All posts tagged: Issues

Human Trees Are Not Moved by Wind

Translated by ADDIE LEAK


The Mango Garden

Birds of prey circled in the distant sky, watching the Earth’s surface: nothing, just warm air and a hot sun that spilled its rays angrily, recklessly. Sando jumped over a stream of dirty water and walked briskly down the road until he saw a group of young boys squatting on the road, defecating on piles of filth. He paid them no heed and continued a bit farther, where he saw another group playing football, bathed in thick dust, creating a commotion as they ran after their small ball. They yelled excitedly, calling each other after famous footballers, bellowing frenzied orders and laughing. One boy whimpered over his scraped knees, and others stood outside the circle, cheering and whispering.

Human Trees Are Not Moved by Wind



                        —for Joseph O. Legaspi

And when you whispered under your mask, I don’t think I can stand these two young lovers, bright as the low winter sun shining through the dingy subway car windows, I knew what you meant: maskless, giggling, boy holding girl by the waist, taking selfies on a gray seat made for two. We sat across, letting their tenderness reflect on us: her back to his chest making a hearth of their bodies while the train snakes its turn over the elevated tracks. Hi-rises loom over gentrified streets, the graffitied walls, a sign for $0.99 pizza—how old neighborhoods create a new belonging. Nothing jostles these two as they attend to their own happiness, not the train’s hard lurch, its rumble and squeal, this couple at the beginning of their desires, you turning to me with your brown eyes in the day’s last light as we approach our final stop.


Patron Saints


Part One

It was winter by the time Mina and I met. I was on my usual afternoon stroll in Garden City when I saw him coming toward me by the United States embassy. He went slowly along the compound’s perimeter wall, his hands in the pockets of his brown leather jacket. I’d just purchased some oranges from a fruit seller on the street, and I took one and began to peel it. Mina didn’t look happy, and I was unsure if I should say hello to him or not.

Patron Saints

USA Portraits

Artwork and introduction by NARSISO MARTINEZ

A portrait of a man painted on a spinach boxTender Leaves (2021). Ink, charcoal, and gold leaf on cardboard produce box (52.50 x 62.50 in). Photo by Yubo Dong.


Through my art, I intend to highlight the difficult reality faced by American farmworkers, a workforce essential to American life consisting of men and women almost wholly of insecure immigration status. This status makes them vulnerable to predatory practices from agribusiness. I am a former farmworker myself; after immigrating to the United States from a small community outside of Oaxaca, Mexico, I worked nine seasons in the fields of Eastern Washington state to pay for my undergraduate and graduate degrees.

I seek to honor farmworkers and reveal the difficult working conditions they face. Their portraits and scenes from the fields are executed on found produce boxes. When I nest images of farmworkers amidst the colorful brand names and illustrations of agricultural corporations, I hope to help the viewer make a connection, or a disconnection rather, and start creating consciousness about the people that farm their food.

USA Portraits

Aphorism 57: You Cannot Fail at Being You


We cherish ourselves even to the bones
which like some mother’s rigid hangers
hold us to our lacquered shapes in the smug 
dialetheia of am and briefly was until 
we come to our raveled ends       everyone 
just taking up space until space takes us back
one washed-out moment at a time        like tea 
leaves steeping in a cup until we’re ready 
for someone to bow in close and take
a quick ceremonial sip       then turn the cup
       wipe clean the rim and hand it carefully 
to yet another honored guest who       mindful 
of what we might let go to waste       will not 
leave until every drop is drunk.

Aphorism 57: You Cannot Fail at Being You

Jack Benny


John Ashbery called me after he died
So you can imagine my excitement
When in his droll hyper-nasalated
Timbre quite undiminished by death
He chatted on about the bowls of
Pitted cherries provided as snack-food
In the upper worlds and of afternoons
Climbing trees with Edna Millay to read
Comic books with her in the branches.
Then his voice dropped two octaves
And he spoke solemnly of Jack Benny:
‘You can say funny things or say things
Funny but silence was the punchline
For Jack Benny.’ And he was gone.

Jack Benny