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Posts Tagged ‘Small Fires’

The recent busyness of my move back to Oregon have delayed my sharing a number of recent online publications.

First up is the latest issue of Failed Haiku which features four of my senryu as well as illuminating work by Alexis Rotella, Lori A. Minor, Chen-ou Liu, and Terri L. French. Check out the issue here!

Special thanks to Mike Rehling for including my work and fostering such a great community of artists!

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Next up is my poem “Depredadores en sombra” featured as part of Círculo de Poesía’s project #POESÍACONTRAELMURO / #POETRYVSTHEWALL / #POÉSIEVSMUR: POETAS DEL MUNDO, CUARTA PARTE.

I’m proud to have my first published poem in Spanish be part of this important project.

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Lastly, I am happy to announce that I have signed on to be a regular reviewer for The Bind, a review site devoted to presenting creative reviews of poetry books by women and nonbinary authors.

Here is my review of Debora Kuan’s Lunch Portraits (Brooklyn Arts Press).

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20170514_174144-1And lastly, just a quick reminder that my new book of poems, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press), is available for purchase!

This collection features my poem “Alien” originally published in Crab Creek Review.

See you Friday!

José

 

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maps coverIn my microreview & interview of Roberto Carcache Flores’ A Condensation of Maps, I noted how Flores has a knack for working up images that connect on both a conceptual and emotional level. In this week’s poem, “Friends in Rio Sapo,” we see the gradual build up of details and images culminate in a moment of quiet revelation.

The title sets up a moment of connection along “Toad River,” a phrase which is engaged immediately through the image of “passing clouds” looking “like white lily pads / in a heated / swimming pool.” This latter detail is jolting, as it implies a human element amidst an otherwise nature-focused poem. This jarring moment, however, serves to push the reader closer into the other details. As we move from cliff, albatross, mango groves, and stray dogs, just who the “friends” of the title are become apparent.

This coming together of elements continues in the second stanza as the speaker’s communion with Rio Sapo mirrors the arrival of “stray dogs.” At its heart, this poem reveals such communion as one of its gifts. I say gifts because of the third stanza’s subtle tumbling of details. Line by line, the third stanza evokes in words a similar spell as cast by what it describes. Between the sounds (undress, night’s, silence, innocence on one end; croaks, bank on the other) and the imagery presented, this last stanza reveals not the speaker’s thought but their experience before the reader.

Rio_Sapo

Friends in Rio Sapo – Roberto Carcache Flores

The passing clouds
are reflected on
the water’s surface,
like white lily pads
in a heated
swimming pool,
my feet feel
the rocky cliff’s
sharpness,
an albatross
glides through
surrounding
mango groves.

The opening
of a tuna can
and a bag of raisins
gathers some
stray dogs
around me,
their noses
grown tired
of corn meal
and the occasional
drum stick.

The frogs
begin to undress
the night’s
silence
with the
innocence
of their
early croaks,
all along
the moonlit
river bank.

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20170514_174144-1I’m also happy to share that I have received my copies of my new book Small Fires (FutureCycle Press)!

If you’re interested in purchasing a signed copy, feel free to email me at: thefridayinfluence@gmail.com

Copies can also be purchased from Amazon and FutureCycle Press!

This collection includes my poem “El Rio” originally published in Crab Creek Review.

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Happy rioing!

José

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Happy to report that things are moving along with the, uhm, move to McMinnville. We’re situated in a new home and are piecing together who we are from what we have been — which is to say that all our stuff is here, but not fully organized.

Zenith_pocket_watch_insideAs time has been slipping past me during this move, I thought it only suiting to share this week’s poem by Charles Simic. I continue to admire Simic’s knack for images that read with a riddle-like thrill. The subtlety with which one image suggests the next, until we’re left at the “lip” of the poem’s ending is the work of imaginative intuition. Both poet and reader listen with the same “ear” throughout.

Watch Repair – Charles Simic

A small wheel
Incandescent,
Shivering like
A pinned butterfly.

Hands thrown up
In all directions:
The crossroads
One arrives at
In a nightmare.

Higher than that
Number 12 presides
Like a beekeeper
Over the swarming honeycomb
Of the open watch.

Other wheels
That could fit
Inside a raindrop.

Tools
That must be splinters
Of arctic starlight.

Tiny golden mills
Grinding invisible
Coffee beans.

When the coffee’s boiling
Cautiously,
So it doesn’t burn us,
We raise it
To the lips
Of the nearest
Ear.

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Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2A quick note of thanks for those of you who have helped welcome my new book, Small Firesinto the world. Copies can still be found via FutureCycle Press and Amazon. I’m really proud of this collection!

Happy earing!

José

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Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2This week brought the release of my new poetry collection, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press), which includes the poem “Cazar Means to Hunt Not to Marry” originally published in december magazine. This particular poems travels through a series of memories on the back of two words that sound the same but are spelled different. Language as an experience beyond us acting within us, that’s where I try to go in poems.

I see memory working in a similar way as this in this week’s poem “Rain” by Claribel Alegría. Memory wends its way through rain and stones, until it overwhelms the speaker. By the end, memory becomes a means, something happening within the speaker through which they can love the world “without knowing why.”

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Rain – Claribel Alegria
Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It’s as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
Streaming
streaming chaotically
come memories:
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
of ghosts.
They sat beside me
the ghosts
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
world
a voracious
world–abyss
ambush
whirlwind
spur
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning,
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.

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Happy raining!

José

P.S. Copies of Small Fires can be purchased from Amazon and FutureCycle Press.

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Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2

I’m happy to announce the release of my new book of poetry, Small Fires, available now from FutureCycle Press and Amazon!!!

This collection includes my poem “Blade” which won an Academy of American Poets Graduate Poetry Prize selected by Carl Phillips.

Be sure to check out the book and stay tuned for the availability of signed copies later in the month. Also, let me know if you are interested in a review copy.

Special thanks to Diane Kistner and the good folks at FutureCycle Press for giving this project a home! Thanks also to Andrea Schreiber for the cover artwork.

More news to come later this week!

José

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A few big changes have happened in my life that I am barely catching up on enough to relate here. The first is that I have happily accepted an Assistant Professor position at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. I am really excited to be joining a stellar faculty at an institution known for cultivating a great intellectual and creative atmosphere. I am also excited to be back in Oregon, with its supportive and vibrant poetry community, bookstores, coffee (OMG, coffee!), and proximity to family.

What this big turn also means is that we’ve had to leave Cincinnati sooner than expected. The past few weeks have had us cleaning and packing and cleaning again, until we landed in Oregon last week. Hence, the catching up (with consequent catching of breath).

Along with all the moving work, I have also been working with FutureCycle Press and placing the final touches on Small Fires, which is due out next week. More details to come.

Big moves like this one always take me back to this week’s poem by Richard Tillinghast. Tillinghast’s meditative lyric hooks into the symbol of “big doors” and deftly begins to weave various narratives of “Many things never to be seen again!” The energy and clarity of this particular line does the work of bringing the reader closer to the poem, the speaker seeming to be on the level of awed gossip as they relate the rich details and images that follow. As the poem ends, the reader themselves has been on a ride, ruminating alongside the speaker, and, like them, knowing both a bit of what has passed and that there remains so much more they cannot know.

church-doors

Big Doors – Richard Tillinghast**

I have seen with my own eyes doors so massive,
two men would have been required
to push open just one of them.
Bronze, grating over stone sills, or made of wood
from trees now nearly extinct.

Many things never to be seen again!
The fury of cavalry attacking at full gallop.
Little clouds of steam rising
from horse droppings
on most of the world’s streets once.

Rooms amber with lamplight
perched above those streets.
Pilgrimage routes smoky with torchlight
from barony to principality through forests
which stood as a dark uncut authority.

A story that begins “Once upon a time.”
Messengers, brigands, heralds
in a world unmapped from village to village.
Legends and dark misinformation,
graveyards crowded with ghosts.

And when the rider from that story at last arrives,
gates open at midnight to receive him,
two men, two men we will never know,
lean into the effort of
pushing open each big door.

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Happy dooring!

José

P.S. The Influence is now considering poetry submissions. Check out the “submissions” tab to learn more.

**This poem is from The New Life (Copper Beech Press, 2008).

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1605831838_351eab12ed_bAs the release date of my next poetry collection, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press), approaches, I want to quickly revisit one of the key poems from my book Everything We Think We Hear (Floricanto Press).

Below is the piece “Spiderman Hitches a Ride” along with a short essay about the origins of the piece. The short essay was originally written for the Tahoma Literary Review blog when this piece was published in issue 5.

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Spiderman Hitches a Ride – José Angel Araguz

My mother compares me to Spiderman, and for a second I like it.

I mean, it’s what I’ve always wanted: to be viewed in the glory of courage and costume; to be super tough and just, a city like a little brother needing me to battle bullies and take back lunch money, a villain defining me by default as a hero, his crooked eyebrows and overheated plans carnival mirror to my calm and valiant stance; to push out of paper bag clothes; to leave my shoes untied, their mouths open in awe; to slip on the muscles and dreams of tomorrow’s headlines; to leave a woman breathless, with a single kiss amazed, her heart pounding at the thought of being in love with a man – in tights – who leaves her without a name or number with which to follow him into the fire.

He is like me, my mother says, because he too wants to do good things for people, but he gets beat up, can’t find a job and his girl ends up dating someone else. He saves people’s lives but is always flaco y vago, vagabond skinny with luck and life.

Is this what it meant for her when at seventeen I boarded a plane and soared out of this city, where if she couldn’t see into my head she could at least put a roof over it. Those years I disappeared into the phone, and was ok in Santa Fe, ok in San Diego, ok in New York but still short and small in words.

M’ijo, no te preocupes, don’t worry. She smiles, then slips off her seatbelt to reach over and wrap an arm around my neck, the other dropping a twenty into my lap. The green paper is wrinkled in waves that shudder and blur as I blink fast, trying once again to be heroic.

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On “Spiderman Hitches a Ride”
originally published in Tahoma Literary Review issue 5)

This piece is part of my collection, Everything We Think We Hear (Floricanto Press), whose pieces deal primarily with what it meant for me to grow up in and out of South Texas.

The first draft of “Spiderman” was written during the summer of 2004 during which I lived in a house that had no electricity. The house belonged to a dear friend of mine who offered me a place to stay when he heard I was coming back to my hometown, Corpus Christi. “There’s no electricity,” he warned, “but you’ll have plenty of room to sit and write.” Having no job prospects that summer, I happily took him up on it.

Without a job, there was plenty of time to write as well. I spent most days that summer selling my personal library one sad stack at a time at a used bookstore and using the few dollars raised from that to buy coffee. I would take over a table at a café and write and write and write. At night, I would make my way over to the dollar movies and watch just about anything just to be in the air conditioned theater. Corpus Christi summers stay in the high 90s, low 100s, on average, with the nights carrying the heat via humidity.

That summer, I watched a lot of bad movies, keeping my notebook open on my lap and my pen to paper. I blame that summer for the fondness that remains for the train wreck of a movie, Troy, lines from which still come to me when thinking about the Iliad. Similarly, I must’ve watched Spiderman 2 close to a hundred times. Writing in the dark of the theater felt like dreaming; the various narratives and worlds around me began to blur. Peter Parker’s bumbling yet charming bad luck never felt too far off from my own. And while I may never have saved a city from destruction, only myself (barely), you never saw Peter open a letter from Sallie Mae and keep down his lunch.

Going back and forth in (anti)heroic comparisons at night kept me writing at a time when each day I woke to the reality of being young, college-educated, and broke. Broken, too, my ego, my sense of self and of the future. Only poetry braced me; and only family buoyed me.

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See you Friday!

José

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