Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 3



Robert René Galván


Welcoming Committee

My childhood home still stands
on what was once the edge of town
atop a hill of rocky soil,
framed by scrubby oaks
and a pecan tree that my mother
nursed in a coffee can.

The lot lay just beyond the cemetery,
and when my father saw a For Sale sign posted,
he was excited because he had been living
in a duplex on Haynes Street near the river
with a wife and five children.

The day “Prieto” entered the realtor’s office,
the plot became suddenly unavailable,
so he asked his friend Michael,
to purchase the land, and, indeed,
it was still available, and the two pulled
a fast one on the salesman, and soon
the architect posted a large sign
which read: This home being built
by Bill Milburn for Dr. Roberto Galván
and his family,
so then the chuchumeca from around
the corner, who fancied herself a local celebrity,
went door to door with
a there-goes-the-neighborhood
petition, but to no avail;
for years I saw her face shrivel
into a dry riverbed, each fissure,
a tributary of bitterness.




Oñate’s Foot

The stolen boot,
a bronze complete
with the stirrup
and cruel spurs,
made its way
to the protest
in Albuquerque
where the figure
of that ladron stands.

Masked men,
removed the trophy
from its bag
and hoisted it
for the crowd
to see;
amputated from
the other
effigy in Alcalde,
a scant revenge
for the Acoma
massacre atop
the mesa:
villagers slaughtered,
set upon by
crazed hounds
who ate their
flesh in the streets,
survivors enslaved,
the right foot
hacked off
as punishment
for a rebellion
in their own land:
legacy of the
“last conquistador,”
husband of the
granddaughter
of Cortés
and Moctezuma’s
eldest, Tecuichpotzin.

Because the Spaniards
could not absolve
his atrocities,
the soldier was banished
from the new kingdom,
and yet apologists
stood about
the demonstration
in pretend camouflage
with their rude
instruments,
and some of my
Hispanic brothers
defended the statue,
had forgotten
that we are
mestizos
born of the intrusion
of three ships,
driven out
by a march
of righteousness
and invasive
breeding.




Mourning Dove

I found a fledgling
in the garden,
feathers
still mottled,
the color
of shale,
blended
with shadows
and stones,
her lament
not fully voiced;

the earliest song
I can remember –
the paean
of afternoon
siesta
from a row
of émigré
palms
as I napped
with one eye
open
because
my mother
said it was
the cry
of La Llorona,

and yet
I raised
an orphan
with an eye-
dropper
and he
wouldn’t
leave my
shoulder
until the
day I shrugged
and he rushed
through the
labyrinth
of branches,
never to be
seen again,
but I still hear
his lonely
elegy:

cucurrucucú paloma....




Barriers

Imaginary bars surround the world,
Divisions of our own desire,

Of Latitude and longitude,
A Prime Meridian that binds time,

No more enduring than a caravan’s
Scar across the sand.

The earth effects its own boundaries:
Mountain snow carves its way
From the rough spine of the great divide
To vast oceans around a shifting continent,

And yet we parse the world into
North and South,
East and West,
Left and right,

In a maze of streets and tracks,
The gated community –
Your side, my side,

Just as a great wall dissuaded the Steppes,
An Iron Curtain, the West,
And cloisters of piled stones
Encircled the righteous,
Sprawling acres
Cordoned with barbed wire
In the mosaic of fields;

Divisions determined by castes that form
As melatonin rises or recedes
From the sun’s kiss,

And when a river isn’t enough,
We erect a weir of twisted steel and stone;

Of all the things that keep us apart,
Nothing more impenetrable than the cage
Around the human heart.




Mestiza

I gaze at my daughter’s
graceful hands,
her olive skin
and amber eyes
which had been blue
until her third year,
her Nordic jaw
and indigenous
cheekbones,
the hybrid nose
and chestnut hair:
amalgam of our
two seeds –
in some cultures,
an abomination,
but the arc
of humanity
in her smile;
in the future
the whole world
will look like her
and wonder
what all the fuss
was about,
and finally
be kind
to one
another.



Robert René Galván: "Born in San Antonio, I reside in New York City where I work as a professional musician and poet. My last collection of poems is entitled, Meteors, published by Lux Nova Press. My poetry was recently featured in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Azahares Literary Magazine, Gyroscope, Hawaii Review, Hispanic Culture Review, Newtown Review, Panoply, Somos en Escrito, Stillwater Review, West Texas Literary Review, and the Winter 2018 issue of UU World. I am a Shortlist Winner Nominee in the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award for Best Poem. Recently, my poems are featured in Puro ChicanX Writers of the 21st Century and in Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought. My next book of poems, The Shadow of Time, is forthcoming from Adelaide Books in 2021."




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