Melinda Palacio recalls that when growing up in Los Angeles’ South Central barrio, she liked to write stories, poems and letters.
Her writing matured as she did and now, just a year after publication of “Ocotillo Dreams,” her widely acclaimed premiere novel, she has published her first book of collected poems, “How Fire Is a Story, Waiting.”
Many of Palacio’s marvelous poems are like fragments of stories, snapshots and letters, dreams and memories of her often-troubled childhood’s time and place.
“How Fire Is a Story, Waiting” by Melinda Palacio
Tia Chucha Press, $14.95, 107 pp.
In the book’s title poem, her grandmother dreamed of becoming a singer with her “deep, cinnamon stick voice,” but she “tucked/Mariachi dreams under her girdle” and sang only to her stove, where she made tortillas for her family of 13.
Palacio draws sad comparisons between the loose button eye of her ragged and beloved rabbit toy and her mother’s eye, bruised and swollen by Palacio’s abusive father.
She recalls her “porch days” on Ramona Street and the crowded house on Albany Street, where “three young lives were taken by bullets” and the unseen bogeyman Cucuy lurked like the derelicts that hid in the shadows of alleyway Dumpsters.