Thursday, January 25, 2018

Comments on Juliana Aragón Fatula's Colorado Public Radio Interview, Chicana Writer Turns Her Stormy Colorado Past Into Poetry

link to Colorado Public Radio interview last year.

I welcome comments, feedback, critique...on my poetry and the interview in the link above. One of the comments posted to the website, infuriated my friends, who quickly posted their comments defending me. I don't need defending. I am what I am. But I appreciate that they have my back. They know my sense of humor and they know I laugh when I'm nervous, and I was incredibly nervous being interviewed for Colorado Public Radio. I have been sober for 27 years as has my husband. We met on a blind date and wala...

Let me say, I do not approve of parents getting drunk and beating their children with a belt. However, The River is my poem and I use poetic license to write whatever the fugly I want to write, after all, it is my herstory, my story, my past, my mother and if I have a sense of humor about the marks left on my thighs from 50 years ago and my mother so drunk she had no idea she was beating her children who cowered under the bed. What we did, my brother and I, did not warrant a beating; however, if we had repeated our behavior and one of our  ten siblings had drowned in the current of the strong summer waterway, we would have gotten much worse than a beating. My mother was scared to death. She couldn't swim. I can't swim. I made damn sure my son can swim and he swims like a fish; he rescues kids from drowning in the river.

The River
Remember crying yourself to sleep
when Mom didn’t come home
on Christmas Eve?
Her mestiza nose,
diamond iris eyes,
red, red wine lipstick,
her ratty hair;
Mom dressed in stilettos,
her black leather jacket
with the big belt.
Her evil-honey voice
screaming with the radio,
“What ya gonna’ do
when ya get outa’ jail?
I’m gonna have some fun!”
A bottle of Bud between her legs,
cigarette smoke filling the car,
her passed out behind the wheel,
parked at The Bird Club.
Where did we hide
when she came home borracho
and whipped us for daring
to take her young ones
to swim in the river;
the river witch
waiting to drown us;
Mom waiting for us
to come out from
under the bed?
Un gato viejo, ratón tierno;
the cocoman is an old man
who likes young girls,”
Mom told us every night—
I was ten, running wild
through Duck Park,
across the train tracks,
under Black Bridge,
in the horse field,
no longer afraid
of the cocoman.
I was never as afraid
of the cocoman
as I was of Mom’s wrath,
the crosses on the back of my thighs,
the belt buckle marks on my legs . . . still.

Lest anyone believe that I only write confessional poetry about abuse and alcoholism, here is a little poem I wrote about my Chicana Garden.

Azteca Grain
Slabs of stone line the garden
tendrils hang heavy
ready to turn—
seeds drop
low, low, low
clusters pull the plant
onto its bloody bursting head
shears sharpened sit in lull
while amaranth,
Azteca grain,
grows lush.

And this little diddy about racism and being defined by the color of your skin.

Holy Bones

starless blue-black night,
la muerte dances on the grave.
not like the funky chicken dance,
more like the conga.
hips sway, the earth shakes,
the dance of the dead
down down down.
the bones bang da da bang da da bang.
el viento breezes through tired ribs.
more funny than scary.
muertos, juntos raíces,
get along when they’re dead,
porque, las calaveras
are all the same color—bone.

Anyone who knows me, knows my writing reflects who I am, where I've been and where I'm going. I'm gathering momentum. 

Reprinted from RED CANYON FALLING ON CHURCHES: POEMS by Juliana Aragón Fatula with permission of Conundrum Press, a division of Samizdat Publishing Group, LLC. Copyright (c)Juliana Aragón Fatula, 2015.

Juliana Aragón Fatula’s, second book, Red Canyon Falling on Churches, winner of the High Plains Poetry Award 2016, and her debut poetry book, Crazy Chicana in Catholic City are published by Conundrum Press and her chapbook, The Road I Ride Bleeds, published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. She is a fifth generation Southern Colorado Native and a lifetime member of the Sandra Cisneros’ Macondo Foundation. She has been a writer in residence for Colorado Humanities’ Writers in the Schools Program since 2012. Her foremost focus is education and working with at-risk-youth. She teaches cultural diversity in her classrooms and believes in the power of education to change lives. Her murder mystery, The Colorado Sisters and the Atlanta Butcher, percolates daily in her head. This will be her first novel.

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