Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CATCHING UP: SOME OF MY RECENT PUBLICATIONS

I hadn't published a book since 2011, when my poetry chapbook, Breath & Bone, was issued by Kentucky's Finishing Line Press. But I've stayed busy with writing since then and have been totally delighted that various editors and presses have published my work. Even after years of writing, the joy of seeing my work in print--whether in a book, journal, anthology, or blog--never diminishes. I think most writers feel the same way. I'm very thankful for all the kind people who believe in my work and are supportive toward it. You're the best!

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT ABOUT MY WORK? TALK TO ME!
 
Do you have any questions you'd like to ask an author about his/her writing process? Meaning of stories or poems he/she wrote? Where inspiration comes from? One of the reasons I'm listing my publications since 2011 here is that I'm available to talk to you directly about any of these works.
 
I love to interact with readers! Please feel free to email me at thelma.reyna@ymail.com with your questions or comments. Or visit my Facebook page, "Author Thelma Reyna's Fan Club," with any comments. I'm especially pleased to talk with students, aspiring writers, and published authors. Let's share our thoughts!

NEW POETRY BOOK COMING OUT ANY DAY NOW

My new poetry chapbook, Hearts in Common, will be mailed out by Finishing Line Press soon. Those who pre-ordered it, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. (The press is apologetic about their delay.) To those of you who haven't had a chance to order a copy yet, please feel free to visit http://www.finishinglinepress.com or http://www.amazon.com . The book was a national semi-finalist in FLP's annual poetry chapbook competition. It has received some good reviews thus far, I'm thankful to say.

OTHER RECENT STUFF: STORIES, POEMS, BOOK REVIEWS

Short Stories:
  • "Lesbian": If & When Literary Journal, Issue Two, June 2013. [The full text of this story is posted in this blog, below.]
  • "Liar, Liar": The Acentos Review, Fifth Anniversary Issue, May 2013
  • "Widow Bride": Hinchas de Poesia, Issue 9, May 2013
  • "Making It Well Again": PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Literary Art, Issue 8, (2012) 
  • "Juana Macho": phati'tude Literary Magazine, Winter 2012
  • "Snap": Soul Vomit: Beating Domestic Violence (Broken Publications, 2012).
Poetry:
  • "The Undivorced": If & When Literary Journal (Issue One, ???? 2013)
  • "I Stopped by Your House Today": Poetry & Cookies Anthology (Spring 2013)
  • "Talismans": Poetry & Cookies Anthology (Spring 2013)
  • "The Mayans Were Wrong": 2013 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Calendar
  • "Old Habits": San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly [SGVPQ], Spring 2013
  • "Oscar the Blade Runner": SGVPQ, Winter 2013
  • "Shades of Blue": SGVPQ, Fall 2012
  • "Coming to Empty": SGVPQ, Summer 2012
  • "Only the Moon Knows My Secrets": Soul Vomit: Beating Domestic Violence (Broken Publications, 2012).
  • "Hammock: Chicago Old Town": Poetry & Cookies: 2012 Anthology of Poems
  • "Rosita's Hands": Poetry & Cookies: 2012 Anthology of Poems
  • "Early Morning": SGVPQ, Spring 2012
  • "Manicure Diva: Hong Hanh, Apricot Blossom": SGVPQ, Winter 2011
  • "Chicago Winter": SGVPQ, Fall 2011
  • "School Bell": SGVPQ, Summer 2011
  • "Brown Arms": SGVPQ, Spring 2011.
  • "Grandmother's Insomnia": Poetry & Cookies: 2011 Anthology of Poems
  • "Annie's Lap": Poetry & Cookies: 2011 Anthology of Poems.
Book Reviews:
  • Melinda Palacio, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting: La Bloga, June 30, 2013, at www.LaBloga.blogspot.com
  • Melinda Palacio, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting: Hinchas de Poesia, Issue 10, June 2013.
  • Alma Luz Villanueva, The Ultraviolet Sky: Latinopia, May 6, 2013, at www.Latinopia.com
  • Ana Castillo, The Mixquiahuala Letters: Latinopia, March 3, 2013.
  • Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands: Latinopia, December 9, 2012.
  • Pat Mora, Borders: Latinopia, September 30, 2012.
  • Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street: Latinopia, September 3, 2012
  • Cherrie Moraga, Loving in the War Years: Latinopia, July 8, 2012.
  • Lorna Dee Cervantes, Emplumada: Latinopia, May 27, 2012.
  • Lorna Dee Cervantes, Emplumada: Letras Latinas, Review Roundup, June 10, 2012 at www.latinopoetryreview.blogspot.com
  • Estela Portillo Trambley, Rain of Scorpions and Other Writings: Latinopia, April 30, 2012.
  • Estela Portillo Trambley, Rain of Scorpions and Other Writings: La Bloga, May 14, 2012.
  • Nicholasa Mohr, Nilda: Latinopia, March 26, 2012.
  • Oscar Hijuelos, Beautiful Maria of My Soul: Latinopia, December 19, 2011.

Essays & Mini-Essays:
Thank you for taking a look at these works whenever you have time. Share these sites and writings with others, and let's keep spreading the word about other authors, especially those whose books I reviewed. We all have so much to learn all the time! And it's fun.

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[Here is the full text of my latest short story, "Lesbian." See publication information above.]

 
"LESBIAN"

A Short Story by Thelma T. Reyna
             “I’m not a lesbian,” she tells the woman as she holds the door open.


            The visitor stops inside the doorway. She doesn’t look like a hooker, though Marina knows she is.  She’s been referred.  She looks at Marina’s face, probably to see if she’s joking. Else, why has Marina sent for her?

            “Whatever,” the hooker says, and strolls to the sofa. She drops her fake Gucci bag on the floor near the foyer table and starts making herself at home.  Marina brings her a cup of specialty coffee she prepared just before the hooker’s arrival.  Playing the gracious hostess to this stranger might take the edge off a possibly wasted trip.

            The hooker cradles the cup in soft, plump hands and inhales its curlicues of steam. She takes a sip and sighs, leaning back into pillows Marina purchased just for her, for her visit.  Whoever “her” would be.  The stranger has come highly recommended by the man who lives a floor below Marina, a hip, sexy man with an incongruent beer belly and a George Clooney face. Marina asked him, a month ago, if he knew a nice female prostitute she could invite over, and Mister Sexy hadn’t hesitated.

            “Nora!” he blurted, with a grin. “I’ll get you her number. You’ll like her.”  He winked at Marina and didn’t even ask why she wanted a female hooker. Could he possibly think Marina was....

            “I’m not a lesbian,” she says aloud now and flushes when she realizes she’s talking to herself.  Her visitor sits unflustered. 

            “Yeah, you told me,” Nora replies. “And, dearie, the word is ‘gay.’” Her eyes widen at Marina, and she continues sipping her coffee, scanning the apartment, lounging like a lynx. Maybe she likes earning money this way, like a luncheon guest in a fancy city loft, gazing at soothing art on soft blue walls. Nora kicks off her stiletto heels and sinks more deeply into velvet pillows.    

“Great coffee,” she murmurs.

            Marina sits across from Nora, the mirrored coffee table a continent between the two. Marina has no idea what to say, but her stomach churns, her head feels like pigeons are pelting themselves against her skull, and her mouth twitches in anticipation of whatever miraculous words might wend themselves  in.

            Nora stares at her host. “So, are you bi?” she asks.

The question catches Marina by surprise.  Is she?  Who knows? 

“Are you?” Marina deflects.

Nora laughs. She peers into Marina’s face. “Honey, I don’t have a choice what I am.” Her lipstick is wide, her eyes drilling into this peculiar woman’s face, this woman disappearing into her sofa like she is the goddamned hooker, a trespasser in a pad like this. For all the years Nora has worked streets, or linked up temporarily with sugar dads, she’s seen a panoply of humanity, an exhilarating, suffocating, baffling diorama of good, bad, ugly, and downright hideous. But she isn’t prepared for an outlier like this one.

Nora’s question hangs in the air. Marina has never identified herself based on sexual practice, for, actually, she has none. She blushes, her middle-aged virginity rising like a traitorous heat wave. Silent, knees glued, lips pursed, eyes down, she whips herself. What am I doing? Why did I send for this woman? What in heaven’s name got into me?

 “OK. You’re not bi,” says Nora as she watches Marina’s muddled face. Not lesbian, not bi. But she ain’t no hetero, either,cause she summoned me.

Nora sets her coffee mug on the mirrored table and catches a glimpse of herself. She looks a bit flustered, and she flinches. She pats her bangs, her thickly-padded bra, and tugs on her short skirt. But today it doesn’t matter what she looks like, sex siren that she fancies herself. Today will be a first for Nora. She rises from the sofa and stubs her bare toes on the table legs as she moves toward Marina. She’s in alien territory now, and she sits gingerly beside the older woman.

           “Honey,” Nora coos, “give me your hand.”

Marina averts her face and slides her hand toward the hooker. Nora takes it in hers and strokes it, her large, warm palms cupping Marina’s hand in a protective orb.

Now what do you say to a virgin who summons you, but you realize it’s not for sex. What do you say to this woman paying you good money for absolutely nothing. Nora’s stomach lurches in recognition of an ancient self, a little girl so long ago, it makes her head hurt when she resurrects the ghost, the girl who shouldn’t have been on streets, the girl who defied the odds in reverse, who sank despite things. She glances at the mirrored cocktail table and sees young and old side by side, two flummoxed faces, and she feels that she is both.

“You know, honey,” murmurs Nora, “my daddy was a rich man, a mucky-muck who ran a bank, fancy-pants man, my mommy used to call him. Fancy pants. He went around kissing and hugging everyone, Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, friendly, friendly man.”

Marina looks up slowly, her hand still in Nora’s. The hooker takes Marina’s other hand, cups both together, and clears her throat.

“But he ran out of hugs before he ever got home.”

Her voice is barely audible. Nora moves closer to Marina and wraps her arm around her. Like her mommy and she used to do, she thinks. This is what we got, all we had. This is what the little ghost girl got. Mr. Fancy Pants left it all in the bank.

“And here I am today,” whispers Nora. Her face quivers.

Marina can’t remember the last time her flesh touched someone else’s flesh. Her work is fancy pants, too, and look at her fancy pants condo. Pricey paintings on the walls, velvet pillows, plenty of style. Marina’s hands glow, encased in a human shell of fingers and skin. Nora reaches over the older woman’s lap for the blue throw draped on the sofa arm. She shakes the silk throw open and spreads it over Marina’s lap. Marina adjusts her hips on the sofa so the throw drapes easily and helps Nora tuck in the edges close to her thighs and legs touched for the first time with the warmth of another.

Nora murmurs things Marina can’t decipher, but it’s OK.  These are soothing sounds, human sounds. Marina squeezes Nora’s hands, feels her arm across her shoulders, sighs and tilts her head back, eyes closed toward her ceiling, her mouth quivering.

“It’s OK, dear,” Nora says again. Her mother’s words. “I know. I understand.”

Marina’s tears fall on Nora’s blouse, but Nora doesn’t notice.  The women settle into the cushions, one woman with moist eyes closed, savoring touch and human presence, the other remembering how unbeholden touch used to be. Encased in a cocoon of silk, both women listen to the clock on the wall near them, daylight from the large bay window slowly turning to dusky swirls on Marina’s oriental rug. The large glass of the bay slowly blackens as city lights twinkle coolly beyond it.

The young hooker and the older woman sit in silence side by side, shoulders touching, hips touching, knees touching, hands touching, each remembering aloneness, and for this particular evening, each transcending it to provide a measure of solace.

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1 comment:

  1. I love reading this. What does one do when confronted with an overwhelming amount of isolation and a deep need to be comforted? Still thinking about the story.

    ReplyDelete