Original artwork. 12″X12″, acrylic on canvas.
Bury me directly
into the ground.
I have lived a whole
life inside coffins,
their right angles
akimbo, their corners
aloof. I want to feel
a mother’s humus
cradle my spine
again. This time
I will be the one
to feed her.
Although I am not of hispanic heritage, my identity is inextricably intertwined with the culture and history of various Spanish-speaking countries.
One of these powerful bonds was fostered by my maternal grandfather, Papa Joe. In 1936, when waves of nationalism were rising around the world, he chose to defy the non-interventionist stance of his native U.S.A. and join the Spanish Civil War to help defend the democratically-elected Republic. It was a war that the nationalists ultimately won, and upon his return home, my grandfather was awarded an FBI file labeling him a “Premature Antifascist”. Yet these challenges did not stop him from continuing the ‘good fight’ -a fight against injustice and hatred- until the very end of his life.
Although I remember him often, it is on the Day of the Dead when I take the time to honor his unfailing kindness and steady moral compass. I draw strength from him in the face of our present political climate.
The following is a revamped version of an older poem:
You’re the American Finn
who left N.Y.C. for Madrid
through the Pyrenees
because you knew
the good fight
there was yours
You found the love of your life
while informing the
wife of a dead
brother in arms
and while she cleaned houses
and chained herself to fences
you were pulling things off your truck
that you didn’t have because your
you didn’t frame
you inhaled them
so I place a big fat one
right next to your altar
el Día de los muertos
and your gringo güerito great grandson
makes a sign for the other side saying
“gracias por salvar nuestro mundo”
because you earned your FBI file
you Premature Antifascist
and I will always wear
your raised fist
on my sleeve
even if those who
should not pass
If you are interested and in the area of San Luis Obispo California,
I am showing work from 10-5 on both days at 330 Ramona.
Earth lies prostrate, offering up its gritty spine.
Day after day we walk this path but today I sense
a skittish sway, like some drunk who compels
the present to linger, thick and sticky, at his feet.
Back and forth. Back and forth. The way ahead
slips in and out of bottomless brush, flickering.
My fingers divine along your coat, scruff to tail.
Your warmth leans into me. It points home.
Years can gather
like hackles on the spine. Years can
swim under the skin.
Fuses cower at
this ravenous flame, praying
for a baby’s breath.
From behind that fence
a trampoline dispatches
polaroids of youth.