Joe Pacheco on Gulf Coast Live

For the eleventh day of Christmas, I had the honor of performing “My First Tropical Christmas” on Gulf Coast Live, WGCU, 90.1 FM. Thursday, January 4 at 1:00. PM. If you do not live in the Sanibel area, you can tune into the station on the internet: http://news.wgcu.org/programs/gulf-coast-live-wgcu


Our local NPR station, WGCU, was kind enough to broadcast and create a website for my poem My First Tropical Christmas. Click the link below if you are interested in hearing the broadcast.
http://news.wgcu.org/post/nuyorican-child-s-christmas-vieques-my-first-tropical-christmas

Joe Pacheco

Poem by Joe Pacheco

A Nuyorican Child’s Christmas In Vieques
(My First Tropical Christmas)

No hableh ingléh en Viequeh,”
(Do not speak English in Vieques)
I still remember my mother’s words
a few days before Christmas
and after we had just completed
a five-day steamship voyage to Puerto Rico
and a long drive in a público to Fajardo
where we were waiting for “La lancha
to brave the choppy straits for two hours
and land us on my mother’s home island,
Vieques, an island off
the eastern shore of Puerto Rico,
itself an island in the West Indies.

And I still remember
that when half the island came
to greet my mother
and see the first americano
born in the family
and hear him speak English
and kept demanding
Habla ingléh, habla ingléh,.”
that I held out for as long as I could,
repeating after each request
my mother’s admonition,
“No hableh ingléh en Viequeh.”
but the bribes of bananas, oranges,
sugar cane and pennies were too great
for four year old me to resist
and I succumbed by reciting
the first stanza of the Star Spangled Banner
that my brother had taught me
before I left New York
and even though I was not too sure
of the meaning and pronunciation
of many of the words,
a shower of applause and pennies
rewarded my first adventure
into performance poetry.

A few days later
I wowed the crowd even more
at my uncle Agustin’s house
when I remembered it was Christmas
and added to my repertoire
“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
but when I asked,
“¿cuándo viene Santa Claus?”
I was given the bad news:
Vieques was one town
Santa (San Nicolás) didn’t go to.

Everyone watched my reaction
in a careful silence
until my devastation was relieved
by my uncle’s revelation
that there were Tres Reyes,
Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar
who delivered presents
not on Christmas Day
but on January 6 because
the camels on which they traveled
were much slower than reindeer.
They would be tired and hungry
and if I left some straw for them
in a shoebox, the next morning
I might find presents.
‘Three Santa’s! Three times more presents!’
I remember thinking in English,
‘and they don’t even have a list
of who’s naughty and nice.’

I obeyed and did not speak English in Vieques
except on those performance occasions
and that one time when my Uncle Braulio
tripled the ante to three pennies
to hear me say curse words
but the Spanish I spoke
was an equal source of delight  —
larded with English words and syntax
hybrid utterances such as
me comí five bananas and no me gustan anyway
were preserved in family lore for decades.
I didn’t realize then —
I was one of the pioneer speakers of Spanglish.

There were parties every night,
and three of my uncles were the island’s musicians
and my cousins and I
would accompany them on parrandas
to people’s houses where they played
while everyone sang aguinaldos
and danced and ate and drank
and partied on to the next house
with many of us being carried sleepily
and piled on beds and hammocks
at each stop.

On New Year’s Day, I wept with my cousins
who were heartbroken over the slaughter
of their pet suckling pig, Cucharón,
but that evening we fought over the rights
to his cuerito — roasted crinkled skin,
that tasted better than candy.

Barefoot and happy the entire time,
I spent my second remembered Christmas
with coconut palms instead of pine trees,
sand instead of snow, sleeping in open shacks
without doors, rocking softly in hammocks
canopied with mosquito nets,
with Three Kings and camels and straw
and hand-made gifts in shoeboxes,
and family singing and dancing every evening —
the rhythmic joy and faith of the aguinaldos
shining through their poverty,
illuminating and deepening
the memory and celebration
of all my Christmases to come.

~ Joe Pacheco

Chistmas Poem by Joe Pacheco

The Night Before Christmas on Sanibel Isle

Twas the night before Christmas on Sanibel Isle,
Not a gator was stirring, not our one crocodile.
The Roseate Spoonbills wore pink underwear
While Blue Herons were sleeping legs up in the air.
The shops had been emptied of I-Pods and stones,
And last-minute shoppers dialing cell phones.
The Drawbridge Protection was in its last throes,
And from Lake Okachobee poured freshwater woes.

But I with my Flo-Max and Ma with Botox
Were just settling down to our new cable Box,
When all of a sudden nothing bright did appear,
A Lee County Light outage — the one hundredth this year.
The cordless phones in an instant went dead,
No television programs to be watched while in bed.
But the land line we’d kept and the cellular phone
Brought assurance from police we weren’t alone.
When would lights go on? —the police had no clue,
But ‘twas holiday season and they were only a few:
The rest had all gone to Bell Tower Fair
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
The generator purchased after Charlie’s big blow
Had gone back to Costco when FEMA said no.

So with one trusty flashlight we walked to the beach,
Met snowbirds collecting every shell within reach.
The moon shining down on red seaweed below
Made some of us wish we had stayed north with snow.
But Sanibel’s no-see-ums not blinded by light
Had all come to wish us Merry Christmas that night.

So back to our houses we ran like a flash,
Closed all our windows and pulled down the sash,
Called Lee County Electric on our cellular phone —
Their message informed us they had all gone home:
In the spirit of Christmas they were proud to say,
An emergency crew would work Christmas Day.

Till then, it concluded, cheerful and bright,
“Merry Christmas to customers, from Lee County Light.”

~ Joe Pacheco

Living in the Undimension

by J.E. Marksteiner

 

Right now, you are living in the four-dimensional universe. Time, as you understand it, is the unending, ever continuing progression of events which occur in succession from past to present and – if all goes as you hope and plan – into the future. Actually, the four-dimensional universe exists within the Undimensional universe. The key word here is “within.” The Undimension is not an otherwhere, existing at another time; it is here and now. [more]

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