Monday, May 31, 2010

Las Musas Inquietantes

Las Musas Inquietantes

¿Madre, en tu segunda muerte
quien ata el pañuelo que sella tu boca?

Las apariencias descienden
con rostro anónimo,

musas inquietantes que rondan
mi moisés, mi cordura. 

Pídele a Ariel te acicale  
con ubre de vaca, o baños tibios de sal,

pues yo estoy de fiesta.
He vuelto a vivir.  Madre estoy vivo.

©  Sergio A. Ortiz May 31, 2010

Three more poems accepted for publication!

          I just had three poem accepted at The Blotter Magazine:  "She's a homophobic...," "Of The Boar," and one more poem whose title I can't remember right now.  I will be removing those poems by the end of the day from the blog.  
          The Blotter Magazine is one of those magazines I follow, like Autumn Sky, Touch, and the excellent journal,  The Tower.  I follow more than just the journals I have mentioned.  Hopefully soon I will be writing about what motivates me to follow certain Journals  Some of which have never accepted any of my poems.   Others where I am certain I will never see anything submitted by me published.  Yet,  to me these journals are making the difference in the literary scene of American Poetry, and in some cases the poetry coming out of Australia and the UK.  
          I want the editor from Zygote in my Coffee to know I am grateful for his support.  And that I hope the journal is somehow revived.  

to be continued...................................

The Three of Us

Poem accepted for publication.  I will put it up when it gets published.

©  Sergio A. Ortiz, May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Chapbook: The Sugarcane Harvest

The Sugarcane Harvest:  A photographic chapbook

Sergio Ortiz

avantacular press




I’ve searched for you again
in the rising illusions

of three hundred and sixty five dawns,
yet none court me like before.

The moonstruck magic dissolved
inside my unattended plot.

Its gardener, exposed
within my mirror, tried tricking me

with kisses.  From where I stand
there is no one to pay for the moon’s

washboarding.  Crows and scarabs  
have first bids on my mortgage.

©  Sergio A. Ortiz, May 29, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Knees

My Knees

The months spent by your bedside
left me scavenging for healthy bits and pieces

of my own body.  A week could pass
before I found a foot

among the ruins you left at Treblinka.
And when it took two months

to find an arm I’d crack
and fall apart again.

Now, I do not bend my knees.
My hours are crowded

with escaped cocks my mouth shapes 
and puts back together with reinforced steel.

©  Sergio A. Ortiz, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

DMAX sent my computer a virus

Yes, DMAX sent me a virus early this morning. It is not the first time it does it. Actually it is the third time it does it. They are part Verizon in Puerto Rico and and Claro in Central Americo. As soon as I get a chance I will write a few essays about this in both English and Spanish. Because in reality were do not really have any freedom on this island. And those of us connected to the Internet who have been profiled in the past are still profiled, our telephone conversations are still tapped and everything we do is still scrutinzed. DMAX are the Butt pluggers of the government on this island. But from now on they are fucked with me because they are not going to shut me up. Nunca mas, I am not going to ever be quiet, better dead than silent, that also goes to my religion and to any and all poetry forums that might want to harbor the idea of shuting me up. It is never going to happen.  My computer froze for about an hour and a half.   I could not log into my email accounts.  It was all done on purpose by this company on wheels from hell.  

To be continued.....................................................................................

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Continued from: Racism

There are the forums that act as Moderator schools.  I have hardly ever been to one that has any Hispanics; I will say it right off.  The reason?  Your guess is as good as mine is, but I will talk about my personal experience. 
I was at Able Muse for a very short time, constantly under pressure from a female moderator who had read my pm’s to a friend (something she should have never done) that just happens to have my same name, Sergio.  She decided I was trying to seduce him online, virtually, with a poem that I had dedicated to him.  She insinuated in front of the entire community that I was trying to, well, let’s not use the word just yet, let’s say, take him to my virtual bed.  I had no idea where he lived or what he looked like.  I didn’t know his age, and that was important to me.  I don’t go to bed with anyone over the age of 50 or under the age of 37 (actually I have not gone to bed with anyone for years and I don’t intend to do so). 
She had no idea there were a couple of PhD’s reading my posts and that when I responded to her insult, I responded with the guidance of these two friends.  I quoted classroom text in literary theory, backed up by years of research done by writers from all over the world, republished in places like Jestor.  But regardless, I have researched, read, and edited at least four Master’s thesis, and two PhD thesis on my own.  I know how to do research and I was not about to let her run all over me in a public forum.  All I did was tell her she did not know a thing about basics  literary critical thinking, I provided the proof for my statement, after which I proceeded to tell her she had offended me by insinuating I was trying to fuck a member of the forum virtually, with, of all things, a poem.  That is right, my friend in the bathroom was not a mechanical skinless object, it was a poem, a poem about tattoos.  The sad thing was I did not have time to recuperate that poem, so it is now lost.  It was written in both English and French, one of my many bilingual poems.
I was exiled from Abel Muse.  So, I tried another of these moderator online schools, I was curious now as to what could happen.  I registered, posted critique to a few poems, and posted one of my own poems.  The title, Raw.  The poem was intentionally racist.  I posted it and when I returned the next day, the poem was nowhere to be seen, it was deleted without an explanation, nothing.   Forget about freedom of speech and my First Amendment rights. I never returned.
This experience forced me to listen and carefully evaluate everything said and done around me, even in places like my religion.  It was a turning point in my experience as a person, not just as a writer.  The more I thought about it the more I realized it had happened before and not just to me but to a lot of other people that were either Hispanic or gay.  God have mercy on us if they were both, or even worse if they were, a black Hispanic transgendered person.
          It was around this point I started to post much more frequently at a forum I had found around a year before these two incidents.  It is a great place.  Not that it is not with its share of problems, wherever there are people there will also be problems.  But this forum is different.  I am kind of sorry that they people chosen every month are largely passed by in the IBPC.  They are all excellent writers with great poems that represent the forum with a lot of dignity.  They've got no one to envy.  It is Wild Poetry Forum.  In this forum I have been showered with love, affection, respect, and my poetry has always been critique with the utmost respect.  People, the administrators, the moderators, and the poets here are different.  They shine, they know what it is we are all doing there and they don't let anyone down.

to be continues....................................................

Monday, May 24, 2010

200 More Miles

Continuation of Racism and the submitting Hispanic Poet - this is part -oh well!

Then there is the issue of the Journal that never responds to a submission unless it has selected one of your poems.  The truly sad thing about this kind of a journal is that they’re allowed to advertize in places like Doutrope’s Digest.  It makes you kind of wonder if the people managing these literary search engines are, or have ever been, writers themselves?  To me this sends a rather sad  but clear message:  We don’t really care about the writer, or what writers contribute, our interests remain focused on what is convenient to us. 
This is the height a self-centeredness attitude can reach, much like a one-sided love affair.  It feels like what I would imagine a battered woman, or man, feels after a beating.  But I’ll bet my right arm and an eye, these journals swamped by submissions.  It’s a sign of our times, we reward laziness and a lack of professionalism among us, in Spanish we say, en el “gremio.”  After all, that is what we are, a world wide association of poets/writers.  Let’s honor that association by banishing laziness and disrespect.  If you don’t love yourself, you’ll be unable to love your work, stand by it, defend it, know its worth.  Know that regardless if it is rejected time time you took to write it and submit is treated with respect.
I realize that many people send submissions that have terrible problems, I’ve read them, but let’s face it, this is what is coming out of our public school system.  If the editors of these journals, the ones that never respond to a submission unless they are accepting, have a gripe then they should direct their frustration at the people responsible for the poor writing, the public school system across the nation, not all poets/writers.  
          Some of these places also ask that your name appear on the subject line of your submission.  Now I really get a bad, bad feeling about this.  I can see the good in it, when the journal I am submitting to has already published my work.  But I can also see the evil in it when I send submissions to journals that never respond.  Get my drift?  The devil does not always live in Paris.

to be continued........

Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Doubt: Gossip! This is an incredible story!

    The Suffocated Terrace

    My Grandfather's old house in Rio Piedras

    The Suffocated Terrace
    “El silencio es el refugio de los desvalidos, pero también es la madriguera de los cómplices." Jorge Gómez Jiménez, Letralia

    a corpse buried
    under a mound
    of coconuts

    at the hour
    of the early breeze
    the red ground

    where heat and light
    are born like eggs
    with chorizo

    the stench of vomit
    a dead man’s journal
    I opened and

    read the first entry

    today I went to talk about my pension plan
    with the people at the suffocated terrace

    and it was like a revelation
    like walking down the steps of a twisted scar
    to the crack at the bottom

    of my back
    the journey was
    sprayed with vinegar

    I remembered grade school
    we had better toys
    and our shoes

    were made of leather
    hardly anyone complained
    about their DNA

    or taxes and I was single
    a kid but I paid taxes
    nothing like I do now

    to the same people
    at the suffocated terrace
    should I say suffocating
    or call it The Suffocate

    is it a terrace

    now that it’s walled
    and ready for the next

    this sterile longevity
    that someday soon will not have anyone
    to pay their pensions or their health plans

    and yet they
    suffocate us on their terrace
    or the likes of us       the nopalitos

    coyoles fritos
    pupusas rellenas de cerdo y queso
    the rice and beans

    of the rich       the political
    the butt
    of their jokes

    Published in June of 2010

    ©  Sergio A. Ortiz, 2010-05-23

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    They Murmur

    They Murmur

    This poem has been accepted for publication.

    ©  Sergio A. Ortiz 22 de mayo del 2010

    Submissions and the online workshops: In preparation for flying on my own! Part 2

    Submissions and the online workshops: In preparation for flying on my own!  Part 2

    Of course, whom these poets / moderators favor in the forums change.  They are seasonal just like everything else in the macro - micro cycles of our contingent existence.  In some cases, and I say it only because I have seen it happen, even the moderators are replaceable.  Loyalties change with the rhetoric that goes on behind closed quarters.  In some cases, the result is very destructive. 
    I remember that brilliant woman, an excellent poet, a so, so moderator, who disappeared for a few months because of cancer -- only to come back and find she had been replaced, permanently replaced.   The reason?   Now, that I have had time to reflect on the issue, I realize she was not applying that push for a mainstream poetics in the forum.  The excuse, she had forgotten to fill out some paperwork while she was recovering from therapy. I have no idea if she ultimately would agree with me on this, but I think this was what caused her demise.  She was replaced by an academic poet that had been fishing for her position for a long, a long time.
      We all lose when things like this happen in workshops.  Yet, if we keep our eye wide open, we can also gain some insight into the mechanics of online workshops.  That winning poet, presently a moderator, has never really given his/her name.  S/he uses a pen name, although I get the impression it is a man and that he is not really from the US.  My guess is that he is Canadian.  If he isn’t Canadian then he is a Republican ghostwriter for Arnold Scharwzennegar.  We have them, these “guerrillas in our mist,” in workshops as well.

    Pedro Julio Serrano habla con Rubén Sánchez sobre violencia contra comun...



    This poem has been accepted for publication.

    ©  Sergio A. Ortiz, 21 de mayo de 2010

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Among those that Tackle Trash

    Among those that Tackle Trash
    to Miguel Hernandez on his centenary

    This poem has been accepted for publication

    Entre Aquellos que Enfrentan la Basura
    a Miguel Hernández en su centenario

    Este poem ha sido aceptado para publicacion.

    ©  Sergio A. Ortiz May 21, 2010

    Submissions and the online workshops: In preparation of flying on my own.

    Submissions and the online workshops: In preparation of flying on my own.

    I can’t remember the exact date I joined my first online workshop.  I was on very strong medication.  That year cursed me with four or five serious bipolar episodes.  A hurricane settled right over my hometown, Jayuya, and it felt like a physical expression of the metaphorical world I was living in.  By the way, I took a picture of the hurricane when its eye was over my apartment building.  I had to step out into the open space.  The sky had suddenly turned yellow.  
            An American friend from the States living in Arecibo brought me a Toshiba laptop.  He gave it to me and begged me to stop taking all the medication I was taking.   But I was convinced that if I stopped I would commit suicide, or do something worse.  I began to write about my pain, the pain provoked by the loss of my grandmother, my uncle, my lover, and finally my mother within weeks of each other.  Pain originally caused by a virulent homophobic attack on my person by both strangers and people who claimed to be my friends, co-workers, and co-worshipers.  I entered the World Wide Web, like a hungry one-eyed spider with a big eye-patch and Sylvia Plath’s boots only to discover I had not yet lost my innocence.  There was still a lot more suffering I had to experience before I could come out from under the floor of my father’s house only this time it would be provoked by virtual people in online workshops.  
              Perhaps, some of those people were the shadows of the same people who caused me suffering in the homophobic attack.  Perhaps, they were dogs purposely sent to hound me in those places.  I would not put it beneath them.  Some those people from Mexico knew and know all my friends in Puerto Rico and some of these people in Puerto Rico are not only homophobic, they are also lairs, and thieves.  They are so homophobic they are capable of this and a lot more.  "The barking of dogs is heard..."  I can't imagining what "He" went through, it still brings tears to my face.  We will never be worthy of "His" appearance, never.  We always get it wrong, we exclude, judge, and set the criminal fires of hate because all we want is for the Nightingale to acknowledge US and nobody else. 
              The first online workshop I remember joining was a gay Muslim men's workshop in a private Yahoo group.  I was invited to participate and after a while, I became the poetry and art moderator.  It included a few lesbian women, one of which if was battling cancer, very near death but she still found the time to write her poetry.  There was a young Puerto Rican photographer that I often think about, an excellent photographer from NYC.  The group was made up of gay men and women from all over the world.  Some painted, others wrote, poetry, fiction, essays, memoirs, news articles, music.  There was a lot talent from all over the planet and it was truly diverse.  The owner was a Turkish theater and television actor, and yes, everything was done in secret.  
              Then I joined and a completely new experience began to unfold.  At this point I need to ask a couple of questions and make a few distinctions.  I will start by expressing my gratitude to most of the moderators at specially the ones that never hid their real names.  
              I have always wondered why moderators and administrators at other online workshops hide their names, use Pen names.  Is it because they have made so many enemies that they need to hide their real names with a pen name?  Is it that they have been published so little that they are ashamed to use their real names? Or perhaps, is it just the opposite?  I was curious about this on one occasion and so I decided to focus at the profile of one of these moderators, and voila, the information this lady had provided on her profile made it easy for me to look up her work on the internet and other information.  It was January of 2009 when I found some information on her publishing credits.  The last thing that showed up on the WEB was a winning entry in one of those "publish yourself" sites that occasionally have competitions.  Some of them are actually associated with online workshops in one way or another.  She had won a poetry contest in 1997-- I think it was.  I guess that if I wanted to spend some extra money for a small sum I could find out about other people, things like their true names, where they live and ultimately how much and where they've been published.  That couldn't possibly be difficult to do.  But I don't have that much of an interest in that kind of information.  It is useless, all I need to do is read their poetry to find out this kind of information.  I am looking for real newspaper investigative stuff like: who is it that keeps these workshops around.  Is it a large company?  Do they have tax exemptions and why?  
               I am looking for information like that.  Some of these places are, for all intensive purposes, empty.  Hardly anyone is posting in them, yet they are still around, still participating in IBPC competitions.  It is difficult for me to believe they can do that without some really powerful muscles backing them up.  Remnants from the Bush Era?  This would certainly explain some of that insistence on mainstreaming poetry in these workshops.  It would also explain why moderators tend to favor a handful of poets rather consistently.  I recall a political poem, one of many I have written, about "fanmail and escort services."  I think it was published in Children, Churches and Daddies, part of it was published in Poui as well.

    to be continued .........

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    continuation of Racism and the submitting Hispanic Poet

    The one thing that made racism a lot more devastating in Philadelphia was the fact that it came from all directions.  That was something I never expected.  I was white enough to be hated by blacks, dark enough to be hated by whites, and educated enough to be hated by my own.  To the people in my religion in Philly, mostly whites and blacks from the city, I had the last name of a dear friend (I say friend, but we had not yet met), Lucas Ortiz, who just happened to be as loud, opinionated, and as visible as I was.  No surprise there, he was a a Social Work academic and we all know they tend toward the left.  Everyone thought we were brothers.  We shared the same vision of how racism had affect our religious community, and so neither of us was popular.  Until I reached out to the blacks in my religious community.  Mr. Morris, an HIV positive black man (Lucas was also living with HIV), moved in to my house.  That meant I had greater contact with a healthy group of highly educated blacks, who I loved, who were always surprised to hear me say I considered myself to be a black Puerto Rican despite the fact my hair was straight and my skin was white, or almost white, or white during winter, and my eyes were green (I never informed them I had contacts).   They had never met a self confessed black Puerto Rican.
    Don’t get me wrong and think I had not experience racism from my Mexican American brothers and sisters in El Paso, I had, but I had never paid too much attention to it because these were isolated incidents and I wasn't 100% certain they were racially motivated.  These incidents could have been provoked by my personality.  But yes, I was a Puerto Rican living in a Mexican American community and I had a high profile job, a certain amount of resistance to me came with the territory.  But the support I got as a whole from the rest of the Hispanic community made it feel like it was not there at all.
    However when I first started submitting there were a handful of Hispanic editors who did strange things like, send me a rejection postcard saying:  “SORRY SAM, BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME.”  I think they were/are Hispanic?  If they are/were not Hispanic I have no idea what they are/were doing at the front of a journal that serves a community with a majority of Hispanics in it.  I refuse to believe that the writers in El Paso have not spoken up about this issue; I assume this editor is/was Hispanic.  If not it would be like Hollywood asking Harrison Ford to play Toulouse le Trec in Moilin Rouge.   This kind of a rejection slip was coming from an academic journal inside Texas State, at El Paso.  I was mortified.  I immediately created a new email list: “places never to submit.”  My name is not SAM, Mr. Editor, that was unnecessary and offensive.  If you are heading that journal today, I want you to know that I think your mother would be ashamed to claim you as her own. 
    The next incident also came as a total surprise and it took me a while to realize what had happened.  I had had a poem accepted at one of the so called: “prominent” journals, Rose and Thorn.  The editor at the time, a Hispanic, sent me the acceptance email but asked that I agree to his edit of the last two lines of the poem.  Those of you that know me, also know that I like to be given suggestions, I will consider everything you say to me if it is done with respect.  He showed me his suggestions.  Well, I didn’t know this was one of the “prominent” journals.  Clueless, yes, that was me, clueless.  I thought the poem needed the ending I had written because of the rhythm of the piece.  Apparently, I ruffled his feathers in the wrong way, when I refused his edit.  This journal has refused every other submission I have ever sent them.  I guess they have an email category too:  Submitters never to accept!  It was an honest mistake.  If I would have known what I know today I would have said YES, and published it in its original form when I published a chapbook, or the complete collection.  But I had only been submitting my pieces for six months and I had no idea these journals got touchy.   There isn't a workshop in the world prepares new writers to deal with the boulders s/he are going to find along the way of their writing experience.  And submissions are a good part of the writing experience.

    to be continued...  I am writing about: submission and the online workshops next!

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Phone Calls, Pleas for Oneness, and Cucarachitas

    Phone Calls, Pleas for Oneness, and Cucarachitas

    -What shall I buy? ¿Qué me compraré? 
    -Lo que quiera usted, whatever you want, dócil Martinita.
    -Didn’t you just say that a lot louder than the rest.
    -Kikiriki, was the rooster’s response to all this mess.
    -Uuu, croac’d the frog next.
    -I see you’re getting all pretti’d up and beautiful 
    Martina. Wan’na … go out on a date?
    -On a date, at night? Sorry, there’s a little matter 
    of trust we must address before I go out with YOU at night.
    -I thought you’d ask me about my croac, croac, croac?
    -No, Señor frog, I may not be pretty 
    but I haven't survived this long for nothing.
    (That was when el ratoncito Peréz joined the conversation.) 
    -Mister ratón, what do you do at night, asked la cucarachita.
    -Give me a call Martina, but make sure it’s not after ten,
    not before seven, and never at eight.  I watch my novela at eight.
    -Ah, sighed la cucarachita: A ratoncito always calls
    cucarachitas first. You’ve got to do more than give me 
    a phone call... now!  Colorín, colorado 
    este cuanto se ha acabado.

    (Our friendships are never about signing a Plea for Oneness
    without meaning it.  No, friendship is conditioned to things like
    truthfulness, honesty, sincerity, acceptance NOT just tolerance.  
    Backbiting is never conducive to friendship, neither is peering 
    into peoples lives and judging when it is so much easier to just
    ask them what is going on. )

    ©  Sergio A. Ortiz, May 19, 2010

    Racism and the submitting Hispanic Poet

    Racism and the submitting Hispanic Poet

    Three years ago, when I first started submitting my poems to literary journals I came across my first challenges in the writing world.  I did not have the experience to immediately identify the reasons for some of the things that were happening, but one of these challenges was definitely making me uncomfortable and I was going to burst if I kept quiet about it.  So I wrote to these journals that had submission managers and told them that I could not submit because the managers did not have any of the US territories listed separately from the States. Every time I wanted to submit something through a submission manager, the process came to a halt as soon as the manager asked me for a "State," much like the day I went to apply for a job as an assisted-life social worker for adult Down Syndrome clients at a Philadelphia facility. 

    That experience came back to me like a ferocious lion.  I spent over half an hour trying to convince a secretary that I did not have a green card because I was born an American citizen.  Puerto Rico had already been a territory of the US for over 65 years and at that time no one, on or off the island, had better proof of citizenship than our passports.  I graciously handed it over to the beautiful young lady two or three times before finding myself explaining it all over again, I was born a US citizen.  If I had a green I card, which I didn’t, I would have been more than happy to provide it as proof of my legal status on the mainland.  Now, you’ve got to remember, I had just been diagnosed bipolar, and the incident was testing my patience.  I finally asked the young woman at the reception if she had passed her history classes in high school.  My stepfather sat me down and tried very hard to clam me, he knew what was about to happen.  And he knew more about racism than I did. I was in my 30's and very raw about my knowledge of the issue, I had lived a very sheltered life up to Philadelphia.  

            Not only had I just arrived back home from Mexico, I had arrived back home emotionally ill and physically exhausted from having to work a ten hour a day schedule supervising and teaching.  I had forgotten the social mechanics of skin and speech in that brave new world.  I left the application feeling the frustration of not having myself clearly understood.  Certain I would not get that job.  But, for some reason the beautiful young woman at the reception passed on my paper work and within a couple of weeks I had a new job.  

            True, it was starting from the ground, nothing like the job I had left when I moved to Mexico.  At that job I was a special consultant hired to evaluate personnel that provided services to the adult blind community in this city, and I had an incredible salary.  But yes, I had started as a DRIVER.  I wasn't about to sit around the house until the perfect job landed on my lap.  This is me, the gay man that picked onions in the summer as a hired hand on ranches in the US to have enough money to buy a good coat to keep me warm during the winter in Mexico.  I entered that job with a ground position, driving clients to and from the facility.  By the time I left for Mexico seven years later, I was the one who decided who stayed and who was fired from that company.  I was also put on lend to a number of other facilities in the city.  Everyone knew I could walk into a facility and within an hour or two I could spot who was dragging their feet at a job.  After a couple of weeks, I had a list of all the people they needed to reevaluate.  

            Anyway, I sent, as many of these journals letters letting them know how frustrating their submissions managers were and a lot has changed.  I hardly ever have any poetry accepted in any of these places but I am not giving up and I am not using an Anglo pen name.  My name is Sergio A. Ortiz, not Sergey Oroitz or River Blue (I did think about this one once, even wrote a poem about it when the pain got too much to bare)   My name is staying.  But where were the Hispanic academics/poets before me?  Could I feel the trust they had built, the connection they had established, the bridges they had burnt?  Once I wrote to one of them about all these things and his response was: deal with it or leave.  Well, I am dealing with it.  But I am not as tall as he is, and I am not a lawyer.  If his response was a way let me know my poetry was not refined enough to merit publishing, I want him to know he should choose his publishers with greater care, because I have one of his books and it is full of errors, it is in grave need of good editing skills.  And the same happens with just about all of our diaspora.  I just hope they are helping things change for those young people currently on the path of a writing career.  Me?  I am just a big mouth with nowhere to go but up, cause I am not going to make anyone's life any easier by sitting down at the back of the bus and never uttering a word.  Me, I am almost 60 years old, I love Van Gogh and admire Pablo Casals, but I'm a little suspicious of the Pablos', the Diegos', and the Rodins' of the artistic world.

    To be continued…

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Illegal #6

    Illegal #6

    this poem was accepted for publication.  I will put it back up 30 days after it gets published.

    ©  Sergio A. Ortiz, May 18, 2010

    Monday, May 17, 2010



    The incidental whore,
    with The Accidental Tourist.
    The view from here
    in A Room with a View.

    Once a thief, always a thief?
    Once a Lady, always a Lady!

    A word that describes a youthful challenge.
    But, now what?
    View.  I took down the windows last March,
    on the wake of my fifty ninth birthday.

    Accidental names for numbers, words
    with windows, views reaching out
    and stepping on proverbs.

    When I’m dead if you call me a whore
    I’ll come back and shake your bed,
    make you think it’s an earthquake,
    hijo’e puta, ja-ja!

    ©   Sergio A. Ortiz May 17, 2010

    Sunday, May 16, 2010



    This poem was taken down because it has been accepted for publication.

    ©  Sergio A. Ortiz, May 16, 2010

    Preview of a non-fiction piece I have been asked to write for a literary journal

    Write Yourself Sober: Memoirs of a Puerto Rican not from El Barrio
    A veces te sientes como si anduvieras en el hoyo negro de algún universo recién descubierto, meciéndote en la nada, esperando que un día vengan por ti.
    Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, Epidemiología

    I just got home from a workshop given by the award winning Puerto Rican writer Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro.  She was great, more like fabulous, yes, fabulous is the word I am looking for.  She did what I expected a good experienced writer would do, which was; turn me on to a few “new to me” Puerto Rican writers and put me to work.  She read two of her own poems, after which I mumbled: “que fuerte,” because her poems were in that right in your face persona I love to assume myself.  She read from a couple of short stories written by contemporary Puerto Rican writers that were amazing, and we went right into writing a poem.  In this case it was a queer poem because this is all part of  “La Tercera Jornada Contra la Homofobía.”  I breathed a good measure of relief because that image of the Puerto Rican criminal-slash-whore was nowhere to be found in any of those pieces.  I didn’t see it in the faces of any the other participants of the workshop, I didn’t hear it coming out of any their verses.  “Nada,” it ceased to exist, and I was at its funeral right there in Librería Mágica.  But then, why is it our diaspora still writes, to critical acclaim, about this claustrophobic colonial image?  An image that denigrates me as a Puerto Rican that grew up between Chicago and San Juan, and spent most of his adult life in El Paso, Tx.  Me, a Puerto Rican writer living on the island that chose the English language as his work tool.
    We were never poor, we were always middle-class.  My mother was a teacher, my stepfather was a lawyer.  My mother’s father, my grandfather, was also a teacher, and my grandmother administered a hospital.  Our closest friends in Chicago were middle-class educated Puerto Ricans, some, I recall as being upper middle-class Jews, and if my memory does not fail me, there were a few Iranians and Hindus.  We moved into black neighborhoods adjacent to white neighborhoods, those middle zones currently known as “integrated neighborhoods.”  The only time we ever went into the Puerto Rican section was on Sunday’s when my stepfather stood on a podium and gave a sermon, he was also a Methodist preacher, and I could smell the sea breeze coming from the island and play with kids of the same color as me.  On Sunday’s all I ever saw were immaculately dressed beautiful women giving their children that ugly “behave or I’ll whip you when we get home” stare, and men that resembled Albizu in the prime of his youth.  The junkies, the whores were all missing in my little head and so reading about them got kind of old after a while.  And I wonder how much of it was true and how much of it was that early 19th century “costumbrista” style of writing so romanticized in the artistic endeavors of our diaspora.  You know, that image that sells, the American dream, from rags to riches.  And it’s not that I am trying to be disrespectful, it’s that I am no longer comfortable not questioning this image because in the case of Puerto Ricans it almost always means you are now an academic.  A species that from what I’ve seen in "prominent" journals, almost always tends to self promote and exclude.  It is not really a matter of good or bad poetry, it’s how many collections you’ve published, who you know in Academia, and where you are currently teaching.
    I wonder about that and about the invisibility of the gay homosexual male in our diaspora’s experience.  I don’t buy that “I didn’t have any gay friends or relatives in El Barrio” when I was growing up, just like I don’t buy that “there were no gays or lesbians” supporting El Che’s revolution in Latin America.  You see I also migrated to South and Central America in search of my Hispanic identity and I know what everyone knows in South, Central, and North America:  queer writers and revolutionaries are everywhere!  They’ve always been everywhere, El Barrio can’t possibly be the exception.
    It’s bad enough a poet can no longer make a living out of his trade, for those of us who are not academics, it is a constant struggle to get some kind of recognition, someone that will promote our voices.  We don’t have access to the university presses, or to people like Mayra Santos-Febres, our diaspora academic idols have and, we don’t own our own publishing companies from where we can self promote with some measure of ease using phrases like “the Pablo Neruda of America.”  We are on the island and everyone knows we are writing from here, not because we get any recognition from the writers we worship, but because we are as persistent as hungry mosquitoes.  We know how little time there is to make it, or break in this business of writing.  I want my nephews in Philadelphia, 4th generation diaspora, my chicano cousins in El Paso, to know there are writers like myself that still exist and that we are queer, me their “Tío Sergio.” 

    To be continued...

    Saturday, May 15, 2010


    “Se va el caimán, se va el caimán…”

    ¿De qué está hecho usted,
    mimo de palmas y pies pintados con henna? 
    ¿Cuánto más aceptara el aire envenenado
    que le deja respirar ese maldito caimán norteño?  

    Endeble marco de mierda, afine la malla de organza
    para la serigrafía que su imaginación intenta pintar.  
    Cuándo seque la lona no se olvide de limpiar

    la cárcel atestada de recuerdos, los ecos
    de estudiantes inocentes asesinados a balazos
    en los balcones de nuestra Autónoma Universidad.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Mírame bien - foto reproducida con el permiso de Samantha Love

    Mírame bien
    para Samantha, con todo mi amor

    empieza por los talones,
    sigue hacia arriba… lento:
    allettare nel mio ballo di testa,
    las pléyades que trazaron
    cada pincelada mía con sus labios.

    ¿Cuánto crees que te cueste
    el grito entre las grutas de este beso mío,
    beso desde el abismo perlado de mi piel,
    quest'elíxir di buchi della serratura?

    Ven, comienza por los dedos
    de mi pie.  Deseo toda tu venganza,
    tu drama, tu pretencioso diseño
    de hombre angelical.

    ©   Sergio A. Ortiz, May 13, 2010

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