Junkyarding through the great Moreno Valley
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾S. was always looking for a carburetor
and I'd hang around
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾to get some sleep on the bench
seat of his Ford. When I was awake
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾and not browsing the glove compartment,
I'd help comb the rust edging the lots,
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾finding nothing shaped like a such-
and-such all day. We'd split up
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾—he called it double-timing—
and I'd poke around at alternators and engines
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾under the corrugated hoods.
If I got lucky, a cat or possum
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾would skedaddle out a trunk,
or I'd find a cassette we'd jammed to
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾at the skating rink a few years back.
Once when I was leaning against the open
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾door of a stripped jeep, he proposed
with a pipe clamp too big for any
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾of my fingers. I still wore it around,
every so often forgetting what it was
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾and calling it a gasket.
We were always getting it wrong,
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾he and I. He'd tell me to look for
serpentine belts, but to stay away from
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾the rattlesnakes, and I'd come back
swinging an inner tube or two on my arms.
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾It was good.
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾ Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾ Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾ Î¾Î¾ Sure, not much
happened, but those things
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾ we'd holler one after the other
across the junkyards, weekend after weekend,
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾ well, they became something
like a language passed between us, our own
Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾Î¾ long American sentence.
Î¾"My poems always seem to be about the experience of undocumented immigrants," Janine Joseph said.Î¾ She was 8 years old when she arrived in the United States from the Philippines.Î¾ Now a doctoral candidate of the Creative Writing Program, Joseph is one of 354 students nationwide awarded a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship that supports graduate study of new Americans.Î¾
Soros Fellowships are awarded to support the graduate study of new Americans (immigrants and children of immigrants). Joseph is one of 31 Soros Fellows who were selected from about 750 applicants. Created in 1997, these fellowships have been awarded to 354 students.
"What I aim for when writing a poem is accessibility, because if I'm going to be writing about the undocumented immigrant experience, I'm not doing myself any sort of justice if I'm writing in a language no one really understands," she said. Her current work explores themes of identity, transformation and relationships people build with each other.
Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, anthologies and publications including Third Coast, Calabash, Spoon River Poetry Review and Nimrod International Journal.
For more details on these fellowships, visit http://www.pdsoros.org/.
Janine Joseph is part of what's happening at the University of Houston.Î¾ I'm Marisa Ramirez.Î¾
Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.