Is "Ysleta Poeta" or poeta de ysleta a thesis statement? Perhaps yes and no. I hesitate to call myself a regional poet since I did not grow up here. I deeply respect writers from here, de la frontera. I mean “Ysleta Poeta” threefold... a burrowing owl appeared a day before my maternal grandmother Goya (in the picture on the left) passed away in February of this year. After Goya’s funeral, my aunt gave me a copy of a poem in Spanish titled “Ysleta, Texas” that Goya wrote about 50 years ago. A few years ago, I wrote a poem in English by the same title. Goya explores the pain of her murdered son in her poem, a story I know well, but I never knew she conveyed that pain and anger and pain so intimately in a poem. If that was the only poem she wrote, I can see why. And she named that pain after her home. Perhaps it was never truly home. It saddens me to think that the birthplace of their children is not home for many mothers.
Goya immigrated from the state of Chihuahua in the 1920’s. Her husband’s family traces back a few centuries in Ysleta, since it was part of México. My mom grew up here till she was about ten before Goya divorced her husband and moved to Cali.
In my Ysleta poem, I search for family history in this lower valley de la frontera. A few years ago, I buried a copy of my poem in a wood panel in my house. I live a town block away from the adobe my grandfather built in Ysleta. Last November, a day before Thanksgiving, I finally found the murdered son's, my uncle's, headstone in the old, unkempt section of Mt. Carmel cemetery after a significant search through the area. As I was about to give up, a jackrabbit darted in the direction of Oscar’s grave and I followed it and found the headstone. I don't care if this sounds hokey. Birds, crows live in the pine trees in the new section of the cemetery... everyone hears them. Jackrabbits appear fast. Down the street, plump goat tied to a fence near tall weeds one day, gone the next. Though my grandfather's buried in the newer, well-kept section of the cemetery, his headstone plate is often packed with dirt from dust storms and neglect.
Just the same, I don't mind if this blog is a little or a lot hidden away. I don't want to be a perfectionist going batty with sentence arrangement, blowing away the dirt on headstone Braille, pink eraser dust. I started the blog to publicly record my thoughts this summer, yes, like a punishment/celebration of the spontaneous. For the joy and pain of the unedited word. I should’ve been a penitente. I feared entering Bloglandia. I forgot my three point “thesis.” Cause for celebration. Bloglandia helps. Why Ysleta Poeta? Not Poeta de Ysleta. I’m not from here and I'm from here. I live here. I love here. What began as a search for the past has now become life. “Ta-ta-ta”… ysle-ta poe-ta, I hear the opening of Nabokov's Lolita. I hope to write poems with lines scavenged from my notebooks: "My passion gone ration.” I hope to write poems ravaged from life, my life. I want to write with eyes, throat, the train’s howl, the balls of a goat.