Poetry Break

National Poetry Month 2022

  1. “How to be a Person” by Shane Koyczan
  2. “How To Be Alone” by Pádraig Ó Tuama
  3. “To Live in the Borderlands” by Gloria Anzaldua
  4. “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith
  5. “The Year of No Grudges” by Andrea Gibson
  6. “Pins and Needles” by Dua Saleh
  7. “Como Tú” by Roque Dalton
  8. “I Am Not A Cool Girlfriend” by Priya Malik
  9. “Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem” by Matthew Olzmann
  10. “There’s Someone For Everyone” by Sainee Raj
  11. “My Mother Explains My Depression to Me” by RJ Walker
  12. “A Lot Like You” by Rudy Francisco
  13. “So Now” by Charles Bukowski
  14. “You Can Take Off Your Sweater, I’ve Made Today Warm” by Paige Lewis
  15. “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry
  16. “The City in Which I Love You” by Li-Young Lee
  17. “Ode to the Only Black Kid in the Class” by Clint Smith
  18. “BPD” by Coral More
  19. “I’m Only Human” by Deon Demamount
  20. “I Won’t Write Your Obituary” by Nora Cooper
  21. “One Turn Around the Sun” by Tim Seibles
  22. “No One Tells You How Easy It Is to Fall in Love or How Hard It Is to Stay There” by Emi Mahmoud
  23. “I’m Sorry I Thought You Were Your Mother” by Melissa Lozada-Oliva
  24. “Maria” by Krutika Zambre
  25. “There is No Hierarchy of Oppressions” by Audre Lorde
  26. “Affirmation” by Assata Shakur
  27. “My Words” by César Leonardo de León
  28. “Sorrow Is Not My Name” by Ross Gay
  29. “When They Look Right Through You” by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre
  30. “To Shaun, on Your 10th Birthday” by Guillermo Corona
Photo by Thought Catalog
Personal

Dear Moisés,

You once told me about the cactus you kept in the bed of your truck. How’d you drive, parading it through the city. You told me people would give you looks. Maybe even a quizzical lift of the brow. 

I wish I saved those emails so that I can paint a better picture – the one who painted with your words. Because all I imagine is a bed of sand with your cactus planted in the middle. I don’t imagine the nopal, but the saguaro as it is the most referenced in popular culture. 

I feel that this logo is off center. Maybe I’ll leave it that way.

I can’t remember the color of your truck, or if you ever told me the model and brand. But I think of an old red pickup, the sort abuelos drive. 

We reconnected when I was in college. You found a review I made on Amazon and that led you down the rabbit hole to whatever social network I was using back then. Probably MySpace. We emailed each other, old friends catching up. You were always pushing me to share my work, find my voice. 

And I eventually did, though I’m sad you never got to see me recite one of my poems on stage. Never heard me voice my characters.

I still wear the rings you gave me. These biker rings that appeared on Facebook. Rings that became the bane of my former employer’s existence. Rings I wore to push the limits one October and never took off until my weight got away from me. 

And the moment my fingers allowed me to put them back on, it brought me so much peace. I can’t explain to you how exposed I felt without them. Every time I forget to wear them, a part of me is missing. And I’m sure you’d have loved to know that. 

In some small way, I always felt that I carry you with me when I wear them. When I thought of buying new ones, I second guessed because these rings were from you. 

Among other gifts you sent me, a Harley Quinn tee shirt, copies of your sister’s books, a book I never read, and several inappropriate birthday cards. How I loved those inappropriate cards. 

I’m sorry that I stopped making that effort. Sorry I never held my word in writing those things for you. It’s easy to say that life gets in the way. That I was raising a child when I still didn’t feel like much of an adult. Sorry for never writing or reaching out when that illness began to take you. You were a better friend than I ever deserved. 

It’s just that I scare easily, and I make it a habit to keep people I love at an arm’s length. I always think this will make the pain easier to take, but all it does is leave room for regret.

And there is a lot I regret these days.

As you know, I don’t have much faith on what lies beyond this life. Whether we simply stop existing or go into a higher plane of existence – be it Heaven or whatever. But I do hope that I see you again. 

You once sent me this song and told me that you were the pretty girl. You didn’t care if I was Dr. Dre or Eminem.

Poetry Break

“Out of the huts of history’s shame”

This is not the post I wanted to write. That post is saved in my drafts where it may never see the light of day. There’s so much to say about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but I am not well-versed, and I know that I misspeak (or type).

I won’t be taking a step back from the blog, but the content may change.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

—"And Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
Poetry Break

“Orlando” by Andrea Gibson

I don’t want to talk about Uvalde. I don’t want to talk about the thwarted Patriot Front riot. There are half-written, angry-sad posts talking about Uvalde in my drafts. And none of them will see the light of day. Because it’s no my tragedy to talk about. It’s not my story to share.

It’s difficult to talk about it without bringing up what I was doing that day. And how the news gnawed at the back of my head.

Instead, I leave you with Andrea Gibson’s poem, “Orlando.”

Books

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Several years ago, a friend introduced me to the wonderful world of bizarro literature, and I haven’t been the same person since. These wonderful, grotesque pieces of works were one part science fiction and fantasy, one part horror, and dark comedy added for that special flavor. From Baby Jesus Buttplugs to young men orgasming tilers with their ejaculate, these stories were set in worlds where the fantastical seemed mundane.

Such tales wouldn’t be found mixed in with the “regular” books at Barnes and Noble, so imagine my surprise when I picked read Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, a short story collection by Raphael Bob-Waksberg creator of BoJack Horseman. It’s hard to not categorize these tales as anything but bizarro-lite. While the crass, almost pornographic references are missing, they are replaced by with lifelong bus rides, nuptial goat sacrifices, presidential clone abominations, and doorways to alternate universes.

Set in their own pocket universes where the fantastical is commonplace, these stories are about love. The love you have for a complete stranger encountered on a train; the love you have for your fiancée as you plan a small wedding while your family forces tradition upon you both; the love you have for a sibling; and the love you have for your wife in an alternate universe. They will carry though with gentle hands as they explore emotions, which may cause some introspection (it did for me, at times).

If you were a fan of BoJack Horseman, I promise you this book is a must read.

Details

  • Title: Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory
  • Author: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
  • Pages: 243
  • Genre: Sci-Fi Short Stories
  • Publisher: Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House
  • Available in:
    • Paperback
    • Kindle
    • Audible with full cast narration featuring Nicholas Gonzalez, Colman Domingo, Natalie Morales, Raúl Esparza, Will Brill, Stephanie Beatriz, and Emma Galvin
  • From the back cover: Written with all the scathing dark humor that is a hallmark of BoJack Horseman, Raphael Bob-Waksberg delivers a fabulously offbeat collection of short stories about love—the best and worst thing in the universe.
Work

One Year Later

My desk is a mess. There are printouts of articles, research for my RGV LGBTQIA+ timeline – and all of them written by Gabriel Sanchez, someone I am hoping to meet in the future. My bullet journal is open to today’s spread, indicated what needs working on and what can possibly wait. A legal pad with pencil-written notes on the Minnie Gilbert collection vies for my attention. Raphael Bob-Waksberg short story collection, Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory waits for me to pick it up.

But my mind is distracted. Not with the subject of queer botany a friend shared with me this morning. (Though, I will admit I did fall into that rabbit hole for a while.) Not with the ruckus caused by the visiting elementary or middle school students in the library lobby.

I’m distracted because one year ago I ventured into a new job. It wasn’t easy starting in a place of uncertainty, not knowing if I could handle it or learn new tricks. Or work in my old ones.

In the year, I have assisted in founding a bring-your-own-book-club for the university community, update our holdings for digital content, research local LGBTQIA+ history, pushed for inclusion of poetry, and learn quite a bit of local history in the process.

It’s been a long journey from storytime wizard to managing our digital content. It’s a journey worth its while, and I’m glad I took the opportunity.

Photo by Chester Zhao