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Matt Sedillo: California Poets Part 6, Two Poems

Matt Sedillo

October 18th, 2023

California Poets: Part VI

Matt Sedillo

Two Poems

Ignore Him That’s Lopez

When choosing a man for the job Why not consider yourself a Lopez A Lopez is Sturdy Reliable Economic Hardworking God fearing And one day God willing A Lopez is going to revolutionize The way this country works Yes sir OSHA violations Forget ‘em Labor laws and regulations Why sweat ‘em It’s industry standard It’s a cold hard fact For projects big and small Once your company goes Lopez You’ll never look back And if by some off chance You get some off brand Loud mouth New age Blue haired Lopez Asking questions Making demands Just pretend they don’t speak English Oldest trick in the book But still effective Otherwise next thing you know You got a god damn Lopez march on your hands And trust me when i say no one wants that No sir The birds to the sky The fish to the sea And the Lopez to work The Lopez was born to serve Why else would they be so good at it And if by some off chance Their wretched hands Tug at the strings Of your bleeding hearts Should their working conditions Their stolen wages The murderous police The kids in cages Should the cries and pleas Of the Lopez become All too desperate All too human To the point Where you can no longer ignore them Just have someone else talk about it Then have them change the subject How bout the 1800s Ellis Island Race in America Then cover everything under the sun Except the people working hardest under it And when the Lopez finally gets it When the Lopez finally sees That their silencing is the key to the oppression When the Lopez finally makes their play For greater representation In film, media, television News, print and academia Or any other way a country Explains itself to itself Then and only then Listen Really listen Take notes Call your notes Field notes Ethnography Get your friends in on it Call your friends peers Cite each other Call what you write Peer reviewed articles Start a journal Call for submissions Conferences Objectivity Call your subjects Lowps Do it so often it becomes Industry standard Lowps studies Now you’re ready for your close up You’ll need an agent An assistant A full time make up artist For your many televised appearances Promoting your latest work American Lowps Where you explain to the American public How a group of people Could go so beaten Battered Then so quickly discarded In towns Cities Counties All called Lopez

They Climbed Into A Graveyard

They started young and they were the best The best of friends And if you weren’t one them Well then you just wouldn’t understand And that was just as well For life is short The world is wide And they were twelve And who at that age Has the time to explain The mystery and meaning Of singing skies Birds that cry The cosmic jest International code Contraband eyes Inside jokes No They grew up across the tracks Parents went way back But didn’t get along Well their fathers did but their mothers didn’t And you know how that goes Some argument Some years ago Didn’t seem like much at the time But like the acid from the battery factory It seeped into Every aspect of their lives They lived under powerlines Rent hikes Pipelines Barbed wire The killer’s siren Near soil that poisoned their lungs As though the gunblast The soundtrack to the late eighties Or their parents screaming Through failing marriages Was not poison enough They resented their fathers for how they treated their mothers Their mothers for how they treated them One tried to teach the other Spanish The other to imagine an old Mexico before their time Frozen in place La patria de Infante Negrete Gloria Marin Maria Felix A Golden Age Of balcony and serenade Where two weary travelers Could finally Be themselves They worked hard The worked smart They stayed inside They stayed up nights They sacrificed They were first generation College grads They left the old neighborhood And talked for years About one day giving back They never did They lived to see incredible things The making of history The Browning of America Taco trucks on every corner A telenovela on every screen They shattered glass ceilings Got jobs with bosses who stole their ideas Married men who left them For younger women Had children Some who made them proud and some who didn’t Though which was which Was never hard to guess They only ever told each other And they laughed and laughed And laughed until they were done Because laughing at the lives That despite our best efforts Turn out just like our parents Is after all just what best friends are for They fell out Ages ago really They didn’t speak for decades Each facing the pain of age The gathering of graves The golden years Where everything starts clicking When you can finally make sense Of all this mystery and meaning Without the one person Who understood them best They reconnected sometime last year Now in their late eighties After one of their husbands finally died They spoke solemn at first out of respect But soon began to laugh and mourn the loss of their own time And they cried And cried And cried Until they were done Each told the story of the other Each told the stories that defined their lives And as this story nears its end There is still yet time For one Sometime in their late forties After one of their second divorces They finally made it to old Mexico They dipped toes in two oceans Their eyes drank the mountains As they recalled the legends of lovers On the final day They dressed in the glamor Of another time Frozen in place They came upon a graveyard Appearing to be locked Undeterred one stepped into the others palms Once lifted she extend her arm to help her friend over the iron rods They crashed to the ground They tore their dresses They spent hours seeking the grave of Maria Felix They sat for hours at the grave of Maria Felix Each told the story of the other Each told of the folly and tragedy Of having been born in the wrong place at the wrong time They left the way they came in Clawing Across the street a child was pointing and laughing One cried back In her Mexican American accent Payaso Que haces Cabron Donde esta tu padres The child said nothing And pointed to an open door Now they were all laughing They had climbed into a graveyard for nothing And yet What is a life without laughter And yet Any story worth having is worth living And yet Laughing at our decisions Our regrets At the lives we have led Despite our best efforts Is just what best friends are for And the were the best The very best The best of friends

Author Bio:

Matt Sedillo has been described as the “best political poet in America” as well as “the poet laureate of the struggle”. His work has drawn comparisons in print to Bertolt Brecht, Roque Dalton, Amiri Baraka, Alan Ginsberg, Carl Sandburg and various other legends of the past.

Sedillo was the recipient of the 2017 Joe Hill Labor Poetry award, a panelist at the 2020 Texas book festival, a participant in the 2012 San Francisco International Poetry Festival, the 2022 Elba Poetry Festival, and the recipient of the 2022 Dante’s Laurel.

Sedillo has appeared on CSPAN and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Axios, the Associated Press among other publications.

Sedillo has spoken at Casa de las Americas in Havana, Cuba, at numerous conferences and forums such as the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education, the National Association of Chicana/Chicano Studies, the Left Forum, the US Social Forum, and at over a hundred universities and colleges, including the University of Cambridge, among many others.

Matt Sedillo is the author of Mowing Leaves of Grass (FlowerSong Press, 2019) and City on the Second Floor (FlowerSong Press, 2022). Both of which are taught at universities throughout the country.

Sedillo is the current literary director of The Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles.


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