Friday, February 15, 2008

Riley on Raúl

gray grease

for raúlrsalinas

salinas slides
gray grease
against the groove
the hard
roots rock
he walks
a moment
crystal city clear
still bringing
jazz and jams again

lingua franca
in a dice shoot
dipping days
salinas cool
viejito haze
’mano may raise
in riffs

he started breathing in san anto
brought it blessed in san anto
in the bop unbroken
guadalupe sunday
growing largo
dealing su descarga
and the smoke is in the air
like a mingus moon

when they sing the sad corridos
do they also sing for you?
above the freeways passing over
and the sometimes quiet corners
we demeaned
by quarantine
the en masse
gente de masa

tired because
is next to joblessness
and talking
the fruition of dead president cutbacks

tired because
double barrels
aim down broadway
emblematic of
blue clad predators

tired because
life does not
flash before the eyes
of hard rock vatos
green back mambos
celebrating every day
as día de los muertos

now die, just die
no requiems
no peace in campo santo lies
no real magic mantra may revive
not common
sense of the shaman
distant drum songs keeping time
we’re running blind
holding bandanas
and bullets
and borderlines

we seek
we climb
we only find
the gristle and gray smoke sage
trencitas in the ancient way
burning down a desert stage
the migrant phrases
each by each
the whole of soul
frozen on an empty afternoon

by Tomás Riley

from mahcic: selected poems (Calaca Press, 2005)


Thanks to Tomás for permission to post his poem here. Thanks to Rich for posting it at CON TINTA where I saw it earlier today. The sense I get is that this poem is making the rounds.

"It was always a tribute to the life and spirit I felt upon meeting Raúl for the first time in'97 when he smudged us with sage to protect us during our attempt to take over the Alamo the next day. It was a major moment for all of us."

Tomás Riley
15 July 2008

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