Sandra Cisneros’ Loose Woman as one of the first books of poems I carried around with me, young and possessed of that particular hubris termed a calling to poetry (Even the phrasing of that reeks of hubris, no?).

I remember being in high school and even then struggling with how to deal with culture and words, how to balance a love of Yeats (wherever Innisfree was, it sounded dope and fancy) as well as for Juan Gabriel (try listening to “Querida” and not feeling something!).

What I was moved by most in reading Cisneros is her ability to bring such worlds together. She was the first writer I read to bring together worlds I knew – Texas, books, and, yes, heartbreak (highschool amiright?) – and show how they can coexist through the tension of words.

In the spirit of this “world-togethering,” I’ve decided to pair up this week’s poem with the video for Sleater-Kinney’s new song, “No Cities to Love.” The chorus of the song (There are no cities, no cities to love/It’s not the city, it’s the weather we love!) brought me back to Cisneros and her poems which taught me how to take note of weather.

Bay Poem from Berkeley – Sandra Cisneros

Mornings I still
reach for you before
opening my eyes.

An antique habit from
last summer when we pulled
each other into the heat of groin
and belly, slept with an arm
around the other.

The Texas sun was like that.
Like a body asleep beside you.

But when I open my eyes
to the flannel and down,
mist at the window and blue
light from the bay, I remember
where I am.

This weight
on the other side of the bed
is only books, not you. What
I said I loved more than you.
True.

Though these mornings
I wish books loved back.

***

Happy weathering!

Jose