* the 2016 End of Year Reading!

Time once again for my end of year reading here on the Influence! This year has left me with much to be grateful for, from readings in my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas (Del Mar, TAMUCC, & Moody High – órale!) to getting to be the Visiting Writer at Adelphi University’s Alice Hoffman Young Writers Retreat as well as participate in my second CantoMundo.

I am especially grateful for the journals and presses and their respective editors that have worked with me this year and helped bring more of my work out into the world. Lastly, I want to say thanks to everyone who reads this blog as well as to the community of writers, readers, and friends (three words for the same thing, no?) that have reached out to me regarding my work. When things get dark, as they often did in 2016, community and words bring me back to light.

book of flight cover     Divorce Suite pic IG

For this end of year reading, I have chosen selections from my two chapbook publications of 2016, The Book of Flight (Essay Press) and The Divorce Suite (Red Bird Chapbooks).

From The Book of Flight (which can be read for free on the Essay Press site) I am reading pages 2 through 5. From The Divorce Suite (available for purchase from Red Bird Chapbooks), I am reading the poems below. I learned a lot working with both presses bringing these projects to fruition. Special thanks especially to Andy Fitch, Aimee Harrison, and Maria Anderson of Essay Press, and Eric Hove and Sarah Hayes of Red Bird Chapbooks. And a warm thanks to Pam Dick for writing the intro essay to Flight and selecting it for publication!



The Particular Life – José Angel Araguz

The oak chest holds the scent
of the tree it was made from,
everything placed inside
comes out thick with the smell:
traces on blankets, letters,
notebooks that even closed
show at the edge of the pages
the blot and blurring
of fine lines, a photo
I’d neglected to
rip up with the rest
after the divorce, a shot
where I stand younger
than I am now, smiling,
and then only half-way,
the rest of my face pulled in
as if inhaling deep,
taking in the particular
life that passes
no matter the effort
to shut it away.


Rose Song – José Angel Araguz

“…the rose is out of town” – E. Dickinson

The rose is out of town,
and the wine has moved away.
The wedding ring won’t glint,
the river won’t let it.
Perfumes won’t call me back.
The candle’s on a walk,
lets shadow fill the shelves.

Our secrets tell themselves,
while worries stay to talk.
The wedding dress is slack.
The coat hooks comfort it.
Lost buttons try to hint,
there is no other way.
The rose is out of town.


Happy flighting and suiteing!


* reading from The Divorce Suite!

September ended up being such a busy month that I never got around to sharing more excerpts from The Divorce Suite (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). Luckily, a recent outing to the Spring Grove Cemetery provided a nice background and inspiration for a reading. Below are the poems “Gift” and “The Accordion Heart” along with a clip of my reading them.

I chose these two poems because they are both what I term “makeshift sonnets.” There was a year (2006, I believe) when I wrote a sonnet a day; terribly rhymed creatures they were, all sorts of misguided phrasing. I then took a break from writing in the form for a few years, returning to the form after learning about William Carlos Williams and his idea of the sonnet as simply the shape of an argument.

With that framework to brace me, I wrote my way back into the fourteen line form, feeling out an argument or sense of argument. Both of these poems work out their own sense of argument, and strike their separate notes that compliment the overall project of The Divorce Suite.


Gift – José Angel Araguz

A man with a heavy German accent
handed me a book by Brigitte Reimann,
said he had bought it but had to leave
suddenly, and wanted to gift it
to the store. He walked off then.
Gift it, I kept repeating, telling
the story to anyone who’d listen.
Do you know how great that is?

The front photo was the color of smoke,
the author, young, and holding a cigarette.
It looked as if by standing there,
she colored everything around her.
When I looked it up, I found the title
translated to: Everything tastes like farewell.


The Accordion Heart – José Angel Araguz (*)

The accordion heart is hard to carry.
There are no hands for it. To play,
you go from face to face and wait
to see who wakes it up. You’ll feel
the air inside you pull and stretch.
You’ll feel awkward and loud, and yet
each movement could be music. You
can see where this could lead to something.

Sometimes the face won’t want to play.
Sometimes the face will play too long.
Either way, you’ll feel worn out.
You’ll want to punch and tear a hole,
and prove the accordion heart is useless.
There are no hands for it. You wait.


The Divorce Suite can be purchased from Red Bird Chapbooks.

Happy accordioning!


(*) “The Accordion Heart” was originally published in Foothill: a journal of poetry.

* excerpt from The Divorce Suite!

Divorce Suite pic IG

Just a quick post to follow up on the release of my latest chapbook, The Divorce Suite, published by Red Bird Chapbooks!

I’m happy to report that I received my copies. Included in one copy was this guy:

Divorce Suite bird

I was really stoked to get the first in the print one of 100!

I also wanted to follow up with an excerpt from the book. Here’s one of the short lyrics that precedes the title poem. A couple of different mythologies get interwoven into the narrative of the collection. Here, I take an indirect approach to Lethe, the river of forgetfulness.

Lethe – José Angel Araguz

My face and neck dripping
with water, I stood before
the bathroom mirror in
a convenience store, hoping
to wash away the scent
of this other woman
I did not want found out,
not until I knew
just what she was to me,
what story to put her in
for the wife I’d yet to leave,
for the wife I felt I couldn’t,
not until I traced
the other’s scent around
my skin, to distinguish,
to make sure – the water
hit, the water cleared,
the water left me
the reflection of
a man smiling,
forgetting in a second
what it was I tried
to hide, and why hide it,
who would drive me to
these waters, and what man
had I been, so wrongfully,
ruinously been,
I laughed at him now,
a different man
behind the eyes
crowned by stray hair,
locked and gleaming
against my skin,
inky letters I knew
I’d have to learn to read.


Copies are still available for purchase from Red Bird Chapbooks!

Feel free to share which number you get in the comments.

See you Friday!


* new chapbook: The Divorce Suite!

Divorce Suite Cover

Just a quick post to announce the release of my latest chapbook, The Divorce Suite, published by Red Bird Chabooks! Copies can be ordered here.

This chapbook centers on a series of poems inspired by my divorce back in 2010. It takes on the idea of divorce as a fulcrum into change, the narrative itself playing out in various forms: from makeshift sonnets, tanka sequences, and the lyric/prose hybrid of the title poem, to the mutated sestina that closes the book, divorce is seen as both event and momentum.

These ideas are embodied in the following lines from Paterson by William Carlos Williams which serve as an epigraph for the chapbook:

Divorce is
the sign of knowledge in our time,
divorce! divorce!

                         with the roar of the river
forever in our ears…

The particular river that runs through this chapbook is the Willamette, as much of the telenovela that was my first marriage played out in Eugene, Oregon.

One of the reasons I’m especially excited about this project is that it brings together a specific sequence of poems around this subject. While the title poem and a small selection of other poems from this chapbook will be featured in my next collection, Small Fires (due out in 2017), this chapbook presents its own particular reading experience. The difference is similar to having a radio edit versus hearing the full version of a song.

Special thanks to Eric Hove & Sarah Hayes for being great to work with as well as to everyone at Red Bird Chapbooks! RBC’s chapbooks are hand-crafted art objects, making this publication all the more special.

Red Bird Chapbooks is planning a print run of 100 copies, so please hurry and snag a copy!

Happy Red Birding!


* quick chapbook news!

Just a quick post to make a few announcements and share some news:

  • I am happy to report that my next chapbook, The Divorce Suite, will be out in a week or two by Red Bird Chapbooks. This chapbook will have an initial run of 100 copies. More info soon!
  • Here are links to some recent online publications that I feel are definitely worth reading and supporting. The first is Glass: A Journal of Poetry’s recent Orlando tribute feature “Pulsamos: LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting.” Some great poems in there from Emily Rose Cole, Steven Sanchez, and Darrel Alejandro Holnes among other fine work. The other recent publication I’d like to share is the first issue by The Deaf Poets Society: an online journal of disability literature & art. Some strong work from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Mary Peelan among others. Here’s an article on this new online journal from PBS.
  • Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone who entered the Goodreads giveaway. Out of 500 plus entries (each time I think of this number = Wow! *gasp*), 10 were chosen by Goodreads to received signed copies of my chapbook, Reasons (not) to Dance (FutureCycle Press). Those copies should be out shortly. Everyone be on the look out next month for another giveaway, this time of my first full book of poems, Everything We Think We Hear (Floricanto Press).

See you Friday!