EPISODE 31 – THELMA REYNA, GOLDEN FOOTHILLS PRESS

In our thirty-first episode, listeners meet Dr. Thelma Reyna, P.h.D., editor-in-chief of Golden Foothills Press in Altadena, California, and an accomplished author of more than ten books, including nonfiction, poetry anthologies, and more. Dr. Reyna describes her upbringing as a baby boomer, whose formative years were spent with her working-class family in the small conservative town of Kingsville, Texas, followed by her eventual journey to Pasadena, California. She also tells us about two books she published this year, including Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems,a tribute to her late husband of 50 years, as well as When The Virus Came Calling: COVID-19 Strikes America, an anthology of work by 46 different authors, including Richard Blanco, President Obama’s Poet Laureate at his 2013 inauguration, not to mention, work by yours truly.

J.T.

Dug Ramon: Hot Wheels

As I played with my toy cars next to the giant living room window, the early morning summer sun shined a rectangle of heat all around me. My neck and arms burned, but I was frozen tense as I watched my mom from the corner of my eye pacing back and forth. She bit her nails while her other hand gripped the cordless phone to her chest. Suddenly, I heard keys at the door.

It opened and I saw my dad standing there wearing the same clothes from yesterday. I fell asleep the night before in his rocking chair waiting for him.

“Sabés qué?!” my mom screamed at him. “Si no vas a llegar a dormir a esta casa, por qué putas no te vas mejor?!”

My heart pounded and my hands stiffened on my Hot Wheels. It didn’t make sense why she’d scream at him to leave when he’d just gotten there. My stomach moaned and ached.

Mom gripped the phone, trembled and swallowed, and stared at him with teary eyes.

He said nothing. He glanced at her then looked down, took a shallow breath, and walked past us and into the kitchen. I heard a drawer open and a big noisy trash bag was taken out. Dad walked back in holding the bag and hurried into the bedroom without looking at us. Mom followed.

I pretended not to stare through the doorway at them as she kept screaming.

“No soy estúpida!! Encontré su número en tus pantalones!”

I wondered if she meant the lady dad made me talk to on the payphone the other night. I got worried he would think I told mom after I promised I wouldn’t.

She kept screaming: “Si querés andar jodiendo largate a la mierda mejor!”

Why would she scream at him to leave like that? My heart pounded faster and I felt worry on my face.

I heard the plastic bag being filled while mom kept screaming. Dad was quiet. With my head lowered I peaked at them again and saw him lifting the bag to cascade its contents toward the bottom. He pulled his pants, shirts, and underwear from our dirty laundry hamper and threw them into the black trash bag.

I looked back down at my cars simmering in the sun and my hands were shaking. Dad walked back into the living room with the bag and stood far from me, but I felt him staring. He stepped closer, to the edge of the sunlit rectangle, and knelt down as he dropped the trash bag of clothes onto the warm carpet in front of me.

“Mirame hijo,” he said, and I looked up at him. He looked away quickly.

“Me tengo que ir,” he said avoiding eye contact, “pero sabés que te quiero mucho.” With his hand on my shoulder, he forced a hug around me.

I didn’t move. I didn’t say anything back. I didn’t ask why he had to leave, or tell him to stay, even though I really wanted to. Everything was bright and blurry and I noticed I was squeezing my car.

He stood up, took a deep breath, and lifted the trash bag over his shoulder. He said nothing else.

In the quiet, my mom sniffled. Dad walked to the door, left the house, and mom and me stayed there quiet and shaky.

I turned quickly to look out the living room window, but the brightness burned my blurry eyes. I wiped them and as they adjusted I saw dad walk across the street with the black trash bag over his shoulder. He threw it into the bed of his beat up blue pick up truck, got inside, started the motor, put it into gear, and drove away without looking back.

“Quitate de allí,” mom said, but I didn’t move.

“Quitate de allí!!” she screamed and the cordless phone shattered against the living room wall.

DR

Dug Ramon was born, raised, and resides in East Hollywood, Los Angeles. An LAUSD, LACC and Cal State LA alumni with a background in psychology and mental health, Dug works as an office manager and writes daily for his own joy and sanity. Dug hopes to grow as a writer in the coming years and share his work with more readers. He’s currently working on a fiction project, from which “Hot Wheels” is an excerpt.

EPISODE 24 – LISBETH COIMAN

In our twenty-fourth episode, listeners meet Lisbeth Coiman, an Afro-Venezuelan poet and author of I Asked the Blue Heron: A Memoir (2017), which yours truly reviewed for the new page on PATREON. Coiman shares with listeners about growing up in Venezuela during the “Latin-American boom,” her thoughts on Hugo Chavez, leaving Venezuela for Canada, and taking yet another sojourn through the United States, where she eventually makes her way to Los Angeles. Our discussion also touches on Coiman’s mental health battles in her later adult life, as well as the loss of her best friend and mentor. A truly special session for listeners, especially those interested in the Latin-American diaspora.

J.T.

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