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VERSES FROM THE CENTRAL JAIL
By Héctor de la O
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Héctor de la O
All rights reserved.
Someone in the chambers of the Lord gave witness
Of His love to share with waifs without a home,
Come into my life to teach me of His goodness,
Offering safe harbor to a child, just a beaten dog,
Rare kindness, and his wife was like a grandmother.
Ramírez was his surname and his eponym Succor;
Of course he was repentant of his wild origins.
Ruddy as a Michoacán Tarasco and as solid
As a wrestler, a game cock always on his arm,
My nino was an honest man although he drank,
If not what kind of indio would he represent?
Reliable to bring the mercy of the Lord to El Sereno,
Every Saturday my heart would race his Chevrolet,
Zero to sixty in a heartbeat to Green Meadows.
Chabela would be waiting and I loved her also,
Hospitable and soft-spoken as Socorro was,
A stack of flour tortillas always freshly-made
Belied her southern birth near León or Moroleón;
Each one brought me joy and fed my soul to gratitude.
Light years away they live today until tomorrow,
And I hope the Lord forgives me for abandoning them.
H. d. l. O.—14 FEB 06
Chabela was Isabel Gonzales, from Guanajuato, Mexico—She was thirty years older than her husband, Socorro (They were really the godparents of my younger brother, Xavier Santiago—"Nino", short for "padrino", Spanish for godfather).
He was one of the old-school "sewer men" of Los Angeles—pick-and-shovel, clay pipe-laying plumbers, and I even worked with him in the ditches as a teenager. Old Jack Stephan and Adee (famous plumbers thereabout) probably still remember old Socorro.
Once, he recounted, he was on a job in a ditch in the street and had to go to the toilet—When he got back, there was a ruckus going on at the ditch. Apparently a worker had gotten buried. So he grabbed his shovel and jumped in, everyone frantically shoveling to get their buddy out. So he asks this guy, "Hey, who's buried down there?" and the guy tells him, "Some guy named Socorro." So he answers him, "But I'm Socorro!" Needless to say they were all relieved—But Socorro always laughed about that.
Evening and morning and the blessed strung a lute;
Divinely even so were words of truth inspired.
Oh, and on the thirteenth day they gathered,
Unforeseen some others witnessing this interlude.
And in Heaven they performed their own civilities,
Round about the throne of the Almighty chanting
Dulcet accolades to Whom their gifts were owing.
In the meantime were those witnesses corrupted,
Vaunting blasphemies before the judge in the salons,
Envious of what they couldn't do and critical the more,
Secure in the respect they'd garnered over time,
Each of them renowned for speaking in an evil tone
Every time a valid inspiration graced a scene;
Now shall the shades of time exonerate your hand!
On the appointed day before the passing of the age,
Light years from the predetermination of all things,
Your calling like a laurel will reflect the spectrum—
Many have been called but few will be the chosen.
Put your hand into the muse's hand and walk
In wisdom—For the knowledge of your blessing in itself
Attests so eloquently to your talent and your grace.
Héctor de la O
22 APR 05
Critics, cynics, dogs. Yours is a meretricious lot. What in the name of bloody Hell, and barkin' that you can describe the very soul of beauty!
Don't you sell your vacuous reviews to buy acclaim from other heartless, helpless reprobates? Such elevated taste must have its bedfellows.
Go count the pimples on your damaged arses, and desist from supercilious expoundings on aesthetics.
Embittered by your lack of skill, your drivel in the dailies and the rags is but the whimpering of empty-headed fools, accompanied by those who buy into your self-uplifting touted erudition.
Go float in the lake of fire surrounded by whomever would subscribe to vitriole, to diatribe and blasphemy. See ya! Wouldn't wanna be ya!
Flit across the fields and brush away my tears,
Like a paper toy which fancies its own flight,
Utterly aimless, leaving color everywhere you go;
To the young you are a wispy bit of liberty,
Transcending the oppressive pull of gravity,
Earthbound long enough but to alight upon a petal.
Rivers passing underneath erasing all frontiers,
Borne upon the wind as fleet as silent thought,
You conquer the expanse of space and time.
Butterfly, what name had you before a day in June,
Unidentified flying object before Adam ere the fall?
To the Japanese an unrequited love and suicide,
To heavyweights elusive flight and stinging blows;
Every flower knows your name in Saigon City,
Recluses in Guyana called you Papillon for years,
Finally forever free to Venezuela's arms and love.
Let your wingbeats echo through the Copper Canyon's walls,
Yonder take my secrets to Felícitas Sapién.
H.d.l.O—11 JAN 06
Felícitas Sapién was my grandmother, very elegantly slim and tall as was her sister Lupe (who dressed all in black after the death of her husband, for the rest of her life). Both were so obviously native—And because they were from Chihuahua, probably Tarahumara. Naturally, racial stigma being what it is, they always denied that heritage.
My grandfather, Pedro Pichardo (My father always said we came from the French), worked for the postal system of Chihuahua, at Hidalgo del Parral. During the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Doroteo Arango Arámbula, a native of Durango and better known by his nom de guerre, "Pancho Villa", always sought to murder him. Pedro died anyway, falling out of a walnut tree into which he'd climbed to shake the branches for some children below (That's the story they told my father as a child). Pancho Villa (poetic justice!) was assassinated in that very town of Hidalgo del Parral in 1923.
My family (of the Porras branch, mainly) of Camargo, hated Villa for hanging thirty men there one time simply because one of his many women tried to poison him.
After my grandfather died, Felicitas took her children north to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and then across the border to El Paso. My father, Santiago, was raised there and died and is buried there, in the military cemetery at Fort Bliss. He was a veteran of WW II, and fought at Normandy (Our ancestors, of the ancient family name of Picard, came from Brittany originally—the province next to Normandy).
Gusto for the flesh of men,
And you're a bodhisattvah?
Youth elixirs shall not stay
Judicial retribution's pantheon,
Unless eternal life has varied
Avenues to reach the goal,
Novel strategies to no avail.
Pray the sun to wisdom wake,
Or shall your disregard for time
Lay bare the soul of apathy,
Arriving at contrived repentance,
Nowhere evident until too late?
Cosmic are the consequences
On the day the clock rings last.
H.d.l.O.—27 FEB 06
Some people love and give and make mistakes and live;
Except for victims everyone enjoys the fruits of being here.
Right now you're driving past those trees around the bend;
Isn't that the place where No. 3 paid retribution for her kind?
At home you have her comb, her locket or her handkerchief,
Lying still as she, her fragrance clinging to the atmosphere.
Kinship elsewhere torn asunder clings to shreds of memory,
If only this if only that I wonder where she is so far away!
Life goes on and death awaits us all including lonely men,
Lepers never to be cleansed as also Esau wept for naught.
Every now and then you'll get the urge to roam about again,
Right up until the day the laws at least of physics claim you.
Never has a sanction so severe been served upon a vandal,
Over the objection of your dream team, learned scholars all.
When the final grains of sand comingle with the last few drops
Your I.V. unit sends into your veins your heart will race no more;
On the morrow shall you join your sacrifices in a common grave,
Until the day we rise and you are culled from the procession.
Did you think it was ignored, your interruption of their innocence?
If death was merciful to maidens bleeding in some forest glen,
Eternity will be their crown for wanton slaughters they endured,
Tomorrow shall the handiwork of the Almighty walk these avenues,
Oblivious of danger as Abaddon arrests your soul from wandering;
On the reasons for untimely death you had your time to ponder.
Héctor de la O—03 MAR 06
Just like when you were a little girl you steal the show,
Erupting onto the frenetic scene like Greta Garbo,
Such panache aplomb and chutzpah verve and moxie!
Savoir faire I wouldn't venture an opinion on for tastes
Invariably are the domain of every monkey on his vine;
Each one of us will swing to our very heart's delight.
Many years ago in 1924 Josefa, beauty of the Kora, gave
On your father's birthday what a perfect gift, a child,
Though someone to contend with as it now turns out,
Harboring the love of Heaven and the fire of Hell in one
Eternally determined woman child to be mother to three
Rebellious boys though now reformed and blessed still.
Of course some people talk about you as do you in turn,
Forever struggling with creation for the sake of pettiness.
May you see the light and sell Jack's house and end a play
In God's good time surrounded by other than the vultures.
No one lives forever in his mother's house but marries off,
Ending his own days as they began, beholden to a woman.
Héctor de la O—09 MAR 06
No matter whom I talk to, no one can live with his mother—once he or she is grown, except for derelicts, and then they come out in the newspapers for throttling the old hag.
Others are these pretty little boys—Hear them talking in their backyard through the fence, about "Avocado facial cream" or some such nonsense.
So mothers, don't invite your sons over for fetid leftovers—If they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, for God's sake don't poison the poor bastard!
And stop wondering why your daughters-in-law won't take your crap. Let's live and let live. Your family would grow much bigger if your own people didn't run from you every time we see you. See you later, I'll come around once in a while.
Back then it was the war in Viet Nam and Nixon held your post,
Undoing his undoing by the grace of loopholes built into the law,
So that politics allows for character assassination but by edict.
Hand in hand opposing parties make their beds and sleep alone.
Send in the Marines; the Jarheads never being schooled in civics,
Every time go marching off in rout step to defeat in others' lands,
Never yet a worthy foe of Mayan drunkards or under-aged cadets,
Delivered by the flipside of inevitable fate, manifest destiny undone.
To this day I still recall the musings of ignorant inner-city dwellers,
Handsome youths too young to waste but never to see home again,
Educated by the bullet that was meant for me but for mere mercy;
Many others never felt nor heard their own report but yards away.
Always suffering for simple lack of the essentials of a mighty nation,
While starving little dark-skinned people fighting to defend a home
Awaken us to realizations never meant for the unlearned and unclean;
Youth is wasted on the young but never truth on battle-weary men.
Today's fat cat on the other hand for the most part learned in class
How valuable deferments are, for who would send his son away to die?
If their birthright spared them from the horrors of the battlefield,
Selective service singles out the underprivileged for heroic deaths.
To our detriment we cross the skies and to the loss of our prestige,
In a time when lies usurp the truth and infidels abound to judge
Misplaced affinities—Visions of an everlasting world besiege us,
Ending with the dawning of the last day of the war as foreigners.
Héctor de la O—MAR 06
Remember, "infidel" is a relative term.
Folklore lady like a flower child twenty years before
Rebellion taught the world to rock—But who began
In 1910 when you were three? Francisco I. Madero.
Doesn't treachery go hand-in-hand with destiny,
And don't you feel betrayed since you turned six?
Kaleidoscopic pain delivered you from childhood,
As eighteen inches of cold steel a maiden violated,
Hardening your heart as iron was annealed in blood,
Leveling your sights against a friend who never was;
Or can this mortal plane your friendship count as good?
H.d.l.O—03 FEB 06
You cannot judge
but what you comprehend.
So let her rest in peace—
and may God have mercy
on us all.
I'll tell you how Guillaume Picard came down to Spain,
Defeating all Islam round about Segovia for a home:
Evoke and summon up your ghosts to tell a tale anon;
Nobility rekindle now the bravery that was shown,
To stoke the fires of the faith of men once more,
If not the flames of ire lay us all to waste today,
To claim our souls who but for God's own faith in us,
Young blood should cease to flow but leave a stain.
Now join the mission of a faithful few to find again
Our blessed origins, for Gentiles had it known:
Christianity was not a title but emblazoned on a crest,
Resounding from defenders' hearts in battle cries
In days of old no less avowed in our own time.
So go to the three www's to find your name impressed
In registries of noble men to whom we owe our lives,
Sustained by their intrepid deeds until our day was won.
H. d. l. O.—01 FEB 06—Aleluyah!—
They're all alike down to the mole and personality,
Hand-cut and tempered in the fires that abound,
Ethereally at first and then material as the clay,
Resembling one another to confuse all but the Potter,
Everyone a carbon copy like a brazen stereotype.
Every time a temptress stirs my soul to sin I see
Xena and her warrior mother's sisters of the Celts;
In a world of lovely women anyone but daughters.
Smoky Mountains, Appalachians, Cookson Hills aside,
Today beware you not fall prey to doppelgangers' whims.
Tonight show Johnny how to marry look-alikes:
Young Joanna left Joanne outside the mirror's frame;
Placebos make you feel the same as fifty mikes.
Each time a new one's made she tries to break the mould,
So watch yourself—you don't look hard to duplicate.
H.d.l.O 31 JAN 06
It's true—"Why settle for second best", they tend to say—But what about a reasonable facsimile! You never can tell, maybe the dupe is better that the real McCoy. I'd rather have the spittin' image on my arm, "than to have never loved at all"
I tell you, the names have been changed (to protect the insolent), but every other aspect, right down to mannerisms, is the same; it's uncanny! Carbon copies named Yolanda, playful as a kitten purring so seductively, even Kimberlies, down to their olive eyes, in the middle of some magazine.
Just watch and see—Even Pepe told me I reminded him of some buddy from Morelos, same voice and sense of humor, etc. Whatever—Just another modern-day phenomenon. We have filled the earth; there are so many of us now, why re-invent the wheel?! Just crank 'em out now that we think we got one right!
Excerpted from VERSES FROM THE CENTRAL JAIL by Héctor de la O. Copyright © 2013 Héctor de la O. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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