CURATED BY ROSEBUD BEN-ONI
Flight (On June Jordan’s “Free Flight”)
“I must arise”
- June Jordan
There is never enough travel to keep you
a back pack, ready,
rolled up maps, socks, undies,
a vile of holy water, sage in a bag
for the spirits that travel,
you too, back up, on shoulders,
filled, crammed with passport forms,
thumb print scans , a room with your shit
laid out on a table, rummage this again,
Mr. TSA Agent, yes, sir,
no, sir, why gloves?
That’s not a liquid,
it’s a sensitive skin,
teal colored Gillette eight ounce gel,
that’s not a weapon,
it’s a butter knife
for the pan and the juicy, yes, hmmmm,
juicy Nutella. Ask him for that.
You have not eaten.
The line is longer
when you get out,
you are not a terrorist, just checking,
upload all the photos, the blog post,
photo-bomb the shit out of Westminster,
pay three times to get in the Tate Modern,
explode your eyes at the Tate Modern,
over and over and over,
over a pint of Carling
with a pretty Irish girl,
walk her to her place
near Chairing Cross, cross the street, in the puddles,
in the sprinkle, in the gray, change the gray
to night, quedaté un tantito en Russell Square-
change clothes, a black mossimo v-neck
for a heavy polo, fifty percent cotton,
fifty percent, hot, sweaty,
walk you fat ass, walk,
walk, then pack again, pay the fare, the transfer,
the taxi, to
get you to Stansted,
the Costa coffee with soy one percent milk,
with a baguette and gouda cheese and a half a Roma tomato,
for a bit, pop in the plane, a fifty dollar flight
for a twenty pound note
fiberglass bus seat
on a plane- no safety instructions,
no upright tray table,
just buckle your ass in
or you will slide down the tarmac
as soon as you land. Throw out all the clothes
you put in the bag, dip them in Lysol,
dip them in honey, dip them in boiling water,
get the scent of exploration off of them,
come on, you only have another twenty
before she has to leave for her flight before you
have to leave for Austin
por el amor de Dios,
hurry up and see you both, alone, a sliver of a minute,
between the rush of conversation-
did you feed the dog
walk the dog
Check the dinner,
eat the dinner,
fix the breakfast,
boil the eggs,
rock me to sleep,
get up, take a leak,
take a shower, say goodbye,
forget to say goodbye.
Then, forget the names of the days of the week
or the that time changes
or that a poet died while you were away,
a fucking frolic in an open field,
another moment stuck in a line,
what a trip,
another minute to see that
no one in this place is going exactly where you are.
Stand still, would you
Q&A WITH LUPE MENDEZ
Which do you prefer: taking off, the flight or landing? Why?
I prefer the flight itself – there is something a tad bit unruly about being sent aloft in the clouds in a metal tube that keeps me in awe of technology – it’s the moment between the last shots of ground and then the air, the clouds, the storm, the trying to relax in air, the vulnerability, that just like when one is on the sea, you are truly at nature’s mercy, then you get a glimpse of ground again and you come down, a bit changed from the air up there.
Who are you reading now?
Currently, I am reading Atonement by Ian McEwan, as well as Gwendolyn Brooks, Roque Dalton and Brenda Shaughnessy for class. I am currently in my last year of MFA at UTEP (Online, Low Res). I am taking a film and lit class, and by next week, I will have to read Children of Men by PD James…
What callings do you answer? Which do you leave alone?
Hmmm, I think, I answer the call of need and mercy – I am always an advocate, a passionate man, a sucker for helping. I have to be in places where I know I can do good. I don’t want to let those moments go to waist. I am proactive like that – and I find as a poet, a writer, dealing in education, literacy and books are always in need of defenders and foot soldiers. We must protect them, so that they can protect us. I listen to nature, I pay attention to the waves, and the wind, and the silence when nothing moves. I pay attention to my body (it knows when I have had enough). I try to leave alone those moments that won’t end up fruitful. An ignorant argument is not for me.
What place have you visited recently that inspired you?
So I just got back (like 2 weeks before CantoMundo) from a two week trip to London and Madrid, and while I was away, a newbie poet, a young Alice Alsup, died, just as I was leaving (I was in Chicago, about to catch my connecting flight to London, when I got the news). While on the first half of the trip in London, I wrote an elegy about her existing in London.
How do you define Latina/o poetics?
Latin@ poetics for me is all about creating the moment that can be universal, across cultures, across languages, across instances, but in a way that speaks through the combining of two or more cultures – the Brazilian, the Mexican, the American, the Persian, the Chinese. I think “Latinidad” has to do with delving into the heart of the root and finding the fruit that was once the past and saying with words “Look, this is the juiciness I will share with you”.
Editor's Note: This was previously on our old site.
Originally from Galveston, TX, Lupe Méndez is published poet, educator, Librotraficante and Canto Mundo Fellow. His poetry has been published in Huizache, Nakum, La Noria and Glassworks. He is currently an On-Line MFA Candidate at the University of Texas @ El Paso. www.thepoetmendez.org