Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ángel F. Sandoval's Shades of Brown

Poeta, Ángel F. Sandoval
I am excited to share Ángel F. Sandoval's collection, Shades of Brown (click this link to travel to the work), featured now at UC Merced's alternaCtive publicaCations.  AlternaCtive publiaCations, publisher Dr. Manuel M.Martín-Rodriguez, is dedicated to posting unpublished creative works, primarily by Latino and Latina authors.

I met Ángel a few years ago while doing a reading at San Diego State University.  He was in SDSU's MFA program at the time.  After the reading he came up and shared with me that he was also from the Imperial Valley, Brawley, to be exact.  We exchanged some quick stories and have remained in touch ever since, even reading together on a few occasions which has always been an inspiring experience.

Ángel's work is energetic and full of Chican@ love.  His words grip the page like tightened fists then explode into a confetti rainfall as your eyes pass them by.  This collection is special to me because I recognize nearly all of the sites this poet recalls, the big aroma, the blasting sun, the wide and infinite fields, and of course, the beautiful people del Valle Imperial.

El Barrio on the North End

On the east side of that barrio was the cemetery,
and on the west the city dump. And fallow fields
or plots of gone-bad onions took up the open space. 

That barrio was enclosed by deep dirt ditches
and dried up concrete canals working a whole lifetime, 

harvesting la perennial pisca de plastico...but also
           the three-year-old’s shoe clinging on to the steep bank,
                        the piece of shirt collar\\\caught on the floodgate blade.

           I remember the war we waged on
the rattlesnake we jumped and skinned and hanged

           on a low tree limb for all to see 
                       how cold-blooded we felt.
A hummingbird thirstily drank from the naked flesh.
ElGato limped over and slashed\\\off the long rattle—
the blood and venom joined the other spots on the sidewalk. 

DonTémoc, el escribano y cuentista, came out with his cane, 
shaking his head as always, and took down the flayed body.

             Two surcos slithered and cut\\\between apartment buildings. 
We played tackle football in the trenches
—sloshing through backwater—
as the older vatos watched on.

They scouted talent amid the muck and grime. 
Y ya traían bronca
             from home school hace un chingo
and they’d argue with fileros or lechugueros in hand; 
ready to protect their reps,
ready to recall all the rage and hate in their hearts 

and pour it down the guts of the twin gutters. 

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