In this our fourth and final installment of “Feasting on Fetish: A Chorus,”—a collective response to Orlando Ricardo Menes’ collection Fetish (University of Nebraska Press)—
we have two creative responses to two of the book’s poems, respectively.
In the first, Lynda Letona responds to Menes' poem “Maracas of Rain” with an original piece titled “Apocryphal Psalm I” followed by its Spanish companion “Salmo Apócrifo I”—poems that pay homage to/mirror the rhythm and syntax of the original that inspired it.
In the second, Lauren Espinoza, taking her cue from Menes’ poem, “Television, A Patient Teacher,” keeps the title and creates an original work rooted in a tenderly told family story of her own, with a subtly subversive twist.
Apocryphal Psalm I
Grace is your tender
by the cool waters
of our Eden.
To love in secret is
in Purgatory’s Sea,
upon our back,
Penance is your absence,
the wait I endure
before your gaze cuts
my frame. Aroused,
the valley in your back
my red stigmata;
no need to flagellate.
Your bed sheets,
your hair, dark veil
I lose and find myself.
Warm is your breath,
searing your tongue
(lengua rara, ligera,
I bless with my palm.
Our hearts plead
for mercy, synchronous
Salmo apócrifo I
Gracia es tu tierno
sobre las aguas frescas
de nuestro Edén.
Amar en secreto es
en purgatorio mar,
Penitencia es tu ausencia,
la espera que tolero
antes que tu mirada corte
mi figura. Excitado,
el valle de tu espalda
mi estigma roja;
ni necesidad de flagelarse.
tu pelo, oscuro velo
ojos de obsidiana.
Me pierdo y encuentro.
Cálido tu aliento,
quemando tu lengua
(strange tongue, agile,
bendigo con mi palma.
Nuestros corazones ruegan
síncrono de serafín.
Lynda Letona is an MFA student, editor for Notre Dame Review, and collaborator for Letras Latinas at University of Notre Dame. She received her MA in Creative Writing from the University of South Dakota. Her poetry and nonfiction has appeared in Ostrich Review, Liternational, and Hotmetalpress. She is currently working on a collection of poetry titled, House of Dark Writings, exploring the Spanish conquest of the Mayas. Lynda was raised in Guatemala and California. Her special interests include film, theatre, and multicultural literature.
Television, a Patient Teacher
after Orlando Ricardo Menes
Television was the sibling I never had, the extra person at the dinner table.
Murphy Brown complaining on Monday nights and Wings never leaving the hangar
on Thursdays. I remember sitting on the couch with my great-grandmother,
Sabado Gigante blaring at us, waiting for the Chacal to come out and blow his horn
while the contestants tried to sing their way to stardom or (more importantly) win
the car. Sabado Gigante was in Spanish, and although I laughed along with the laugh
track during the appropriate moments, I never understood the jokes.
Holding my hand, she delighted in seeing me laugh as we sat together
those many hours on a Saturday.
Sundays in the afternoons, my dad would play back the VHS recording
of Star Trek: Voyager, him fast forwarding through the commercials,
as we joked that he would be a Klingon if we lived during a Starfleet era.
Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine haunted my imagination, as you could see
everything through their Starfleet uniforms. I didn’t remember paying attention
to this, only being embarrassed for noticing it afterwards. Voyager helped me
understand that even in the future the most pertinent threat is assimilation.
Not a fanciful device that whisked me away to a fantasy world, television is family;
taught me what it means to laugh, to not be ashamed of love, and how to use my words:
instead of the language of escape coerced out when watching
favorite characters every week, what I learned was how to remember.
Lauren Espinoza’s poetry has appeared in Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25, New Border Voices: An Anthology, The Mas Tequila Review, The Acentos Review, and Souvenir. She has poems forthcoming in Raspa, Sinister Wisdom, and Pilgrimage. She is an inaugural member of the Letras Latinas Poets Initiative, the Workshop Assistant for CantoMundo, a Teaching Artist with Badgerdog, and currently a graduate student in the M.F.A. Program in Poetry at Arizona State University.