Saturday, June 9, 2012

3 poems by FPL Poetry Series host, Oscar Peña


Oscar C. Peña was born and raised in Kingsville, Texas.  His poetry reflects a love of family, growing up in a small town and a belief that joy, pain, sorrow, laughter and love are meant to be shared.

A member of The Poetry Society of Texas, Gulf Coast Poets, and the Galveston Poets Round Table, Oscar has been a featured poet at the Webster Barnes and Noble; Seabrook Coffee Oasis Poetry Reading Series; and was a Juried Poet at the 2007 Houston Poetry Fest.

The three poems below are from Oscar C. Peña's book Fire of Thorns.

Protest at Saint Martin’s

My mother gave me two dimes
before mass started---
one’s for you and one’s for God.

Men reached out with baskets
and she noticed I gave nothing.
Give the man themuuuney!
I cannn’t.
Did you lose your dime?
Nooo, just God’s, I whispered in reply.

Eight years old and dry-mouthed nervous
during first communion; when Padre José places
the hostia on my tongue the wafer flutters
in my mouth and hangs there like a bat.
My tongue stabs at the intruder, my eyes are melting,
I’m gonna vomit if I don’t spit.

A woman, in widow’s black, grabs
and pulls me to her bosom.  Her rosary worrying my teeth,
she jabs a gnarled finger and rams the cracker
down my throat.
It was a miracle---

That night…
Amá, I was kinda wondering…
Mom interrupted---
don’t worry, God will find his dime.

~~Oscar Peña


This mythical city of gold drew Conquistadores
to the new world in search of that which does not exist.

I look into the water
and see what others do not,
viridian, ochre, gold, beryllium ores
of rose, emerald and aquamarine,
coral, silver, yellowed reds and jade.

Dive deep,
reaching for what calls
a little deeper,
but I cannot touch.

Now afraid
the surface far above
I turn back
and swim, and swim, and swim.

Help me,
tired, too far---
I break into the light,
gasp the air and vow never…

I look into the water
and see what others do not,
viridian, ochre, gold, beryllium ores---

And I dive.

~~Oscar Peña


My father said,
    I took care of my sister
    when I was eight years old
    while Papá y Mamá picked cotton.
    We stayed under a tin roof
     hiding from the sun.
     She died.

My father said,
    I walked with Papá
    and other men to a ranch
    near the town of Carlotta to collect wages---
    no one went to knock
    or call the man out.

My father said,
    Ranchos always have dogs looking for an excuse,
    we were announced … we waited…
    kicked rocks and waited…
    talked about weather and women… and waited.

    The man finally came out and asked what we wanted.
     I hated that man.

My father said---
    Lo odio.

Seventy years and his words still dripped
strong and sweet as wild honey
waiting to sting.

My father never told me his sister’s name.

~~Oscar Peña

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