Voices and Verses

National Poetry Month: “Selena’s Last Concert In Houston” By Reyes Ramirez

The Houston poet reads a poem inspired by the Queen of Tejano music.

Reyes Ramirez

In this sound portrait, we meet poet Reyes Ramirez. He talks about the first poem he ever wrote, his definition of poetry and how life in Houston inspires him. He reads his poem, “Selena’s Last Concert in Houston.”

Reyes Ramirez won the 2017 Blue Mesa Review Nonfiction Contest and the 2014 riverSedge Poetry Prize. His poems, stories, essays and reviews have been published in, or are forthcoming from, Deep Red Press, The Latinx Archive, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Texas Review, TRACK//FOUR, Houston Noir, Gulf Coast, Origins, The Acentos Review and Cimarron Review.

 

Selena’s Last Concert in Houston
 
I looked up at the TV, child eyes electric bright
from Selena’s jumpsuit made of the purple cosmos,
which shimmered across her great cuerpo of curves—
the arc of the universe bending to the whim of a Chicana.

Every organ piled in my belly
and I felt the weight of my existence,
burdened with potential or defeat,
disgrace or love rumbling awfully enough
to bring me to my knees in prayer or mercy,
dazed in awe or reverence as she sang the word ‘flor,’
then composed one out of the black air
with the flicking spells of her hand
as though speaking to me
in bendiciones.

She will soon receive a gunshot in her shoulder,
infinite potential spilling out like milk out of a tipped pitcher.
Whatever beauty there is they want it
for themselves oh so scary fast.

We shouldn’t fear what’s greater than us
lest we never leave our bodies
because at 23, Selena sang into the devouring void
and demanded a response—
left hand across her breasts, breathing in
through a smiling mouth, heavy waves
of screaming amor.

For small moments of eternity, she looked into the camera
through her bangs, disordered by wild performance,
and at me, alone, just sitting there draped with a blanket
in the dark living room of my mom’s apartment.

 

This poem first appeared in Pariahs: Writing from Outside the Margins and is reprinted with permission of the author.

Music used: Memory (excerpt) by Marcelo Zarvos performed by ETHEL from The Front Row Reserved Vol. 1, Farewell Bonaparte (excerpt) and Cesare (excerpt) by Two Star Symphony from Love & Other Demons, Como la Flor (excerpt) by Selena from Live from the Astrodome and Changing Winds (excerpt) by Alexandra Stréliski from Inscape

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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