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Your daily dose of Chicano poetry

"I write poems on walls that crumble and fall
I talk to shadows that sleep and go away crying.”

Luis Omar Salinas (1937–2008)

Daniel Romo

January 5, 2014


The world’s longest Slip n’ Slide extends from Mexico to Southern California. This is also the world’s most dangerous Slip n’ Slide. Every year, 400 people die as a result of belly-gliding across a patchwork of plastic from poverty into opportunity. Injuries occur frequently, and participants usually take part at night. Often the father is the first to go. Says his goodbyes, sprints from the front lawn, and charges into the darkness head-on, through stagnant water and past border agents that await him. Even if he slides from one end to the other, he must hide from deportation. Sometimes the whole family travels together. One by one, they ease onto the plastic, often lead by a man they’ve never met, but whom they paid to navigate them safely to the other side. The fun occurs when the ride is over and sliders are allowed to start new lives. Limp bodies sprawled across the land like lost carcasses equals failure.

Daniel RomoDaniel Romo is the author of Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013) and When Kerosene’s Involved (Second Edition, Mojave River Press, 2014). His poetry can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, MiPOesias, Hobart, and elsewhere. He teaches English and creative writing, and accepts and rejects prose poems as the Poetry Editor for Cease, Cows. He lives in Long Beach, CA and at


Claudia D. Hernández

November 26, 2013

Claudia Hernández

Claudia Hernandez2

Claudia Hernandez3

claudiahClaudia D. Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She’s a photographer, poet, translator, and a bilingual educator residing in Los Angeles. She writes short stories, children’s stories, and poetry in Spanish, English, and sometimes weaves in Poqomchiʼ, an indigenous language of her Mayan heritage. Claudia is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing for Young People, with an emphasis in poetry, at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Various online literary journals and anthologies throughout the United States, UK, Canada, Mexico, and Spain have published her work.

José Hernández Díaz

July 20, 2013

Moroleón, Guanajuato; Summer 2010


I remember waking up to rooster cries

at my Abuelo’s house, d.e.p., my Abuela’s

house. I drank a lot the night before;


I ate a lot, traditional. The cobblestoned

streets were greyish-blue; The salmon clouds

had veered with dawn. On a white-plaster balcony,


I smoked a filter-less cigarette; $2.00 a pack in México.

Behind the cathedral’s bell tower, mesquite trees,

My father’s ranch. I took a drag, then two, exhale. 

Read more…

Q’ Viva Día De Los Muertos

May 11, 2013

Eres piel moreno, that cancion was da shit

Brown is beautiful except if you’re too brown inside or out

Besides I’m peddled vows that “I don’t see people in terms of color so sit”

I think to myself “ain’t that some bull shit,” so I shout


q’ viva día de los muertos


The living dead run the streets por la madrugada

preyed upon by the balla balla saving up for his Miata

Whatever happened to the boy who had no fada?


q’ viva día de los muertos


I drive the streets and think, “Oh what a man am I”

Ay there’s the rub… that’s some guy named Shakespeare

The rub… LOL… rubba dub dub I once was told they clean meth in a tub

Many rubs later I’d be reviled or revered for being an aztlan queer


q’ viva día de los muertos


The envious live their lives and cheat on their wives

vowing to chase the American dream; “Life is but a dream”

You’re feeling sleepy, the technocrat hypnotists prioritize our lives

Those oppressed in their waking lives dare not dream so they scream


q’ viva día de los muertos


I pray to El Santo Niño

with dirty thoughts of some vato named Nino

singing “I’m too sexii for this shirt.”

Scared?… then go to church while I do my dirt.


q’ viva día de los muertos


They stone me as a damned cultural Catholic

they stoned my pa a lazy no good spic

maybe what I need is an ol’ fashion ass kick


q’ viva día de los muertos


A life lived on one’s rodillas, says Pancho Villa, isn’t worth our time mi raza

still we mimic the powers that be and take our turn preaching del bully pulpit

shouting over the huddled bottom who whisper to one another, “Ain’t dat some bullshit?”

Slumbering nightmares and waking dreams of tamales q’ no son de pura masa


q’ viva día de los muertos


La Llorona del Longoria Affair haunts the vaulted halls of Yale so we yell


“Wait a cotton picking minute, all is well at Yale so please don’t yell.

P.S. you beaners smell,” dice el gringo guey.


q’ viva día de los muertos


Assimilation conquered away mis antepasados culture-of-poverty fears

neo-social Darwinists of today whisper sweet nothings in their ears

a sacred procession of hitos march hacia la pinta, violating rears

too many beers begets sixty years and tattood tears.


q’viva día de los muertos


Mateo Montoya is a Xicano originally from Cheyenne, WY, now living in Salt Lake. He “grew-up” in L.A., earned a B.A. in International Studies (Latin American focus), and currently researches patrilineal genealogy, urban education, philosophy of education, whiteness theory, post-colonial theory, semiotics, educational psychology and sociology of urban education –preparing him for further research on how hegemonic institutions disparately impact the socialization and racialization of urban youth of color. He blogs at


Mateo Montoya

September 23, 2012

Alliterations of Allegorical Authority
Microagressions of material existence

Transcend temporal transitions

Enlightening essences eloquently enunciate

Silenced by the semantics of solitude

Empowerment ensures emancipation

Treks through terrestrial transgressions

Poles of positionality pervade

Attempts of authenticity aggregate

Regrets of reification render

Vehement validation of versed voice

Resistance against racialized representations

Beauty buttressed by boisterous benevolence

Preemptively patronized by paternalism

Denigrated by dominance of deficit discourse

Warrants of western wizardry

Disgraced by daunting daemons

Ancestry of assimilations annihilate

Ethnic epistemological existentialism endures

Countless counter-narratives collide

Indentured ideologies of intent

Haunted houses of hierarchical hypocrisy

Impart imperial intelligences

The only in a family of three chavos to graduate H.S.. Mateo Montoya is  currently pursuing an M.Ed. in Education, Culture and Society.  His current academic research interests include urban education, philosophy of education, whiteness theory, post-colonial theory, semiotics, educational psychology and sociology of urban education — particularly, how hegemonic institutions disparately impact the socialization and racialization of urban youth of color through the many forms of whiteness and how that impacts racialized student’s academic- disposition, self-esteem/efficacy, performance, stratification, tracking and outcomes.  Montoya was born in Cheyenne, WY and currently lives in Salt Lake. Visit his blog at

Lillian Pittman

July 8, 2012

browngirl poem

Yeah, this small world
is cut loose by unlovingness.

It’s Abuelita knitting blankets
and us staying safe as we please,
or keeping no home at all
and mother proving her tenacity once more.

We can only pretend this is what it’s like
to be loved.

It’s learning in college
what they won’t let you teach,
or no education at all—
cutting us or coining us.
Nope, ain’t no different for browngirls neither.

It’s a fist like a hoof to the eye,
or a bullet in your heart.
Or it’s mama calling you “¡Pendeja!
once the jackass is gone (before you know’t),
provin’ once more, she’s right.

It’s a doormat if you’re a Harriet,
(with or without an Ozzie) and no passion,
or passion and no commitment if you’re Ozzie himself.
Dye blond, get thin browngirl! Be a porn star,
stripper, used thing, just nothing lovely
—housekeeper, mule woman, river swimmer,
man eater, drug taker, baby popper,
cock teasing, husband pleasing browngirl.

You see, love’s the one thing you’re supposed to reserve
and save for another day, daydreams
sure, su madres y hijas,
yes, even your little boys that will grow
to be men with open hearts instead of closed fists
(just not other people).
Save it!

For your tomorrows—your next-times-Papi’s
—we’ll give love a shot.
Tequila Gold
with a slice of lime on the side.

Read more…

¡Ban This! Anthology

July 6, 2012

Visit Broken Sword Publications for more info.

Julian Lopez

July 6, 2012

2nd City

Police state,
sirens, sound cannons,
the camera’s in your face,
feeding inflated tax rates,
undebated totalitarianism,
unsated cronyism,
modern day colonialism,
helicopters and humvees,
while the homeless freeze,
clinics close due to
insufficient funding,
who watches who?
eavesdroping acts,
protecting the boys in blue
quick to shoot unarmed youths
and the education system is daycare prison,
“more schools to open” in the charter system,
14 mill for the war monger’s weekend
chants.. drums.. listen:
the people are speaking
it’s labeled indecent, in a town that’s sleeping,
where material consumption is like a second skin,
and the media spins their only outlet for information,
the city of wind where nothing ever changes…
Julian Lopez has been writing for 13 years and his poetry can be found at He’s currently working on a book. Lopez resides in Summit, Illinois.

CantoMundo Poetry Reading: Roberto Tejada, Aracelis Girmay

June 27, 2012

Award-winning poets Roberto Tejada and Aracelis Girmay read from their acclaimed poetry collections in the auditorium of the Student Activity Center on the University of Texas campus. Roberto Tejada and 12 CantoMundo poets will read their poems from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Friday, July 13, 2012. Aracelis Girmay and 12 CantoMundo poets will read their poems from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The events are free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will follow each night.

This free event is hosted by CantoMundo, a national poetry workshop dedicated to supporting and developing Latina/o poetics. CantoMundo provides a space where Latina/o poets can nurture and enhance their poetics; lecture and learn about aspects of Latina/o poetics currently not being discussed by the mainstream publishers and critics; and network with peer poets to enrich and further disseminate Latina/o poetry. The Center for Mexican American Studies of the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Texas at Austin is the primary sponsor of CantoMundo.


Roberto Tejada is the author of several poetry collections, including Mirrors for Gold (2006), Exposition Park (2010), and Full Foreground (2012). He founded and continues to co-edit the journal Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas. He is the author, as well, of art histories that include, most recently, National Camera: Photography and Mexico’s Image Environment (2009), and Celia Alvarez Muñoz (2009). He received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York, Buffalo, and has taught at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); at Dartmouth College, where he was the César E. Chávez Fellow (2002 – 2003); at the University of California, San Diego (2003 – 2008); and at the University of Texas, Austin (2008 – 2010). His writings appear frequently in exhibition catalogs. Tejada has published critical writings on contemporary U.S., Latino, and Latin American artists in Afterimage, Aperture, Bomb, The Brooklyn Rail, SF Camerawork, and Third Text. Tejada lived in Mexico City (1987 – 1997) where he worked as an editor of Vuelta magazine, published by the late Nobel laureate Octavio Paz; and as executive editor of Artes de México.

Aracelis Girmay is the author of the poetry collections Teeth and Kingdom Animalia, for which she won the Isabella Gardner Award & was nominated for the NBCC Award. Originally from California, Girmay has taught community writing workshops with young people in California & New York for the last ten years. Girmay has also taught at Queens College and is currently on the faculty of Drew University’s low residency M.F.A. program & Hampshire College’s School for Interdisciplinary Arts.

For more information about the event, contact Celeste Mendoza at or Deborah Paredez at

Luis Lopez-Maldonado

March 30, 2012



            eyes wide closed,
                                            Mi Abuelito carrying his Mexican dream for a better tomorrow
like the bright candy inside a piñata, but worse:
                                                                                    he hid inside the trunk.
            a pale yellow 1955 Chevrolet…a brave white older woman
                                                   suffocating, sweating
                                                                                         he held his hopeful choppy breath
              held it, and held it…
                                 the smell of the infinite ocean, seaweed, palm trees galore
he had entered the city of SAN DIEGO.
                                                                                     at last
                                                 a fresh start, an opportunity of gold
work, make money and send it to my grandmother in Michoacán
                                                                      a tear slowly crept down his pink cheek…
                                 still trapped inside this American product
                                                                                                              he opened his eyes
                                                     an awakened puppet
get up at 4am, work all day picking strawberries, then go home and sleep,
                                                                                                 the trunk opens…
                        EL NORTE.

El Granjenal, Michoacán, December Traditions


I hear a little girl talk to me

on nights like this one, intimidating

and forgotten. When limp

olive trees cast their shadows

on my shadow, machete in hand,

I stop to watch. Is it a sin to closely

watch your cousin strip down to his underwear?

Uno de los Maldonado’s baby cries

and my abuelita calls for her yerba de Manzanilla.


Las posadas are held tonight on our street,

my sister chosen to be la virgen Maria,

my cousin as Jose— horses, a donkey,

floors drowned

in hay, a floating star lit

hung with the same wire

they used to hang my birthday piñatas with–   

I am no one tonight though.

No role-playing.


The warm smell of canela boiling in large pots,

pan dulce arranged neatly in plastic

containers. This feels foreign to me,

like my mother and my father.

But I pretend to enjoy it and stand behind the old ladies

in their black rebosos. We sing in Spanish,

songs that relate to the Nativity scene

that once was before my time. The space between

my temples fixes on my cousins eyes

and we both smile under our closed lips.


A choreographed night and after duties disappear,

so do we, sneaking away, taking an extra Aginaldo,

going to our private hideout– the muddy stalls

of an abandoned home where a family

was murdered. In the dark we forget

about everything and caress each others hair,

and kiss each others lips, “for practice,”

pretending to be doing it to a girl.

But for me,

it was heaven.    


Luis Lopez-Maldonado was born and raised in Santa Ana, California. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California Riverside in Creative Writing, and another in Dance. His work has been seen in The American Poetry Review, Spillway, The Packinghouse Review and Cloudbank. Poets that have influenced Lopez-Maldonado’s work include Gary Soto, Federico Garcia Lorca, Cesar Vallejo, Rigoberto Gonzalez and Alba Cruz-Hacker. He is single and living in Orange County.

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