Achiote Seeds, Spring 2007
with poems by Barbara Jane Reyes, Rich Villar, and Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor
Curse on the Poet Who Read Too Long
after Martín Espada and John Murillo
You have spilled your wine on this audience
for the last hour and a half, left red stains on their shoes
that will never be clean.
Your voice curdles the milk of infants, twists
the ears of innocent readers, transforms them into haters
of American poetry.
I know your stance on minority writers,
how their memories refuse craft, as if bones and teeth
could be erased so easily,
and the Black poet slated after you must read
to half an audience, for you have driven them away,
hungry and sleep-heavy.
May the egg timer on the next podium you read from
morph into a tasmanian devil, eat all your books,
and leave you naked in the auditorium.
May all infants screech at the mention of your name.
May your readers return to the bookstore baffled,
demanding a concordance or a refund.
May you be mistaken for a wine server, porter, coat-check;
may your histories be burned, your children never made
aware of your existence,
and may your tenure be held in limbo until you listen
to the new music, quietly, until it moves you enough
to step out of its way.
Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, Philippines and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her undergraduate education at UC Berkeley, and her MFA at San Francisco State University. She is the author of Gravities of Center (Arkipelago, 2003) and Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish, 2005), for which she received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including 2nd Avenue Poetry, Asian Pacific American Journal, Chain, Interlope, New American Writing, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, Parthenon West Review and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Mills College, and she lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland, CA.
Rich Villar's written work can be found in the journals Rattapallax 13 and Parse: Volume I. In 2004, he appeared with Team NYC-louderARTS as part of the National Poetry Slam in St. Louis; the following year, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His work was commissioned for Actors Stock NYC's production of the play "Eve Descending," in which he also appeared. He is the host and curator of Acentos, a Bronx-based bimonthly reading series celebrating the work of Latino poets.
Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor received her MA degree in English with honors from Western Washington University in 2003 for her thesis "Notes from the Margins," a mixed work of memoir and fiction. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in the Katipunan Literary Magazine and the online magazine Hannah. In addition, she has served as a freelance writer and editor for several trade journals. Currently she is working on her first novel, tentatively titled Maganda's Comb, and she performs regularly as a storyteller in her local area. Visit her blog, Binding Wor(l)ds Together.