Let me know if you find it, that poem I was thinking about last night (like pigeons flapping, cooing and mating on the air conditioner on the other side of the wall) tired as I went to sleep, knowing that you always forget these wild thoughts drifting off to sleep, but this time I was thinking that I would probably remember, whatever it was (ideas for lines, image-kernels of verse) and then again today, driving away from the Mercado la Paloma Chichen Itza restaurant (after lunch, my cousin taking my mom back to East L.A. as I drove through USC and Pico Union to Koreatown), thinking of the thing again, pieces of verse striking out like arrows, structures of lines, the idea of it I was certain this time I’d remember, as I drove around the block and found side street parking in front of a sidewalk vender in a folding chair (merchandise piled in the dirt, I asked if I was in his way, he wagged his finger back and forth), then I went into the 8th Street Unitarian Church (last time I’d been inside the hall on the side, 25 years ago for a meeting with Sandinista representatives, we stood fists raised to shout, “Venceremos!”) and Linda stood at the church door welcoming people as they entered (Linda is Raul’s daughter, I’ve known her since the 7th or 8th grade; she’s an artist; I hugged her and said, “he was a great guy,” and she thanked me for coming); she was down with family in the first pews in front by the time I entered and sat down with a former supervisor and co-worker from my school who I’d met out front, by chance, because Raul had known so many people, had mentored so many, including my former supervisor and then old Al Cobos, one of the eulogists who spoke at the podium (it turned out, he had hired me for my first teaching job, where we’d worked with Raul in the 1980s and who spoke of that time), the other eulogists laughed and wept, the guitarist in the wheelchair played—by then it was gone, absolutely, completely gone, I couldn’t recall an image or a single word, when we rose and I went to my wife, who’d entered late and sat in the back, and we all went out to the courtyard for the reception.

photo by Arturo Romo-Santillano

photo by Arturo Romo-Santillano

self-portrait by Raul Arreola

self-portrait by Raul Arreola

 

In the early years, before he became a lifelong activist on behalf of education reform in the Chicano community.

In the early years, before he became a lifelong activist on behalf of education reform in the Chicano community.

 

Advertisements