John Olivares Espinoza

Goodreads Author

in Indio, California, The United States


Tu Fu, William Carlos Williams, James Wright, Phillip Levine, Gary Sot ...more

Member Since
December 2008

Born and raised in Indio, California by Mexican parents, John Olivares Espinoza derives his poetic subjects from the population and landscape of Southern California's Coachella Valley. Having studied creative writing at the University of California, Riverside (BA) and Arizona State University (MFA), Espinoza is the author of THE DATE FRUIT ELEGIES (Bilingual Press, 2008) and two previous chapbooks, ALUMINUM TIMES (Swan Scythe, 2002) and GARDENERS OF EDEN (Chicano Chapbook Series, 2000). His poems also appear in various literary journals such as QUARTERLY WEST, POETRY INTERNATIONAL, and RIVENDELL. Espinoza's work is also recently anthologized in BEAR FLAG REPUBLIC: PROSE POEMS OF CALIFORNIA (2008), THE WIND SHIFTS: NEW LATINO POETRY (2007), ...more

Average rating: 4.24 · 25 ratings · 5 reviews · 2 distinct works
The Date Fruit Elegies

4.11 avg rating — 19 ratings — published 2008
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Aluminum Times

4.67 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 2002
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Aching Knees in Palm Springs (Poetry)
1 chapters   —   updated Aug 07, 2011 01:17PM
Description: A college student spends eight hours weeding out a flower bed with his father and younger brother.
“What first comes across our minds
About the stocky Mexican

Pushing a mower across the lawn
At 7 a.m. on a Saturday

As the roar of the cutter wakes us?
Let me take a guess.

Why do they have to come so damn early?
What do we make of his flannel

Shirt missing buttons at the cuffs,
Threadbare at the shoulders,

The grass stains around his knees,
The dirt like roadmaps to nowhere,

Between the wrinkles of his neck?
Let me take a shot. Dirty Mexican.

Would his appearance lead us to believe
He is a border jumper or wetback

Who hits the bar top with an empty shot glass
For the twelfth time then goes home

To kick his wife around like fallen grapefruit
Lying on the ground?

First, the stocky Mexican isn’t mowing the lawn
At 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

He doesn’t work weekends anymore ever since
He lost one-third of his route

To laborers willing to work for next to nothing.
Second, he knows better than to kneel

On the wet grass because, well, the knees
Of his pants will become grass-stained

And pants don’t grow on trees, even here,
Close to Palm Springs.

Instead, after 25 years of the same blue collar work,
Two sons out and one going to college,

Rather than jail, and a small but modest savings
In case he loses the remaining two-thirds

Of his work—no matter how small and reluctantly
The checks come in the mail—

My father the stocky gardener believes
He firmly holds his life

In both his hands like pruning shears,
Chopping branches and blossoms,

Never looking downward as they fall to his feet
In pieces like the American dream.”
John Olivares Espinoza, The Date Fruit Elegies

“You remember I had a strong inclination all my life to be a painter. Under different circumstances I would rather have been a painter than to bother with these god-damn words. I never actually thought of myself as a poet but I knew I had to be an artist in some way.”
William Carlos Williams, I Wanted to Write a Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet

“I was the first Chicano to write in complete sentences.”
Gary Soto, New and Selected Poems

“Success, after all, loves a witness, but failure can't exist without one.”
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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message 2: by John

John Good to connect with you after all these years. I had heard you got married. Congratulations! I hope you're still writing...

Caroline wrote: "Hey buddy! Good to see you on here! Of course I'll be your friend... I LOVE me some goodreads!

I'm glad to see you looking happy and healthy. Can't wait to see what you're into these days!

Ok, ..."

Caroline Hey buddy! Good to see you on here! Of course I'll be your friend... I LOVE me some goodreads!

I'm glad to see you looking happy and healthy. Can't wait to see what you're into these days!

Ok, no more exclamation marks for me for a long time (I think I used up, like, a weekly quota here).

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