Books

Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor

It was sometime in 2020 when I noticed a writer friend of mine had unfriended me on Facebook. It had been a while since he appeared on my timeline, but I thought nothing of it. I rarely got on Facebook anymore, only signing on when work required me to gather up writers of all sorts of readings. In the midst of the pandemic, however, all our in-person activities were canceled. 

I can’t remember what caused me to look. Maybe I saw him comment on a mutual friend and I clicked his profile to see what he was up to. Or maybe it was curiosity that had me search him up. Maybe still, he appeared on my “People You May Know” list. Either way, it was clear that he had removed me as a friend.

We were never on the same side politically, and it was something I long ago accepted. His religion drove his political beliefs just as my anti-religion drove mine. Still we were civil with each other. We may have had disagreements, but nothing to quietly end a friendship over. 

At least, so I thought. 

Now I can’t tell you when our friendship derailed, but I can guess when it started to get off track. And the reason why. 

In 2016, something happened in US history that I can’t begin to explain or fathom despite it happening before my eyes. On November 9, 2016, Donald J. Trump became president-elect, winning the electoral college vote while still losing the popular vote across the nation. While many true-Republicans stood at uncertainty, several more saw this as a success.

They had beaten Hiliary Clinton and that is all that mattered. 

I, like anyone liberal-minded person, knew this meant certain doom to our country, to the freedoms so many disenfranchised and marginalized communities. We would see the overturning of Roe v. Wade. We would see that the LGBTQIA demographic would no longer be allowed to be open in the military, and, worse still, lose their right to marry the people they loved.

Things voters like my former-friend cheered for. 

Continue reading “Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor”
Books

FEARFUL: Scary Stories of the Cursed Filter by Christian Nava

Christian Nava takes us back to Quiet Falls in the second book to his Fearful series

When we were last here, we followed Esau and company as they fought the evil app/phone that had taken control of his brother, Jake (aka GoatyJakey). Now a new evil threatens the citizens of not-so-Quiet Falls, once again proving that Nava has a Stephen King-esque aversion toward technology. 

There’s just one tiny problem – Esau isn’t in the story. And while CJ, Jake, and Kara (as  Ex-Machina) make an appearance, they’re downgraded to secondary characters. I do like that they’ve formed their own version of the Scooby Gang, hunting the horrors of Quiet Falls. 

In this story, we meet Lily Andrews, her brother Donnie, and the Sucky Siblings, Blair and Caleb. In an attempt to protect her brother from being terrorized by Blair and Caleb, Lily makes a deal with the mysterious Diana, whose shop just magically appears in the woods one day. She is given an irl filter, which has the power to transform Lily into someone’s wildest daydream to their most horrendous nightmare. 

But nothing in Quiet Falls is cheap, and Lily must pay the price. 

Continue reading “FEARFUL: Scary Stories of the Cursed Filter by Christian Nava”
Personal

Revisions

Getting back into the groove of things isn’t easy. Especially after taking a long hiatus. A hiatus that I figured would last indefinitely. Last Thursday, I participated in the Latine Heritage Month reading at the library. Yes, that library. The one I used to work at. 

And two weeks before that, I participated at an open mic at Moonbeans. Though, if I’m honest, I wasn’t going to partake in that reading (more on that later, possibly another post). 

At both readings, I read something I had written with V in mind. (This poem, actually.) As you can see, the poem didn’t age well. Which is a problem with adding pop culture references in your works. (Note: This isn’t always the case, however. There are plenty of beautifully, wittily written poems that drop random references that have aged wonderfully. Well, I’m sure there are, anyway.)

During the Moonbeans reading, I noted what wasn’t working with the poem. Keep in mind, this version is a Frankensteined creation of two poems smashed together. Something I had composed for a Love & Chocolate reading held a few years ago. 

For the reading at Sekula, I omitted most of the first point. And noted that my father had passed a few months after writing the piece.

While doing so, I remembered something a creative writing professor told me. How the editing process is never truly done, even after publishing. Writers always think of new ways their works could have been better. And maybe that’s what I’ll do. Sit down and read my “best of” poems and contemplate how to “correct” them. 

Because outside of that one poem, I haven’t written poetry in a long while. And outside of these rough-draft, journal-entry type blog posts, I haven’t really written anything either. 

Once a fixture—a staple—within the local poetry scene, I bowed out and took a seat. While the conflict that led to the decision was only partially to blame, things had changed by then. I’d become a father, took down a real job, and began focusing my attention on them. Coupled with the fact that my relationship with Jeanna began, poetry readings didn’t seem as important. 

But performance is a drug not easily shaken. Standing at the mic, reading to a roomful of strangers or friends, just felt right. Like a missing limb or an old confidante.

Photo by Heorhii Heorhiichuk
Stream of Consciousness

Therapy Session

—And then it stopped.

She took the long way home. Traveled the roads of endless fields, dried from the summer drought. The rains were still months away. The first of autumn baptizing the earth, washing it of sin. Erosion. 

The car sputtered, pulsed. She hoped she wouldn’t get stranded. Wouldn’t know how to even call for help. What the answer would be when they asked her, “What is your location?”

I dunno. The side of the road. There’s a field of tall, dry grass.

—And do you often refer to yourself as a woman?

—I don’t often refer to myself as anyone, actually.

—But you’ve used a female moniker in the past.

—I have gone by many names in the past. A couple were female, yes.

Continue reading “Therapy Session”
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.