Sad News Yesterday - Trinidad Sanchez, Jr. - Trino Passes
FROM Regina Chavez y Sanchez:
My beloved husband, Trinidad Sánchez, Jr., died today at the Methodist Hospital. He was such a loving man, gentle spirit and leader. His words and laughter will live on forever. The poet, activist and teacher must live on in all of us!
UPDATE: Check this website from Gemini Ink for information on upcoming memorial fundraising events and donations.
Woke up this morning to an email box full of blues shining blue light in my dawn blue room. Sad news. I am proud to say that I knew Trino. I was strongly and profoundly influenced by his energy and actions over the past 15 years. Like so many, I saw him as a role model. I loved the beret he wore proudly. (Not many people know that I was recruited for college by the Brown Berets -- who knows what would have become of me without an education.) I loved the Mexicaness of his passion, his passion for life -- even if that sounds like a cliche -- I had my father to show the way in that light; what a "whole man" is like, the literal translation of "macho" just as "hembra" is a woman, like Frida, realized. He was not afraid of sentiment. As one of my favorite musicians and philosophers, Joam Armatrading, once sang: "Show some emotion!" I say that as the first order of advice to developing poets. Emotion, not the end-all, but the kick that gets the wheel turning for turning out the perfect urn. Trino understood this Master/Slave dialect better than Hegel. The only comfort I can muster is knowing that I am not alone, that there is a heart-force of his influence ready to help. Please help. Like so many of our artists, teachers, activists, Trino died without health insurance. At one point there was a fund established in the name of Jose Antonio Burciaga to help in such cases -- I'm not sure what happened, other than the fact that it's funded by out-of-work community workers, and low-paid professionals, like me. (I know Alfred Arteaga could use the help for his heart right now. And raulsalinas was recently hospitalized with a serious condition and faces more surgery.)
Sad to think how many are saddened right now. Maybe this sadness should be oil for the pump.
If you are in Texas, come to San Antonio for a benefit reading and memorial event August 6 at Ruta Maya. Thanks to Tammy, "Sunlit Doorway" for this info in the comment box of the previous message about Trino:
What: Trinidad Sánchez Jr. Celebration and Fundraiser
When: Sunday, August 6, 2006, 2-8pm
Where: Ruta Maya Riverwalk Coffee House
107 East Martin
San Antonio, TX 78205
There will be an opportunity to sign up and share our words, read from his poems, tell stories and make music that celebrates Trino and the spirit he has imparted to us and so many others.
All proceeds (donations as well as a percentage of the sales revenue of that day at Ruta Maya) to help defray health care and rehab expenses for Trino.
For more info, you can click here and here for previous blog entries concerning Trino.
Anyone in Denver who can help with a venue for a fundraiser, let me know. One at Cafe Cultura would be good. I'll be in San Francisco for a reading at the Intersection of the Arts on August 6 (my birthday), but I'll be back around the 14th.
Here's a few of his poems. And, yes, write a poem and right a wrong, and light a light in some child's eyes for Trino. And light a laugh in some friend's face, and light a light in the heart of your lover. Regina, I am so, so saddened for your loss. As my mother often said of my father: "There will never be another man like him."
THE FIRST TIME
You tell your father "I love you."
It's not easy. For we are taught
to love women....not men.
My father was the one I wanted
to be near, to feel his strength,
to know his passion for life.
The distance between us went unnoticed
until that fateful day of the phone call.
It would be my first airplane ride
from Cincinnati to Detroit,
ironically, to be with him at death.
Funny, for years I saved the ticket stub
not sure whether to remind me
of my first flight or his death.
Standing next to him,
I remember being strong
after all, I was his namesake
and others were expecting me
to be a man.
The day I cried was months later,
when I went to my mailbox
for his weekly letters and poems.
The box was empty no letter, no poems.
I was so alone. Lost. Confused.
I had been taught about sex,
but no one had explained
the overwhelming sensations
that arrive with the death
of the man who for twenty years,
I called "papa".
He lay so still, properly embalmed.
His amigos from the Monterrey Poolroom
paid their final respects.
The priest said some stupid prayers.
I cursed God for the strange feeling
of being a young man without a father.
I wanted to hug him one last time
or would it be our first?
The line from the poem
he wrote to me,
after my leaving home,
"it was papa who took a drink
and wanted to hug you tight".
like a bad taste in my mouth.
Now the distance between the family
has separated us
to different parts of the country.
Mama, lost her voice,
she quietly waits for your return
at the Nightingale Nursing Home.
She teaches us a lesson how sometimes
death sneaks slowly up on you
weakens you till your last breath.
Now, I struggle to be father
for my beautiful ten year old daughter.
You are not here but I want you to know
I don't blame you anymore.
The poet in me wants to share a poem
with you, make you smile, laugh
but all I can do is tell the children
" . . . my father was a poet."
I feel so proud, at the precise moment
when I express your words with my voice:
but I remember too well
how the first time I told my father
"I love you" . . . was not easy.
* * *
ON THE QUESTION OF RACE
based on a poem by Michele Banks
They ask me to write down my race, and I think and think very seriously
and consider writing down the truth and have my answer read . .
I am the penúltimo of seven “Cepillos” and three seeeesters
–now at 61 I wash my hair with a washcloth!
Mis papas are from the edge of two countries y el Río Bravo
some say divides us while others agree unites us.
The countries I am from are full of languages that I have yet
learned to speak. Inside this body, I can carry four types of spit
Spanish, English, Poetry and Fire.
Jorge Negrete, Lucha Villa, Pedro Infante, Alfredo Jiménez,
legends de un otro tiempo echando gritos los corridos of a historia
never taught to me in school, a history I sometimes do not remember.
Loneliness inside this body has driven me to the sounds of Satchmo,
The Duke, Ella, Lionel pushing me away from the edge of death.
The American hamburgers, Chinese fortune cookies,
which I learned in my old age que no son de la gran China
Italian spaghetti, Arabic Hummus, the Greek salads
Mexican menudo, Puerto Rican tostones, Lebanese Pistachios
mama’s tortillas, frijoles y arroz tastes & flavors
linger in the bowels of a 170 lb. body.
In a poolroom as far as you could get from Monterrey
sounds of billiard balls clicking against each other
chasing after the classic 8 & 9 for a win are inside this body.
The gritos of Mexican men shouting ‘bolas, bolas, bolas’
wanting their balls racked echo in the drums of my orejas,
the smoke smell from papa’s cigars are carried
on the sides of my nostrils.
Mi padrino, tío Fermín y mi madrina tía Odila
the smell of oils, their paintings from visits to
their casita in a big city of iron, steel and cars
remains another world and a strong part of this body.
Ron Allen often threatened in his poems to kill
us with his blackness and he did and I have died
a thousand times inside the poems of people of
color in a city known for the death of her children
only to be given back in resurrection
of brown words others have called poems.
Cerveza y tequila cuentos have invaded
the veins & arteries leaving embarrassing
recuerdos y crudas inside this body.
El dolor y confusión de la muerte
the first death in my life
my best friend my abuela Abigail,
makes me afraid to really love
for in the end only death and loss remain.
The wins and losses of racquetball games,
cribbage games if you stand close enough
to my own embarrassment, I carry the smells
of being skunked.
The mystery of springtime, primavera uncovering
herself in the simple conversations of new friends . . .
how my father died on Good Friday . . .
tiempo de primavera finally connected us
the struggles of becoming a man - respecting other men
accepting them as replicas of my father
whose name and legacy I carry in the initials Jr.
But I stop
* * *
POEM FOR MY BROTHERS ON FATHER'S DAY
Valiant/committed to peace
The ones who struggle for dignity
and do not run from the suffering
of their people,
sincere, good gentlemen
who are not afraid to ask for pardon
and who know how to forgive.
Those who in the sacred moments
so human in life
are not afraid to cry
and who with out embarrassment
are not afraid to hug their sons & daughters
trying to be a brother and father
or who are also mother and sister
a companion sharing friendship.
projected to the future—the cosmic race
connected to his roots—his past
forming community, respecting his culture
the ones who love life
and know how to celebrate it.
the ones who respect women
without dominating with their machismo,
those who know how to be persons of faith
and are not afraid to pray.
Americans and those who are Puerto Ricans . . .
these are the men
who have shown me how to love and
who today, we remember
these are my brothers
on their day of celebration.
* * *
Trinidad Sánchez, Jr. is a renowned Chicano performer, poet and author of several books of poetry including the best seller Why Am I So Brown?, the venerated Poems by Father and Son, and Compartiendo De La Nada, which addressed politics in Central America. In more than twenty years of teaching and performing he has been featured over 1000 times in various schools and poetry venues. In January 2005, after years of literary performance and activism in Denver and Albuquerque, he and his wife, Regina, returned to live in San Antonio Texas.
Described by the late Ricardo Sánchez as singing “the shaman song of meaning and justice,” Trinidad has been recognized for his activism on behalf of those in the penal system and his commitment to peace and the struggle against racism and other forms of oppression. He was awarded the Martin Luther King “Keep the Dream Alive” Award for serving as an inspiration to students. For promoting the mission of the public school system, he was awarded the Champion of Education award by the San Antonio Independent School District. He has worked as a trainer/counselor with developmentally delayed adults in a group home for Mission Road Development Center, San Antonio, Texas.