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                                                                    Introduction

     

     They call me Manny.  I grew up being called Monolin.  From the time I was four up to my early twenties, uncle Manuel called me Loco.  I’m comfortable just being called, Manny. 

     Today is January 11, 2007. 

     Three days before New Year’s Night, Hector, a Native American Spiritual Advisor for the brothers in San Quentin, took me to Stockton, to retrieve my property kept in a storage station for the past six years.   

     I asked Hector if we could stop to visit uncle Harry Jack while we were there in town.  He’s close to ninety years old.  Harry is a Navajo Elder and prayer man for the Black Wolf Gourd Society.  Last I saw him was several months ago, he was ill.  Harry had been in the hospital twice since then.

     It was good to visit him.  He seemed much healthier.  He asked that I light a fire on New Years night, to pray for a good year to come.  I promised him I would and with that I hugged him and smudged him with a stick of sage, and we departed.  

     That New Year’s Eve afternoon, my aunt Keti made tamales and invited me over to eat and watch movies.

    My mind was on other things though, like the things in the cardboard boxes I retrieved from storage.  I was reacquainted with the many notebooks of poems and short stories I had written, covering a span of three decades, and it brought back many memories, dormant for a long time.  And my thoughts were preoccupied with that.  I had written just about everything going on around me.  But all those writings never made it to book form.

      That day, going through my things, I realized just how quickly time has passed.  I began to look at life in another way.  Like a leaf.

      I realized I was no longer that young wild guy, who spent his life in one Cause, or another.  Here I was, older, broke, homeless.  I say homeless because I lived in a tent out back since last May, until recently, when it got too cold for me to handle, and stubbornness wasn’t a reasonable option anymore.

      I was married once, when I was twenty-one, and divorced shortly after.  I never fathered any children. 

      In my early years I labored in the fields, in the canneries, in

landscape, in janitorial, a dishwasher for several restaurants, just about any dirty job you can imagine, and yes, even for a sewage facility in Stockton.

      I managed though, to earn an A.A. Degree from San Joaquin Delta College, through the crazy and turbulent times in the Seventies.  And reading through the notebooks took on a whole new light, bringing the past to life.

    But, back to New Years Eve.

    While I was sitting in my aunt and uncle’s modular home, in front of the t.v. zoning out, I thought about the many years I’d been away from here, home.  Over twenty, since I had left Livingston.  I landed up in Stockton in a De-tox center and in the Hospital out in French Camp.  Drinking had caught up with me.  And I needed mending. 

      I never envisioned returning.  Especially not back here, in the country, on this land, surrounded by fields and a few shacks, housing migrant workers.  But here I was, with nowhere else to go.  Fifty-one.

       While I was sitting there, my youngest sister and niece entered.  My niece was expecting at any time.  I still see her as a child, but she isn’t.  She is a woman about to have her first born.  The fifth generation American. 

       Before they left, I had gone out back by the cactus and dug a hole and placed in some kindling and logs.  Just in case I decided to light a fire, as Harry Jack had asked.  It was already very cold and suppose to freeze overnight, with that in mind I figured if it got too cold to wait until morning.

      When my sister and niece got ready to leave, I took my eagle feather, a braid of sweetgrass, and smudged them down, and prayed for them.

        That night around 11:30, I decided to light the fire. In spite of the frigid temperature.  It took some work to get it going. When the gunshots went off in town, a few miles north, it signaled in the New Year.  And the fire took on a life of it’s own.  

     I had my pipe, the one I use for the Sundance in South Dakota, a hand drum, a rattle, sage, sweetgrass and cedar to throw in the fire.  I finished giving thanks to Grandfather and praying for the world, and us, and sat there before the fire.  My uncle Manuel and my cousin Manolo came out to join me after, and so did my friend Suzanne, coming from her family’s gathering, stopping here on her way home, to share in a hot cup of cocoa. They stayed awhile and went home. 

      That night in the cold, I felt the spirits of my ancestors around me.  And together we celebrated, in the fire.  And I sang a song.   

      Thank You Grandfather. 

                                                         All My Relations

                                                                      

                                   

                       

 

                           Behind The Lodge

The tin door to this       

matchbox ramada on flat tires

swings open west

where ancestors having crossed-over

journey to their eternal rest

from here behind Three Rivers Lodge

I observe center nerve of an infinite

Universe:

An almond orchard

shielding ghostly California Coast Ranges

A Hogan we ceremony in night long

around the fire with medicine and songs

a sweatlodge where steam the breath

of Grandfather purifies

our common pitiful bodies

minds and spirits

a pow-wow arena alive only

4th  of July weekends

here through Indian eyes

I observe this tiny world dawn to dusk

where no wars wage

and there aren’t drive-by’s or roadrage

where no dope dealers poison

for pathetic profit their own peoples

where no theologians solicit

theories of apocalypses

where no political piranhas propagate

ideological deceptions

where no manifest-destiny build fences fashioned

from blueprints for genocide

no

here I observe

tiny country world where Indian men

in a Recovery Center smile sober

here I observe 

top of  arena’s center pole

a redtail hawk perched

scoping for dinner

squirrels dashing underground

here I listen

to a band of coyotes

invisible but close

howling their bellies

desire chickens or goats

or both

here I observe

sky shed it’s blue

into hues of reds and purples

as a laughing moon balloons up

to it’s temple

and harmonic stars robe around it

as San Joaquin Delta breezes purge

through whispering  ol’ trees

swaying in mild mannered dance

as warrior magpies kamikaze the hawk

and crickets and their tiny cousins

riot across sacred grounds

as evenings’ ceremony blooms into

night song

here from an abalone shell

a stick of sage is lit and I smudge

giving thanks for another day

has lived and is gone

and I step into the trailer

hit the sack a tired cat

prepare to journey into  

dreamworld where

anything and everything is possible

but before that

peep out tiny window

observe a dozen spirits

dance around the arena

like they always do

behind the lodge .

 

                                     I Dread

Grandpa Hawk perched in a tree

looked down at me

on a stump gazing

at fields being primed

for the advancement of the times

and asked unassumingly:

What is in your heart?

And so I began to speak;

I dread this alien rat race

mirrored in congested

big city phlegm

manifest-destiny all over again

mixing into this country world

like oil with water

strangers with shark-like expressions

convoluting the landscape

in Hummers  Volvos   SUV’s

along with their collective wannabe’s

I dread this transformation of

new homes and buildings

expanding like popcorn

no locals can afford

I dread this attack of the new-age Borg;

Resistance Is Futile-You Must Assimilate

I dread these pimps of poorly planned

progress for pathetic self-profit

I dread taking scenic drives

in the country thundering

with traffic thick as bees on honey

being forced to find places

away from familiar places

where technology yet has targeted

its thoughtless tentacles

and capitalist clowns have yet

proclaimed their arrogant game

of eminent domain

places where open spaces

still be free of idiot boxes

blasting gangster obscenities

where no yuppies have fenced off

areas once always open and free

of eyes of steel and robotic gates

and fortresses of concrete

high as prison walls

and grandpa Hawk looked at me

with eyes of wisdom and said;

listen,

listen

to us

winged ones

four leggeds

insects

trees

rivers

as we sing

our death

songs,

then grandpa Hawk flew

off into the blue,

and I rose from the stump

for a bulldozer was coming

and I could no longer stay.

                                        

                                  

                            

 

          Sleepless Night In Stockton

                                        1.       

After work in America

in traffic

the rush

the noise 

the smog

the elements of urbanization

digested as a I drive

and sullen I arrive

slip into my apartment

precision an about-face

and bolt in place

number-Twelve door shut

out the world

a world of worlds

weaving in wrangled

star-spangled waste

whirlin’ and churnin’ in  

a self-destructive celebrated way

out the quagmire of

civil-I-zation

rush hour

road-rage

flip-me-off

bullshit

intoxicated and nauseated

by the animated

absurdities of it.

 

No child smiles flutter lovingly

arms racing ahead of them

to affectionately embrace me home.

Only the split-second entry

vacuum of variable musty

silence’s say: HELLO.

Then all of a sudden

as if by a push of an invisible button

resonates it’s fate once more:

This sorry sigh of resignation,

truly I abhor.

                                2.

And now

I filter into unwinding

easing these insensitive

ribbon strands

of twitchin’ glands

varieties of mind-blowin’ 

soul-suckin’

spirit-chompin’

anxieties

plopped out on a couch

in this sublime rhyme

of coagulated time

de-polorized in a hapless

humorless

hermitic pose,

self-imposed by whimsical desire

I  suppose.

                                             

                               3.

And now

in the heat of night I articulate

a winding road of prose

paved with deep fried

figments of  imagination

drawn from a cauldron

bubblin’ in my stupored sanity

where scattered embers of reality

melodramatically

gyrate

irate

in the echoing forest

of my inquisitiveness .

 

                                               4.

For now

for the tick-tock being

I whirl

unfurl

in this empirical space

hollowed in grace

for this Is

the way of existencia

the truth my friend

as is should be

as is meant to be

this place

this center

of my world

a spot

a dot

like nowhere else

for the tick-tock being

in this whole vast

unchained universe

my world is here.

So I

unwinding

cherish my soul

so as not to perish from

these incandescent

meticulous

melancholy moments

soothing this bronze mechanism

of my cosmic conscious being

as my translucent thoughts

unravel

travel

across borders of imagination

and journey into thorny

thickets of perennial poetic hours

bloomin’ brilliant

like shades of wild flowers

silences irrevocably

lonely

yet lovely

lovely to their very cores

lovely as waves splash

a lonely islands shores

regions rich and ripe to explore

but only yours-truly there may soar.

                                                5.

And I transfix

void of tricks

and soar-----wing    

              soar-----wing,

and nobody talks trash

and no phone rings

shing-a-ling 

     shing-a-ling

and no amor sings:   

Love love me do.

                                   6.            

Unamused

but not confused

dedicated I transfuse

into fuses of San Joaquin

cool Delta breezes

bleeding profusely

through kitchen screen

gently on me

and pitter-patter poignantly

plastic blinds

like chimes

and sequestered here

most definitely

but not vividly I see

the years 

Fifty:

bounced

cruised

crashed

and in this solitude

with gratitude and fortitude

I remember

my grandparents

father

mother

relations 

homies

alive in photos

thumb-tacked

taped 

packed-on

DON’T FORGET US walls

Who congregate

celebrate

in heavens hallowed halls

who joyfully converse

in golden silent verse

who dance tiptoe

on rose petal plains

Yaqui angels

swarm like cranes,

Who knew     

Them?

Their struggles 

their insanities

their dreams

their sorrows?

their lifetime-agos  

dreamed-for

labored-for

prayed-for 

better-tomorrows

never in their

dimensions fulfilled?       

Them    

their hopes and phantasms

Them     

indigenous rightful

landlords of this soil

Them     

exploited 

thwarted,

who struggled

celebrated

prisms of tradition

and cried tears of dignity

and died

warriors

revolutionaries

railroad

dishwasher

field

cannery hands

barbers 

butchers 

artists

musicians

carpenters

tune-up kings

chicken pluckers

agriculture queens

herb runners

locos and locas

juicers and outlaws

farmers 

charmers

nickel and dimers?

                                                7.

And now

One- two- three

Yes  

I am perplexed

And yes 

still I wrestle

a desperate battle 

with the spirits to inquire

to inspire

to address this nonsense

and the rest

and my simple thoughts

find themselves

in travail and

pow-wow in circles

in the wombs of their thunder

and meander

twigs down

sacred crimson rivers

flowing with age

searchin’  

searchin’ 

searchin’

always searchin’

and the spirits responses

wade in glitters of shimmerin’

reflections of splendor

and wonder:

Not yet for you to know.

                                       8.      

And now

I explore above the heights

a hawk and circle

fields of the variety

the make-up 

the essences  

Of who      I AM

Of what     I AM

Of where   I AM

Of why      I AM

 A Yaqui/Tarascan

maneuvering in this

reservation of modern-I-zation

everyday a battle

everyday a struggle

everyday a warrior.

For who I am

has not   

can not 

shall never 

by the world be conquered

for this is inherently

in me

a cosmic impossibility

a dreamer

descendent of a dream

from long windin’

ancestral stream

of all but forgotten 

ancient crossings .

                                          9.

In retrospect

I detect

a wee-bit 

isolated conflict:

Oh!  What a crazy life!

Rollin-rollin-rollin’

keep them fires burnin’  AHO!

                              10.

And now

the sun rises 

bright bold

above a naked flagpole

it’s glow melts the sky

a pretty shade of flame

fingers through

the window pane

caresses my face

swallows the moon

and glittering robe of stars

and the Delta breezes 

cease to bleed

and although dawn

spawns tranquil

sweet 

invigorating 

alive

my eyes

care less 

weigh a ton and flutter

like hummingbird wings

and my hued

cosmic conscious being

implores

requires

repose

and this beautiful morning   

I’ll nap away

ride a spotted winged pony

across dream world plains.

 

And now I do

what I do

hold back that

no storm

ravages or savages

introspective

reflective

twin mirrors

of my soul

but in the hollows

of my battered

bruised

betrayed

bronzed heart

RAINS FIRE!

                               11.

Quiet

subdued

but not unglued

humbly I say

these words to THEE:

I sing 

I pray

my pen shall bring

to wing

simple understanding

that the world may know

we may remember

we passed  these roads

these codes

these loads

we lived Aho

                                          12.

So now

I shut the blinds

cozy-up on the couch

turn the FM on low

catch some  z’s.                                              

                                             

                                

                                   

                                 

                  

                                                                   Man’s-best-friend

 

The sky is not so bright

Fall is flagging her colors

On a mundane morning

Babysitting Buddy

Man’s-best-friend

Without a worldly care

Just sleeps on the floor

Until I walk out the door

And follows me outside

It’s got abandonment issues

And fleas

Pees on the trees

But he’s better company

Than most people

And doesn’t bite

 

 


                                                                       One Day

 

My thoughts drip into my heart

Like rain outside the earth drinks

Sometime this hour a childhood friend

Someone I haven’t seen in some time

Is going under into everlasting rest

Unable to be there to show my respects 

I burn sage in an abalone shell

Pray his spirit journey well

For he has crossed the river

One day we must maneuver  

But none of us know the hour

None of us can deny

                                                                 

                                                                   

                                                                         

 

                                                                                      Freedom

 

Summertime in Modesto

Hot and sticky

Transients     God-bless-America

Urinate in a parking lot

In broad daylight

Behind B of A

No shame to their game

More of them every day

In the alley ways

A few Scavenge

In huge garbage bins

For tasty morsels before

Maggots do  

Tattered spirits in rags

Scraping along on sidewalks

Shared with solemn

Stiffs in grey suits

And shiny shoes

 

 

 

                                                                   Opportunity              

 

A fluffy white rabbit

No one seems to own

Spends its days idle in front

Hidden In the bushes

It devours the carrots

Lettuce and bread

We feed it in the morning

 

Across the street

In La Loma schoolyard

Perched on top a lone

Old oak tree

A big hawk occasionally

Circles overhead

Just above the bushes

Eyes on the prize

                                                  

    

                                                     Just For Today                                                            

         

Words, spoke from my mind:

Put down the laptop

Turn off the TV

Get up go outside

Stretch out in the sun 

Whiff- in the sweet breezes

Pin your ears to the bird songs  

Eye the brilliance of the sky

Who knows about tomorrow?

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                   The Good Red Road

 

When I was young and wayward

Tore-up from the floor up

An elder once told me to gather my medicine

I said: You mean roots and feathers?

No! The medicine within you

The good things inside you

You have to gather those things

You have to quit doing the bad

Only you can do this with help from Grandfather

And when you have gathered your medicine

You will know what it takes to get well

If you become ill in your spirit and mind

And stray away from the Good Red Road

                                                              

 

                                                                 

                                                                        Burnt Out

 

Did you hear about Juan?

             No what happened?

He got put in the nut house

             Oh Yeah? I saw him a few months ago in town

             In shorts and army boots

            Waving his hands in the air

           Like he was talking to someone

I guess his mom is too old

Can’t take care of him anymore

He sure loved that dope

             Yeah and now he’s through

             His brain fried

             And he ain’t even old                                                    

 

                                                          

                                      

                                                                                                            
 

                                                                    


                                                 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                    

 

               


 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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