Marcos McPeek Villatoro is not afraid to discuss mysteries, truths, or injustices. He has lived them. Poet and novelist, activist and radio personality, Villatoro writes poetry steeped in formalism, free verse, and his own Salvadoran syntax. This new collection is a memoir-in-poems telling how the world appears to a Latin American immigrant. His sense of humanity is intact. He has a family, a job, a life in the States. But the face of the Mayan hero Tekún Umán hangs in his office, and he has "made clear all political positions by standing behind the wooden mask of a dead man."
Villatoro is a writer with a keen political sensibility and a sense of humor besides. After confronting the reader with weighty issues, he pauses to have an encounter with a curandera in a cornfield; to speculate on a visit from extraterrestrials; and to pay tribute to his free-spirited, loose-living Uncle Jack, who "chewed forest mushrooms like a rabbit, / Then howled at a California night / While whispering querida above open thighs." Combining Borgean logic, the grit of Neruda, and a heady dose of Zen, Villatoro offers a primer on how to integrate a history of brutality and injustice with the privilege and comfort of life in America. A final section of poems is presented in Spanish only—a statement of ascendance, a strategy for identity preservation, a gift to the cognoscenti.
Reading On Tuesday, When the Homeless Disappeared may make you shift in your seat—perhaps even toss in your sleep—as you encounter a poignant human voice that is unafraid to speak from the heart.