Failed Free Writing

I’ve seen pictures of the Abuelita before she met the Abuelito. The day she moved out to Colorado from New Mexico and changed her life. I’ve seen the pictures of her in blue jeans and sitting on top of the Tio’s 39 Hudson. Her jeans are folded up exposing just a bit of leg and Her hair is long and her black and white skin is young and fresh. Short sleeves on a hot summer day–keeping still for the camera and for the conversation of summer and the front yard.


In those pictures the old neighborhood has promise and has the look of wood and trash pit–brick and mortar wonder. I can close my eyes and go there when I have dreams. The neighborhood and those images stick in my head–waiting to be caught by the camera–to be trapped in my memory.

She looks so far from herself. She doesn’t have the weight of ‘that man’ to her and she doesn’t havethe eyes of the neighborhood on her as she would soon find. Before the shame and the bruises and the arguments. Before she was ashamed to speak only spanish and before she found her need for cigarettes and before my father and before the Lolo or Ricardo. Before the steel mill meant anything to her and before she had her own work at Dundee Cleaners. Before the sister was lost to her and before she crossed that line into marriage and into keeping a house.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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