Razor Review: Kenyatta JP Garcia’s Slow Living

Razor Review: Kenyatta JP Garcia’s Slow Living

A Review by Monique Quintana
Review: Slow Living by Kenyatta JP Garcia
Publisher: West Vine Press; West Vine Press Ebook Version 1.0 edition
Release Date: October 28, 2016

 

Reading Kenyatta JP Garcia’s Slow Living is akin to taking the form of a phantom and entering many rooms–sometimes we are conjured and sometimes we are uninvited. Garcia unfolds a multitude of lives with the ease of a blade. There is a convicting of the hegemony and a celebration of a periphery that teeters between the ground and the sublime. The titular poem is an incantation to the wind and the life particles that reside there, “Racing thoughts of sandals, suns, shores / fallen under a parasol / foresight / and positive thinking. / Possibility.” When there is anger in the lines, it is always a righteous anger and there is always the knocking of joy.

 

In “Dear/Later”, the poet is calling out to an unnamed force, unlatching image after image to make sense of the poetic form. The epistolary nature of the poem leaves the page an unnerving pleasure, like smoke that has quickly dissipated, “Maybe it was a slow day for ideas.” The lines pass into moments of love and lamentation and the pulse of the body, a thing that desires and is worthy of desire, “New strength – a bit of stone turns to sand becomes flesh / holds world in prints, pores. Makes sweat a monsoon.” One incantation shape shifts into another, but we are still left with traces of the former things, long after the book reaches its final page.

 

Monique Quintana is the managing editor of Razorhouse and is a contributing editor at Luna Luna Magazine. 

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A Poem by Patrick Fontes

 

The Rats are Going to Eat You

“The Rats are going to eat you, travieso”

she scolded an old woman’s scorned life cast

ill intent upon my childhood’s naive trust

shaking a weathered finger at me and her past

she wanted to leave this place her house

built of empty hopes no love’s foundation

go return to her lover lost across in Mexico

she knew there was no return no two-way

Greyhound discount bus to yesteryear

from her country shack in Fresno to memories

of youthful days dancing in Guadalajara

mariachi trumpeters serenaded her future

as brujas divined alternate paths to sorrow

she at last crossed the border back to Cali

her heart bleeding from El Paso to Fresno

a final time without him her trail a river of tears

that time has dried into a drought stricken ditch
she holds back a bitter stream at night fists

cursing life’s missed opportunities of love

she becomes her own Llorona in bitterness

she glared at me “The Rats are going to eat you”
as I lay on her dirty floor listening for rats

as she laid on her bed listening for dead voices

Patrick Fontes received a PhD in American history, with an emphasis on the Mexican American experience, from Stanford University. His research interests include the criminalization of the Mexican immigrant, California history, border issues, Mexican religion, the Virgin Mary from Medieval Spain to the Present. He grew up in Fresno, in a working class Chicano home. The smells, voices, sounds, hopes and ghosts of his familia who have gone before him saturate his prose, poetry and historical work. His novel, Maria’s Purgatorio, is available through Floricanto Press.

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A Cycle of Poems by Kenneth Pobo

 

 

JERRY KNEW

 

he was gay while eating Pez,

Joan Crawford in Rain on TV.

Newton had the apple

that showed him how to find a motel

named gravity. Jerry had Joan.

 

He was 18, knew at 13,

but knowing can be far from saying.

 

Yet he felt more sure

of the way, no map needed, love’s

ostrich coming up

 

from behind, telling him to hop on.

 

JEFF KNEW

 

Jeff worked hard on a book case

in seventh-grade Shop,

loved the lathe too much,

mis-shaped the wood.

 

Robert Finchetti,

just another kid with acne

and curly black hair–Jeff

knew staring was rude,

but wherever Robert went,

Jeff’s eyes secretly followed.

He learned how to look

and not be caught—an art,

like building something

that wouldn’t topple over.

 

Robert moved away.

 

Sometimes joy is The Sleeper

yo-yo trick, tough to learn—

it’s in the spin. With practice

you get it, the yo-yo finding a way

back to your hand.

JERRY LISTENING TO THE WIND

 

Wind had only one hit,

“Make Believe.” Most of

high school was make believe—

 

smiling for bullies, smiling

for Pastor, or smiling for teachers

who fed us poisoned algebra.

It turns out that Wind

was only studio musicians–

how could there be no Wind?

 

I waited for a good strong one

to blow through my school.

It never came.

 

Just a stillness

I didn’t dare break

by speaking.

 

JERRY COMING OUT TO MOM TWICE

 

Mom wouldn’t say “cancer.”

We followed her lead. Dad said she was

“under the weather.” I said she was

“feeling poorly.” Opinions

 

hardened her spine. Her views were like math tests.

You got enough points and you passed.

Often I was the torn-up test,

the F in the ever-lengthening grade book.

Mom was the sound

of a loudly closed book.

 

She also couldn’t say the word “gay.”

I had “a problem.” I was “different.”

Not all that religious, God fell under

her math tests too. Even God could flunk.

 

Telling her that I worked as an environmentalist

freaked her out. “A what? I can see you

whistling on dark forest trails,

a bear swatting you down for good.”

When I walk in the woods,

I don’t whistle. My dreams are of bears,

deer, and snowbirds.

 

Mom always kept a clean house.

See boxes on the floor in mine.

Dusting? What? I want magic,

 

a forest that takes me in real deep.

No problem if I can’t find my way back.

  

JERRY AND JEFF IN CAPE MAY

 

The sun gobbles up the horizon line,

sets a cellophane sky on fire.

It’s romantic.

 

Jerry says “Oh, Jeff”

and Jeff says there’s a great

restaurant a mile away.

They stay in a refurbished

Victorian house, Jerry’s idea

of bliss. Jeff would be fine

with a Motel Six. Sex,

 

finding a sheltered place

when rain pours down–

you get to see the sun pop

back out, blankets cover wet sand,

the ocean

laced with light.

 

Kenneth Pobo won the 2014 Blue Light Press Book Award for Bend of Quiet.  They published it in 2015.  His work has appeared in: Hawaii Review, Caesura, Mudfish, The Queer South anthology, Cream City Review, and elsewhere  He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania.  He and his partner have two cats and a garden with lilies and dahlias.  Catch his Internet radio show, Obscure Oldies, on Saturdays 6-8:30pm on Widecast through tunein.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Stories by Aurelia Lorca

Santa Muerte’s Lover

He told me not to fall in love with him; he belonged to someone else.

“You don’t understand,” he said. “I’m a heroin addict. It takes over me. My body doesn’t even become my own any more. You don’t even drink!”

“I drank enough last spring to get in trouble in my graduate program by telling my thesis advisor that all California Literature needed was yet another novel about a Spanish friar.”

“You don’t understand,” he would say, over and over again.

Each time I would argue, “Clown magic!”

But I did not understand.

He relapsed a year after he came to San Francisco. He relapsed hard. He lost his phone, had hocked his play station, and was off work for four days from the restaurant he worked at. He had no distractions so he decided to draw.  I thought it was an illustration of The Virgin of Guadalupe. He wore her on a medallion around his neck. He had told me how grandmother’s house was adorned with her image. He had told me how when he was boosting from stores, he prayed to her for protection.

However, it was not the Virgin of Guadalupe. Her veil was green and speckled with stars. A halo of gold and orange streaks surrounded her, and her dress was red. Her face was bone, her hands were bone, and clasped piously.   She was held up by a devil, or dark angel.

He would tell me years later, “What we think of as demons are really angels tearing us away from flesh.”

The drawing was of Santa Muerte: The Skinny Lady,the Bony Lady, the White Girl, the White Sister, the Pretty Girl, the Powerful Lady, the Godmother.

It was always Santa Muerte, not the Virgin of Guadalupe, not heroin, not even the crazy bitch he was with after me who knocked out his teeth and gave him what he called “vampire fangs.” It was Santa Muerte. She was his lover. She was the one he loved the most. She was the only one who understood how someday he would be completely hers, and hers alone.

pink-flower-on-sidewalk
Via Favim

On O’Farrell And Powell  

Did I say I love you? It was the last time I saw you. I was on my way to a protest for the Ukraine in Union Square. Did I say I love you? I was late. I walked by you on O’Farrell and Powell across from Macy’s. I was late, and I was walking down O’Farrell, and the sun was so bright, you were crouched on the corner with a row of backpacks and someone’s pit-bull. Your face was so bruised and swollen I almost did not recognize you. I looked down and I almost didn’t recognize you because your face was purple. Like a big blueberry. I think I even gasped. You said hi but you did not smile. Everything was so bright, the sun was so bright, and your face was so dark. “What happened?” I asked.“Some guys at the bar next to our squat on California and Hyde didn’t like the way we looked,” you said. “They thought we had a knife, we didn’t. There were six of them and two of us. The bar called the cops- They knew we had been squatting there and not giving anyone any problems. The cops said we could press charges, but I didn’t have my id, and my buddy is on parole. So we didn’t.” I asked if you still had the jacket I bought you. You yelled of course and pointed to it on top of your backpack. “I didn’t sell it,” you said. “That wasn’t what I meant,” I said.” I just wanted to make sure you were ok, if it was keeping you warm. “ You were with Luna, your friend’s dog, a skateboard, and all of your backpacks. I didn’t know what to do or say. There was something larger than myself on that street going on- not just the protest up in Union Square that I was running late to.   The sunlight was so bright and there were people around. Whatever it was felt so big, and all was exposed. It was too big and too mushy to be on the street corner like that with so many people around. Your face was un-naturally bruised, and not just from getting beat up. I know now it was a sign that your heart was giving out. I gave you ten dollars. “You don’t have to do that,” you said, “I don’t want your money.” “Please,” I said, “just be ok.” I was running late to a protest. My friend also was once a junkie and knew more dead than the living, I wanted to support her. The world was bigger than my heartache. I was running late, so I asked you to come with me and you said you couldn’t but you would meet me later. There was something I had to say. I think I said it. I said I love you there on the street corner, on O’Farrell and Powell. Once upon a time it upset you when I said I love you too much, but I said it there on the street corner, even though it felt so weird to be so vulnerable like that. I didn’t think it could be the last time I ever saw you. I just needed to say I love you because your face was so black and blue. I didn’t think it would be the last time I saw you. I just wanted you to know that I loved you.   You told me that you’d meet me later, that you had to wait for your friends, that you couldn’t leave their dog and backpack, that you’d come to the protest, but it was the last time I ever saw you other than in my dreams.

Aurelia Lorca is the pen-name of a woman from the borderlands of the Monterey Peninsula who has been motionless in the twist of time. Her writing largely focuses on questions of ethnicity and identity and often reassembles narratives from histories which have been forgotten as a way to remember.