Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Three Poems By Richard Vargas, Editor of Mas Tequila Review

Richard Vargas organized a poetry reading for me at the Barnes and Noble here in Rockford when my second book, Detached Retinas, was published. I read badly that night and didn't do another public reading for fifteen years. That's not his fault, just a story. And allows me to say that at one time two great poets like Richard Vargas and Todd Moore were part of the poetry scene in Rockford, Illinois. Richard Vargas is the editor/publisher of Mas Tequila Review, one of the best contemporary poetry magazines out there. He's a tireless promoter of poetry and a magnificent poet to boot. It's my privilege to bring these three poems to you.

american jesus #2
“Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine…” Patti Smith

our soldiers 
come home from 
the wars
wander city 

fated to an endless 
quest for our 
pocket change
as they stand at 
busy intersections
hold up makeshift 
signs proclaiming 
their hunger

we fixate our
stare straight ahead
grip the steering

wait for the light 
to change from 
red to green

our souls lost

forever nailed
to the cross

we could be heroes

the immigrant frying my fries at mcdonald’s is a hero
the person in customer service telling me there will be a five dollar charge if she assists me paying my bill over the phone is a hero
the guy using his gas engine portable leaf blower to move his cloud of dust across the street at 
7 am on a saturday is a hero
the state policeman in new mexico caught in broad daylight on video doing the wham-bam-thank-you-mam with his girlfriend on the hood of her car is a hero
the bank of screw-america exec kicking sr. citizens out of their homes and into the streets is a hero
the man rounding up shopping carts in the piggly wiggly parking lot is a hero
the homeless dude passed out on the bench at the bus stop is a hero
the lady behind the bullet proof glass collecting my money where i buy gas is a hero
the attendant wiping down the machines at the laundry mat is a hero
the man servicing the vending machines at work is a hero
the hooker working central ave. by the sports bar is a hero
the sanitation engineer mopping the floor at the VA hospital is a hero
the salesperson selling me two pair of eyeglasses for the price of one is a hero
the plumber unplugging my toilet is a hero
the people who don’t know what a turn signal is for are heroes
the mother shopping at wal-mart with her teenage daughter wearing Hooter shorts is a hero
the guy who shows up to figure out why my internet is on the blink is a hero
the goofy looking young man who owns facebook is a hero
the pedophile priest is a hero
the neighbor growing their own tomatoes is a hero
the bum drinking a beer and talking on a cell phone in the alley is a hero
the hipster posing in patio seating at the trendy bistro sipping a microbrew is a hero
the people at home all alone in the dark watching porn on their computers are heroes
the pro quarterback who corners an underage girl in the bathroom against her will and 
pulls out his weenie is a hero
the minute man racist who kills his girlfriend and then shoots himself dead is a hero
the person with the keys to the closet where the banned books are stored is a hero
the poet working at starbucks with a MFA degree in creative writing is a hero

heroes are everywhere
heroes are nowhere

the biggest crock of shit i ever heard… December 1979

i’m home on my first 30 day leave
so i can spend the holidays in Calif
with the family but i’m also 
fresh out of basic training 
so drinking and getting laid 
as much as possible sit high on 
my itinerary but right now 
i’m sitting in the passenger seat 
parked on a dark street at 10 pm 
in front of an apartment bldg in  
Rowland Hts. listening to 
my mother’s husband tell me 
that the apartment on the 
second floor belongs to a 
waitress who serves him
breakfast every friday
how she’s a great listener
with a pretty smile but that’s
all he thought it was until 
one friday last month 
she slipped him a piece of 
paper with her phone number 
and address written down 
with an exclamation point 
and a smiling happy face
so last week he found himself
parked in the exact same spot
we’re parked now as he sat
in the dark wanting to get out
and walk up the steps to her door
find out what was waiting for him
on the other side but couldn’t
(and here he starts to choke up)
because he loves my mother
so much and would never do
anything to hurt their marriage

and i sit there in silence wondering 
what the hell have i come home to
and how the next 30 days can’t possibly
end too soon while the lights on
the tree in the woman’s window

flicker like the distant stars in
the cold December sky

Richard Vargas was born and raised in southern California. As an undergraduate, he studied under the prolific poet, Gerald Locklin. He also published five issues of the Tequila Review, a biannual magazine of poetry, from 1978 – 1980. He graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2010, and earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. He was awarded the 2011 Hispanic Writers Award from the Taos Summer Writer’s Conference, and he served on the faculty of the 10th National Latino Writers Conference at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico. His first book, McLife, was published in 2005. A second book, American Jesus, was published in 2007. He is currently looking for a publisher for his third book. His poetry is published widely in poetry magazines and anthologies. He is currently publishing a biannual poetry magazine of contemporary American poetry, The Mas Tequila Review. He lived in Rockford, IL from 1995-2002. He now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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