The Border: A Double Sonnet by Alberto Rios

1.16.2018

Dear Readers,

This summer I was at a U2 concert. Before the show began, this poem along with several others was displayed on the main screen on stage. I thought it was quite powerful, and have finally got around to sharing it here. Please feel free to contribute your opinions on it, or tell us of any other poems that have stood out to you. Stay warm,

- The Soup Chef

The Border: A Double Sonnet 
By Alberto Rios

The border is a line that birds cannot see.
The border is a beautiful piece of paper folded carelessly in half.
The border is where flint first met steel, starting a century of fires.
The border is a belt that is too tight, holding things up but making it hard to breathe.
The border is a rusted hinge that does not bend. 
The border is the blood clot in the river's veins.
The border says stop to the wind, but the wind speaks another language, and keeps going. 
The border is a brand, the "Double-X" of barbed wire scarred into the skin of so many. 
The border has always been a welcome stopping place but is now a stop sign, always red. 
The border is a jump rope still there even after the game is finished. 
The border is a real crack in an imaginary dam.
The border used to be an actual place, but now, it is the act of a thousand imaginations.
The border, the word border, sounds like order, but in this place they do not rhyme.
The border is a handshake that becomes a squeezing contest. 

The border smells like cars at noon and wood smoke in the evening.
The border is the place between the two pages in a book where the spine is bent too far. 
The border is two men in love with the same woman. 
The border is an equation in search of an equals sign.
The border is the location of the factory where lightning and thunder are made. 
The border is "NoNo" The Clown, who can't make anyone laugh.
The border is a locked door that has been promoted.
The border is a moat but without a castle on either side. 
The border has become Checkpoint Chale.
The border is a place of plans constantly broken and repaired and broken.
The border is mighty, but even the parting of the seas created a path, not a barrier.
The border is a big, neat, clean, clear black line on a map that does not exist. 
The border is the line in new bifocals: below, small things get bigger; above, nothing changes.
The border is a skunk with a white line down its back. 





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Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket

1.03.2018

Ages: 8+
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 8/10

          This episode of the Baudelaire's story was one of my favorites so far. A new layer of mystery was added to the orphan's tragic story, and it was interesting to watch the three children grow as they continued to make choices outside of their comfort zone. Lemony Snicket's comically satirical writing never fails to humor me, and I am anxious to read the next book in the Series of Unfortunate Events.

About:
          After surviving yet another tragic encounter with Count Olaf, the Baudelaire children have made their way to a mysterious and run down carnival on the outskirts of the infamous Hinterlands. But danger continues to lurk at every turn, and the three orphans find themselves being forced to make decisions that they never would have agreed to before.

          Have you read A Series of Unfortunate Events before, or another book similar to it? If so, tell us what you thought about it right here at Reading Soup! It's always a pleasure to hear your literary thoughts and opinions. Have a great day, stay warm, and keep on reading!

- The Soup Chef 
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Poem: Blues-ing on the Brown Vibe by Esther Belin

12.26.2017

Dear Readers,

Lately I've been intrigued by the poetry of Native American writers. Their stories often go untold, but carry powerful messages nevertheless. About two months ago, while browsing through the Poetry Foundation's website, I came across this poem written by Navajo artist and writer Esther Belin. It is my hope that you all appreciate the meaning behind this piece just as much as I did upon first reading it. If you know of any other Native American poets or writers, please feel free to share their works right here at Reading Soup.

-The Soup Chef

Blues-ing on the Brown Vibe
By Esther Belin

I.
And Coyote struts down East 14th.
looking good
feeling the brown
melting into the brown that loiters
rapping with the brown in front of the Native American Health Center
talking that talk
of relocation from tribal nation
of recent immigration to the place some call the United States
home to many dislocated funky brown

ironic immigration

more accurate tribal nation to tribal nation

and Coyote sprinkles corn pollen in the four directions
to thank the tribal people
          indigenous to what some call the state of California
          the city of Oakland
for allowing use of their land.

II.
And Coyote travels by greyhound from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA thru
Dinetah
to Oakland, California, USA
laughing
Interstate 40 is cluttered with RVs from far away as Maine
traveling and traveling
to perpetuate the myth
Coyote kicks back for most of the ride
amused by the constant herd of tourists
amazed by the mythic Indian they create

at a pit stop in Winslow
Coyote trades a worn beaded cigarette lighter for roasted corn
from a middle-aged Navajo woman squatting
in front of a store

and Coyote squats alongside the woman
talking that talk
of bordertown blues
of reservation discrimination

blues-ing on the brown vibe
a bilagaana snaps a photo
the Navajo woman stands 
holding out her hand
requesting some of her soul back
instead
she replaces her soul with a worn picture of George Washington on a dollar bill

and Coyote starts on another ear of corn
climbing onto the Greyhound
the woman
still squatting
waiting
tired of learning not to want
waits there for the return of all her pieces.

III.
And Coyote wanders
right into a Ponca sitting at the Fruitvale Bart station
next to the Ponca is a Seminole
Coyote struts up to the two
"Where ya'all from?"

And Ponca replies
"Oooklahooma"
pause
the Seminole silent watches a rush of people climb in and out of the train
headed for Fremont
the Seminole stretches his arms up and back stiff from the wooden benches
pause
he pushes his lips out toward the Ponca slowly gesturing that he too is from Oklahoma
Coyote wanders
"where 'bouts?"

the Ponca replies
"Ponnca City"
pause
the Seminole replies
"Seminoole"

Coyote gestures to the Ponca
"You Ponca?"
the Ponca nods his head in affirmation
Coyote nods his head in content
to the Seminole
Coyote asks
"You Seminole?"
pause
the Seminole now watching some kids eating frozen fruit bars
nods his head

and Coyote shares his smokes with the two
and ten minutes later
they travel together on the Richmond train
headed for Wednesday night dinner at the Intertribal Friendship House.

IV.
And Coyote blues-ing on the urban brown funk vibe
wanders
in and out of existence
tasting the brown
rusty at times
worn bitter from relocation.
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Good Hair by Sherman Alexie

11.02.2017

Hi Readers!

It's been awhile since I shared a poem, for which I apologize. Recently, I was browsing through poets.org, which contains poetry selections from a wide variety of different time periods and authors. One poem that stood out to me was by Sherman Alexie, a preeminent Native American writer whose works often carry very powerful messages. I hope you all appreciate this poem of his as much as I did.

- The Soup Chef
(P.S. If you have any poems that you would like to share, please do so in the comments section!)

Good Hair
By Sherman Alexie

Hey, Indian boy, why (why!) did you slice off your braids?
Do you grieve their loss? Have you thought twice about your braids?

With that long, black hair, you looked overtly Indian.
If vanity equals vice, then does vice equal braids?

Are you warrior-pretend? Are you horseback-never?
Was your drum-less, drum-less life disguised by your braids?

Hey, Indian boy, why (why!) did you slice off your braids?
You have school-age kids, so did head lice invade your braids?

Were the scissors impulsive or inevitable?
Did you arrive home and say, “Surprise, I cut my braids”?

Do you miss the strange women who loved to touch your hair?
Do you miss being eroticized because of your braids?

Hey, Indian boy, why (why!) did you slice off your braids?
Did you weep or laugh when you said goodbye to your braids?

Did you donate your hair for somebody’s chemo wig?
Is there a cancer kid who thrives because of your braids?

Did you, peace chief, give your hair to an orphaned sparrow?
Is there a bald eagle that flies because of your braids?

Hey, Indian boy, why (why!) did you slice off your braids?
Was it worth it? Did you profit? What’s the price of braids?

Did you cut your hair after your sister’s funeral?
Was it self-flagellation? Did you chastise your braids?

Has your tribe and clan cut-hair-mourned since their creation?
Did you, ceremony-dumb, improvise with your braids?

Hey, Indian boy, why (why!) did you slice off your braids?
Was it a violent act? Did you despise your braids?
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Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

10.31.2017

Genre: Historical Fiction
Ages: 12 and Up

     Back when I was in eighth grade, I read Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Perhaps it was because of my age, but I didn't enjoy that book very much. Because of this, when I picked up a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (the follow-up book), I had pretty low expectations. To my pleasant surprise, this book was actually very enjoyable. Twain's usage of satire, irony, and humor throughout kept me entertained, while the events of the plot drew me in to the story and made me feel as though I connected with some of the characters on a deeper level. Needless to say, this book was well worth my time, and I agree with it being labeled as "An American Classic".

About:
     Young Huckleberry Finn has always felt out of place. Whether he was living with his alcoholic father, or the pious old widow in town, Huck could never seem to find a place where he truly belonged. One night, he makes the decision to flee from his problems by running away from home. As he makes his way down the Mississippi River, Huck is joined by a runaway slave named Jim. The two form a strong friendship, and as they continue on their journey they encounter several interesting characters along the way.

Memorable Quote:
"Jim said bees wouldn't sting idiots; but I didn't believe that, because I had tried them lots of times myself, and they wouldn't sting me."

Have you read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn before, or any other books by Mark Twain? If so, tell us what you thought about them right here at Reading Soup! It's always a pleasure to hear your literary thoughts and opinions.
Happy Halloween!

-The Soup Chef
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