Bad Short Story 1

I probably shouldn’t be proud of taking care of this without any problems. Last time I forgot my pants and that obviously made for some frustration. This time, though, everything is taken care of. I’m slowly coming up the stairs, certain of the response I’ll get from my wife.

The door opens without me even reaching for my keys and there she is. My wife. Standing there with those beautiful, loving, patient eyes. Another Friday night and I’ve done it again. From the time she knows exactly where I’ve been. She asks me the same questions, already knowing how I’ll answer.

“Again?”

“I just had to do it.”

“Why can’t I go with you?”

“We each just have to do our own thing.”

“I can help.”

“No.”

Friday is actually the perfect time for me to get this issue out of the way. But it is something I need to do alone. It gives us a chance to spend the rest of the weekend together, uninterrupted from the thoughts that inevitably start creeping from the back of my head. It’s become habitual at this point and I think she is starting to just accept that.

I dump out the laundry on the bed and go about with the folding. Another two weeks and I’ll be at it again.

To My Fellow Latinx

There are still a lot of people reacting to this week’s election results. I’m not going to say there’s a simple solution, or that everyone should just focus on solutions, because many people are rightfully afraid. If nothing else, I’d just like to add my voice to the (thankfully) many people who have said “I’ll be there for you.” Also, apologies for the fact that my vocabulary in Spanish is not what it is in English.

Dear Fellow Latinx,

You are beautiful. I know that statement may seem hard to believe after Tuesday’s election, but it’s true. No amount of hatred, bigotry, or votes otherwise can take away your inherent beauty and value.

I’m writing because I’ve seen many of you over the past few days. Whether you’re carrying a briefcase, a backpack, or nothing at all, there’s an uneasiness in your face. I get it; I can’t hide it either. The fundamental belief that people from everywhere are welcome in America has been undermined. There is no need to wait for the first draft of a new draconian law or the first brick in “The Wall” to believe that. If you’ll indulge me, I want to share a story.

Years ago, my sister worked at an ice cream restaurant. An elderly latinx man worked there, washing dishes. He was packed homemade food by his wife, which he would dutifully bring to work, heat up in a tupperware, and eat. In many ways, he reminded me of my grandparents. Also, he understood very little English. One day, some workers, many years his junior, began to make fun of him and laugh at him. Others joined in and laughed as well. The man, not knowing what they were saying but only reacting to their smiles and laughter, joined in to the laughing. The others, encouraged by this, only laughed harder at the mockery they made of this man.

I think about this story because it was one of the first times I thought about myself in a political way. I was heartbroken to think that someone who is trying to make his life better would be picked on like this. I was angry that people could find genuine pleasure out of demeaning another human being. I know situations like this have occurred ever since; but now, years later, this kind of behavior has been validated by the election of a monster.

What’s perhaps most infuriating to me is the nonchalance of people in the days following the election. The repeated claims of “We’ll be okay”, “It won’t be so bad”, or “We’ll see what happens” tend to come from well-off white men, often in the presence of working class people of color. Others ignore the inflammatory statements and focus instead solely on what the election means for them. Working latinx people have gone from being looked down upon before the election to being invisible afterwards. Our experiences, the threats raised (and now increasingly followed through) against us, our fears: none of them raise concern for some people in this country. Perhaps we should not be surprised by this when a mantra like “Black Lives Matter” received such a negative response from White America. We should not accept this as the new reality. We are not here to serve; we are here to live.

It’s okay to be stunned, or scared, or even really angry. The threat is by no means equal to all of us. No one knows for certain what kind of nightmare we’ve empowered for the next four years. That being said, it is also true that no one knows for certain how powerful we can be if we come together and fight back. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we need to realize we are not alone in this struggle. We are a patchwork majority of various backgrounds, passions, beliefs, and ideas. Our diversity, even within the latinx community, is an asset, not a weakness.

I believe in your beauty, your power, and our collective capacity to fight against what is to come. It’s because of this belief that I have something we all need right now: Hope.

Solidaridad,
Armando

For Kimberly

It’s one year today, and still hard to believe you’re gone.
kimberly

How does one cope
With loss, far removed
By time and more so, by place?
I suppose one can only recall

Shine one, with that smile
That will light up a room
That will get us all laughing again
Bring us back to when we first meet as friends

Speak on, with that voice
That will fill up a room
That booms but can giggle as well
Call us back to when everything was swell

Burn on, with that fire
That would warm your true friends
That would scorch the impatient, the rest
Guide us back to the times we knew best

Ours was unique, a band of true friends
An oasis of laughter and jokes
Of drawing, of action, of fun
How careless I was, tending to plants
Rather than doing more for someone

Your heart was so open, your potential unbound
Your life should not end in this way
Shine one, speak on, burn on, please do
Bring us back to when we first met as friends

Cute Kitten

The finest form of flattery is not just imitation; it’s imitation with cats. This came from my affection for oldies and answering the question: “Why submit to being sad when you can enjoy cats?”

Dedicated to Coltrane and Theba
———–

Bing- bold
Louie- italics

I’ll tell ya why you’re smiling. You got a….
Cute kitten How you know? See him lyin on the floor
Ah ha Cute kitten He’s real cute When he purrs you’re smiling more You betcute kitten
He lays out there in the sun, making toilet rolls undone
You claim that messes can be fun But he can prove it! There ain’t no more submission.
Cute kitten, make a grump a grinnin’ fool Shangri’la, really smile
I’m wishin, all these cats are just as cool
They won’t have to twist your arm
I’ll go out and heed the sign
Welcome to the club
In my house I would have mine
Cute kitten, instead of just submittin’

You know I stop by your place lately and notice you been all smiles
Well I’m a happy guy I got a lot of big things cookin’, probably just caught me on good days
You ain’t just cheery you dog, you got a plain ol’
Cute kitten dah boo dah bah dah She’s there stretchin’ on your floor
Don’t go blabbin’ around will ya?
Cute kitten Keep it shady I got real cutie staked out Mmmm no more frownin’ anymore
thebaI don’t have to frown I can give her a treat
Paws be playing with some yarn Just look at her go at it So you just don’t give a darn
I mean she ain’t gonna play by herself
You just never seem to learn Well you taught me
No sense of sad submission Took convincin’
Cute kitten dah boo dah bah bah Got your buddy by your side Ol’ Mama Theba
Cute kitten Mmmhmmhmm Watchin’ birdies flyin’ by Come over here cutie and snuggle

Folks won’t find us sad because
With that face and kitty paws
Cute kittens, instead of just submittin’

Original:

Stone Face

All things change on shifting sands
And time, the most shifting of all
No thing can endure, though some may survive
The change of the suns and the moons.

Even mountains of ice can wander adrift
Though their faces that shimmer will cry
Their hearts of cold venom will thaw to reveal
The drip of lost lifeblood, obscene.

The mountain of life will spring from the tears
Turning sadness to cries of new birth
But even the greens and blossoming trees
Are subject to dusk and disease

For life begets death, as the two are lost twins
And their parent, the glacier made ghost
No birth can come forth without death eying close
And portending the fate of all life.

But the mountain, carefree, springs forth evermore
Let the life that comes forth go along.
Kept warm by the greens and blossoming trees
The spring of the living goes on!

All systems must balance to stave off the chaotic
And equations in math must compute
The song of the spring had too many to sing
And so death came along to collect.

Scarcity first brought life to a lull
Which begats it close cousin disease
And as all of the greens and blossoming trees
Covered sky, so the mountain brought dusk.

The mountain, imperfect, knew it too late
But the greens and trees would soon die
And all that was left for the mountain bereft
Was dirt, held together by rage.

For even as it was a mountain of life
It would not succumb to those tears
So the dirt would grow hard, and rigid and grim
The mountain of life, a great stone.

The sun and moon would circle the stone
Growing bored of its stasis, dead face
Yet through the blank stare of the stone growing old
Was a burning sensation, a rage.

The barrren dead mountain grew hateful of death
Having pledged to steal its victory
It would stare at the sky, yet refusing to cry
It sought only the strength to explode.

All things change on shifting sands
And time, the most shifting of all
No thing can endure, though some may survive
The change of the suns and the moons.

On Diversity

Two poems in a day. It must be a record.

A difference in hues
Of eyes and of faces
Of homelands, of gods, and of races
Is this variation, this mixing of sorts
Inherent in conflicts, our disgraces?

The opposite case is hardly yet made
Homogeneity, no fill-in for peace
Why then is the difference, in any mild form
Labelled, often by many, with derision?

Perhaps it is fear
Perhaps it is not
Perhaps we’re too impatient to grasp
For diversity in thought, where we seek out the Truth
But instead build our walls with the same.

Statues

AristotleHeed not the statues lining the hall
Ignore their entreaties, go on.
The smiles of a stone can flicker by fire
The beauty of bronze will soon fade

The pedestals, crafted by years of long work,
Just distraction. A fool’s wasted day.
The heroes of yore reduced to a mound
All stones can be sand given time

How odd that the elements, though not as out here
Can effect those statues within
The pantheon crafted by the work of one’s mind
Can be fleeting, can be blunted by age.