Why No Se Habla Español?

Hola! Welcome to the No Se Habla Español anthology website created especially with you in mind. How do I begin? I guess I should start with the concept behind No Se Habla Español, that’s a good way to start…
So the idea came about after thinking of writing prompts to help me begin writing up my next piece. I wasn’t sure why I started thinking of the statement: “No se habla Español” and why it resonated with me, I must have read or heard it before and, for some reason, I began writing all these different stories with that prompt in mind. I was quite surprised that several stories and pieces started to develop and pretty soon I had three stories written down while others started to formulate in my head.
Then I thought: why not expand this writing prompt to my literary community of the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles and beyond? I saw the potential that that prompt can generate, how many stories can be told from a real experience or based on real events. So many people have so many stories to tell.
And so that’s how this collaboration started with the help of activist, poet and writer Michael Ray De Los Angeles as well as poet, writer, theater actor Alejandro Molina in developing an anthology that speaks about our Hispano community, our struggles, our obstacles as well as our triumphs, our successes and our powerful stories of how we overcome this stigma that we are not allowed to express our cultura and native tongue that is so rich and complex, ever growing and ever changing.
Let your voices be heard, loud and clear! Here we are allowed to speak out however we want to, whether it’s English, Spanish or Spanglish… As long as we are heard!
Deadline is December 6th 2014!

For more info and submission please visit: https://aquihablamos.wordpress.com

Born From a Kiss

I was born from a kiss
Soft lips,
Moist,
Lingering lipstick that refused to smear
I was born from a kiss
And I live to smell your sweet perfume
To be your love fool
To be the grass you walk on
To be the ginger in your tea
I was born from a kiss
Effervescent
Passionate
Blue
Wild red
And flawed
And there I shall live

©2014 VS

Poetrypalooza Prompts

FRIDAY

Joyful Friday, maaaaaan!
It’s been a loooong time coming
Quite was the journey…

ART

Healing art
Mind and soul
Need this oxygen
Need art every day, not just Fridays
Soul doesn’t take a Holiday
Soul needs nurturing…
Creation, creativity
I create my future every day.
Without art, I am nobody.

PALABRA

First thing that appears in Genesis, in the Old Testament, before the Earth and the sky were created there was the verb, la palabra. Word of God.
Palabras, so powerful, should be used very carefully and with love. We are made of words. Palabras, ideas, thoughts. Palabras de mi madre, palabras de mi abuela, palabras de mi corazón. Sólo palabras es lo que somos.

©2014 Víctor Sotomayor

How Art Heals

If I didn’t have music
if I didn’t have poetry
if I didn’t have theater
if I didn’t have a art
my life would be meaningless.

Everyone has unlimited creativity
and can heal from it.

Writing poetry has taught me
that it’s okay to feel,
that I can jot dot down my deepest fears, secrets and insecurities.

I don’t write for others,
I write for my own sanity,
for my own sake,
for my voice to be heard.

I learned so much about myself
simply by writing out whatever is in my head.

And I heal with every word,
every sentence,
every written thought.

I heal from my past, the hurt and I build my future through poetry.

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Mexican Hen and Chickens

Mexican Hen and Chickens, or scientifically known as Echevaria Glauca, requires full sun or part shade. The specimen I found had a real nice tan in the summer sun at the Getty Museum garden, showing a nice red color on its spiky edges as well as a healthy green color on the rest of the leaves.
Easily found all throughout California deserts, Echevaria Glauca grows up to 15 centimeters in height and width, enjoys an occasional weekly shower or whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Be careful not to overwater since its roots may rot if it receives too much water.
Succulents retain water inside their plump leaves as reserve. In case of drought, like we’re currently experiencing all throughout California, succulents are the perfect addition to your landscape, providing bright and vibrant colors and even flowers that require one tenth the water supply lawns require, especially in summer. And save you a pretty penny on your water bill, so it’s a win-win!
Hen and Chickens are quite attractive, perfect for decorating your yard, or plant them in pots to place on your porch, even great for your children’s school projects since they require very little care.

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How I Met The Beatles

Writing Exercises:
Writing Prompt: Write about your favorite person and how you met, how has that personaffected your life– for better and worse.

I must have been a toddler when I met these four musicians from Liverpool, England: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. I heard their music since before I was able to speak. Their Abbey Road album must have been played countless times in my house, slowly but surely sipping into my subconsciousness. Thanks to my aunts and uncles I was fortunate enough that I was very familiar with the wonderful sounds that these folks created. I became inspired by their music and lyrics even though I didn’t completely understand the meaning back then yet I was able to receive their message of love, loud and clear.

Songs like All You Need Is Love, Here Comes The Sun, Golden Slumbers, Across the Universe and many others had a distinctive encoded message that I could not quite put my finger on. There was a message hidden there that went beyond lyrics to me. There was a song in particular that haunted me because it gave me a visualization like no other song I had heard before: A Day In The Life from Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band. Every time that I heard that song, I was immediately transported by the orchestration. Before I learned that the lyrics to that song were simply headlines from a newspaper, I knew the song had a much deeper meaning and a grandeur that could not be explained, a musical masterpiece that captured my imagination and allowed me to come up with my own conclusion, with my own lyrics, with my own dreams and hallucinations. I had a dream in particular where I was a small man in a giant dark room and saw these giant balls chasing me until they became so big and so real that became a constant nightmare of mine. So I also gotta thank The Beatles for the nightmare that scared the shit out of me.

John, Paul, George and Ringo also became my English teachers. I spent quite a long time in my high school years analyzing their song lyrics, translating them to Spanish, understanding their meaning, their colloquialism and intent as well. I liked singing their songs, trying to sound just like them and mimicking their British accent. I practically learned English because I loved their music so much that I wanted to not only understand their songs but be able to interpret their meaning and understand how influential they were for their time.

Even though I never really met them
in person, I have a connection with all of them through their work. I realize that sometimes the end result is what really counts. I never got sucked in to the scandal of their breakup, the drugs, the fights, random quotes like being more famous than Jesus himself, their sense of humor that was taken quite literally to the point that anything that came out of their mouths made headlines. I suffered for them. I understood that they constantly walked on a mined field and anything they said or did would be over analyzed, misinterpreted and taken around the world whether they liked it or not. I understood the meaning of fame and the sacrifices they were willing or unwilling to make to carry their message across. I also saw the advantage that they had, they practically had the world at their feet and they began choosing their words carefully.

Take George Harrison, for instance. He was influenced by the spirituality of the Indian culture when he was introduced to Ravi Shankar and taught their philosophy of peace and deeper love of oneself, finding the truth that everyone can achieve through meditation. His songs evolved and took off when he began experimenting with the sitar and Indian classical instrumentation that could not be further to the Beatles sound. When George came up with Within You Without You, he opened up the doors to Hinduism philosophy and made it popular and mainstream. I believe that George Harrison had a big part in creating awareness of this other realm of music that people would normally not listen to but he made it acceptable for the common man to explore something out of their comfort zone and either love it or hate it. He made his followers expand their horizons by introducing them to a whole new world that they never knew existed.

Last night I spent my Fourth of July listening to the sound of The Beatles. I listened to a Beatles cover band called Paperback Writer which is the title to one of their singles. As I wore one of my Beatles t-shirts, sported my Beatles tattoo that covers my entire right calf and sat on the grass talking to friends about The Beatles and their songs and how influential they were on other artists like Axl Rose or Joe Cocker or Michael Jackson or just about every pop artist. I was reminded that, even though I have never met them face to face and probably never will, The Beatles and I had met before, we shared the same dreams and aspirations, we shared the same ideals of peace and love. Nothing else really matters at the end but love. Love oneself first as well as loving everybody else. There is so much love to give and receive. Like they wrote on one of their songs from their iconic Abbey Road album and ended up inked on my skin forever:

the love you take is equal to the love you make.

And, of course, this is followed by All You Need Is Love. Need to say any more?

©2014 Victor Sotomayor

Escape

I wish I had a magic wand and transport myself to exotic places around the world, anywhere my heart desires and escape my reality. As I look at my life through a magnifying glass, I see the places that I’ve traveled to – Spain, Italy, Peru, Mexico and there’s one common denominator: I love unlocking my senses and allow myself to open up my mind to different terrains, cultures, idiosyncrasies and languages that are foreign to me.
It takes me a while to get used to my new surroundings which can be frightening but exciting at the same time. There comes a point when I forget the clock and just let loose and allow myself to have fun. I kind of forget my worries back at home and gives me a chance to face my reality, my existence and purpose of life. Sadly, I’ve realized that I live to work instead of being the other way around.
Whether I’m in Macchu Picchu surrounded by the majestic structures left by the Incas of Peru in the middle of the Andes, or on top of a pyramid in Tikal as I scope the Guatemalan jungle and feel as if I was on top of the world for an instant, or whether I simply relax by the crystal clear waters of Blue Beach, Puerto Rico, I suddenly feel elevated, lifted and rewarded for everything that I went through before getting there.
Then I come back to reality, back to the daily grind of things meanwhile there’s a thunder of excitement and joy inside of me that is hard to contain. I want more adventures. I want to drink from the eternal fountain of youth, explore the world, live life as if I jumped off a plane without a parachute. No safety net.
Once in a while I need to remind myself that I don’t need to be elsewhere to really enjoy myself. I realize by writing this out that nobody can take away those places that I’ve been to from memory. If I wanted to, I can simply close my eyes and be at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the Big Ben in London, or the Empire State Building in New York. I have a thing called imagination and the power of suggestion. I can look at a picture, close my eyes and be there. I don’t need money, I just need to relax and picture myself there. And, suddenly, I’m there.

Story cubes: magic wand, magnifying glass, lock, clock, face, pyramid, thunder, fountain, parachute

Caught in the Act

She took off her wedding ring. She had had enough of Robert’s deceit and lies so she decided that she could no longer take it anymore. She grabbed a flashlight and went out looking for her husband in the neighbor’s house. She lived in the woods so she had to walk a couple of miles before she got there but she didn’t care. There was fury in her eyes, a determination of catching him in the act, confirming that all her suspicions were true.
She had been living a lie, decorating her bed with flowers and rose petals, trying to reignite their passion but he kept coming home later and later each night, sometimes not at all. She tried to look for his cell phone and find out if there were any texts or incriminating evidence but he always kept his cell phone close to him, practically under lock and key, inaccessible to her.
Working late, traveling for business, having dinner with his coworkers or the neighbors. She didn’t believe any of it. These lies hurt like a bee stinging her heart.
She almost lost it earlier and cursed at him over the phone but decided that her sweetest revenge would be to catch him in the act. It was like rolling of the dice that she was willing to take. She walked through the path, straighter than an arrow, with such determination that she hardly knew where it came from.
She spotted the road sign with the arrow pointing uphill, where the Fosters live, and walked cautiously to see if Robert was here. She noticed the bedroom light was on so she proceeded to sneak up and peek inside. There they were, naked bodies twisted, kissing passionately but it wasn’t her husband and Linda. She gasped when she realized that it was Robert and Michael who were twisted there as two pretzels. She wanted to scream but didn’t. Her feelings had been confirmed, her worst fear had become true. Deep inside she was glad that she’d found out and now she knew how she would handle the situation. Her walk back home seemed long this time but gave her time to reflect on it all.
That night she treated herself to a bath with rose petals and candles. And she put back her wedding ring.

Smoking Area

WRITING PROMPT: (Pick a place and describe it)

I have been sitting in the smoking area at work for about 15 minutes now. I thought I should have picked a different spot to talk about, like my beautiful garden in my backyard, with birds singing and snails crawling all around, nature at its best. Or I thought that I would describe my cubicle at work: cold, gray, three walls cornering me in, I filled it up with pictures of my trip to Macchu Picchu or the pictures that I hanged of my father since I printed after Father’s Day, a reminder that I need to work on my relationship with him.

Sitting here, in the smoking area, is the only area where I can breathe fresh air. It’s kind of peaceful, actually. I’m writing here while I hear the forklifts backing up, picking up and dropping crates inside a truck waiting to be loaded. Right across where I’m sitting there’s a lumberyard with piles of lumber toasting in the sun. No clouds in the sky today yet it’s still breezy and nice where I’m sitting, under the shade of this concrete hut.

I don’t smoke for 17 years now, give or take. Yet I don’t mind if people come and decide to puff some smoke next to me. There was 50 year old bald guy who came smoking and singing but, upon seeing me, decided to stay off the smoking area and smoke his cigarette away from the designated smoking zone. He probably felt that he was invading my space. I was going to say something but decided not to. I honestly don’t feel like talking today.
A nice breeze is coming through the open space, there’s 6 concrete columns around me supporting a white wooden ceiling, inside there’s a concrete bench that has been nicely painted brown on the table and the seat with a dark gray at the foot. There’s also a big trash can with a plastic bag holding any trash people throw at it, a big ashtray and a metal container nailed to one wall where cigarette butts can be inserted in small holes, probably empty since people don’t seem to notice it much.

There’s quite a lot of movements of vehicles around me, men hustling and working, probably wishing they were watching the soccer match instead. And I, for one, wish I was just here, enjoying my salad and my solitude. Smoking my minutes away.