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Contributor Notes




M.E.Wakamatsu

M.E.Wakamatsu




Quinceañera

 

At fifteen, her dreams were of Fidel

and Che—not

blue-black nights of romance,

nor knights in shining armor.

She wanted to fly on the back of a Quetzal,

soar like Icarus on melt-proof wings

among white doves,

Olympic spirit

and corn blue Mexican skies.

She wanted to march

con intelectuales y campesinos

through Tlatelolco

down ancient streets once paved with gold

now bathed in blood

Centro Cultural turned slaughterhouse

a few escaped

clutching dreams of peace

and justice

for all.

 

 

 


American Bonsai

 

Above Big Sur

you cling to craggy soil

your sinews remember

black loam

your lace canopy...

cherry blossoms in the air

 

A distant flute trills.

The little kimono—aqua and melon—

flutters under glass.

A baby doll brought from Tokyo

rustles in his case.

 

Home is in the air,

and, so as not to scare anyone,

you wait until late at night

when winds are still and

fog veils the coastline.

 

You pull up your ancient roots,

tip-toe inland and

graft yourself onto American soil.

 

You travel in the mist like thatÉ

implant yourself before dawn like that,

then rush back to your perch

on cypress covered ridges

and coastal morning fog.

 

 

 


Dreams

 

I. 

It rained tonight.

The amber streetlight,

the feathery leaves of mesquite,

the soft wisps of rain.

We’re talking again, he said, me and Samia

            They broke up when she laughed over 911

Is that good, I said. Did you smooth it out?

Yeah, he said, but I don’t know,

she brings up this love thing again.

How’d you do that, I said.

I don’t know, he said,

picturing the rain in her hair

5000 miles away.

 

II.

Sedona’s the only landscape of red

Steve knows

and the summer tide, the only sea of red

he knows

He’s sound asleep by 9.

 

III.

Peter Jennings sports a 5 o’clock shadow

round the clock these days.

His once honeyed voice drones and cracks

over pictures of a fairy tale gone wrong.

Bastards, Steve says,

Lucky, I said, that you’ve gone this longÉ

 

IV.

Perhaps, the Sikh killed in Phoenix yesterday,

means less than Wall Street crashing today.

Just ask the women in Juarez.

Mindfulness is trivial

when collective passions

seek revenge.

The president might be tempted to declare war, I said,

Find any excuse, I said.

You always have to be so negative, he said.

 

V.

Larry’s worried about me.

Can’t you just avoid talking about it, he said.

Avoid it, I sighed. 

Carmen snuck out of Santiago into exile

in the middle of the night

Rene slipped back into El Salvador into the awaiting arms

            of Contras

and Che’s skeleton is missing both hands!

 

VI.

I called Irma last night to talk.

Do you want to meet, she said.

The tension is familiar.

I grew up half-breed among fair-skinned girls.

I learned English with a twisted tongue and forked pen.

I was born on the border where folks meet in mistrust.

I traveled secretly to Russia.

I cannot be too careful.

Only in my dreams, do I speak freely in my own home.

 

VII.

This first day of the eleventh month

is overcast.  In crisp autumn air and corn blue sky,

I swaddle memories of the dead.

My heart quivers with gratitude

Swells with blessings

I have no reason to mourn.

 

 

 


For Dario

 

He came from a long line

of ilusos, provincial folk,

unsophisticated,

unsuspecting,

never expecting to be

shot in the back

in the middle of the night

by his own brother

or father.  I forget

whose crosshairs he walked into

who just followed orders that night

whose heart exploded like watermelon

fallen from a truck.

 

 

 


Covenants

 

His grandfathers did
your
work in Mexico.
In WWII,
you
had them remove my fathers
from Tijuana, Mexicali, San Luis.
You
had them piled into cattle trucks,
interned in Mexico City
where
my father found his father
in some coloniaÉ
where men with names like
Katsurayama and Tanaka
slept like sardines
on dirt packed tight.
After
your war,
Miguel Aleman
baptized his grandfathers
bracero
and sent them to
you
to harvest
your lettuce
your citrus
your apples
wherever
you
needed.


These days
the odds are still the same.
In desert blackjack,
you
lie in wait
under the cover
of darkness
under the color
of law.

 

 

 


Family Album

 

he studies pictures of Emilio
round obsidian holes on his back
opaque film over his eyes
thick raised marks about his neck
the loose pile of gray
that is now his face

he studies pictures of Rosaura
purplish pools around her breasts
bite and scratch marks on her sides
inner thighs black and blue
manicured nails now grimy
and muddy brown

perhaps, the man would want to look at these
these photos of my mother
at the border crossing station
in the ‘56 Bel Air
she’d been across the line all day
helping grandma all day
starched, khaki green official
makes a face
holds his breath
waves her through
would he want to look at these
these pictures of indignities
dripping off her face like spit

how about these photos

of my father in the driver’s seat
white knuckles on the steering wheel
stoicism and ulcered gut
he stares straight ahead, frozen
like on his green card
 
how about this picture
of a samurai heart
ribboned with razor wire