Poetry: “Reel” life lessons

Scene with Edward James Olmos

(Zoot Suit 1981)

His Pachuco talk,

   his Pachuco walk,

      his Pachuco swagger.


He is on the side

   of the heroes

      and the fools.


The black zoot suit,

   the red shirt with wide collars,

      the crucifix hanging below his heart.


He is the right

   and the wrong

      of Henry Reyna.


Snaps the fingers

   and plays the piano

      to the tune of laughter.


He is a shadow from the streets

   or a black light darkening

      a crack on the moon.


He knows Sleepy Lagoon

   what lies in the deep

      waiting to be awakened.


He brings nickels

   to the court trial,

      the carnival with restless rides.


And by the end,

   He is cornered

      by acrobats who spit fire.


He curls


      into a fetal position.


And bellows

   his naked,

      native cry.


We are 14, laughing

   in Ms. Bari’s class

      when we first hear it.


We are 14, crying

   in the streets when we

      see the first chalk outline.


When Love Was Reels” (Poetry) by José B. González. Ed. Arte Público Press.  

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