Javier O. Huerta is the author of American Copia and Some Clarifications y otros poemas, which received the 31st Chicano/Latino Literary Prize from UC Irvine. He studied in the Bilingual Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Currently he teaches at Chabot College in Hayward and lives in Berkeley, California.
There was a man who loved. It is not important to know his name. Only that he bought his beloved some flowers. It is not important to know what type of flowers. Only that he placed them, along with a brief note, underneath her windshield wiper. It is not important to know what the note said. Only that he did not sign his name while writing hers in bold letters. It is not important to know her name. Only that he misspelled it. Later he received a phone call and denied leaving the note and flowers. It is not important to know how long they talked. Only that the receiver, now and then, lightly touched his lips.
Adela Najarro is the author of three poetry collections: Split Geography, Twice Told Over and and My Childrens, a chapbook that includes teaching resources. With My Childrens she hopes to bring Latinx poetry into the high school and college classroom so that students can explore poetry, identity, and what it means to be a person of color in US society. Her extended family’s emigration from Nicaragua to San Francisco began in the 1940’s and concluded in the eighties when the last of the family settled in the Los Angeles area. She currently teaches creative writing, literature, and composition at Cabrillo College.
Until syllables undulate a Nicaraguan cadence,
I am a white girl. Once I was asked,
“Where’d the green eyes come from?”
The question arising from longing for a simple
explanation: a gringo father and a love story
where Lupita throws down a rose. Un amorcito
mío once told me not to worry because I was
brown inside. Even so, for a while I dyed my hair
almost black. I still wear gold hoop earrings,
but I haven’t tattooed that iguana on the inside
of my right wrist. Her Honorableness Sotomayor
got rid of the subdued hues and laid on
red nail polish after her confirmation. She began
the business of being herself. My mother
keeps insisting that I was born blond. Blondness.
Whiteness. I have been so confused.
I look in the mirror y quiero un color quemado.
A burnt umber. La pimienta. The prickly spice
of tropical brown. But I am güera, chele, fair skinned,
blanquita. Desde América Latina.
Latin America. The history.
My eyes are from los conquistadores.
From genocide. From the collision
and a struggle
Naomi Quiñonez is a poet, educator and activist. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Hummingbird Dream/Sueño de Colibri, The Smoking Mirror and The Exiled Moon. A recent recipient of The City of Berkeley’s Lifetime Achievement Award in poetry, her work has appeared in many publications including the Colorado Review, Infinite Divisions and From Totems to Hip Hop. She is a featured poet in the Maestrapeace: A San Francisco Women’s Building Pictorial (2019) and Voices of Our Ancestors: Chicana Spirituality (2019). She curated several major literary readings including “Olmecas Singing in the Flowers (De Young Museum) and the Bay Area Librotraficante reading to revisits book banning (San Francisco Library). Quiñonez is editor of several critical and literary publications including Invocation L.A: Urban Multicultural Poetry, which won the American Book Award and Decolonial Voices: Chicana Chicano Studies in the 21st. She has read with Quincy Troupe, Ana Castillo and Luis Rodriguez in many literary events throughout the country including the San Antonio Book fair and the Miami Book Festival. Quiñonez holds a PhD in American History and contributes to the scholarship of Latino/as and women of color. She is the recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship and is featured in Notable Hispanic Women and in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.
We Are All Connected
We are all connected
to the belly of the earth
Each soul kicking-out
Flames fed by the heat,
of magma, lava and crust.
Billions of umbilical cords
Tied to a common center.
We are a bouquet of flowers
balloons and bellies
that cannot escape
each others breath
each other’s divine imperfect lives
Or profane and comic deaths.
This is how I know the pain
Of flesh sliced to pieces
By instigated metal
Cutting through air
To make its mark
On children huddled
In futile corners
Of scattered rubble.
This is how I feel
The twisted gut-wrenched cry
In the torn stomachs of women
Who watch loved ones
Explode into heaps of useless ash.
Yesterday’s frightened eyes
Melting into pockets of charred skin.
This is how I see
A civilization disappear
Under a blood-stained blanket
Held by men armed with lies and terror
Another piece of humanity
Ripped out of the womb
Of mother earth
Another dream of peace
Raped at gunpoint.
My belly is a heavy weight
I carry into the uncertainty
Of each hesitant day.
My heart is a bruised
Of haphazard futures.
The center tugs hard
Yanks the collective heart
Clears the common eye
Pulls the blood from our tangled veins.
And if you don’t feel this
You are lying.