Am I not getting something? Será el pueblo tuvo algo que ver? Espero que sí. Or how is it that over 150 people showed up on a Tuesday night to hear the poets? How is it that we had to bring chairs in from elsewhere and still had a standing-room only crowd at the spot? Desde el mero corazón para el pueblo… though Jimmy Mendiola and Oscar Garza might remind me that this phrase comes lifted from a title of a Les Blanc film about conjunto music. And while this may be true, Tex-Mex conjunto doesn’t have the same resonance for the crowd that came for the palabra last Tuesday as it does for the three of us. It was Mexico D.F. meets East Los and luchadores enmascarados with shades of Chile and Colombia and El Salvador for good measure. It was canto a la liberación and barrio autonomy. It was Watts and South Central out in solidarity. It was Richard Montoya and Consuelo Velasco who came to support John Carlos de Luna and Kristy Lovich, who speak love and commitment to the ‘hood and to each other through art and poetry. It was Rubén "Funkahuatl" Guevara puttin' it down as the one true East Side beat hipster who gave shout outs to veteran organizers and activistas who came in from the four directions to support their kids and and in some cases, grandkids. It was the lil’ monsters from 700 Pound Gorilla and it was the chamacas from Gorilla Queenz, who were on their way to San Pancho to open for Africa Bambaataa at a New Year’s Eve show I would have loved to attend. How about that? Da South Bronx was, as such, was none too far away, either. And if I sing the broken-hearted love poem, perhaps one last time too many, I don’t really feel like such a culero anymore. And if the poem is about lost love, la chilanga que se me fue, or if it touched upon missed opportunities or the pain which eventually subsides, we can simply remind ourselves of the words in a poem by one of the beloved Boyle Heights bards, the Bus Stop Prophet, who, in a piece that invokes the "Blueprints of the Heavens," tells us that while life’s lessons can be hard, every hard knock is an opportunity for growth.
Yes, Brooklyn & Boyle as a space has been reborn. El Corazón del Pueblo has emerged in it’s place. The magazine will continue to flourish and grow. The new year is upon us. Make it one you will remember. Make a difference. But remember to dance, to sing, to write, to never be ashamed of who you are or where you come from. Braid your sister’s hair in a good way and tell yourself that peace and prosperity are possible in the world. Love more, live more, forgive more. Like Francisco Hernández, my soul brother, said on New Years Eve. “If it is to be, it is up to me.”"Flowers of Fire" will return on Wednesday, January 13. Get there early. We may run out of room. As always, it's open mic. On January 23, stay tuned for Ojos de Mi Pueblo, Voces de Mi Barrio, a digital media and spoken word celebration of youth, by youth & for youth. More on this incredible project in a minute. And on January 27, Big Joe Hurt will be there to show us what Chicano Blues is all about. The Boyle Heights bards will be there in force.