Personal · Poetry Break

“Whatever Happened to the Coffee Love Guy?”

by Guillermo Corona

Faces in the crowd
cast in shadow. Lone
light shining upon an
open mic. Nerves gathered,
sweat glistening on anxious brow–
we come together not to bury,
but to praise this noble art. 

Tea-stained pages, rimmed with coffee
mark the passage of time
from home cook meals to library
meeting rooms to a new wave–
una nueva onda, a night of readings
with friends and family
y familias.

We are grandmothers y abuelas,
compadres and instant friends.
¿Si no hablamos ahora, who will?
We are the voices of generations
new and long since past,
whispers and echoes both, 
cracking on an open mic.

Somos amadores, we are coffee drinkers,
dunking pan dulce in our cups
while trading words and waxing poetic
philosophies like it was going out of style. 

Memory is a funny thing, ain’t it? I was sitting at my desk the other day when one just wiggled into the space between thoughts. It’s one of the last nights I hung around with the “coffee love guy.”

We both attended one of Amado’s Nueva Onda Poetry readings at the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library. He had recited – upon popular request – the poem in question, “Coffee Love.” I don’t know what it was about that poem that was a crowd pleaser, but those of us who knew the man knew him for that poem. It’s the only one that stuck in my memory, though I’m sure he read others.

“Whatever happened to that guy?” I wondered before pushing the thought aside, trying to focus on my work.

Memories, however, won’t be ignore.

The question hung in my head until I wrote down what would later be the title of this poem – “Whatever Happened to the Coffee Love Guy?” – into my bullet journal. I scribbled a few lines, trying to remember the conversation we had. Nothing stuck.

I tried writing a poem about loss – and I did – but I didn’t want to just focus on losing people. I wanted to remember someone, or rather the feelings I had two decades ago when I first took the stage at Amado’s little cafe and read for the first time.

And when I had those bare bones laid out, I started filling them in. Mixing in the words into English and Spanish – my broken Spanish. I flipped back to the page I wrote down my question and thought, “Now that’s a title I could use.”

I still haven’t answered my question, though. And maybe it will remain a mystery. I might bump into him one day, or maybe that last night was our last conversation. But if you’re reading this, man, how’s it been?

Poetry Break

“The Dog You Feed”

by Emma Bolden

from South Writ Large
The 9:00 news spills the blood
of my sisters, my brothers, spills
the blood by which we are all fleshed

and familied. How long, I worry, until
the wound is mine, because I don’t
love right, look right, because I don’t

speak right, truth right, because my
country has bricked and mortared
a room for me and I can’t find a way

to walk through its door. Sometimes
it feels as if barking up the branches
of my lungs are two dogs, one who

whimpers, sweet, who listens not with ears
but with a heart ready to hold and to hurt,
to care, to give, forgive. The other

dog howls at my enemy’s throat, wants
them to speak the tart language of blood,
wants the fang and drain to be justice, as if

I have the right to harm because I hurt.
How many times can a cheek turn if the other
cheek is pressed against the wall?

And if there is a God above us, among
us, if there is a God within this illusion
of cloud, cry and bone, this is what makes him

God: that he could number in love each
finger on these two hands even before
they have chosen which dog to feed.
Poetry Break

“anti poetica”

by Danez Smith

who cares how long i’ve spent with my poems—those shit psalms those rats of my soul—head first thru the window me at their ankles demanding substance, revelation, sudden gravity—shamed of my leafless, drug shanked brain—this grey popper worn hell—that dark dull circle i try to conquer beauty & the state from within. i’m not revolutionary i’m regular. nothing radical in being the enemy of america, the country of enemies. we find our laughter between the horror. stop asking me to explain having a body & a mind & a heart—their harmonies, their plots to murder each other. i’ve lived long in a low solstice—wife of a pipe & the blue lit plain—leo trash—saved by occasional dick & the knowledge of my mother, friends i confess my pocked seasons only after their caul. arachnid moods—self-cornered—text back weak—i haven’t been much lately—the dark season lasted years, swallowing seasons, collecting itself in my shallows like a motor-sheered fish. where did the poems go? what is their trouble? what kind of water is i?
Poetry Break

“Back to School Shopping”

by Kate Baer

from What Kind of Woman
Because I love you, I buy the Superman backpack,
three tubs of glue. I hold up the different folders and
let you decide: tigers or LEGOs, stripes or battleships.
I do not tell you what I am becoming. I do not tell you
I am afraid. Last night they played the screams of some
people dying. Last night they showed their guns in the
air. How does a mother hold her terrors? How does
a school become a haunted place?

I n the morning, I take your picture in front of a sign,
gaps in your teeth. I do not say a life without is not
worth living. I do not say I've memorized every inch of
your frame. Instead, I wave at your hand waving.
Instead, I say a quick goodbye.
Poetry Break

“Hazy Lazy Crazy”

by Veronica Sandoval (a.k.a. Lady Mariposa)

from The Answer
Got this hazy, lazy, crazy
Feeling in my tummy
The kind of feeling that's got me
Just another social junkie

Running into walls
Running straight through walls
What walls?

Perfection is an addiction
Addiction is perfection
And there I go perfectly addicted to nothing

An empty hole
A black void
The place where all the left socks go

Poetry Break

“Mi Revolución”

by René Saldaña, Jr.

from I, Too, Am America: The New Chicano Sonnets
for Le-Ann Alaniz

A fingerful of you,
Wet, on the top of my tongue.
You are the Earth,
Womb filled by Father Sun.

Your thighs are the Devil's breath
Burning and tapping
Sin on my shoulder
With a slender finger.

¿Me das un trozo de tu alma?
One scrap would tell me of god
Living in the meadows of your loins
Kissing lovedust on my belly.

You sit and read your books about Revolution.
I sit across from you and think how wonderous your

Much like Cesar de Leon’s book, you’re going to need some luck finding this one. I honestly didn’t even know it existed until this year. I’ve known René Saldaña, Jr. for ages now – back when he was my creative writing professor in twenty-fifteen! (I spelled it out for dramatic intent!) I happened upon it accidentally when browsing the books we have in our LRGV collection and this grossly yellow* chapbook just plucks out and lands right in my hands. I must be mistaken, I think. René only wrote fiction, no? Did he ever mention that he had a book of sonnets somewhere out there in the world? I don’t think so! But I found it, René! Oh did I find it. (Obviously, I’m kidding in teasing here. It takes a lot of skill to write sonnets. I don’t even know if these are in sonnet form because I NEVER really learned how to write them.)

I do highly recommend checking out his books of fiction:

*I hate the color yellow, so don’t take this as actual criticism of the color choice.