Tuesday, December 29, 2015

LITTLE HAIRS by jjméndez


Every time
we moved
to a new place
my old man
would quietly 
step away into 
the backyard
in search of a nook
where he would
hope to find a hook 
or else, he would 
hammer one crooked 
nail on the wall 
or tree and hang 
his double-sided 
barber’s mirror.

Come Saturday 
morning sharp 
my old man would 
visit his selected spot 
hang the moon-like 
mirror and pull out 
his favorite ivory 
shaving cup,
his badger bristle 
shaving brush, 
and his dreaded 
leather strop
made of genuine
Texas cowhide
that all of us 
children always 
feared like
the La Llorona
in the dark.

He would grab
the strop 
by its ends 
and snap it 
like a spanking 
belt and crack
the wind like a whip.

Through a window
we would watch 
him grasp with one 
hand the stainless 
steel razor blade
by its mother of pearl 
handle and bend 
his hairy arm and trim 
his bristly chin 
as he stretched 
his suntanned 
cactus cheeks 
while using 
the other hand
to make the stubble
in his face perk up
like porcupine quills.

And then... we 
would turn 
our heads to see
our mother’s gleaming 
eyes triumphantly 
light up her face 
with a sudden 
rush of haute airs 
telling everyone 
once again she 
did not have 
to swipe clean
those annoying
little hairs from 
the bathroom
washbasin and 
assorted toiletries.

© 2015 jjméndez

Friday, December 11, 2015

I REMEMBER by jjméndez

     I Remember 

I sat in the rear seat
Of the metallic blue
Two-door ’64 Chevy 
Impala. Windows closed.
It was the night before
Christmas as we waited 
For Casanova to return
With the some festive girls.

Ace whom we had
Just met was sitting
Next to me smelling
Like a bottle of Hai
Karate took a slug 
Of Canadian Club 
And said he was
An almighty king.

That’s when Louie
Turned his head
And began to preach
About God being
The only Almighty.

Roach pointed his finger
At Ace and said
In the low tone of his 
That there is nobody
Mightier than God

Ace said, well you
Are looking at
An almighty king
Right here and that
Is when a fist touched
Ace square in the face
Just to see if he was real.

© 2015 jjméndez

Friday, November 27, 2015


Dark Soliloquies 

I don’t care
what you’ve got
in store for me
my dark friend.

Whatever it is 
let it out
but do it 
in silky notes
filled with
sweet overtones 
brought home
from the fields
of hard-working
brown hands
toiling in 
the alturas 
of Chiapas
in the foothills
of Nicaragua
in the highlands
of Colombia  
in the fields 
of Malawi 
and in exotic 
Ethiopia and 
Sultry Sumatra.

Whisper softly
in my ears
so only I 
can hear 
what it is 
that you 
have for me

Give it to me 
sip by sip
so I can
taste the full
flavor of all
you can tell 
don’t hold 
back or fret
trust me
I can take 
the heat.

Don’t think
I don’t recognize 
the countless
times you have
been tolerant
and dependable
as my confidant
indulging but 
never divulging  
my daily rants
and soliloquies
on life, love, poetry
and philosophy
on inner peace
and the art of war
and the dogmas
of world religions
and the endless
ambitions and greed 
of the wealthy 
upper class 
our planet.

So let all
the hidden 
skeletons out
I am ready
for your sweet
and sour
pungent quips 
and quotes
and admonitions.

So here’s to you
sweet embracing 
steaming hot 
and stimulating
cup o’dark
let your light 
shine on me today.

© 2015 jjméndez

Thursday, November 19, 2015

MEN ON THE MOON by jjméndez

Men on the Moon

Back in ‘69
We were there
In the street corner
Roosting like crows
All dressed in black.  

We hanged low
Near the candy store 
Next to the red fire
Hydrant just in case
The night got excited
And we needed to cool down
Our urban hormones stashed 
In the breast pockets
of our three-quarter length 
Suede leather coats.

We were there… lost in our youth.

We looked at the stars and tried
to imagine ourselves as the spacemen 
Who took giant steps to stake
Our American flag in the moon. 

But all we could see was old 
Uncle Sam looking for bait 
To send to Hamburger Hill 
Where bombing and shelling
Raged in full force without pity…

If you happen to pass
By our corner tonight
Make it all the way
To the tattered stop sign
Bring a brown-wrapped bottle 
Of juice and some squares
We got the light and the latest
soul hits playing on the transistor radio.

The night is still young
 And we have…   All the time in the world.

© 2015 jjméndez

Saturday, November 14, 2015

WINGS OF PROMISE by jjméndez

          Wings of Promise

Crispy sun-drenched autumn wafers
Some dressed in gold and lime-green
Others shine in red and copper hues
And a few showcase their inky prints
Fluttering like geese into the blue, they
Wave good-byes to a dying mother tree.

Spiraling on their way down… a few
Red rebels take to sudden heights
And hop the chilled November gust
In hope of landing in the wide open
Veins of a thirsty riverside promising
A chance to breathe another brand of life.

In the darkened mountain top
A tired aging sun is also going down
And turns his head to take another glance
At the twirling featherweights drilling   
Through the air and scrambling
For a final place to end their flight.
© 2015 jjméndez

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Washed Up In The Beach

There is a ragged man squatting 
in the beachhead clotted sand 
His broken back facing the south wind

His eyes are fixed on a distant sun
Tracing West-financed warplanes
Delivering their guilt-free bombs

Missiles still ravage his homeland
Leaving buried in the dusty rubble
Pregnant wives and virgin daughters

The man’s hands are not begging 
Or asking for a merciful handout
But simply searching for an answer

To the needless human loss to death
As the only son thought saved
Lies face down on safe Mediterranean sand…
© 2015 jjméndez

Photo credit:  Nilufer Demir, Turkish Press.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


      Manifesto for
Día De Los Muertos

In spite of all the hoopla
Being fed by our usual 
Trendy American ways 
Unwittingly making one
More commercialized day 
We must resist and celebrate
Like we’ve done in the past
It’s part of our history and culture
Not a Halloween contest… 
(Disney try to appropriate the Day)

Let the Day be as it should 
No outlandish Catrinas 
Or fancy-dressed Fridas
No meaningless China-made
Trinkets from Walgreens or 
Walmart usurping the Day.

Insure that the candles are lit
Enhancing the altar
And all the fine features
Of fading old portraits still 
Holding the power to bring
Lost smiles and dormant vignettes
Of memorable seasons and dated events.

Insure that the Marigolds are calling 
The spirits and sweet lemongrass is 
Ready for tea and papel picado highlights
The table and altar presenting
La Virgen Morena and Cristo 
Jesús –both flanked right and left 
By a legion of the family’s santos
Greeting our loved souls arriving 
Safely back to our earthly confines.

Insure the copal is smoldering
Enhancing the air…salt grains
Randomly sprinkled reminding us
Our lives will continue on Earth.

Insure freshly-baked pan de muerto 
And  home-made sugary skulls 
Agua fresca in glass pitchers are ready
To appease all traveling souls
Don’t forget the tray of clay jarros 
Each filled to the brim with atole
The bowl of spicy-sweet mole
A stack of blue corn tortillas 
Arroz blanco and pozole
Green and red chiles 
Cheese quesadillas
The bowl of dry cereal
Ripe freckled bananas
Strawberries and cream
Oranges pineapple and figs
And straight from old México
Peeled sweet mangoes spattered
With chile… inviting tongue-licks.

Insure a bottle of mezcal Mixteco
With its meaty worm ready
To be served in Tío Beto’s
Still sparkling original set
Of hand-painted shot glasses.

Insure there on the table abuela’s
black wooden charola 
Brought home from Zamora 
Holding quarter-sliced limes 
To enhance the glow in all
Dead and living enjoying
The toasts of tequila and wine
Flowing down thirsty dry throats

Insure all day long and into the night
We rapture and share fond memories 
and chit-chat and laugh
And cry and pray and listen
To primo Panchito’s guitar
And gaily sing and dance  
To our favorite songs
As we honor the long-
Awaited return of all
Our beloved ancestors
Coming to us once again
From their ethereal abode

And at the end of the day insure…
That together we pray in sing-song
To all of Creation and thank once 
Again for all brought forth

By our Day of the Dead 
A part of our Culture and
Not a Halloween contest...

© 2015, jjméndez

Photo: Typical Home Altar.  unknown photographer