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Poetry Series Oscar Mireles - poems - Publication Date: 2007 Publisher: Poemhunter.com - The World's Poetry Archive

Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

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Page 1: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

Poetry Series

Oscar Mireles- poems -

Publication Date: 2007

Publisher:Poemhunter.com - The World's Poetry Archive

Page 2: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is theeditor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't know there were Latinos in Wisconsin: 20Hispanic Poets' (Focus Communications,1989) and 'I didn't know there wereLatinos in Wisconsin: 30 Hispanic Writers' (Focus Communications,1999) . Heproduced a chapbook titled 'Second Generation' (Focus Communications,1985) .He has had over 50 poems published in anthologies and magazines includingGathering Place of the Waters: 30 Milwaukee Poets (1983) Revista Chicano-Riquena 'Hispanic Literature in Wisconsin' (1985) , Visions and Voices againstApartheid (1987) Viatzlan, A journal of Arts and Letters (1992) , Dreams andSecrets, Woodland Pattern (1998) , Alt. Literature 2003. He has received grants for his writing activities from the Wisconsin Arts Board,Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, Wisconsin Humanities Committee,Wisconsin 150th Sesquiscentennial Commission, Madison Civic Center Foundationand Wisconsin Center for the Book. He received a fellowship to spend a month atthe Vermont Studio Center, an artist colony. Oscar Mireles has done numerous readings at the following institutions: DetroitInstitute of Arts, Detroit, MI., Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, Il., The Loft,Minneapolis, MN., Chicago Cultural Center, La Raza Bookstore, Sacramento, CA.,Wisconsin Book Festival, Madison, WI., National Association for Chicano Studies,Ypsilanti, MI., University of California, Riverside, Riverside CA., CanterburyBookstore, Madison, WI and Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee, WI. Oscar Mireles has received numerous awards for his community service andactivism. He was selected as one of the '10 Who Make a Difference' by theWisconsin State Journal in 2002. He was featured on 'Know your Madisonian' in1998 by the Wisconsin State Journal. He was nominated as '89 People to Know in1989 ' according to Milwaukee Magazine. He was selected as the FutureMilwaukee Alumni of the Year in 1988, and 'Wisconsin Hispanic Man of the Year'by the United Migrant Opportunity Service (UMOS) in 1988. He is currently an artist member of the Minds Eye Radio collective, whichproduces a monthly radio show of spoken word poetry on WORT radio. Oscar Mireles is currently Principal/Executive Director of Omega School, analternative school in Madison, Wisconsin and has assisted over 1500 youngadults prepare for and complete their GED Diploma in the past decade. He is thefather of four children, Diego Jesus, Sergio Andres, Lorena Pilar and Javier Oscar.

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Page 3: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

A “z” Is More Then The Last Letter Of The Alphabet… My father proudly showed mehis new birth certificatethat had our last name Mirelesspelled with a “z”instead of “s’Mirelez He said that my grandfather couldn’t writeat the timeand the young doctor thoughthe said “s”Miiiiii….relllll….ssssssswhen he sounded it outand that’s how it was changed is it really that much of a differenceI wondered?would my ancestorshave approved of it?…would they have even noticed? A “z: is very defiant, sharp and bold….while an “s” is smooth, curvy and soft… I guess the best answerto my dilemmacould be found on an old television showwhere a masked manwith noble Spanish bloodused a slashing swordto leave his markon the world Oscar Mireles

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Page 4: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

Assassination Day In the seventh grade in 1968,playing football on the school playgroundI heard thatMartin Luther King Jr.had been assassinated, Some kids cried,other students didn’t know what to feelI felt a little sad. I headed up to the third floor classroomfor my fourth period classat Washington Junior High School,I realized I had to step it up a bitcause I was running late... As I turned the corner andshot up the final set of stairsI saw an unfamiliar black face standing...at the top of the stairwellwith his eyes swingingas wildly as both his armsscreamingand hitting peopleas they walked up the steps I was about to turn aroundwhen I realizedthat I did not have enough time to goaround the second floor detourwithout being late...again I continued to march up those thirteen stepsI could see some studentsbegin to shift their whole bodies slightly to the left

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leading with their right shoulderas if tryingto provide a targetfor the attackerto aim forbesides their face Other students decided to take the hithead on...directly in the middle of their chest,their pummeled bodies flyingas if hit by the thick forceof water from a fire hydrant I could hear him screaming“they killed him,you killed him,they killed him” As I took anothercautious step forwardI took a quick peek at his face, I knew everyone in the schooland I confirmed to myself,that he was not a studentbut before my eyes left his faceI made a startling discoveryI saw a tear appear on his cheek... he was crying... he was cryingbut kept punchingand swingingnot one of the students said anythingwhen they got hit,they just released a “umph”almost being carefulnot to let out a soundto warn other students

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And the students held intheir tears tooclutched in between theirclenched prayer fistshands into fingers At this pointI realizedthis personwho had terrorized our schoolarmed only with his lightning fast fistswas crying,screamingand hittingthe world around himin a whirlwind of emotionthat was raining upon all the studentsin that stairwell and I was next upfor the unendingonslaughtofviolence and as he cocked his armfor the more than one hundredth timeI wrestled the urgeto capture my balanceas soon as I could, an angelic voicefrom the other side of the stairwellsaid…”hey man…hey man…that’s Oscar…he’s coolhe’s ok’... and the man-childquickly stepped aside

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and let me pass and as I headeddown the hallwaywith a sigh of reliefdraped across my face, I realizedit shouldn't be that simple And have wished every day since that I hadfound the courageto speak up for what dreamsMartin Luther King Jr. stood for even if it meantfalling downover my wordsin that stairwell... Oscar Mireles

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Page 8: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

Baby In The Bathwater When my son Sergio takes a bath,The water is never still.He thinks that he is ina fishbowl, and divesunderneath the rim of thebathtub. After the warm bathwater reaches flood level stages,we turn off the faucet.He lies on his back,two ears tucked downbelow the surface of the water. He asks that I wash his feet.He throws them bothtowards the direction of my face.They are so small, like a bar of hotel soap.His toes are attached to his feet,five little beads of pearls. He sticks out his handand I pour several drops of shampoo.He throws it inthe air and then laughs. And come to think of it,I almost forgotwhat it was liketo take a bath. Oscar Mireles

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B-I-N-G-O Is Not A Four Letter Word B-I-N-G-Oused to be the nameof someones’s dogin a grade school song now it is a legalized formof big time gamblingfor an old womanstraddling a crutchwith a withered armas she enter the Bingo parlor she is sitting in the front row nowto make sure she doesn’t missany of the numbers called next to hera sweating bearded manwho rings a tiny Christmas bellevery time I-22 is called I guess he won $1,000onceon that lucky number I-22and he needs the good luckespecially todaybecause it is crowdedthe first week of the monthalways is‘cause of the holy trinity of government checkspensionswelfaresocial security it seems like everyoneis smoking cigarettesor coughing coarse fingers crossed

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around strands of hairbeing twisteddark eyes looking at theglow of the bingo screenand back on their cardswithout blinking like a Four Star Generalgoing over his strategyon a war map you can hear the tensionstomachs growlfingernails scratch the bingo cardsin anticipation finally the bingo ladyyells“B-4…….B-4’and someone in the backwho was not really paying attentionand who has never been here beforescreams B-I-N-G-O and the rest of the crowd murmursand start to scrapethe blue chipsback intotheir little casket shape box hoping they will fallin the right place …next time…next time…next time Oscar Mireles

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College Wrestling My Freshmen Year During my freshmen year in collegeI had the urge to continuemy wrestling careerwhich did not needto be resurrectedbut at that time in my lifeI was still an idealist So my brother Jesse and I decidedto enter the wrestling roompartly on a darefrom a couple of guysfrom Minnesota who lived in our dormand partly to provewe still knewwhere to try to findour manhood I decided that I would not cut my long hairbefore the first practicewhich in hindsight was not the best ideabecause it helped to piss off the coachand he doubled the intensity of the wrestling practicefor our enjoyment I also did not think I needed todo any advanced trainingbefore hitting the wrestling matand after the first five minutesit became evident thatthis was not the best strategy but I did itI made it through the practiceand I only threw up onceI think but maybeI went back for secondsand shared my lunch with the team

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I was exhaustedwinter drenched in sweatbut I was wrestling againand I still had iteven if it lastedonly one afternoon Oscar Mireles

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Courage Courage is setting yourself free As she maneuveredher entourageof a motorized wheelchairtrained assistance dogand personal assistantinto the Olympic size swimming poolat the health club I thought that it wasa nice ideato come and sitat the edge of the pooland that it would probablybe therapeuticor at least a refreshingchange of placefor someone in a wheelchair but she scooted her vehicleinto the front of the first swim laneand as she was chatting to her assistantthe dog just sat there by the doorresting her assistant reached behind her andlifted her torso up and placedher at the edge of the pool as I was sitting in thenearby whirlpoolat 4: 30 in the afternoonI became curiousabout what they were going to do next?was she going to just go by the water and sitor was there something morein store

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when she was tossed in the waterI realized she must have been a swimmer beforeyou could tell by her upper bodythat she had once had a sleek physiquethat swimmers havepowerful shoulder muscles she started with a back strokeher thick arms making a V strokeher clenched fistsproviding an engine to paddle her bodydown the lanesince she had no control over her legsthe graceful placement of her headduring her swimming strokeface up in the poolforced her knees to come upto the surfacethis improvised techniquehad half her body moving furiouslyand the other halfbeing dragged behind she had an unusual turnin which instead of using the wallof the turn to propel offshe turned first sidewaysand then circled backand went on her wayback down the lane but as she finished the turnI saw a peaceful lookon her face she had foundfreedom of movementonce againin a swimming poolin the waternothing to hold her back

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in one of the most dangerous places to be when you have lost controlof most of your body Oscar Mireles

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Page 16: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

Courage Is Setting Yourself Free As she maneuveredher entourageof a motorized wheelchairtrained assistance dogand personal assistantinto the Olympic size swimming poolat the health club I thought that it wasa nice ideato come and sitat the edge of the pooland that it would probablybe therapeuticor at least a refreshingchange of placefor someone in a wheelchair but she scooted her vehicleinto front of the first swim laneand as she was chatting to her assistantthe dog just sat there by the doorresting her assistant reached behind her andlifted her torso up and placedher at the edge of the pool as I was sitting in thenearby whirlpoolat 4: 30 in the afternoonI became curiousabout what they were going to do next?was the parapaligicgoing to just go in the waterand sit or was there something more in store when she was tossed in the waterI realized she must have been a swimmer before

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Page 17: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

you could tell by her upper bodythat she had once had a sleek formthat swimmers havepowerful shoulder muscles she started with a back strokeher thick arms making a V strokeher clenched fistsproviding an engine to paddle her bodydown the lanesince she had no control over her legsthe graceful placement of her headduring her swimming strokeface up in the poolforced her knees to come upto the surfacethis improvised techniquehad half her body moving furiouslyand the other halfthe useless halfbeing dragged behind she had an unusual turnin which instead of using the wallof the turn to propel offshe turned first sidewaysand then circled backand went on her way but as she finished the turnI saw a peaceful lookon her face she had foundfreedom of movementonce againin a swimming pool one of the most dangerous placesto be inwhen you have lost controlof most of your body

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Oscar Mireles

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Diego’s Mom Takes Bonding Lessons In A Home StudyCourse The first day homeshe touched himthe way you approacha not so familiar porcupinenice and slow the second dayafter leaving the maternity wardshe held himas if he wasa 20 lb. sack of potatoesclose but awkward the third dayshe caressed himlike a crossword puzzletouching each different little piecestarting to become familiaras she laid him on the bedof the growing image of our new sontossingsmiles and love Oscar Mireles

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Diego’s Ninety Day Follow-Up Check In Diego is growingeven though he mainly restson his backthis is something I need to changebefore we start wrestling later, he opened his handto meto expose his thumband then threw it allinto his mouthand still had enough roomto yell out a laugh his first teardropp fellwhen he was cryingone cold winter morninghe did not blinkwhen he swallowed itbut I swearhe winked at me yesterdayhe said one of those“….gah… gah….” wordsletting me knowhe is hungry…hungry for my heart Oscar Mireles

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Divorce Is One Of The Easier Reasons To Change YourAddress At The Post Office after I was asked to leave my homeI lived with my nephewwho was in law schoolin my hometownand he let me live therebecause he owed me a favorcause I had let him live with meduring his gap yearafter high schooland cause he knewI had no other place to go and the first night went wellwe had dinner,I helped straighten out his apartmentcleaned the refrigerator,bathroom and kitchendrank some rumand he smoked some weedat 10: 30 pmbefore he went out clubbingand I fell asleep and that was the first signthat it was not going to work outbecause our timing was offhe was ready to gostart the eveningwhen I was ready to sleepand we made it work for a little while I would stay awaytill late at nightthen I would callto inform him that i was headinghis way and probablyright to bed

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as to not disturb his plans each day I wouldthink about ways in whichI could make it back homeand instead of reading the signsmy ex-wife made that saidI wasn't ever going backI made pretend it was a possibilityand that would get me through the day If those thoughts didn't workI would think about running awayto Mexico,Minnesota,Californiaor New Yorkplaces I had old friendsor girlfriendsthat would put up with meuntil I got my feet on the groundor got tired of running one day,I realized I could not go homeanymorebecause I did not live there...or as my son put itso eloquently'I don't remember nowwhat it was like when you lived here'and followed it up with'is that a bad thing? ' or run awayto another citybecauseI loved my childrentoo muchto let my angerget in the wayof seeing them grow up

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and I learned thatI could not parent themon the morning drive to schoolnor could I yell at themfor their mistakesor do anything foolishduring the short times we were togetherand I learned how to be quietand listenand not focus on what to say nextbut just focus on being there with them I thoughtthings would never changebut they did and my children forgave me for my mistakesdid not forget who I wasand I did nothave to regretmissinganything includinggiving my wifehundreds of reasonsfashioned into small postcardsthat were mailed without stampsto divorce me Oscar Mireles

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Eightyfive Pound Racine Junior High School CityWrestling Champion It doesn’t sound like it,but winning the Racine Junior High Schoolwrestling Championshipmight have been the highlight of my brief wrestling career another highlight isI also made the Racine Horlick High School varsity wrestling teamat 98 lbs. my sophomore year in high schoolwhich used to be the first year of high schoolback in the day It was also the smallest weight classit would have been worse if I had been the only guy at that weight on the teambut I had beaten out Shawn Briggs and Larry McMillanand convinced two other guys not to try out for the teamwho I wrestled in gym class I also placed secondIn the Racine Invitational my Senior year at 126 lbs.making the finalsagainst a wrestlermy older brother beat every timeand he liked to shoot a takedown right awayso my strategy was to shoot firstwhich I did and gained a 2- 0 leadand didn’t have a planfor what to do nextand I lost the matchbut still have the medalwith the Racine Lighthouse Invitational Tournament32 years later my final highlightwas my senior year in high schoolwhen we wrestled Kenosha Tremper Highwho had been ranked as one of the top wrestling schools in the statethey had the Mayor of Kenosha there at the meet

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and a band, and it was parents nightthey had a 340 lb heavyweightand all we had was 190 lb. “Black” Jack HansonJack and I had a routine, where I would help warm him upbefore every matchand he had lost to this guy beforebecause he was so hugebut Jack wore him downafter getting caught underneath him oncehe ended up on top with a pinI remember being in the locker roomhearing the coach sayand we banged the lockers and cheeredthis will be one night you will rememberthe rest of your life I didn’t believe him and if I had not written this poemI might have forgotten…why… Oscar Mireles

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Electronic Touching Youcalledmelastnight butwereafraidtospeakintomyansweringmachine Didn'tyouknow... Iwaslisteningtoyourvoice andheardasadsighbeingchased... byadialtone

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Oscar Mireles

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Eyewitness To Shooting That Could Have Been Me My brother Junior didn’t rememberwhat happened last weekendwhen he first opened the front door Omero and Charley entered inwith drunken laughtertalking about Janie’shot cousin from Kenosha Not aware that an ambushwas awaiting themabove loud voicesplaying pokerin a grimy crowded kitchen Suddenly,spindly card table overturnsgreen money and yellow screamsfly about asdark fists race angry facesfor the best angle Crazilya gunnot aimed at anyonewent offCharly is stuck in the way His brown eyeshattered redon his shirton the floor His dreamslay stillunderneath the sunglassesleft on the carpet

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Oscar Mireles

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Fathers Day Poem (...A Day Late...) Father’s Day Poem My children are old enoughto know it is Father Daybut the younger twoare not old enoughto work or buy gifts so my girlfriend got the giftan electronic Sudoku gameand my daughter and songave it to me(no it was not wrapped,except with their delight on their facesgiving me somethingthey knew I would like) My nineteen year oldwho just got his first summercollege area sub-leased apartmentbut not enough money for foodor toilet paperdecided to text me this message“Happy Fathers Day Pops! ”at 9: 33 a.m. the day beforejust in case he forgotto wake upbefore noon the next day My other sonThe eighteen oldWho headed off to college a little earlySent me an ecard “Happy Fathers Day” It’s too bad,I can’t be home this weekend,but Happy Fathers Day! ”

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and it reminded methat just being rememberedis the greatest giftone can ask forfrom teenagerson Fathers Day Oscar Mireles

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Finding A New Word In The 'street Dictionary' Is ALttle Harder In sixth gradewe’d walk down Hamilton Streetbeneath trees that were olderthan the housesFrank Ruiz, Richard Green, Elvis Normanthe conversation was alwaysabout girls and swear wordsI being the smallestnever offered anythingbesides an occasional “yeah….” one spring morningschool was let out earlyfor parent-teacher conferencesand Frank started talking about Lucya girl he convinced to lift her dressbehind the Pocaro houselike a patio umbrellaopened wide for all to seeand without thinking said“only whores give you what you want! ”and as a guy, you should always want itand it was as simple as that it probably would have made perfect senseto me, in my eleven year old wisdomexcept the night beforeI was told my older sisterwho was fifteenwas also pregnantand when the word whoreis used outside the safetyof a dictionaryit not only hurtsit can make you cry

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Oscar Mireles

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Finding Your Final Resting Place Wasn'T Easy It took me a yearto find your gravesiteactually I onlywent to look for itonce with my wife Clara and the kids onmy way back from Milwaukeewhen I was feeling sad I remembered duringthe funeral arrangementsthat they mentionedyour plot was located near the access roadnear the foot of your mother’s grave my son, Diego and Iwent the second timeon an icy Sunday afternoonthere were flowersspread out in front and the snow hadalmost blanketedthe tombstone like a pillow I didn’t feel youor anything that closely resembled you,during that moment of discoveryI could only hear the windcrashing across empty gravestonessearching for a place to rest. Oscar Mireles

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Five Finger Mexican Style Revolver Roulette He was described on the morning drive time radio19 year old manwho lived on the 900 blockof South 10th Street …shot in the headwith his own revolvera victim of Russian Roulette but there was no mentionof the factthat he had finishedhis high school educationin May of last yearonly one semesterafter he was supposed to… …when mostof his teachers thoughthis life would be finishedbeforehis seventeenth birthday nothing mentionedthat he had worked at the community centertwo years agoon a mural projectin front of our buildingand was starting to seethe connection betweenthe tattoos on his armand the art hanging in oursmall gallery walls Joaquin is dead… and I know whowas standing next to himin this time of miscalculated fearbecause tradegy loves a witness

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it was a former student, Cruznot yet sixteenbut not willingto stay away from the violencethat surrounds him everyday I know Cruz is scared, mad and angryand wished he could have done somethingbut it is too late too late to take the gun awayeven though he tried to take out the bullets too late to tell Joaquinthat manhood is determinedby what is inside your heart and brainand you can’t reach thatwith a gun or bullet too lateto change that second shotwhich went too fast, it was unreal too late for Cruzwho when he saw the dead bodyhe couldn’t open up the bedroom doorand had to suffocatefor almost three minuteswith the live stench of recent death too late to fire the third shot… Joaquin deserved another chanceBut maybe that isThe only thingHe can pass on… Oscar Mireles

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Hey Soos In a black and white1960's television episode ofthe western 'Rawhide'was hiddena small scene in which ayoung Mexican cowboyfrom Austin, Texasnamed Jesus and a saddleboyfrom Chihuahua, Mexiconamed Juanwho was rescuedfrom the Camancheros Indianswhen he was seven years old and both Juan and Jesusare standing togetherposted as lookoutsin an abandoned fortcomparing noteson their lives and the three surprising things are they both get along and both get to stay aliveby the end of the episode(even with Clint Eastwood in the script..,) and the only problemI havewith this historical portraitis that they spell the cowboys namesasHey Soos

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Oscar Mireles

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History Lessons Are Programmed To RepeatThemselves, Until We Learn To Change My mother Elisawas picketing outsidethe cattle car trainsthat were quietly lined upto deport Mexican nationalsfrom Minneapolis Minnesotain the 1920’s Yes, it was herand three other women,my Aunt Juanita and two friendsCarmen and Josie Floresthey were afraid to hold up the picket signsthat protested the mass deportationsyet were more afraidworse things would happenif they didn’t do anything A local policeman warned themit would be best if they leftotherwise he would be forcedto take actionbut they stood therewaving their picket signlike a flagas the last trainfell into the sunset Oscar Mireles

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I Hate Atolle Every single morningduring my childhoodit seemed to be, we would haveatolle, an mexican style oatmealswimming insidea large silvery pot with twin ear handlessquatted directly on top of the stove red and yellow gas flames lickingthe lower sides of the baseas if the kettle weretrying to tickle itselfinto a heated frenzy we never ateice cold milkpoured into a wooden bowlwaiting for a load ofdry mouth cereallaced with sugarto sweeten upthe start of another day and the only timewe were supposed to eatkrusty kreme donutsto nourish our bodies for the daywe got stuck instead withday old pan dulce, mexican sweet breadwhich was neither sweetnor resembled a krusty kreme and even when we had thosevery special meat filled daysof mexican sausage or chorizomixing its red blood stained juiceswith farm fresh yellow strips of eggsand creating delicious chunks of meat-filled scrambledto wrap your hot tortilla around

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the next day was always….....oatmeal .....atolle.....oatmeal.....atolle “...I hate atolle, 'that oatmeal cereal watery pastethat seemed to be perpetuel burningalways on the back burner on our stove topwarning us that the morning was nearand atolle was on top of us....one more time and I had all but forgottenwinter school day mornings in Wisconsin.when atolle cookingarose those warm chest feelingsthat simmered around my bodyhugging my insides. Oscar Mireles

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I Was Able To Get A Fake Press Pass To The StateWrestling Tournament I was able to get a fake press passfor the WIAA State Wrestling Tournamentmy son Sergio’s freshmen yearby getting a friend who ran a community newsletterto let me serve as Sports editorfor the weekend I had never been on the floorof the Kohl Centertwo hours before the meetI had a chance to walk on the flooras I was entering the stadiumthrough the hallwayI could feel the immenseness of the buildingand started to get nervouseven though I had not wrestled in twenty years and it became clearhow the pressure of just being therecould put you in a placewhere the tournamentwould go by so fast youdidn’t know what hit you once the meet startedI could not sitin the coaches cornerI grabbed a vacant seatas close to the matas I couldand waited for the first match Sergio started out greathe had a firemens take downand I thought with the back pointshe was up by the score of 5 – 0and at the end of the first period

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I saw the other wrestlerstop and looked up at the scoreboardand when he saw the score was only 2-0,he smiledand I got worried and rightly soeven though Sergio was still being the aggressorhe ended up getting caughtin a headlockhis opponents favorite move and as we waited in the lockerroomafterwards with his coachesSergio asked us to leavegive him some spaceand it at all happened so fast I can barely remembered it now… Oscar Mireles

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If You Take Care Of Them, New Shoes Can Last ALong Time My father brought me a pair of brown wingtip shoesfor my first day of junior high schooland since it was one of the first times I hadshoes that cost more then $1.99I was so excited that I walkedon the school playgroundwith them onjust to show everyone but the only onewho noticed themwas Pete V.who commented“where did you get those shoes from? ”and before I had a chance to answerthe bell rang and I headed to classwith books in my hand and anembarrassed looked hang from my face so for the next two monthsI would walk out of the small houseon Hartman Court,where our family of twelve children livedand stop on the bottom step of our front porchreach along the bottom of the creaking stairsand grab a pair of ragged tennis shoesfrom the year beforeput them onand gently placethe brown wingtipsin their resting place when I got homefrom the cold and the snowmy tennis shoes were drenchedI would put on the brown wingtipsafter creeping on the stairs

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and walk insideas if nothing was wrong… one dayarriving home afterjunior high school wrestling practicemy father said“see, a good pair of shoes lasts a long time” Oscar Mireles

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I'M Gonna Take The South Out Of South Africa I'm gonna take the South out of South Africathe home of the slavesand the land of no freedom I'm gonna take the south out of South Africawhere George Wallace stoodon the University stepsand said no blacksno blacks shall enter hereexcept over my deadand crippled body I'm gonna take the South out of South Africawhere separate but equal meansthat blacks lived in the homelandsand not in their homes I'm gonna take the South out of South Africawhere Jim Crow lawshave tried to change their colorsbut it's still the same old shacklescall Apartheid I'm gonna take the South out of South Africawhere young people are detained...without trials...without lawyers...without rightsbut never... without hope I'm gonna take the South out of South Africa Oscar Mireles

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It Could Be Worse I guess it started to get worsewhen I decided to build my own housein a sweat equity programand by the time we got to the fourth month of working and I barely had a roof on my houseI started dating womenwho thought I was marriage materialbecause I had building materialsin my front yard but the worse thing wasafter they moved onI would read in the paper shortly after and find out that they had gotten marriedto someone elseand the fourth time this happened to meI started to wonderwas it me? or was I reaching the agewhere one makes those kind of half-baked decisionscalled marriageor was it the housethat symbolized that I had organized my lifeenough to deceive a lender into a home loan then I met this Colombian womanwho would give birth to my four childrenand before that would happen,her mother and brother came to our weddingand four years later, I asked when they were gonna leave? instead we moved to MadisonI had a new job, smaller house, larger mortgagebut my bosses didn’t tell me the employees had chased out the old directorand joined together to make my work life helland no matter what decision I madeeven a good one that they agreed on

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it was wrongI was wrongand it was getting worse so, I stayed working longer then I could bearand the employees all walked away,except onewho I had to fire and he gave me more then enough reasonsto change his employment history I published a poetry anthologymy mom diedmy children no longer listen to mebut it could be worseand I know it Oscar Mireles

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Katrina Means Cleansing Katrinawas the first “black named” hurricaneand rightly sobecause she was a “big ass’ stormthat pushed her way through the Gulf of Mexicoafter stopping off the tip of Floridato get her beak wetand give them a taste of her fury Katrina Katrinabo beanabanana fana for feenafee fi fo meanaKatrina there was no wayyou couldn’t have noticedthat she was comingand heading towards the “Big Easy”bringing her southern blend of water, wind and destructionbefore the Mardi Gas season began she was in a partying moodtossing waves around as ifswishing her skirt aroundshaking her bodywith the force of a category fivewind storm those people in New Orleansdid not need the internet to tell themthat it was going to be a direct hitsomething some of those wacky scientistshad been predicting for a long timechicken little like the brownie people in charge ignored their wordsas if they got caught in the windand floated away

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and sworethey didn’t know If they would have known …. would they have done anything different? Oscar Mireles

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Labor Of Love, Intermixed With Plastic Tubes, StrapsAnd Bedpans Your swollen thighssprinkled with bloodlike dandelions strewnacross the front lawn an I.V. tube is in your left armdelivering antibioticsfor your unexpected fever another I.V. tube is in your right forearmfull of pertocinto induce laborand nudge it a little faster two probes insideyour uterusone listensto the baby’s heartbeatand the othereither measures your contractionsor I wasn’t listening again… doctor prescribed tubesrace across your bellya highway interchangeof health care contractionsnature‘s own shock therapyrips through your body likelightning bolts cold metal bed pans slippedunderneath your tired bodylike a lettershoved underneath a closed door

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you were so exhaustedthat you didn’t even seethat one tearleave my eye Oscar Mireles

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Listening To Conversations At The Gym While I WorryAbout My Athletes Foot My athletes foot fungusgrows between my last two toesand Ididn’t notice ituntil I worked out yesterday hitting the sauna firstfor 15 minutes, then30 minutes on the hand driven bicyclewatching the end of Oprahand the beginning of the news which celebrated 50 years on the air this weekback to the saunawhere I take off my shirt,shoes and spend some time getting a full sweat and listen to two guystalk about lifewhere one of them happens to bepicking up trash on a later afternoon walk and since it was early springnotice some trash 50 ft. from the roadand stumbles upon a Meth lab and he knew the ingredientsSudafed, ether, some other chemicalSo he gathered everything upand was about to walk homeWhen he realized he could get in troubleSo he called his friendsto let them know what he was doing He called the Sheriffand when the Sheriff asked himif his name was spelled correctlyhe asked about the boating ticket

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and if he knew his daughter had a speed ticketand how did he know so much about Meth and he said he was a doctorand it made things a little clearer and the two guys in the whirlpoolwere talking about investmentswell one of the guys was not actually talkingbut either trying to get a tip on a stockor trying to sell some stocksand he explained that someone he knewwho knew what he was talking aboutsaid to invest in Canadian companiesbecause of the weak dollarand the other guy finally said“it seems like a good ideabut was it before the rally on the stock market last week? And the two women at the counterWere talking about theBraces that were plastered on their co-workers mouthBut I did not listen for long And I am amazed what peopleTell other peopleWithout regardknowing other peopleare listeningto their conversations Even though I think it is a sin…other peoplecan listenwithouttellinganyone Oscar Mireles

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Lost And Found Language It started in 1949, when my oldest brothercame home from schoolin Racine, Wisconsinafter flunking kindergartenbecause he 'spoke no English'and declared to my parentsthat 'the rest of the kids have to learn to speak Englishif we planned on staying here in the United States.' so my parents lined upthe rest of the seven younger childrenhad us straighten uptilt our heads backreached in our mouth with their handsand took turnsslicing our tongues in half making a simple, but unspoken contractthat from then onthe parents would speak Spanishand the children would respondback only in English how do you lose a native language?does it get misplacedin the recesses of your brain?or does it never quite stick to the sidesof your mind? for me it would always startwith the questionfrom a brown faced stranger'hables espanol? 'which means'do you speak Spanish? ' which meantif they had to ask meif I spoke Spanish

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this was not going to be a good start forat having a conversation... my face would start to get flushedwith redness and beforeI had a chance to stammerthe words'I don't' I could see it in their eyeslooking at my embarrassed facesearching for an answerthat they already knew as I walked awayI know they were thinking'Who is this guy? ''How can he not speak his mother's tongue? ''Where did he grow up anyways? ''Doesn't he have any pridein knowing who he is? 'or 'Where he came from? ' I tried to reply,but as the words in Spanishfloated down from my brainthey caught in my teeth,the rocks of shame.I spoke in half-tongue. my future wifetaught me howto speak Spanishmainly by being Colombianand not speaking English and I had already knownthe language of hands and lovewhich got me confident enoughto reach deep insidemyself

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to find the beautiful sounds and latin rhythmsthat laid deep within me and althoughI still feel my heart jump a beatwhen someone asks 'hables espanol? 'now the Spanish resonates within meand echos back 'si, y usted tambien? ' and today as I talk with the Spanish speaking studentsin our schoolthey can not only feel my wordsthey can feel my warm heartsplash ancient Spanish sounds offmy native tonguethat has finally grown whole again. Oscar Mireles

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Lost And Found Marriage lost and foundcould apply to my marriage I was afraid of losing my former live-in girlfriendwhen she talked about going to Miami for Christmasthe winter of 1985.I thought it was a good ideauntil we talked about itagaina couple of weeks latershe said she had purchased her tickets already'and did you get me a ticket? ' I inquired with a broad smile'I didn't know you were going...' she repliedand it was not the answerI expected to hear and I remembered thinking longand hard about itafterwardsshe was from Colombiaand had not been home for over two yearsand our relationshipwhich had been going pretty good at one timewas now at that stagewhere eitheryou go all the wayor just go away and I thoughtif she made it backto Miamiwhere she started her visit to the United Statesit was only a three hour plane ride to Colombia and the only thing holding her backwas a security deposit on an efficiency apartmentand a just above minimum wage jobat the local Head Start Programand me

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and while a job and security depositsare hard to come by these daysI didn't feel I had enough gluein my heartto keep her from leavingonce she had a head start so I ordered tickets the next dayand we spent the holidayswith a young Colombian couple,Maru and Guillermowho were recently married and had a 13 month old sonwho was the most adoreable childat the most precious ageat a critical timein our relationship and afterone of the warm winter Miami afternoonsthat we babysat himI got up the courage toask herto marry meand she said 'yes' and now 18 years laterafter spendingway too much timetrying to do thingsto not rock the boatit happened anywaysandI lost her and I foundthat being afraid to lose someonewas not the best reasonto marryeven in Miami.

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Oscar Mireles

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'Love Mexican Style' Is Not A Reality Television Show Mexico City is far more romanticthen I imagined Not that I ever thinkof any city as being romanticbut there are more peoplewalking hand-in-hand or embracingin front of the bus stopin the mid-afternoon sun four cross hugging armspropped next to skinny tressto providea little privacy In the open airthey were stealing kisses beforethe next bus arrives maybe all the romanceis here in Mexico Citybecause it gets a little chillyat night or that everyone seemsto be built about the same sizefromt he earth or maybe reason isthe older men, who are smilingall seem to have “pollitas”,women twenty years youngerstrapped to their side or maybe the Latino loverin them finally starts to takes over

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I have even caught myselfholding my wife’s handa little tighter then usual and wanting to kiss herharder then a pecksmack on the lips or maybethe natural rhythmsof old Mexicohave been awakened Oscar Mireles

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Music Doesn'T Taste The Same Anymore I have struggled to developa distinct musical tasteand what I ended up withis a turntable spinning pizza with everything on it a dab of vintage jazzsprinkled like anchoviesacross the circular disksending notes and imagesout into the air slices of country western tunesresembling slabs of baconand adding a deep greasy feelto the palette my children listen to heavy hip hopand the thump thump thumppops like the bubbles of mozzarella cheeseright before it turns slightly brown I still listen to Motownand the sounds are still as freshas when I was a teenagerand didn't always know whento let the music leador when to follow Salsa music has beenspread across my platea thick sauce with enough spicesto keep your heart rate upand your booty moving each different stylerepresenting a different time in my lifenever quite matchedwith my hairstyle or clothingbut always matched with

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the beat of my heart. Oscar Mireles

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My Birthday Was Different This Year As I was rummaging throughthe file boxes my wife had left for mein the garageI found a yellow legal padscribbled with hand written poemsI had written one nightin a almost crowded coffeehousewaiting for a poet friend from Chicagoto come up north to read The poems talked abouthow I waited and waitedbefore too longseveral anxious poetsran up to the microphonenot afraid to trip over themselvesshare their delicate poemsabout romance and almost romancedetailing having a job they don't likeand it seemed to methey were also not liking much else about their livesbesides their job they didn't like My Chicago artist friend as usualwas more then an hour latewhich isn't bad considering Chicagois almost three hours awayso most other placesdamn, she would have been early When I read the poemI wrote about being at a readingI didn't want to be at I realized I was spending my birthdayby myself in a coffeehousewriting poemsnot making much eye contact with people I didn't even like

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although one of the poetsI think Francine is her namecame up to me during a break and said 'hi'but she didn't remember my nameor knew it was my birthdayand a couple of days after my anniversaryor that I was getting a divorce that poem I readwas a good sign of things to come because this yearon my birthdayI woke up with a new friend in my bedmultiple orgasms for her to sharebefore having a nice breakfast togetherof eggs, sausage, hash browns and italian toastcooked on the George Foreman grilland things didn't look or feelthe same again Oscar Mireles

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My First Taste Of The Importance Of A CollegeEducation I remember goingto my first Chicano Higher Education Conferencein January of 1969in a barren place ofUniversity of Whitewater, Wisconsin my brother Juan drove a white university station wagonto his hometown Racinethat Friday nightto pick me and my other brother up I had never been to a college campus beforebut from stories I had heardcollege was a cross betweenDisneyland anda crowded New York subway on Times Square on New Years Eve all I can recall from the two hour ridewas a flashing red lightat the intersection of Highways 20 & 83there were no cars in sightjust a warning… we arrived on campus at 11 pmand went to the student unionwhere we listened to an acid rock bandplaying to a crowd of Chicanos and Blacksno dancing occurredjust meditating A college friend offered up his roomand slept at his girlfriend'sat 3: 30 amseven of us sharedthe beds, floor and mushroom chairbut I didn’t get much sleep

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we snuck into the cafeteriain the morningwhen a football playing black friend named “Big C”stood in the way of the cashier the first workshopwas on bilingual educationand the speaker was so excitedhe used a lot of big wordsI had never heard beforeso I figured bilingual educationmust be importantor he wouldn’t have been so serious the only bilingual educationI had ever heard ofwas mentioned once inour Mexican-American history classtaught by the only Mexican-American teacherin our high school the last workshopwas on getting more students enrolled in higher educationthe speaker Corky Gonzaleswas also a poetand he told us“we were the future of our people” I stared at the blackboardin that college classroomand felt strangeabout all the timesI had raised my hand in grade schooland my teacherdid not call on meor want to hear my answer Oscar Mireles

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My Mother Is A Social Worker Who Works In AHospital My mother is a social worker who works in a hospital she makes daily visitschecks her chartsand shares small talk with the patientsas she brightens up their rooms My mother is a social worker who works in a hospital she is always the first one at the scenejust like the television doctorswhether in the birthing roomat my niece Amanda's arrivialor at the operating tablemedicines trap door My mother is a social worker who works in a hospital my mother translates for the Spanish patientsespecially after surgeryshe touches their fearwith words that can heal My mother is a social worker who works in a hospital Surprisingly there is little bloodon her pink uniformjust a day' sweat and dirtyou wouldn't knowshe was a cleaning ladyif you looked in her eyes My mother is a social worker who works in a hospital Oscar Mireles

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Poetry Can Be Hard On Your Hands I arrived lateto the mind’s eyepoetry group meetingand I interrupted a critique of a prose poemabout a father tragicallylosing his fingerin an lumber yard accident and before I could shakethe impression of a crushed fingerbleeding and screamingout of my mind another writer mentionedthat her father had accidentlycut off his finger one dayand saved it in a clear mason jaralongside other body parts he had lostand I did not have the nerveto ask which ones. Another poet saidhis uncle lost a finger too!losing sounds so niceuntil you walk in another roomand accidentally find itagain I thought about the timemy oldest son Diegoalmost snipped the tip of his index finger offwith the neighbor’s hedge trimmer his mom Clara put his handinside the coffee beansof a Folgers canto stop the bleedingbecause that is what her grandfather didon his coffee plantation

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when a worker cut themselves with a machete after rushing to the hospitalto get seven stitchesat the end of the daythe mangled tip was still hanging onto the end of his finger I didn’t realizethat poetrycould be so hardon your hands Oscar Mireles

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Prenatal Massage On My Wife’s Protruding Body It is yourthree monthanniversarytoday youare nobiggerthat an anthill Claramy wifemakes merub her stomachto remind methat youpatiently waitinside her pocketand not onlyin my mind Oscar Mireles

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Romance And Reality On November 17th 1984,I met my first wife at a Thanksgiving food drive,where we were both stuck in a freezing warehousein between cartons of donated foodand empty grocery bagsto stuff with a holiday meal. she spoke no English,but she was able to show me,she was interested that lasted 18 yearscreating four beautiful childrensurviving extra-marital affairscrashing head strong into unwanted debtbefore we could endure more grief or slithers of joywe said goodbyein words that never came out on November 17th,2002I left my rusty key to our ranch style homeon the kitchen table,never to return after sleeping on my nephew's couch for three monthsI got the nerve to askwould she consider taking me backher response was “go rent a one bedroom apartment”which my children later saidwas too small for them to visit four months later,one of my sons decided to live with menot because I was a great fatherand he choose me over his mother,but he liked the attention of beingthe only child for me to dote on.I played the part perfectly

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last summer,my ex-wife realized that her two older sonsneeded some changes...including their father more involved in their livesI bought a house in a bedroom communityand they moved in with mestarted life in a new high school with three men in the house,I cook, clean and discipline,not necessarily in that order the freedom I was looking forward toosince my divorcelooks a lot more like responsibilityand the romance in my lifehas become a realityI have yet to get my arms around. Oscar Mireles

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Slanted Eyes Are Beautiful...Slanted Eyes AreBeautiful! ! ! a Korean womanhad been sittingin my cultural awareness class,for an hour,and couldn’t understandhow African-Americanshad so much troublegetting along with whites. She never had trouble until,we started talking about stereotypesthat included Asians. They are always sneaky looking,shrewd businessmen,have exotic womencan’t drive well,but know karateand they all have slanted eyes. She almost cried,before she stammered,“Slanted eyes are beautiful! ''Slanted eyes are beautiful! ' and for the first timeeveryone in the room understoodwhy Oscar Mireles

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Smells Just Like Yesterday My older brother Jesus saidthe smell of ripe onionsalways reminded him of summer we’d start working earlyin the six a.m. darkon the Horner farm in Southern Wisconsinwhile the dirt was still wetfrom the sprinkled dew rows of the bald white onions restedbeneath the soft soil we were told to pick them upby the neckthe way a catcarries her litter shake the dirt off there round backsbeing careful not to teartheir long green ribbons at fifteen cents a bushelwe thought we were smartuntil we were caught trying to hidelarge clumps of soilnear the bottom of the bushel basketto make it fill easier. around eleven o’clockwe became tired,my father would say“this row here, will be the last one today”so we would try to hurry and finishonly to find his story would change as we neared the row’s endit doesn’t pay to work half a day

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when I was twelve, my father told me“this summer will be the last”with a quarter squeezed in my handand a dirt-crusted smile on my faceI knew he was right years laterwe drove on Highway 31, past the Horner farmmy father took a long glance out the car windowand saidback there back there near the corn bin is where I stayedwhen I didn’t know better Oscar Mireles

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Strung Up By A String the only time a manheld my private packageI was resting backon the examination tableat the Family Health Plan southside clinic they had already given me a sedativeand asked if I would bring someone to drive me homeand although I felt as if I was drunkI was getting ready for my first vasectomy and the main thing I rememberis that the doctor pulled out a 12 inch piece of stringand tied up my two testiclesas if they were a steer ropedand tied up with its' legs in the air and for the life of meI don't know why he used the stringor isn't there a vasectomy clampor was the string a symbolof me hanging upmy parentingability? Oscar Mireles

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Thanks To The People Who Showed Up At A PoetryReading At Fifteen Below Zero In Bob Dylan’s backyardthere were twelve chapped faceshuddled in an old church basement a poetry reading volunteerand her nervous boyfriendthe host, a poet from Californiafinishing her second bookan insurance salesmanwho never met a poet beforea scruffy bearded old manwho said he was going to move to Mexicotomorrowtwo Chicanas, a secretary from Michiganan actress from Texasa Peruvian woman who was an Art Directorand her son, who thought poetry was for sissiesan older Indian woman onlywearing a shawland three people who leftbefore I noticed themall staring at meas if I was a login the fireplacecrackling poemsinto the night Oscar Mireles

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The Almost 9 Minutes Car Ride The almost daily car ride takes about nine minutesfrom the Wheeler Road addresswhere my almost fifteen year old sonusually wipes his eyes when he gets in the front seat of the car. About a half hour earlier, I gave him his wake up callhe answered his cell phone after only about 8 rings said he would be ready and would wake up his sister too Sometimes he will say good morning…well actuallyHe nevers says good morning, he just gets in the carand grunts “hey” and the other time when he forgets to grunthe just sits down and avoids looking at meand we both sit and listen to the car idle. Every once in a while he gives me a warning notice“Mom and Lorena got into to it last nightor this morningor yesterday.As if I am going to solve another problem todayOr maybe he is trying to protect me from getting into more troubleOr maybe he wants me to just shut upBefore I make things worse. Lorena always comes out about three to five minutes laterIf she is in a hurry it is always five minutesIf she still needs to do her make upWe have to all switch seats, so she can use the front mirrorOn a good day that is only a little hasslewhich involves only one punch between siblings Silence is different with my daughterThe radio is always something to put in between usyou can tell her mood if she sings alongWith the songs, singing with emphasis and her sweet voice But sometimes the louder she singsSometimes it can mean she is mad too…

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So one has to listen carefully. Once both children are safely in the car,I did back up once without one of the kids fully insidethe back seat of the car and it was almost a painful accident,but I am not supposed to bring that up As we race by and wave at the crossing guardI am reminded my children are no longer at middle school andJackie the crossing guard who could read my children’s moodsbetter then I could, was let go from her jobbecause she took too many vacations to visit her kidsactually only two vacations but I guess two too many we turn on Sherman Avenue where we race up two hillsand try to avoid the intersections of Highway CV and Northportwhere we had an accident. But it does place the McDonalds restaurantOn our path and if I have enough money left overI offer breakfast (usually a Bacon Egg and Cheese Bagel for her, and Twosausage breakfast burritos for him and both want medium hot chocolates with astraw) . One time driving out of the restaurant Lorena saw a classmateWaiting at the bus stop and said “Lets pick him up for school”And as we tried to clear space in the back and I pulled up besides himIt was not her friend only someone that looked exactly like himAnd she was pretty embarrassed and the look-alike didn’t seem too upset Driving down Packers Avenue becomes a raceof avoiding the slow lanesstaying away from the stopping Metro busesand not looking at people in cars talking on their cell phonedrinking coffee, reading the paper or putting on make-upwhile pretending to be driving to work As we get closer to the high schoolI see some of their friends and classmates getting out of carsThey drove to school in.Thinking that my kids love riding with their dador more dislike riding the bus to school

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which I have counted each of my kids did less then five or six times As we turned past the high school tennis courtsThe metro bus lets out a mass of teensSome with backpacks ready for school to startSome without backpacks, ready to get into more troubleThen they could possibly need.I think sometimes they think people don’t notice they don’t have backpacks I do…and I know not having one means somethingBut I haven’t quite figured out what. I usually park on the right hand side of the roadWith a yellow curb marking indicated not a parking spotand it gives them a chance to get out of the carand onto the cross walk and onto the school grounds sometimes my kids do not walk togetheron the way into the school groundsthey each get into their own mindsand keep walking sometimes they do walk togetherwhen they dothey are talking to each otherif I did not know better and if I were too busyto waste nine minutes of my morningI would have have missed this momentI realize they will be more then family for lifethey will be friends too.. Oscar Mireles

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The Annual Hometown Fiesta Weekends Always HadMore In Store Than I Bargained For It was onlya three second glancefrom a former Mexican girlfriendwho when her husband noticedshe was focused on something elsebesides himshe nonchalantlygrabbed his hand to remind himthat she was all his this would happenat least a couple of timesover the Mexican Fiesta weekendsI would organize in my hometownbeer, Mexican food, Mariachi and Tex-Mex musicsoftball, an outdoor Catholic massand seeing former loverswho have moved on when I was sixteenI had fumbled most of the relationships I was inand didn’t know what to dowhether to just stand therelick my woundsor to pick them upand start to run again it was just a short smileanother ex-girlfriend gave melater that weekendwarning that our teenage memoriesthat were once hotly sharedfor nowwill staycornered like an old photographand placed neatlyin a box

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next to my othermisplaced memories Oscar Mireles

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The Family Of Doctors Crosses Cultural And NationalBorders Juanita was from a small town in southern Californiatraveled a long distance to find an educationin the Midwest on her way to become a family practitionerthe only one in her medical school classwho didn’t have their sights on bigger things Hiding out in Minnesota, she’s playing doctorto the migrant farm workers, who bring a truckload fullof children and relatives to her office which is located in a tentthese migrants pick cherries, potatoes and onionsstand in the middle of pesticide infested cropswith no shelter from the august sun It is set in her mind that a doctor can do special things…miracleswith people’s lives, touch them, give them dignityshe remembers when she was younghow they treated the migrants in rural Californiaat the Hospitals, forcing them to be ashamed to be sickrefusing to provide health care because they were only ‘migrants’ At age thirteen she made a promisenot to her parents, who were always at her sidenor to a childhood friend, who’s now just a mom to three childrenbut to an old man named Gonzalowho used to sit on a green porch with two steps missingacross the street from her parents’ houseand who would tell her stories of his lifeas a curandero, a folk healerand how the neighbors were so proudthat he was a part of the community Oscar Mireles

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The Fireman's Least Favorite Hiding Place One nightwatching tv,Roberto fellcigarette asleepon burning couch. He awake in pain,clothes in flamesand stumbled outthe front porch. Above the orange blazehe heard the screamsof his younger brothersstuck in upstairs bedroom. He charged in the wooden back dooryelling wildly,while his brothers crawledthru a side bathroom window,to escape unharmed.smoke burning his eyes,Roberto dropped to his kneesas the red flames lickedhis fingers, the way theneighbor’s dog always did. He remembered playing hide and seek,and hid in the corner closetwaiting for it allto go away. Oscar Mireles

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The Last Dance Ended Before The Song Was Over Maria Elena,fell asleep as I drove her home.she had drank a bit too much,it was one of the first timessince the kidney transplant.she did not rustle or snorelike many drunks I know. we had talked earlier that nightshe was enrolled in technical schoolhad a new boyfriend.It bothered her that she was scarredby the kidney machine and theoperations.I reminded her I always felt her beauty was withinno scars could hide that. I had plans, and always thoughtMaria would be the one to marry.she was very careful to watch herselfalways one step ahead of men who wantedher to be like the rest. we danced hands tight and eyes fixed,as we always did.she slipped a bit and apologized“I lost it I guess” she asked me if I would drive her car home“Please don’t try anything…..ok? ”I smiled and said,“Don’t worry, I know better.” when I reached her drivewayI touched her gentlyshe awoke, smiled and said“Thanks! ”and ran inside.

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One month later,I sent a dozen roseswith a nice card that said,“To the only woman I have loved”at her funeral Oscar Mireles

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The Last Hurrah...On The Wrestling Mat During my freshmen year in collegeI had the urge to continuemy wrestling careerwhich did not needto be resurrectedbut at that time in my lifeI was still an idealist So my brother Jesse and I decidedto enter the wrestling roompartly on a darefrom a couple of guysfrom Minnesota who lived in our dormand partly to proveour manhood I decided that I would not cut my long hairbefore the first practicewhich in hindsight was not the best ideabecause it helped to piss off the coachand he doubled the intensity of the wrestling practicefor our enjoyment I also did not think I needed todo any advanced trainingbefore hitting the wrestling matand after the first five minutesit became evident thatthis was not the best strategy but I did itI made it through the practiceand I only threw up onceI think but maybeI went back for secondsand shared my lunch with the team I was exhaustedwinter drenched in sweat

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but I was wrestling againand I still had iteven if it lastedonly one afternoon Oscar Mireles

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The Other Woman In My Life One spring day,it always seems to happen in springone spring day,out of the bluethe other womanpopped into my life I wasn’t looking for a relationshipno one really is,but the first time I held herI thought I was going to squeezethe life out of herbut I didn’t she is a good listenerkeeps looking into my eyesand laughs whenI am happyone can’t ask for more in a friendship It is hard to explainbut it is getting out of handshe is calling me at all hours of the nightjust what I needa fatal distraction I used to believe honesty is the best policybut I am afraid to lose both of themfor the love of one I think my wife knowssomething is going onbut I don’t know what to door worse to undowhat has been done but it is the ninetiesand I am sure this thing happens all the timeto somebody else

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but not menot now but what should I expectfrom a three week old baby girlmy daughterLorena Pilar Barbosa-Mirelesthe other womanin my life Oscar Mireles

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The Researcher Tried To Explain The Reasons BlackGirls Get Pregnant The researcher tried to explainto the radio audiencethat a black 16 year old girlliving in the projectsbeing pooruneducatedwas actually in the best position of her life biologicallyto have a child statisticallyshe would be inthe best health of her life(her health deteriorates after thatonly because she will be poorer) and her babywould have the best chance of survivingwith a near normal birth weightand a healthier teenage momto deliver her and biologically speakingthere are more young black malesfor her to meetwho are out of jail at that age(because of the black male prison incarceration rate) and in a positionto put her in aparenting situation and she would alsoat this age, be ablehave her mother aroundto help her take care of the babybefore her mother diedor was sick there are biological reason

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why young back teens have children.and even though we don’t know all the reasonslike this researcher did I do know for some young girlsthat becoming a teenage momhelped them finally grow upand take responsibilityfor their actions Oscar Mireles

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The String That Ties Us Together ' Honey, I will go get the string you want....just wait here...I' ll be right back' as she walked down the hallway at St. Mary's Hospitalthe african-american cleaning lady wondered first'where am I going to find some string...'and secondly, 'what did Mickey want with some string at work? 'but it didn't matter, she was going to do whather co-worker requestedeveryone like Mickeyand a request,which rarely came out of her mouthwas always granted everyone who worked with Micaela at the hospitalwas amazed on how well she cleaned the hospital roomsshe was the best cleaning partner to havebecause no matter what you didshe would come back over it and make sure it was cleanso was so hardworking thateach day she was looking for new spots to cleanbehind the radiator, on the side away from the door,always searching for some dirt trying to hideunderneath the odd side of the bed and the cleaning women became more astonishedwhen they talked with Mickeyand found out she only had a third grade educationbut seemed to know alot about alot of thingsshe especially knew how to read peopleand she was so easy to talk toeven though she never said much when they found outshe had twelve childrenand lost one child at birththey would ask'how did you raise twelve children?and you are still such a little thing'and 'why would you work

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after having so many kidswhy don't they take care of you? ' but it didn't matterwhat they said... she wouldcontinue to work hardentering each hospital roomwith a quiet smile,trying not to disturb each patientshe would start on the left sidefarthest away from the patientand working her way closeto the bed where the patientwho was trying to sleepbut was just laying therewondering about why she was laying in a hospital bedMickey would say 'hi'and would it trouble them if she cleaned their bedand clear the food from the tray tablethe patients were always struckby her gentlenessand would suddenly get upand try to straighten up the things aroundtheir bed as if their own mother entered the roomand they did not want to bother herwith anything she would ask them how 'they were doing? 'the patients would open up about their fearsshare which members of the family had yet to show upand detail the pains that they were feelingan unveil some fears if surgery was imminent as Mickey left their roomthey would smilethank her for being so niceand comforting their stayif only for a few minutes As she entered the hallwayher co-worker came upand said' I found the string! '

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and followed-up with a question'what did you want the string for? ' Mickey grabbed the stringasked her co-worker to hold on to itand start walking awayand as she was walking awaythe co-worker asked'what do I do next? ' and Mickey said'this string is for youwhen we work together next timeand when you decide to leaveand take a breakI can pull on the stringand get you to come back to workwithout having to look for you' Oscar Mireles

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The Wrestlers Funeral I still cannot remember the first nameof the funeral home but the second namewas Hooverman I thinkand as I tried to follow the mapquest directionsI must have pressed scenic routebecause it had enough twistscurves and large hillsand dipsto resemble living a hectic life I remember the conversationin Iowa last summer at the Regional Tournamentwhere he told me about his college wrestling careerbeing cut shortby his temperand I sharedwith him my one day, long hairout of shape wrestling experienceat the college levelthat brought back memoriesof how hard wrestling really is at his son's funeral he saidhow awful nice it wasthat I came andthat his son was such an awesome wrestlerbut the only gauranteedwas that you didn't knowwhat he was going to door what the final result was going to bebut he went out thereand you prayed for the best and his two medalsone from the Waunakee Youth tournamentand another one that looked likea state qualifier medal laidquietly on the coffin

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but my other sonthe younger oneworked so hardat wrestlingand he has gotten so goodbut even with all that workhe couldn't touchhow good his brother was and as I reflectedon my two older sonsone with the natural talentand the younger one who worked so hard I now know why. Oscar Mireles

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This Is One Of The Reasons Chicanos Are Camera Shy Only in Americacould I flip through the slick pagesof LIFEand find the only Chicanos I have ever seengrace that magazineportrayed in living colorsprawled dead in a San Ysidro, California street At their local McDonalds restaurantan angry white unemployed gunmanwent postalhad target practiceon seventeen young chicanos and mexicanoswho were caughtwaiting for a fast food lunchand were treatedwith a long siestaon a sunny California late afternoon later that weekthe townspeople held a candlelight marchdown the street in front of that McDonald’sdemanded that the site be torn downand a neighborhood park be createdin their memoryinstead of reopening thegunshot riddled restaurantand the festering wounds and the sad part is how the lives of these seventeenanonymous chicanoswere swept out of the newsin the timeit tookto burn a hamburgerin the drive-thru lane

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Oscar Mireles

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This Marriage Proposal Was Not Written Down On ANapkin One Saturday night in nineteen thirty-ninein a little pueblecitodown in South Texasthe ballroom doors of El Charro’s placewere left wide openas the colorful sounds of Tejano musicpounded on the dirt floor. Micaela spotted him for the first timestanding against the wall next to the bathrooms.From a distance she turnedto show him her new dressher mother had sewn the day beforewhite lace and pink Felix wore shiny pointed bootsa beige shirt and brown pants loosely.That night they had no time to dance or talkonly a few minutes to stareher dark eyes flashedas her parents led her out the door. Several weeks laterat a wedding in the same ballroomthey met againshe noticed he was wearing the samebeige shirt and brown pants.She had heard that his familywas even poorer than the rest of the Mexicans in town,if that was any consolation. “This is the one! ”she thought“Who would want to have twelve children”“Want to move north to Wisconsin”“Probably never have the chance to see my friendsor parents until I grow old”

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she thought she saw itin his piercing black eyes,and when he smiledshe said“I do! ” Oscar Mireles

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Three Lined Verses On The Birth Of My First Child Legs strappedto the delivery tablelike a wish bone my heart strappedto my wife’s ribmaking a wish the doctor’s holdingthe baby’s headlike a short prayer “It’s a boy”echoes in my throatbut I can’t shout! Tossed as if a leafInto the arms of four nursesI cut the umbiblical cord Father, Dadwords that standat the head of the table Oscar Mireles

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What I Did During My Summer Vacation, That MadeMe Want To Stay In College My right big toehas been black and bluesince the timeold Benny Navarrogot me a jobworking on the docksat the Port of Kenosha Standing in a crooked linewith unshaven facesat five-thirty in the morningI was chosen to unload100 pound boxesof frozen meat from dead cows after the first half hourone of the icy boxesdove out of my left handand speared my right toenail that summer after collegeI felt like a Mexicaneverydaygetting up too earlystanding in lineas if my brainwas as thick as theforeman’s shoe Oscar Mireles

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When I Was Asked What My Favorite Body Part Was? When I was asked what my favorite body part is? It was not the kind of questionI get asked every day When I mentionedthis question to my friendsthey all thought for a secondand laughed… so I thought I wouldask those close to me what they thought someone said the soft tissueon my hand between my thumband second fingerit has no known usebut it is a soft place to hide feelingsand provides a hook to hold on too… someone else said my handsbecause they are able to expresswhat I am feeling insideand my hands are what I use to writedown my poetry another person told meit was my tonguethat is able to pierce the spacebetween her mouthwith my warmth for me I thinkit is my smilewhich is often the first thingthey notice when they see me. and when I saw another wrestling dadin Minnesota at a wrestling tournament

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a week after his daughter diedhe said he was glad he did not stay homebut support the team, because his daughter wasthe team manager and he was happy to see mebecause he saidmy smile reminded himof his daughter, who was always happyand smiling Oscar Mireles

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Page 108: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

Why Did You Name Me Javier Dad…part 2 A couple of years agoI wrote a poem titled“Why did you name me Javier… Dad? ”which looked at the meanings behindmy four children’s nameswhich was complicated by the factthat they had latino namesand we lived in Madison Wisconsin Diego Jesus Marjil Mireleshas become Colombicanohis screen name for instant messagingit stands for half Colombianand half Chicanoand it stands outin a virtual world of nameslike monkeyloverpeppills and whokilledkenny Lorena Pilar Barbosa-Mireleshas become ChicanaHottie27I can figure the Chicana part fairly easyI am not even going to touch the “hottie” thingthe number 27 gets a little more confusingsince she is only 15 years oldbut was born on the 27th of the month Javier Oscar Barbosa-Mireleshas never been called Junioror Oscar the secondjust Javy orChavs by his brother Diegohis screen name is ChicanoPlaya25which at 12 years oldis a lot to live up to Sergio Andres Barbosa-Mirelesgoes by the name of Pimpasmurffwhich I think he first signed on at in 6th grade

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he has been too lazy to change itor I think he only hears the pimping partplus he forgot the smurffs are blue little creaturesfrom the Saturday morning cartoon scene So as I tally up the scorethree of my four childrenhave self-identified an unmistakeable latino namein cyberspaceto let others knowwho they are,and where they came from In this eraof blending in, and forgetting whythey have stepped back reached insidefor something as simpleas a name Oscar Mireles

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Page 110: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

Will Grandma Mickey’s Hair Still Be White, When WeAre In Heaven? My youngest son asked me this as we werelaying around arguing whether I was going to read more than one book or not… will grandma Mickey’s hair still be white, when we are in heaven?why do six year olds think about life and death?why do they not seem afraidand see it as a natural part of living life we fear death,we avoid hospitals, when friends are illand when we do go there it is quick to help speed the recoveryof the ill and get out as quick as you can when people are ill we don’t see them as much,they understand no one wants to be around seriously ill peopleand don’t invite themselves to events they knowwill cause others grief will grandma Mickey’s hair still be white, when we are in heaven?shows an understanding that she will be in a form that we will recognizeand still be our grandmotherand white signifies pureness, in every circumstanceexcept as related to hair will grandma Mickey’s hair still be white, when we are in heaven?is a question best answered by sayingwhat color would you want her hair to beand hope he answerswhatever color she would want Oscar Mireles

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Page 111: Oscar Mireles - poems - PoemHunter.Com...Oscar Mireles() Oscar Mireles (b.1955) has been writing poetry for the past 25 years. He is the editor of two anthologies titled 'I didn't

Ypsilanti Xicanas These Midwestern rucaseducated chicanaswho were being mistaken for arabsall the timetalked about coming up to Michiganfor la primer vezas migrants They had ussitting in the schoolhouse gymcovered the floor with plasticlike a large diaperto catch the lice or something They used the old countryschoolhouse method on uslumping 9th graders and kindergarteners togetherjust to obey the law that saidevery child shall have an education,even migrants She remembered watch TV one nightand seeing a documentary on migrantsthis young mexican boywas asked what he wanted to bewhen he got olderhe said he wanted to be a doctorbecause his mother was always sickand he wanted to help herthe announcer pausedand faced the cameraholding back a tearhe said that only onein a million migrantswould ever have the chanceto become an educated professionaland that this little boy’s wishwould probably never come true

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and she started to cry, rememberingwhen she finished law schooland having all that happinessthat she could not sharewith that little boywho picked onions, tomatoes and peppersbut no chances. Oscar Mireles

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