Trochemoche: Poems by Luis Rodriguez


TROCHEMOCHE means helter-skelter in Spanish, and this book expresses the turmoil of the barrio and the various themes that drive Luis J. Rodriquez's poetry. Drawing on more than ten years of poems, Rodriguez writes powerfully and passionately about urban youth, family, and the plight of neglected communities, while exploring the rich cultural roots of his Chicano ancestry.

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TROCHEMOCHE means helter-skelter in Spanish, and this book expresses the turmoil of the barrio and the various themes that drive Luis J. Rodriquez's poetry. Drawing on more than ten years of poems, Rodriguez writes powerfully and passionately about urban youth, family, and the plight of neglected communities, while exploring the rich cultural roots of his Chicano ancestry.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Active on the Chicago spoken-word scene, Rodrguez has appeared on a number of CD compilations and a PBS special, is the author of the memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. and the founder of Ta Chucha press. His third collection, titled after the Spanish expression for "helter-skelter, pell mell; all over the place," takes street-tough rhythms and a flair for self-dramatization, and imbues them with a lyric sensibility, forging lines best read aloud: "I am capitalism's angry Christ, techno Quetzacoatl, toppling the temples/ of modern thievery, of surplus value in word-art/ exploited, anointed, and perhaps double-jointed." More prevalent are loose free-verse narratives of Rodrguez's post-barrio life as a poet, father and husband. Getting frisked by the cops, running into "The Animal" from a rival section of East L.A. and worries over the next generation's trials and tribulations are all taken in stride, and offset by a section of imagistic vignettes: "Poems Too Short To Braid." Despite the poet's spoken-word tendencies, many of these tender poems easily hold their own on the page: "Whose Jalisco harangues the Jalisco in my stroll?/ who lays across the ruins of Teotihuacan like rainwater;/ whose face outlines the bathroom walls of cantinas;/ who is the aguardiente that tongues my callused throat?"
VOYA - Jamie Hansen
Trochemoche is Spanish for "helter-skelter," and helter-skelter is where and how Rodriguez found the inspiration for his poetry. The writer himself declares in the preface, "You can find poetry in the cracks along a wall, in the faces of friends, in the palms of children-in the trochemoche of our manifold existence." In the vernacular of the barrio and the street, this poet writes hard-hitting, bitter poems with flashes of wry self-mockery. The poems in this collection are intense and painfully personal. Rodriguez writes of lost loves and failed relationships, of being hassled by police, of street fights and gang bangers, and of losing touch with his children. Although often about adult experiences, these poems are nevertheless accessible to young adults.

"Night Shift at St. Regis," an ironic and sometimes hilarious narrative about working in a paper company, might inspire some student poems about teens' own job experiences. "Hungry" and "This Could Have Happened," two poignant but very different poems about sacrifice, would be especially effective in a poetry unit. The language and subject matter of some of these works may offend some readers. The voices of these helter-skelter poems have many ways of speaking and come in many different people; razor-sharp, crude, brilliant, and vulgar, Rodriguez's poems offer a mature reader both pleasure and insights, but they are not for the squeamish.

VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781880684504
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1st EDITION
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 72
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Award-winning author Luis J. Rodríguez was born in El Paso, Texas and grew up in Watts and East L.A. Later he lived in Chicago for some years, where he was active in political and cultural life and founded Tía Chucha Press. He has published 8 critically acclaimed books in various genres (poetry, memoir, fiction, essays, and children's literature).
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Table of Contents

Preface: "Poetry by the Laws of Nature" 1
Meeting the Animal in Washington Square Park 7
Victory, Victoria, My Beautiful Whisper 9
Street Talk 10
Catacombs 11
A Tale of Los Lobos 12
Cinco de Mayo 15
Careful Skeptic 16
Woman on the First Street Bridge 17
Echo Park 19
Red Screams 21
The Facts of Life 22
To the Hills of Dirt & Granite 23
Hungry 24
A Fence of Lights 26
"Eva sitting on the curb with pen and pencil before the torturers came to get her" 27
The Old Woman of Merida 29
The Rabbi & the Cholo 30
Yo Voy Ami! 33
Fire 36
To the police officer who refused to sit in the same room as my son because he's a "gang banger" 38
The Quiet Woman 40
Markets, Alleys & the Hounds of Hell 41
The Feathered Warrior 43
Cloth of Muscle and Hair 44
The Boy of All Boys 45
Poem for Shakespeare & Company 46
Rant, Rave & Ricochet 47
Seguro Que Hell Yes! 49
Women the Color of Newspaper 51
Night Shift at St. Regis 52
Reflection on El Train Glass 57
Rocks 58
Freeway Flyin' Burrito Man 59
Questions for Which You Are Always the Answer 61
Rainfall Piano 62
Civilization 63
Next Generation 67
Afterbirth 68
At Quenchers Bar When You Said Good-bye 69
The Face on the Radio 70
Toss-turned Bodies 71
The Object of Intent Is to Get There 72
Messages 73
Untouched 74
A Father's Lesson 75
Francisca 76
This Could Have Happened 77
Getting Over 78
Suburbia 79
Believe Me When I Say 80
Notes of a Bald Cricket 83
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