December 29, 2013

#TheLastYear


Yesterday after a rough visit, I decided to start a new writing project called The Last Year.

September 11, 2013

#DiversityInSFF

The #DiversityInSFF hastag is a great conversation about the lack of diverse characters and authors in Science Fiction and Fantasy. This article in The Nation examines part of that conversation.

Rising Above the Failure of Imagination | The Nation:
"The conversation about diversity in SFF is also striking because it reveals how discrimination and its deeply embedded cultural effects are so pernicious that even imagination, the very thing that should transcend the world we live in, is constrained. Some writers suggest that they simply don’t know how to write diversity into their novels but have no problem creating elaborate worlds set in alternative times and realms, populated by beings human and otherwise."
Now lets watch some Latino cosplayers ...

August 27, 2013

August 1, 2013

LLF DAY 5: Breaking Miguel


OK so I know I promised to keep everyone updated on the retreat. Unfortunately on the second day, I took a tumble down the stairs and have been needing crutches to get around. Navigating with them has been difficult since my room is on the 3rd floor and the meeting rooms are in another building in the second floor down and the cafeteria is just impossible to reach in my condition.

Anyway, it's been taking me about half an hour to 45 min to get to and from this meeting space. Because I'm so out of shape, it's been really hard to make a straight shot to my room. I have to take little breaks which add to the travel time.

So today when I got to my room, I was so frustrated at having to use these damn crutches and because I came all this way (and we paid sooo much money) and it wasn't the experience I'd planned to have. To top it all off, I haven't been able to shower since Tuesday morning. I smelled. 

Now you have to let me rant about this for a moment. Being a big fat guy, one of my big things is that I don't want to be the fat, sweaty, smelly guy. In addition, there's also that horrible thing that Mexicans smell bad. So in my real life, I try to go to great lengths not to even come close to those stereotypes.

But there I was a big fat brown boy literally crawling up the stairs to the third floor, sweaty, stinky and trying not to have a fucking lose my shit moment right there in the hallway.

I got into my room, somehow made it to my bed and ... well, I just cried. I lost my shit. I was living the thing I hate -- having to depend on others. I don't like it because people always let you down, right? They may not mean to do it but it almost always happens. I try my best not to be in a position where I have to do that. I have to be independent even it it means working three shifts in a row or crawling up the stairs.

But this isn't one of those I-don't-need-your-charity-or-your-money-because-you-just-want-to-have-power-over-me type of situations No, this is different because I have to depend on others. I need them to bring me food. I need them to help carry my bag. I need them to somehow get crutches for me so I can try to participate in this retreat.

After a nasty cry, I pulled myself together in time for one of my YA/Genre cohort members, dave ring, to bring me lunch. He wasn't the first. People have been doing that for almost every meal. The last few days made me realize I need to give people the chance to help. Ordinarily, I'd be the first one to offer because ... well, that's what you're supposed to do, right?

Don't get me wrong, I haven't been lone wolfing it all this time. I've been asking people to fill my water bottle, pull a chair out for me, hold the door and they've been happy to do it. But they don't know how freakin' difficult it's been for me to ask. I'm a stubborn old bitch.

But today, the breakdown cleansed me. And even though, I haven't been able to be the social butterfly I'd imagined myself being at this retreat, I'm thankful for the quality relationships that are developing because I've been able to lower my guard, let people see me be vulnerable, and trust that they want to help -- without wanting something in return.

Oh and I was able to do that shower in the bathroom sink thing. Your Miguel is clean -- spiritually, mentally, and physically.

YA/Genre cohort



July 29, 2013

LLF DAY1: Ghosts of Fellows Past

The day started at 2 AM with me loading up the car and driving to the Kansas City airport.
Economy lot.
Bus to the terminal.
Check-in.
TSA molestation.
Waiting for an hour to board.

Soccer boys on the plane.
Won the championship in KC.
One fell asleep on my shoulder.
He apologized then did it again.

Landed at LAX.
Went hunting for queer writers.
Went to the observation deck of that white thingy that looks like two McDonald's french fries crossed.

Waited for queers.

Waited for queers here.

Queers landing at American Jewish University

Gays lounging

Immediately after arriving, I felt a longing for last year's Lambda Fellows who weren't there with me. I took a moment to sort of absorb it for them and send them good energy to remind us of our time here last summer. 

I also made the decision that in order for me to get the most out of this year's workshop, I needed to be fully present. That means not longing for last year or for boring the new fellows with tales of how we did things -- unless they asked.

They're a fine group of writers and I owe it to them, and myself, not to cast a shadow on this year's experience. Though I feel the essence of last years fellows are here with me. And it feels nice.

So with that, I posted a message on Facebook to last year's fellows asking them for any advice to impart to this year's group.




July 26, 2013

GOOOOAAAAAALLLLL!!!!!!!!!!

Miguel's Goal Reached!

Thanks to everyone who donated to my Lambda Literary Foundation fund! 

I needed to collect a whopping $1,300 and you guys exceeded that goal by $170!!

The excess funds do not go to me but they will go to the Lambda Literary Foundation which does so much to support LGBT and Queer writers. Thank you for encouraging my efforts and strengthening them.

Please follow me on Facebook and Twitter to keep track of my progress at the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices!

You can follow more of this year's LLF fellows by tracking the #LLFellows2013 hashtag

July 8, 2013

Sun Damaged

Working in the Texas soybean fields as a kid
under a blazing and insolent summer sun
that tempted him with mirages of
cool rippling lakes along the horizon,
he dreamed of a future working
in an chilled, air-conditioned office.

He’d sit in a cushioned chair
and wear a dark, clean suit, and a fresh thin tie
instead of muddy, oversized boots
and sweaty bandannas.

He’d have shiny black dress shoes with black laces
and folded white handkerchiefs.
He’d wear a sleek watch and a thin belt
not a thick one showing a man riding a bull on its buckle.

He’d go to lunch whenever he wanted
instead of having to eat when the sun was at its highest
and when they were closest to the car
that had everyone’s lunch
packed into a foam cooler in its trunk.

He’d walk with a purpose
and smile at people.
He’d talk to strangers
and they would welcome it.

He wouldn’t constantly scan the toiling soil
looking for thorned weeds to scissor.
He wouldn’t talk quietly to himself in order to pass the time.
He wouldn’t wonder what everyone else in the world was doing
at that exact moment.

He wouldn’t be ashamed to tell his friends
what he did over the summer
because he’d have gone on vacation
like everyone else
and not worked the fields
dreaming of a time when
when he would escape
the assiduous sun.

June 28, 2013

¡Otra Vez!

I'M A RETURNING LLF FELLOW!

2012 Jones & Morales

2012 LLF Fellows Kima  Jones and Miguel M. Morales. photo by Kima Jones

How exciting to be a one of the few Lambda Literary Foundation Fellows who'll return to the LLF familia for the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices at the American Jewish University campus in Los Angeles this summer!

Unfortunately, returning fellows are not eligible for scholarships. That means your Miguel has to come up with $1,650 $1,300 for tuition/board as well as secure my own travel.YIKES!!

Last year, I kept donors updated on my progress at the retreat using this blog (tagged: LLF) and by posting to Facebook and Twitter. This year I'll continue keeping supporters informed using the same backchannels.

The retreat takes place July 28-Aug. 4 so I'm offering the following:
 Anyone making a donation (any amount) will receive an original poem, short story, or essay.
 Anyone donating $50 or more will receive an autographed limited-edition bound compilation of my work.
 Anyone donating $100 or more will receive the autographed limited-edition bound compilation, a CD of some of my readings and speeches, and some sort of tote bag (hey, it works for PBS!).
Making a tax-deductible donation, is easy and safe -- simply click the DonorPages graph in the upper right corner or at the end of this post.

To inquire about supporting my travel expenses (not included as part of this Donor Page account), please contact me on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks!!


ABOUT MIGUEL

I live in Kansas but grew up in the Texas panhandle working as a migrant farmworker and child laborer. As a journalist, I earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award. I currently serve on the board of The Latino Writers Collective board. I am also a founding member of Fabulous Queer Writers of Kansas City! 

My work is featured in: 
  • Primera Página: Poetry from the Latino Heartland 
  • Cuentos del Centro: Stories from the Latino Heartland 
  • From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction 
  • To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices 
  • Joto: An Anthology of Queer Xicano & Chicano Poetry (forthcoming) 

ABOUT MIGUEL'S LLF PROJECT

I am working on an LGBT YA novel about a gay migrant farmworker and his family. In addition to being from this community, I help facilitate writers workshops for migrant youth. Trust me, these stories need to be told. This project takes inspiration from those students and from the works of Rigoberto González, Sandra Cisneros, and many others. A side project has developed from this effort -- a poetry manuscript detailing the life of migrant youth. 

I want to thank everyone for their support, not just on this project but for a lifetime of love and encouragement. 

gracias, 

 miguel

May 12, 2013

this photo of you | Mother's Day

Delia R. Morales




































Strange how in this digital existence
when everyone uploads, tags, and shares
photos instantaneously,
I have so few pictures of you.

The scanned photos I do have
show you as a young girl
in grey tones that hint
at the depth of your spirit
and playfulness.

Other photos show an older you
more like the mom I remember
when the responsibility of being
a wife and mother
settled into your soul.

Yet this photo has always intrigued me.
Despite the vibrant colors and vibrant times,
the photo fails to match yours.
You’re wearing a genuine smile of confidence
that I rarely saw except those times
when you were your own woman.

There was the time when you worked
at the community center
and dad worked out of town,
you’d take my sisters and me to dinner
on Fridays when you got paid.

Sitting in that small family diner,
converted from an old Dairy Queen,
eating hamburgers and fries
was the best part of the week

At the time I savored our weekly detour
simply because we ate out and ordered cokes.
Now I understand that our excitement
came from your new found sense of self.
For us kids, that was the real treat.

As much as I love you for being my mom,
I wish I had known more about you
at this time in your life,
and I wish that you had, too.


April 30, 2013

vernal | National Poetry Month

his body knows it’s too hot for 
the dense kinks of his Puerto Rican hair
that comes from his mother’s side.

his body knows it’s too hot for
the curly twists of his Mexicano locks
that comes from his father’s side.

his indigenous spirit knows
it’s time for cleansing,
time to acquit the past,
time for renewal.

with a snap of the shaver,
his hair spills and tumbles
onto his shoulders
and then to the floor
like the feathered mane
of Quetzalcohuātl.

with the repose of Yúcahu
his hands trace his scalp
for the first time since
he last performed
this sacred ritual.

his brown gods
have returned in the
in the tribal rhythms of his heart,
in the serenity of his breath,
in the artistry of his craft.

gently closing his eyes,
he welcomes them back
with an appreciative smile.

©Miguel M. Morales

April 15, 2013

patterns | National Poetry Month

Usually she’d eye my sister,
turning her slowly,
estimating measurements,
to create a pattern in her mind.

Ordinarily mom cut fabric freehanded
sometimes from a pattern of newspaper.
I’d laugh at seeing one of my sisters
pinned with the Sunday funnies.

If needed, mom examined an old dress
following the cut, contemplating the facing.
But when faced with unseemly seams,
she’d load us into the car and head to TG&Y.

In the stale, air-conditioned sewing department
she’d sit under humming florescent lights
on one of the metal stools with cushions
crafted by the store’s sewing class.

Rows of wooden tables displayed
Butterick, Simplicity, and McCall’s catalogues.
There in that retail library, she’d study
new techniques and memorize patterns.

With new buttons and zippers and threads,
she’d attentively work into the evening
feeding the sewing machine fabric
guiding and twisting with a steady hand.

In addition to constructing
shorts and pants,
fashioning shirts and skirts,
designing tops and blouses,
(I remember a little red leisure suit – it was the 70s),
there were the gowns:
      homecoming,
            party
     wedding,
christening.

Each stitch,
      a prayer,
delicate
and
      enduring.

April 14, 2013

wake your brown ass up | National Poetry Month


Just because your abuelitos came here
and (eventually) became legal
and had nice brown legal babies
that became your mamá and papá,
doesn’t mean your brown ass
doesn’t have a stake in immigration reform.

Even though you were born in this country,
you’re still an illegal.
Even though you espeak without an accent,
you’re still a wetback.
Even though you have white manteca legs,
you’re still a spic.

Don’t get me wrong, cariño,
go to work and do your best,
earn those raises and bonuses,
because living well is the best revenge.

But, mijo, don’t you dare ignore
your coworker’s comments
about the women
who serve you food,
who clean the restrooms,
who empty your wastebaskets,
the women who look like your tias,
or else you’ll suffer a fate worse
than that of la llorona.

It is not I who place this curse upon you, mi amor.
but rather the curanderas from your clan
whose whispers you dismiss
when they come to you at night.

No, you can’t sit this one out, pendejo

Educate!
Facilitate!
Communicate!

Hermanito, I’m not saying this to be mean,
I’m saying this to
wake
your
Brown
ASS
UP!


April 13, 2013

hermana del cielo | National Poetry Month

Before cloaking herself in flesh
she made an eternal covenant
with the being
who was to become my mother

Their sacred bond
predates the universe.

Untested by the physical and the temporal,
they each chose flawed vessels,
perhaps purposely.

The being who was my mother,
struggled to prepare for the arrival
of my sisters and me,
with whom she also shared eternal covenants.

Sometimes she failed.
Sometimes she lost herself.
Sometimes unconditional love
had too many conditions.

In my mother’s despair,
that’s when she arrived,
a frail blue baby,
from the heavens.

We named her Celestina,
though she remained mortal
for only a few hours.

She came to my mother
to touch her soul and
to share a moment of the divine.

Before cloaking herself in flesh
she made an eternal covenant
with the being
who was to become my mother

Their sacred bond
will outlast the universe.

April 11, 2013

you will not erase me | National Poetry Month

There will not be a
blank
white
page
where the story
 of my life unfolded.

No button can delete
my culture
my community
my creativity.

No, you will not erase me.

My passion lives beyond
files
and
folders
that are so  easily
lost
misplaced
erased.

You will not make me
un-documented
by deleting the documents
of my life.

You will not erase me.

It is beyond your power
to purge my existence
 from memory.

My thoughts live.
My heart loves.
My soul soars.

No, you will not erase me
because I am free.

April 10, 2013

liar | National Poetry Month

No one believed me
when I tried to explain
that I missed school for a week
because my mom wouldn’t let us go.

No one believed me
when I tried to explain
that she couldn’t sign our report cards
because she tore them up.

How could I explain that sometimes
there was no food in the house?

How could I explain that sometimes
she stayed in her housecoat all week?

How could I explain that sometimes
she sat in the living room late at night crying?

Instead of trying to explain
that we weren’t allowed to answer
the door or the phone, I lied.

I told the lies that were expected
convinced I was protecting my mother,
my family, and myself.

Instead, my lies absolved those
who did not want to hear,
or bear the responsibility
of acting upon,
the truth.

April 9, 2013

i found a cookie in the men’s room | National Poetry Month

I found a cookie in the library men’s room.
It laid on a green paper napkin
on top of a urinal just under
the chrome flushy handle.

It was the kind of cookie
one eats at a reception
and snags a few extras on the way out.
That’s probably what happened.

Except it’s owner drank too many
free sodas poured from cans
into those tiny plastic cups packed with ice
that keeps drinks cool
but melts too quickly and dilutes the drink.

There must have been cheese and crackers
that caused him to drink an excess of soda
or maybe it was the fruit:
red seedless grapes, sliced strawberries,
cut fresh pineapple and multi-colored melons
that cause his over hydration.

Maybe the reception was for a retiring colleague,
perhaps the person who hired him.
And she urged him to take a few extra cookies
because “they’re all paid for”
and she didn't want them to go to waste.

Or perhaps he didn't like the person
and showed up to make sure the old bastard
saw his face one last time.
Perhaps he took the last cookie
knowing it was his nemesis’ favorite.

Maybe a student club was selling
cookies for a fundraiser
and our fine fellow bought one
to support the Queers and Allies
or the Muslim Student Association
or the dance team, who are not cheerleaders
even though they dance with pom-poms.

Whatever the reason, he set his cookie down
on top of a urinal in the library men’s room --
a decision he immediately regretted.

As I left, I almost threw it away
but I liked the thought of the next guy
standing at the urinal confused by a cookie.

Epilogue 
I went back a moment later to take a picture to post to my Facebook page because my Facebook friends would “Like” the hell out of it. But when I came back with my phone, the cookie was gone. I looked in the trash and it wasn’t there.
So either the guy came back for it or someone else was like, “YES, I’LL HAVE A FREE COOKIE!”
Either way -- gross.

April 8, 2013

tuition | National Poetry Month

Your tuition increases
my doubts
that I’m making the right choices
as my family sacrifices
to help pay for my education.

Your tuition increases
my stress
that I’m asking too much
for a dream that, no matter how hard I try,
seems to move further away.

Your tuition increases
my fear
that I’ll never be more
than I am right now
at this moment.

Your tuition increases
my resolve
that when faced with buying
textbooks and paying fees,
instead, I’ll choose my child’s needs.

Your tuition increases
my struggle
to correct mistakes from my past
to clear the obstacles in my path
to create a future that lasts.

Your tuition increases
the odds
that I’ll choose to prolong
or delay my education.
I’m already at the point of breaking.

Your tuition increases
the guarantee
that I’ll work for minimum wages
at part-time vocations.

Your tuition increases
my worry
that when it comes time
my child will be just as lost as I am
because I can’t provider for her education
either.

April 7, 2013

the lost boys | National Poetry Month

In a distant but uncomfortably close land,
an uncivil war created them.
They tried to recall their lost years
like brothers reminiscing a family vacation.

They remembered the soldiers that hunted them.
But they couldn’t agree which was more dangerous,
the lions that stalked children on land
or the crocodiles that snatched them in the rivers.

Dominic shielded his face in his hands becoming 
that 10 year-old lost in the dessert.
As he looked up raising his head,
his slender fingers wiped his confusion away,
a mannerism he said he developed long ago.

Simon sat still as his lost brother spoke,
and smiled uncomfortably the way I’ve seen others do
when they can’t sign their names
or don’t understand English.

Speaking of hunger and horrors I’ll never know,
They described their tearless trail.
Tears required water they didn’t possess
and energy they couldn’t spare.

Their silence told stories they couldn’t share
with those who aren’t of the Lost.
Their dark eyes eternally roam,
assessing and searching 
even in serene surroundings.

Yet despite their conditioning,
they reached out to connect
another gift from the desert.

This poem was inspired by an article I wrote for The Campus Ledger

April 5, 2013

thank the work of our hands | National Poetry Month

“Thank the work of our hands …”
            -Richard Blanco, One Today
                           
I never thanked the work
of my mother’s hands
that sewed clothes for my sisters and me
that made comida out of a sparse pantry
that prayed and hand-crafted rosaries,
hands that cleaned other people’s houses
and other people’s children.

I never thanked the work 
of my sisters’ hands
that dutifully cared for me
when my mother could not
and that helped me with my homework.
Often it was their young overworked hands
that scraped together the rent.
To this day, it is their hands
that mean most to me.

I never thanked the work 
of my father’s hands
that sliced the flesh from fresh carcasses
in a chilled meat packing plant,
hands that helped me move,
that changed my oil.
Tired hands that say, “I love you”
when his words cannot.

I never thanked the work 
of my Tia Noche’s hands
that showed me how to work efficiently
in my first job out of high school
at the explosives factory.
Her hands invited me to work puzzles
spread out on the dining room table,
the one only used for special occasions.

I never thanked the work 
of my friends’ hands
that offer welcoming handshakes
enthusiastic support,
and comforting hugs.
Their talented hands show me
what is possible.

I never thanked the work of the hands 
of the men I loved
skilled hands that tilled soil, picked fruit,
danced across keyboards,
and augmented machinery.
Hands that caressed my face
and whose gentle fingers
traced my lips.
Hands that, in public and in private,
searched for and enfolded mine.

All these loving, working hands
that wipe countertops,
chalkboards, and windshields,
as well as sweaty brows
and mournful tears,
reach for me when I am lost.
They proudly pat my back
or gently take my arm.
No, I have never thanked the work
of these many hands.

Nor I have ever thanked the work 
of my own hands
that clenched a garden hoe 
as I walked uneven fields,
hands that blistered, cracked,
and bled under an assiduous sun.
These hands labor so my soul can search
and my mind can reflect on and thank
the work of our hands.

April 4, 2013

muse | National Poetry Month

Her long-empty eyes unlock
the potential energy inside words.

Her sequestered soul stirs
searching for meaning.

Her languishing mind awakens
connecting and creating images.

Her invigorated tongue converts
these deliberations into language.

Her simple hands, inspired,
complete the transfiguration
from thought to word
making the ethereal
physical, visible, literal.

Now, her meditations await
another set of long-empty eyes.

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