Friday, December 13, 2013

JORNALERO'S PRAYER FOR GUADALUPE by jjméndez

Jornalero’s Prayer for Guadalupe

Today I pay tribute to
Tonantzin-Coatlicue  for 
She is the Mother of the Gods, 
Of the waning and waxing moon, 
And of all the stars that paint 
The southern sky.  I pay tribute
For she is also our True Mother.

I acknowledge her presence for 
She is more powerful than 
The jaguar and quicker than 
The mighty eagle.  I acknowledge 
Her presence for she will guide us
Through the desert, mountains, and 
Urban jungles of El Norte.

No matter what path we choose
To follow,  Gran Señora
Protect us from all our 
Adversities and send them
Into the darkest corner 
Of our Mother Earth and keep
Them from doing us harm

Amen.

© December 12, 2013 jjméndez




Wednesday, December 11, 2013

BARRIO DOGS by jjméndez

Barrio Dogs

Droopy-eyed mutt
Dry your tears and reach out
To my open hand…

Smell it, get comfortable
I’m not the type of hand that bites.

I understand you were gambling
Fodder not so long ago and
You stood there at the bottom

Of the filthy pit looking up
At grimy waving hands
Filled with musty green leaves
The kind that are the envy of many 
And the prize of few.

I saw you plenty of times
Just laying there —wounded
You felt helpless and star-struck
By the brilliantly studded
Sky and you saw the moon

Roll across the darkened sky
And witnessed the sun rise
Above the parabolic dishes
Protruding over tar-smeared rooftops
Numbing children’s minds
And tempting them with false dreams.

I, too, once had sweet dreams
That led to twisted paths filled with misery… 

Come on now, get closer
Let me feel your mangy 
Face and wounded eyes
Let me assess the damage written
In the scars you carry on your sides…

Let’s see if we can both
Come to terms as to what
Our next move will be tonight.

© December 11, 2013 jjméndez

Painting by Marcos Raya; Photo by jjméndez ©2013



Saturday, December 7, 2013

DESCANSOS OF AZTLAN by jjméndez

Descansos of Aztlán

Somebody died… right HERE.
By the edge of the road
Where the make-shift memorial
Stands proud and prominent

Like a  road stop sign warning

That spirits still linger here
Like morning dew between the
Sun-baked silent stones.  You

Cannot  miss the pleading

Arms of the mandatory 
Wooden cross flanked by wilted
Flowers, tear-stained photographs

Love letters and rosaries 

Neatly placed next to a thorn-
Crowned Jesus and La Virgen
De Guadalupe -mother of
Gods, moon, and southern stars

At whose feet is a scattering

Of home-spun retablos filled 
With personal mementos,
Teddy bears and blood-red hearts.

Inquisitive walkers stop

And curious drivers slow down
Their dark eyes move to and fro
Yearning to be noticed but
Not heard whispering:
                                     Was it too much drinking?
 A drive-by? 
                       The expected heart attack?
                                                    A lovers’ quarrel? 
ICE?       NSA?      FBI? 
                    Unemployed and economically deprived?
   Or, maybe… just maybe… 
                                              A freak accident?

Dead silence –as always

Eventually sets in… but
Is quickly interrupted
By the murmur of short-lived

Prayers hovering like downy

Feathers that ride the mystic
Wind whirling high above
The hailed holy shrine…

Like prison-camp survivors

The spectators move on
But not before the sign
Of the cross is tweaked and

You can distinctly hear 

The beat –in unison
Of a loud and clear:
Que descanse en paz…Que descanse en paz…

© November  2013 jjméndez



Photos by jjméndez: Descansos found in the streets of  Santa Fe, NM



Thursday, November 21, 2013

BIRD PLAY (in 5 Acts) by jjméndez

BIRD PLAY (in 5 Acts)


                     Part I

Sentenced
To an
Early
Death.
              Caged...

Force-fed 
Malnourished
Tortured (multiple times)
Stripped
Water-boarded
Brined
Boiled

            And...

                     Increasingly,
                     Deep-fried.

                    Part II

Decapitated
Foiled
Wrapped
Sold
Delivered

            Via...

                    The 
                    Super Mart

                     Part III

Over-cooked
Overstuffed
In the
Middle
Of your
Dinner
Table 
Top

             With...

                      A
                      California tan
                      Rubbed 
                      Glossed
                      And
                      Flanked
                      By
                      Cranberries
                      Cornbread
                      And
                      Pumpkin pie.

                   Part IV

Poked
Stabbed 
Carved
Bitten
Chomped
Gulped

          And…

                   Flushed
                   Down
                   With
                   Blood-red
                   Table
                    Wine

                   Part V

Naked
Carcass
Barebone
Forsaken
Forgotten.
Now
           
            Waiting...

                      For
                      A
                      Free
                      Ride
                      To the
                      City 
                      Garbage Dump…

         The End

© 2013 jjméndez


Thursday, October 31, 2013

THIRD GRADE AUTUMN

THIRD GRADE AUTUMN

October-tinged Laredo skies... 

I'm walking in
Three-hole sandals 
Made in Japan 
Its straps chafing 
My callused feet 
Each footstep shrinks 
The distance to school
Down dusty gravel streets.

Perched birds sing above
the crowded playground
As children chatter
Old friends greet
And come together

While I sit...

In the gray stone stairs
I begin to dress 
My naked feet in black
Leather shoes in search
Of jealous stares.

The ever-punctual bell rings!

I launch forward 
In a sudden dash 
To be the first 
In class to meet 
Worn-out tables 
Flanked by wobbly 
Little chairs set next
To Ms Guerra’s grand 
Old desk --still holding
Last week's withered flowers
And aging paper stacks.

Crayon-smelling 
pumpkin faces
Are hard at work
While a pearly smile and
A pair of watchful eyes
Walk across the aisles 


A ivory skeleton hangs
On the wall.  Its bony
Arms --stretched out
Attempt to grasp
Orange-yellow paper
Leaves pinned above 
The green chalkboard. 

Outside the classroom
Muffled echoes bounce and
Saturate the empty halls...

The sun is shining through 
The windows to the south.
Two-ring binders and
Hard-bound readers
Are finally retired 

And...

I gladly join witches, 
Goblins and vampires
Holding hungry candy 
Bags --ready to roll
Outdoors with gaping 
Mouths together yelling

Three fifteen and time to go!

jjméndez    2013


Friday, August 30, 2013

LATE AUGUST

    Late August

Dog days
               Coming to a head…
Feet in new shoes
               Walking to school
America’s children dream
               Of a silent warm bed
At a distance you hear screams
                In the noisy playground
Meanwhile…
                Halfway around the world
The fruits of war ravage empty classrooms.


© August 30, 2013 jjméndez

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


When Pilsen Was 18
        jjméndez

You were there playing
Hockey in its streets
Countless winter days
Thinking like a Blackhawk
And swinging your crude
Stick hard–like a pro
In the steely gray
Ice-covered asphalt.

You were there when spring
Arrived dressed in green
With a florid face
And you happily
Readied–mentally
For a fresh game
Of Chicago-style
Softball at Dvorak
Park and held your breadth
Expecting your friends
(And a certain girl
You fell for) to show.

You were there loving
The days getting longer
As the summer’s heat
Rolled in like a giant
Beach ball and you made
Your way to the Throop
Street Play Lot ball court
Strutting to the beat
Of love songs blaring
Out your portable
Plastic radio pinned
On the Park District’s
Tall green wire fence.

You were there cooling
Off your pubescent
Temper in the coolness
Of the corner’s red
Fire hydrant dressed
In car tires that
Shimmered bright when wet
There, you raised the thin
Translucent water
Curtain that showered
Down on you and all
The joyful soggy
Children of the block
And the air was filled
With laughter and song
While the refreshing
City water splashed
On smiling faces.

You were there acting
As the official
Water pump dispenser
Clasping the torrent
Of white water by
Locking the fingers
Of your wide-open
Hands and your biceps
Bulged out of the wet
Sleeve-less frayed T-shirt
Clinging like clear tape
On your swollen chest.

You were there waiting
To greet September’s
Sudden arrival
Flanked by howling winds
Rolling street rubble
Like tumbleweed down
Eighteen Street announcing
The start of the World
Series on TV
And you wished the Sox
Would do it for you.

You were there in your
Third-floor flat living
Room slumped in the red
Sofa-bed covered
In plastic wrappings.
Your eyes were focused
On the black and white
TV screen and when
You felt the chill of
The shifting autumn
Winds, you began to
Itch for a game of
Football with the boys
And emulate the Bears.

You were there on that
Particular late
October night when
You took a lungful
Of blue air and looked
Out of your bedroom
Window and gazed at
The fall moon big and
Round as an orange
Pinned to a star-studded
Urban sky and you
Silently wished that
Your life on Eighteen
Street –the beating Heart
Of Pilsen –would last
Forever…pa’ siempre

©April 21, 2013 jjméndez
The photo above is one of Marcos Raya's --18th Street's Longtime Resident Artist-- paintings depicting  what I see as representative of a vato loco's  " deferred dream"...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Mother's advice is a hug that lasts forever...


Mamá’s Three
       jjméndez

My mamá
said
to me:
Son,
if you
want
a happy
marriage
don’t ever
try
to understand
your
woman.  NEVER
contradict
her.  And,
bring
her flowers
once
in a while…

Tres Consejos
       jjmendez
Mi ‘ama
me
ha dicho:
Hijo,
si quieres
tener
un matrimonio
feliz
nunca trates
de
entender a
tu
mujer. Nunca
la
contradigas. Y,
de vez
en
cuando, sorpréndela
con
bonitas flores…

Thursday, April 25, 2013



A Story Is Born
      jj méndez

A wobbly wish
   A daring dream
      A lonesome letter
         A wavy word

         A poignant point
      A comic comma
   A wad of worms
A sack of snakes

A drastic drama
   A classic closure
      A solid story
          All night all day

         Anxiously awaits
      A spot in space
   A truce with Time
A long, long life…

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


                            

               Eyes on America
                                                        jj méndez

Tree-scaped keystone boulevards
Steel skyline above decaying slums
Dirty streets in barren neighborhoods
Dreams of Disney and Hollywood

                Eyes on America

Gated communities ‘round the green
Bullet-ridden ghetto streets
Preppies cruising in expensive cars
Hustling youths panhandling rocks

                                                 Eyes on America

Financiers cajoling in the Wall
Blue collars drowning in a hole
Working moms ignoring kids at home
Fortyish Fathers searching jobs that don’t exist

     Eyes on America

Nobel Laureates tête-à-tête philanthropists
Politicians cashing-in their Dreams
Desperate immigrants corralled like cattle
Penitentiaries busting at the beams

                                           Eyes on America

Tall-tale clichés of rags to riches
Troops blown up in roadside ditches
Nation non-grata in the making
Global standing… slowly evaporating…

                    Eyes on America                                     
                                                                  Eyes on America

                        Eyes on America!

© 2011 jjméndez

Friday, April 5, 2013

TERRA NOSTRA



Terra Nostra
          jj méndez

Sunrises to greet
Trails to meet

Summits to reach
Sights to inhale

Sunsets to gather
Journeys to log

Bonfires to start
Stories to tell!

Monday, April 1, 2013



Yearning for Primavera

Early this morning I looked
Out my window and witnessed
An icy west wind chasing a fledgling
Full moon through swaying skeletal trees

Rooted like Swiss Guards on Main Street.
While spring impatiently waited in the opposite
End of the yellow-tinged road.  In one hand,
The shovel, in the other, a spade and grass seed

Meanwhile, the rising red sun poked fun
At the clumps of grey snow just laying there….
On the ground… like tired old dogs
Too lazy to get up and move on instead

Of ignoring the imminent call of inescapable
Time to get going and leave, once and for all,
The fertile –still frozen– landscape and let
Spring engage in its ritual fiery dance

With the erupting green tendrils yearning to
Burst in radiant hues of red, yellow, and blue.

©jjméndez
March 24, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013



Haiku for Springtime

The oak and the elm stretching
Their knotted beseeching arms are
Perfect perches for sing-song.

©jjméndez
March 10, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013



Tejano Breakfast: 1958

“M’ijo, ve y trae unos blanquillos del solar.”

Barefoot I run, chased after
By images of glossy yellow
Scrambled eggs spread on
A freshly-made flour tortilla

Ready to be folded and held fast
In my hungry hands.  Hands now
On a mission in search for gold in my
Gallinita’s straw-cushioned nest,

Nestled in the backyard chicken coop...

                    Three fresh freckled eggs ready to go!

And I rush back past the kitchen's
screeching snagged and bruised screen door
Where ‘ama is waiting with butter
Melting in the stovetop iron pan

©jjméndez, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


      
 Amor Mío

I miss the tenderness
Of your presence. Yes.
Fresh memories of you
Linger green and fragrant
As the field of moist
Bluegrass outside my window.

I need the sun-setting
Arms of your shadow
Embracing me this evening. 
I need to feel the flutter
Of your red velvet heart
Inside me now.

Come, come quick
Before darkness.
Stay the night.
Undo the tangled void
Humming wishful thoughts
Of your sweet smile…

                  Joining me tonight.

©jjméndez, 2012 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Haiku:

            Forbidden Fruit

Speckled red chunks of sunlight
Packed in heart-sized orbs
Are every bite a crisp delight

©jjméndez, 2013