A dream catcher is said to sift bad dreams from good so that bad dreams perish in the light of day. In Aurelio Sanchez's Of a Dream Catcher, poems are sifted to beauty.
More than 50 poems with themes of found and lost love, cultural celebration and alienation, tragic loss, hope and redemption
Want to See a Real Man?
I read today how a man barricaded himself
in a trailer with his girlfriend,
and before he blew her away and himself too,
he yelled to the cops,
"Do you want to see a real man?"
You don't like Joey’s, the booths are duct-taped
and cramped. You like Capo’s, cozy and romantic,
but I like Joey’s jukebox; two plays for a quarter
and no CDs, just oldies with scratches
grooving with memories.
Two quarters slide in but a couple behind us
arc like crossed wires. High tension connection
says he can't wait to get her home
to mess her up but good.
Your eyes cloud when I turn and say:
"Must make you feel like a real man."
His eyes are embers under the rim
of a dirty, black cowboy hat
perched on his head like a crow.
Her eyes are disconnected, like a broken TV.
“You want to see a real man?”
His tongue snakes into the burrow of his mouth.
A real man steps into darkness to the blast
of a passing train.
"He's a psycho, pendejo,"
Joey says, "You better go, pronto."
"Vamos," but it's too late,
the psycho's back.
The long cool barrel of a .45
cold and heavy.
twisting on my temple like the devil's finger,
my heart clangs like the church bell
and from the jukebox, Elvis sings
"Are You Lonesome Tonight?"
Our eyes lock and load,
his breath is short and ragged
like a dog hit by a car. He whispers,
"You want to see a real man, cabron?"
She begs him please don't,
and time crawls like the sun.
He pulls the hammer down
and a real man slides back
into his holster.
He drags her outside into Joey's parking lot
and her screams crash through an open window.
But before I can stand, you push me
back down again,
amazed I'd even think of repeating,
"Must make you feel like a real man."
I walk to the jukebox,
and fumble for a quarter
to drown out her sound.
Alb Journal Review "Of a Dream Catcher"
ublication: Jnl Final Edition 8/2005-today; Date: Oct 12, 2008; Section: Books; Page: F6
Poet looks to the heavens in weaving his visions into an alluring web
“Of a Dream Catcher: Poems Sifted to Beauty” by Aurelio Sanchez www.lulu.com (Book ID 1366193), $11.95, 95 pp.
Review by Robert Woltman
“Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement,” said 20th-century British playwright Christopher Fry. Local poet Aurelio Sanchez cites the quote in the preface of his new volume, “Of a Dream Catcher.” It is his hope, Sanchez writes, that his poems may allow the reader to explore “your own amazement.”
One imagines that sense must have visited Sanchez when he first attempted to write poetry. Struggling to write an elegy for a dear friend who had died unexpectedly, Sanchez, a veteran Journal staff writer, found that prose wasn’t enough to express what was in his heart.
“An angel” took pity on him, he says, and “allowed me to hear voices of angels, and I began to experience the miracle of language through poetry to express beauty, or experience emotion in ways so heartfelt, so surprising, and sometimes hidden so deeply inside that only an epiphany might bring them to light.”
As might be expected from a journalist, Sanchez writes poems that are filled with the best qualities of good reportage — rich detail, sensory exactitude and a narrative tone that conveys deep appreciation for a good story.
Many of the stories here are sad, if not raw and frightening. (After all, the “dream catcher” in the collection’s title refers to the Native American belief that dream catchers snag the sleeper’s nightmares so that they can perish in the light of day.)
There are ugly scenes. In “Want to See a Real Man?” a sinister thug with an itchy trigger finger brings terror to a dingy bar where the booths are patched with duct tape.
“April’s Fool” portrays a prostitute’s junkieson who throws himself in front of a train. Other tales more softly resonate. “Sonrisa (Smile)” is a bittersweet tale of lost love’s prophecy recalled by a glimpse of sandhill cranes along the Rio Grande at dawn, while “Little White Boots,” like another pair worn by a long-ago lover, skip across a honky tonk dance floor. “Laugh Again” travels through generations in the gentle story of a man who fondly recalls the laughter of his long-dead grandfather in that of his own newborn grandson.
Sanchez also examines injustice in “From Behind Bars,” where prisoners, their “lives torn asunder … call out like cats,” while “Aurelio’s Song” reflects his own sense of cultural alienation and loss, fed by his inability to speak Spanish fluently. (“Misunderstood by one people/unwanted by the other/pushed away by both”)
It is a wide and intricate web that Sanchez has woven to catch not only his dreams, but his visions, nightmares and prophecies. This first collection of the unflinchingly honest poems he has spun in turn displays a talent that, it is hoped, he will continue to explore and nurture.
Robert Woltman is an Albuquerque freelance writer.
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