Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Elizabeth Perdomo’

Mexican Bags (Bolsas del Mercado) by Elizabeth Perdomo

 

 “Las fronteras con un puente pero dos caminos muy distintos!” – Local Frontera “Diche” 

 

Mexican bags,
mesh bolsas del mercado,
bright dye colors woven in plaids,
stripes, solids, poly-mesh
strong, flexible handles,
pliable
as liquid borders
which flow beneath their feet,
travel both ways,
convey dark haired
Tias, hermanas,
grey-haired abuelitas,
drag
large bags,
an entire life
could fit inside.
Bolsas carted on buses,
lugged across long bridges
border paths moving both ways,
long roads convey human cargo,
carry strong blood longings,
cross Rio Grande shores,
Frontera del Norte, with
famila on both sides,
family long ago
gone.
Memory
stuffed bolsas
hold special sweets,
dulces para los niños,
rancho grown
chiles seco, raised
in el jardín del rancho,
handmade tamales, still warm,
wrapped with love, held
safe within hand-
embroidered
towels.
Time
& visa terms
bring each face back
to old roads, the hard life
choices, return to border bridges,
return beloved dark-eyed
Abuelas, hermanas,
Padres, Tias,
who cross back into
ancient homelands,
travel towards
warmer Spanish tongues,
español, & familiar
rancho soil which
still runs deep as hand-
dug wells,
deep as river blood.
Boundaries flow; changeable,
alter with claims, time,
flow free as agua
& tears.
Hearts will
always weep caliente when
they leave la familia preciosa,
across El Rio Bravo,
Sur del Frontera,
with bright plaid bags
clutched as tight abrazos,
embraced on buses,
la lineas panamericas,
lug bold stripped bolsas
across long, hot bridges,
puentes y caminos,
colorful bags,
each loaded heavy
with hard goodbyes,
liquid borders running
just beneath their
feet.

 

Background:  Mexican Bags – Bolsas del Mercado – was inspired by waiting for my husband’s return from Mexico at the international bus station in McAllen.  While awaiting his arrival, I had the opportunity to watch people both come – and go – on the local and Mexican bus lines.

 

Elizabeth Perdomo, born in Emporia, Kansas, raised in Winfield, has written poetry since a teen. One Turn of Seasons includes her poetry and another’s photography. Recently, her poems appeared in Kansas Time + Place, Interstice and The Chachalaca Review. Perdomo now lives in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. He was President of the Kansas Authors Club 2016-2017. His latest book of poetry, Stage Whispers (Meadowlark-Books, 2019), contains “…handsomely crafted poems…Dense with images, intimate and honest…” (Kathryn Kysar). His chapbook, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) comprises ekphrastic poems inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels. His first poetry collection, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014), was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016.

 

 

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Crossroads — By Elizabeth Perdomo

We drive past

old poetry, crossroads

with well-worn treads, old ruts

cut through vast thorn-brush regions.

Ranchlands with broken fences

hold things I dont begin

to understand; home

for creatures who I can

only vaguely name,

like some

large unidentified hawk

now perched high upon a canopy

of old electric wire posts,

nor can I ever know

why fast growing

tepeguaje

is so prone to shed

large branches in fierce

windborn storms.

We pass signs,

discarded clothing,

torn shreds that blow as tattered flags

surrendered upon barbed wire

fencelines, within this

gust of wind-made sandsheet,

caliche & scarce water,

where dark wing shadows

crisscross roadways,

seek morning feasts left behind

from last nights carnage.

Ancient home of sharp thorns,

of los ebanos & granjeno,

where hidden dangers rattle

dry gourd warnings, where perils

abound in glancing edges. Abandoned

on nocturnal coyote crossings,

hide faces we glimpse but

do not know,

nor do we claim.

Caminos del desierto, which

lead the ill prepared through unknown

places, remain a last

desperate option for unnamed

strangers, who as farolitos

wander until freedom

becomes but a heat mirage;

a hope extinguished,

another name

forever vanished

in a land of dry bones

scattered upon parched red earth

as sun bleached mesquite beans

found hidden beneath some

shimmering August

afternoon.

~ Elizabeth Perdomo

Introduction/Background: Crossroads, first published in Interstice,began during a long drive back to the Rio Grande Valley from a visit to South Carolina. About a month prior to this road trip, Perdomo read, The Sand Sheet,written by local South Texas author and naturalist, Mr. Arturo Longoria. On the long road homeward, she drove along the edge of the Sand Sheet in Brooks County, Texas. Although she had driven that route many times before, she was able to see and observe things in a different light, and with much greater understanding of the complex life, habitat interactions, and sometimes, the deaths which occur in this harsh, beautiful land.

Elizabeth Perdomo, born in Emporia, Kansas, raised in Winfield, has written poetry since a teen. “One Turn of Seasons,” includes her poetry and another’s photography. Recently, her poems appeared in “Kansas Time + Place,” “Interstice” and “The Chachalaca Review.” Perdomo now lives in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Matthew David Manning holds degrees in creative writing from Arizona State University and Pittsburg State University. His poetry has appeared various publications including I-70 Review, Red Paint Hill, Rust + Moth, Kansas Time + Place, and Chiron Review. He recently became a father and has been enjoying his transition into high school education at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, KS.

Editor’s response to this poem: What stood out to me the most in this poem was how busy all the objects were. They all have jobs, and the poet seemed to always be unintentionally getting in their way. Like the poet, I too have questions for the ranchlands, but maybe I’m too proud to ask.

Kansas Creeks by Elizabeth Perdomo

A creek flows through me,

Down my arms & right

Out my muddy, wet

Fingertips…

Pulsing warm as blood,

Like the memory of song.

I proclaim my firm premise:

Every child, at some point in youth,

Should befriend or be

Befriended by

A creek.

My own former playmate

Still runs in Kansas; shallow,

Stoney & slow…

It curved playfully

Behind the pink-sided rental

Where we lived when I was but

5 years old.

It was there that I first studied

Aquaculture with diligent

Intensity & full

Wonder.

Learning habitats

Of crawdads, turtles & snails;

Observing lifecycles

Of frogs & toads

…from egg to tadpole

To gone…

The creek was alive.

Moss green covered stones

Sprinkled with small freshwater shellfish,

Stirred by outstretched strider bugs

& darting dragonflies.

Brilliant sun flashed

Backs from countless minnows,

Brushed bare toes, half sunk

In rich, slimy mud.

The creek called to me daily,

& I could not resist.

This creek,

Which once curved

My childhood afternoons,

Still remains in my

Bloodstream.

Now, my own daughters

Need a creek to live

Inside them

As friend & teacher

& a venue for few innocent

Crimes,

Offering

Them permission to explore

A world I can no longer

Easy enter,

& time to experience

Innocence which I can now

Scarcely envision.

They need a creek:

Flowing through their minds,

Down their arms & right

Out their muddy, wet

Fingertips.

~ Elizabeth Perdomo

Elizabeth Perdomo has lived and written in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas these past fourteen years, moving to the region from the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Born in Kansas, and raised both there and in Colorado, she has written poetry works since a young teen. Perdomo also lived in the Southeastern USA for a number of years. Her written pieces reflects on local place and culture, ecology and nature, traditions, spirituality and much more.

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, Sport Literate, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013. His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.

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