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In Manhattan for a week, hurrying up 5th Avenue in the drizzle past the Empire State Building, its facade darkened by scaffolding jutting out over the sidewalk jammed with tourists, hawkers vending tickets for sightseeing tours, buses, lines of people, I hurried uptown, stepping out into the summer shower now and then to make headway against the crowds, at 34th looking around to get my bearings—I don’t remember where we were headed—someone said they heard my name called out as I rushed up the street, but looking up and down 5th Avenue only the throng of passersby, umbrellas and raincoats, milling at the light or turning the corner.

At dusk, the BMW collision and body repair shop is a closed white box, an acre of Beamers faint gleaming, passing traffic refracted a little in showroom plate glass. After the economic collapse in 2008, they couldn’t sell the building; under a for sale sign for years—an empty white box. Then it filled with a random assortment of vehicles, sedans, sports cars—(all rented), a bright “used cars” sign was installed near the gate—then it was a fiction. That spring and into the summer it was a set for a movie, filming a movie that turned into pure shit called “The Goods,” but at least it was part of some other story.

4.7 miles the signs say to Inspiration Point past the ruins of the “white city” in the fog, past two trails to the Mount Wilson Toll Road, into clouds swirling about Castle Canyon, other hikers are Chinese, Chicanos, Filipinos, white folks (Europeans too?), Koreans (of course, not so many in the mist), we ascend huffing and puffing—I’ve been sitting around with too much paperwork, “story of my life”—through still beautiful forest and rocky cliff slopes, Coulter Pines and oaks, the slopes smell dry, even though the trees are dripping and shower us with droplets when we brush low hanging branches, the brush releases the smell of dryness, end-of-summer, the poison oak has dropped its leaves and gone dormant, the rabbitbrush is dry and gray, grasses dry yellow stalks, the yuccas have bloomed and died, the tall spikes of the stalks are blonde and dead, black seeds scattered on the trail, flowering parts of all the plants are dessicated and brown, the wiry buckwheat everywhere is rusty red, the central stalks gone violet, the whole outward facing slope of the range releasing the smell of summer’s end. Voices come off the trail now and then, out of the fog that floats and swirls, as if rocky cliff faces of the mountains expand and contract like the heart, but it’s just clouds moving by, as we descend.

The Many Heres

By Carribean Fragoza (from Valley of Smokes)

I am from here
Where the young boys, will continue to run shirtless in their front yards, bare limbs shining in the sun, through streams of a spouting water hose. Young men, almost still boys themselves will always be endowed the duty of squirting the little boys with the hose, chasing one, or the other with the pressurized stream. Playing, disciplining.
Don’t push.
Squirt squirt squirt.
Green grass, the blue plastic pool, the low chain link fence. No need for privacy. If you’re around here, you must know us. Nothing special or extraordinary to see. Simply its summer, it is hot, the sky is blue, the grass is bright, the brown skinny bodies are jumping, black heads darting.

I am from here
Where the grandfathers will continue to smooth their mustaches over the chromed bumpers.
The women laughing in the living room, denim shorts, legs crossed, soft arms ready to dance, ready to pick up, come on comadre, lets go. Cars are for going someplace. Not just for rubbing into a shine, not just for watching your mustaches grow. Cars are for going to the beach, the ferris wheel, for once on the Santa Monica pier, at least a damn churro. Let’s go to the ocean, not just the lake. Let’s get a breeze, listen to the waves, not just the freeway.

I am from here
Where I lift my eyes and I can see far. It is flat here, standing on the valley floor. I can see, for today, the heat has burned off all the clouds, even the smoke has been broken up, sent scattering somewhere else, maybe Vegas where I never want to go again. I see today and many days the mountains that make me want to say, I’m from here. From here to where my eyes can see is my place, I don’t care who lives there now. I can look out there and say this is mine because I can see as far as my own mother, my grandmother and her mother before that. And when we all lift our eyes over the strawberry beds or the flower garden, we have all seen the mountains. That makes us all say, here, I belong here.

And I am from here
Where there is a tall hill green with water and deer dung and the bodies of many deceased and interred and there is so much more. There is more land that has grown other things, other flowers, other nuts and berries, along the river south much tall cane. The horses have danced that way. The cacti have flowered, have burst many sweet seeded fruits like the stars. The waters have flowed from here, down and down and many people have come and settled. From the east, from the south, we have formed new roots in new shapes, new patterns and designs and they have learned to sing new songs, and speak with new lilt, and walk with a new dip. The sun changes down here, depending on the design and which way the glass panes, reflects the water’s sun. The water pushes down and the light pushes down.

And I am from here
And somehow, if I keep pushing down beyond the water I will again find something that is mine. Something like a beat to the heart of the earth that will say, “here.” and there will be a pulse and it will say “here,” I will know how this is here, but it will say here here here here here and will not let up. From here and from here. I will know I am from many heres.
I will feel wounds, some parts will start bleeding, I will not understand. I will weep for dead I’ve never met, although their brown ashy faces will also say here here here already making their way back down into the earth.

Carribean Fragoza

Carribean Fragoza, raised in South El Monte, California, currently lives, works, and writes in Los Angeles. She holds degrees from UCLA and California Institute of the Arts and teaches at California State University, Long Beach. Carribean is currently working on her first book, The Legend of South El Monte Zombie: And Other Stories of Lust and Longing.

see also the South El Monte Arts Posse:


see also the website

raúlrsalinas… ¡PRESENTE!
March 17, 1934- February 13, 2008

raúlrsalinas, the author of the seminal Chicano experience poem, Un Trip Through the Mind Jail, was not only an accomplished poet but a dedicated community activist who gained a political consciousness while serving approximately 13 years inside some of Americas most notorious prisons (Huntsville, Soledad, and Leavenworth among others). While in prison at Marion he was befriended by Puerto Rican Nationalist Rafael Cancel Miranda (famed for an armed assault on congress on March 1, 1954 with fellow Nationalists including Lolita Lebron). Sr. Miranda was a major influence on raul’s lifework. Imprisoned during the early Chicano Movement years he was active in the prison rights struggles of that time. His book, raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon is My Pen: Selected Writings by raúlrsalinas (edited by protégé Louis G. Mendoza) highlights his struggles and victories inside America’s prison system. Including winning a landmark prison rights case.

After his release from prison in 1973 he dedicated his life to Chicano and Native American causes. He was a member of the Centro de la Raza in Seattle, the American Indian Movement, a co-founder of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee and various other progressive organizations dedicated to defending the rights and interests of all working class and colonized people. A true internationalist he was committed to supporting Puerto Rican independence (as well as ending the bombing on Vieques), the Cuban Revolution, The Nicaraguan Sandinistas, the Zapatistas in Chiapas and the Bolivarian Process of Presidente Hugo Chavez Frias of Venezuela among many other internationalist struggles.

After serving many years of forced exile in Washington state (where he helped defend Native American fishing rights), he eventually returned to his home in Austin, TX. Shortly thereafter he opened Resistencia Bookstore and Red Salmon Arts which became a cultural and political hub for East Austins Chicano community.




raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine
My Weapon Is My Pen

Selected writings by Raúl R. Salinas
Edited by Louis G. Mendoza


Raúl R. Salinas is regarded as one of today’s most important Chicano poets and human rights activists, but his passage to this place of distinction took him through four of the most brutal prisons in the country. His singular journey from individual alienation to rage to political resistance reflected the social movements occurring inside and outside of prison, making his story both personal and universal.

This groundbreaking collection of Salinas’ journalism and personal correspondence from his years of incarceration and following his release provides a unique perspective into his spiritual, intellectual, and political metamorphosis. The book also offers an insider’s view of the prison rebellion movement and its relation to the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The numerous letters between Salinas and his family, friends, and potential allies illustrate his burgeoning political awareness of the cause and conditions of his and his comrades’ incarceration and their link to the larger political and historical web of social relations between dominant and subaltern groups. These collected pieces, as well as two interviews with Salinas—one conducted upon his release from prison in 1972, the second more than two decades later—reveal to readers the transformation of Salinas from a street hipster to a man seeking to be a part of something larger than himself. Louis Mendoza has painstakingly compiled a body of work that is autobiographical, politically insurgent, and representative.


“Sam Jones, Grant Green’s Oleo Sessions”

When she said my laptop was not on the table, I knew I’d left it somewhere at work, I drove fast to work through wet night streets missing my kids, I miss my kids like hot sweet curried cauliflower, like tart kale braised with garlic, I miss my kids like steam going through the kitchen, gone like late afternoon light far down long avenues, traffic shifting, like light flashing across corrugations of mountains at dawn, like the half-burnt small of fresh coffee, miss my kids—

—to Lisa and Andy

“Blue Mitchell and Chick Corea, Blue Mitchell’s The Thing to Do Session”

I drove really fast back to work to grab my laptop she mentioned I’d forgot it, while missing my kids like the creamy hot potatoes au gratin that I can’t eat, like the pungent salty blood sausage I never eat swimming in some imaginable soup with greens or mushrooms, passing vehicles on Huntington Drive at 50 mph, working too much makes me stupider and I’m probably working too much, I’m missing my kids like cream white yucca blossoms on a stalk in full sun, like the crisp black yucca seeds scattered by stiff wind from a stalk dessicated and black, hurrying over the viaduct through El Sereno hills, missing my kids like fresh-baked bread smell floats yeasty through a warm room, like footsteps slip through a house—

—to Hannah and Dave

“Ornette Coleman, The Empty Foxhole Session”

Knew I’d left it at work, the building empty but hallways fully lit and shining, driving through dark wet streets of night, miss my kids, missing them like somebody’s half-remembered bread smell in a faraway room, my vehicle hurtling through El Sereno hills hanging over the streetlamps, the old streetcar viaduct that’s already slated for demolition, I’m flying over it, missing my kids like the smell of a wet dog entering a room, like the siren of an unseen ambulance slipping and dodging rush hour traffic—but the streets are quiet, I miss my kids—

—to Umeko

photos by Francis Wolff

Some mornings my co-worker limps in late; I was told scans reveal new spots on his lungs. When I park in front of the blue house on the hillside, the car door slams and the dog barks in back.

Some mornings my co-worker limps in late; I was told scans reveal new spots on his lungs. When I park in front of the empty house on the hillside, the car door slams and the dog barks in back.

Some mornings my co-worker limps in late; I was told scans reveal new spots on his lungs. When I park in front of the fossil-like house on the hillside, the car door slams and the dog barks in back.


one day the broken eye was looking for pants to wear in the desert, the red dog, the great herd of windy machines singing an oil song sounded like smoke to a fish, “good morning,” said the broken eye to the red desert, “Good morning to you,” said the red desert with lime and blue spots, shifting and receding in the glare, which direction did the pants go in 1949? “that way,” said the ocotillo—

—for Eetalah


one day, the broken eye looked everywhere in the red desert for a pair of pants to wear on the radio getting all fussy and out of breath, “you don’t need pants to go on the radio,” said the red dog which was running around and round the ocotillo bush with its tips of flame, with its tips of joy and fish, with its tips of lizard eyes and bright eyes—“thanks for the tip, I have the habit of pants, good morning,” said the broken eye—

—for Citlali


one day, the broken eye was looking through the torn pair of pants and saw the red desert on the radio waves, sounding like the song of machines in the dirt fish, “I want to wear smoke this morning,” said the broken eye to the ocotillo, “I rode my toothbrush all the way here now I am out of oil,” as long as there was chorizo grease all over my face and all over the red desert, okay—

—for Marina

Friendly fire likely was to blame in a shooting near the Arizona-Mexico line that killed one federal agent and wounded another

apparently opened fire first and wounded one of the other agents but was killed in the return fire.

“I don’t know what it was he saw or heard that triggered this whole event,” McCubbin said. “Unfortunately it resulted in his death and another agent injured.”

Authorities said a plainclothes agent shot 32-year-old Valeria Alvarado after she rammed him with her car Friday

“Without her even able to say a word — I didn’t hear anything — [he] just came across and just shot at the windshield many times,” Gullbeau said.

Eight people have been killed along the border in the past two years. One man died a short time after being beaten and tased, an event recorded by two eyewitnesses

Sunday two men were killed while travel with over a dozen migrants in Arizona by armed men “camouflage.”

Four police officers, including the president of the local police union, were arrested by the FBI on Tuesday on charges that they assaulted illegal immigrants and created false reports to cover up abuses

Güereca, who was allegedly throwing rocks toward Border Patrol agents, was standing on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border when U.S. Border Patrol Agents opened fire on Güereca and a group of teenagers on June 7, 2010. Güereca was shot twice, once fatally in the head. His body was left lying under the Paseo del Norte Bridge in the Territory of Mexico.

Mesa took one of them into custody and pulled out his firearm and shot Güereca twice when he was pelted with rocks.

A confrontation between federal law enforcement agents erupted in gunfire Thursday evening in Long Beach, leaving one dead and another seriously injured, authorities said.

The shooting in the Glenn M. Anderson Federal Building in Long Beach reportedly involved a dispute between an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent and his supervisor. The agent shot his boss and then was killed by another agent.

Mornings, sometimes my co-worker is limping in late; I was told scans reveal new spots on his lungs. When I park in front of the quiet house on the hillside, the car door slams and the dog barks in back.

Mornings, sometimes my co-worker is limping in late; I was told scans reveal new spots on his lungs. When I park in front of the unsleeping house on the hillside, the car door slams and the dog barks in back.


October 2012