A storyteller for over twenty years, Lana Aragón Fatula is the author of, Crazy Chicana In
Ghost Road Press 2009. Her poems appear in anthologies: Open Windows III
Ghost Road Press 2008; Road Trance Volume 9
, Southern Colorado Women's Poetry Series
2009. Literary Magazines: Pilgrimage
2010; El Tecolote
Vol. 40 No. 15 San Francisco 2010; Tempered Steel Literary Magazine,
2009; The Hungry Eye Literary Magazine,
2008-2007; Hispanic Cultural Experience
, 2006, 2007, 2008. She is a three time winner of the Southern
Colorado Women's Poetry Competition
, and her screenplay Peaceful Sleep
Davon Johnson) was selected for the 2007 Global Arts Film Festival
in Los Angeles.
A week later, the Latin Locos boarded the cargo plane and were strapped in face-to-face with marines on leave. An officer came around and checked their straps and told them to put in their ear plugs. The engines began to whir and the man shouted over the roar,
“If we crash over water use your flotation device; if we crash over land, don’t worry about it.”
Everyone laughed. Lana’s stomach began to knot up and her feet began to itch.
The nine hour flight over the Indian Ocean took the Locos from the United Arab Emirates to Diego Garcia. They were strapped inside a huge cargo plane with their knees rubbing up against giant marines wearing shit-eating-grins. Yezzy flirted with every man on board. Luna’s eyes bulged and his face was sweating and his knees were twitching.
“Lana, do you think my guitars made it on board? I didn’t see them get loaded at Camp Doha.”
He began chewing his finger nails. Lana pointed to her ears that she couldn’t hear over the loud engines. She closed her eyes and braced herself for a rocky ride.
The plane landed safely; Lana unclenched her teeth, farted, and let out a sigh. She tried to walk; her legs wobbled. She prayed,
“Thank you, God, for getting us here safely and out of the friggin’ desert.”
Their arrival to Diego Garcia was greeted by men and women in civilian clothing holding mixed drinks with umbrellas:
“Hi I’m Sgt. Martinez, this is Captain Ramirez, Lt. Garcia, Capt. Sanchez, and Sgt. Medina, welcome to Diego Garcia, Camp Justice.”
The Locos performed every night for a week and every night afterwards went with their hosts to discos and beach parties. Luna and Lana drank iced tea and watched as Yezzy guzzled tequila shots and danced with Sgt. Martinez. On the fifth night the gang took them to the British Club, a bar open to civilians and military. When they arrived they were greeted by some Merchant Marines from the Philippines and several British officers. Marines, Navy, Air Force, Army, drank side by side with Brits, and Portuguese Sailors. Booze flowed like lava and the ocean waves pounded a rhythmic beat along with the jungle drums. One of the Portuguese sailors, at sea too long, took a fancy to Lana. His hair and beard were long brown masses of dreadlocks with strands of copper and red running through like ribbons. His clothes were clean but wrinkled and he smelled like motor oil. The Merchant Marines looked like drunken pirates, bottles of booze in their hands as they chased women down the beach.
Lana’s pirate was dancing with himself and zig-zagged towards her. He pounced like a dog in heat. “No gracias. No!” She politely refused his advances. Luna watched the scene unfold and began to roll up his sleeves. Lana glanced over at Luna (the only sober man on the beach) and
winked at him as she made the first move. As the pirate put his arm around her shoulders she gave him “the old one-two punch” straight to his gut. He doubled over in pain and fell down in the sand. Everyone laughed. Luna sat back down and smiled.
The Locos were in Diego in October, the month with the heaviest precipitation of the year, annual rainfall is 102 inches and about 80 degrees every day. The breezes keep the humidity down, but the island is low and has no wind breaks. Tropical cyclones are frequent.
Everyone danced and sang at the top of their lungs with the band, the rain began to fall, the wind began to blow, the waves of the Indian Ocean hit the beach and knocked over tables, chairs, sailors…the women’s sarongs sailed away and still they danced on. Shirts were blown off of the men and the rain poured from the sky in torrents, everyone danced on. Yezzy, Luna and Lana stared in disbelief at their hosts. They shielded their bodies behind the bandstand and held on for dear life. The party shut down when the electricity went out and the storm moved inland.
The morning came, the sun rose, and the rain dissipated. The Latin Locomotions walked together to the mess hall.
“Good morning, Pork Chop!” The cook flopped two pancakes on Lana’s plate.
“Good, good. Have nice day, Pork Chop.”
Yezzy nudged Lana in the elbow. “The cook has a mad crush on you, Lana.”
“He’s calling me a pork chop.” Lana gave Yezzy a push towards their table.
“No, he’s calling you a pocha. He’s teasing you because you don’t speak Spanish.”
The three Chicanos ate in silence and smiled at the cook and the other locals who worked in the mess hall.
Lana whispered to Luna, “What language do they speak here? They look like Philipinos.”
She looked up as Sgt. Martinez entered the hall and sat down with the Locos.
“Actually they’re called, Chagossians or Ilois or Chagos Islanders. They’re Creole-speaking people, mostly from Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Somalia, but there are a few of South Indian descent too. They were brought here as slaves by the French in 1776; some came as coconut plantation workers during the 19th century. In the sixties, the Acquisition of Land for Public Purposes enabled the Brits to acquire any land they liked for the UK Government. The Indigenous people were forcibly removed by the British government so that the island could be used as an American airbase.”
“You’re a walking encyclopedia.” Yezzy smiled at her friends.
“Actually, it’s all right here in this brochure. How’s breakfast?” Sgt. Martinez shook Luna’s hand.
“Great. So how did it become a U.S. military base ruled by the United Kingdom?” Luna looked around to see who was listening to their conversation.
“Let me see that brochure.” Yezzy grabbed the brochure as the Sgt. poured himself a cup of coffee.
Lana was quiet during breakfast. Yezzy and Luna talked about their plans for the day while she continued to write:
I’m on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean near the equator between Africa and India. We left the UAE and flew in a cargo plane for nine hours to get here. The men outnumber the women two to one, so women are fought over and are a hot commodity! The men have been very respectful to me. They think Luna and I are married because we act like an old married couple; they know we don’t drink, so they leave us to ourselves. The women here are mostly single but most of the men are married. Because there are not enough women to go around, the men get drunk and fight each other for the women just like cave men and the women cheer them on. Every night there is a party on the beach. I am going deep sea fishing tomorrow with Yezzy and hope my Dramamine keeps me from getting sick. The locals come to every show and stay to help pack up our equipment. Last night one of them asked me,
“In U.S. you live on reservations?”
I told him, “No. But we have Native Americans living on reservations.”
“About a million. They’re about 2 percent of our population”
“They stole our land. They stole your land too?”
“I hope you get your land back someday.”
“I hope your people can return home to your island someday.”
Last night in Diego
Lana, Yezzy, Luna and the locals packed up the equipment; they walked along the beach together in the moonlight; their eyes glistened as they caught the moon rays. In the distance a donkey brayed and they all laughed: Chicanos and Chagos in paradise.
In 2006, the British High Court ruled that the 1967 depopulation was unlawful, and that the Chagossians were entitled to return to the Chagos Archipelago. There are now over 4,500 Chagossians waiting to return to their homeland.
Sparrow sent to smash my shameful head and heart — drink from me — your first taste of smack. Forgive me for being addicted to crack, for drinking to falling down — for being fifteen, scared; forgive me, ‘cuz it kind of hurts. Selfish vata wanting to have teenage fun, forgetting to sacrifice, living in the school bus, in the cold, cold cave, addicted to love; forgive me, ‘cuz it kind of hurts. Prayers could not change me — it took falling for you to keep me from drowning. Por las cochinas dudas — these dirty doubts, unworthy of devotion.
Dance to Death
When I’m alone with my chai tea con leche, I tear it up. Doña Sebatiana will transport me
in her carreta de la muerta to the dark world. Dios, let me dance my way out. Dance to death! If laughter is the best medicine, dancing is the cure.
How Women Created Men Myth:
Dark-skinned women with amber eyes were the first. Las mujeres dreamt of men and built them out of clay and twigs, los hombres son bonitos smelled like earth. Los ellos resisted las mujeres’ chi-chis as long as they could, until por la noche, todo la gente tumbled into lust. Their body heat melted the rocks beneath them and turned flesh and bones into lava. The ground shook and rocked; large manzanas toppled from trees. The serpent was knocked senseless, while the women laughed until they peed.
El coyote, pendejo, wore una pistola, so todos would know who was boss. Dizzy with wine, el coyote forgot to howl at the moon. The spellbound desert creatures schemed todo la noche to make la luna loca de masa. Their battered lil’ hands pounded out the tortilla: shards of blistered skin bled onto the moon and stained the face crimson. El coyote woke from his drunken stupor and grabbed the bloody moon. He kneaded the tortilla into a woman with olive colored eyes and lugged her off to his cave. The desert creatures laughed at the fool with his masa wife, hearing the cabrón howling all night.
My Homegirl Don’t Eat Pork
no chicharones, no manteca, no chile verde con marón, cochina…but she wants me to give her my recipes. I tell her, jita, real Mexicans don’t cook with olive oil, whole wheat, organic chicken! Pero, because I love the challenge, I drag out the tamale pan—you know the big ass one you have to store in the garage cuz’ it’s so frickin’ huge and your kitchen is so damn small, enit? I take my gringa loca, Candie, shopping. I pass by the pork for the pinche chicken and grow sad, lo siento. Then comes the choice, instant or old school masa harina, instant? You sure? I reach for the lard and Candie gives me the evil eye. So, I settle for shortening. Spice aisle, ah! Oregano, cumino, garlic, chile pequi!!!! And she says, “Not too hot or spicy.” And I’m like WTF! For reals?
I move onto the hojas and reminisce: mom and dad used to drive to Florence in their ’67 Chevy to visit their friend, Corn, to buy his hojas—he grew the best maize in the county. His husks had flavor! Simon! Mama’s tamales a two hundred year old recipe. Orale!
They’d slaughter a pig and make chicharonnes and lard from the drippings—grew their own chile, herbs and grind their corn into harina in the molcajete made of lava stone; they roasted that meat until it fell off the bone—la familia todo would shred the meat and spread the masa on the hojas. The kitchen aroma would knock you out; it was so spicy! Caliente! Neighbors would show up—relatives came out of the woodwork—outlaws came out of whatever whole they were hiding in—la musica would begin and before you knew it—you had una fiesta! The beer cans poppin’, tequila spillin’—everyone ate-drank-sang-danced and praised the cooks! Everyone knew the tamales had lard and didn’t give a pinche chingon! “Organic” tamales taste like caca compared to the genuine thang’.
The next day we would scream for ice cream, steam came out our chulos, our heads were pounding from the tequila, the butt was on fire, and still…we had tamales and cervesas for breakfast. Ah, las nuevas tamaleras.
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