Gentle cabrones:

Somewhere, deep in my archives, is a spiral binder filled with poetry.


In high school AP English, Ms. Sinatra did a day where she encouraged us to dress like bohemians on the Left Bank, provided coffee, and let us read our poetry to the class.

We had studied Frost, Dylan Thomas, song lyrics, but the people who sang to me most were the Beats.

I loved the electricity of Ginsberg, the free-flow madness of Kerouac, the messiness of Corso, the Gothic weirdness of Burroughs, the gentle observations of Ferlinghetti. My best friend Art and I wanted to take a cross-country trip after high school — he Sal Paradise, me Dean Moriarty.

(That wouldn’t happen until a decade later, with future wives in tow — but that’s another story for another day).

Writing poems was the first time I truly enjoyed to write, and my poems were chingón enough that it got me a date with one of the prettiest girls at Anaheim High, a chica WAY above my pay grade (that went nowhere; I took her to Borders, and proceeded to nerd her out — and no, that’s not a euphemism ala Lady Chatterly’s Lover).

In a way, those few weeks of studying poetry set me on the road to become a reporter. Ms. Sinatra said I was talented enough to make a living as a writer. I was into movies by then, so I instead decided to go into Orange Coast College’s film program — and here we are.

Poetry will always be close to my heart. But I never wrote another poem again — until now.

Staircase to the legendary City Lights bookstore in San Francisco
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I got inspired by running into Iuri Lara, a chingona Santanera who’s coming out with a chapbook of her work. She has a reading April 13 at LibroMobile in SanTana, so I congratulated her on that. We have mutual friends but don’t really know each other, yet that didn’t stop me from fanboying. She’s a teacher, a longtime activist, and GOOD — get her chapbook, and go to the reading.

So now, MY attempt — actually, two.

One is straight from the archives — a haiku! Always loved that form, so here we go:

Gus Arellano
The biggest mystery in
Human history

Um, yeah…

I was reading too much Camus and Sartre senior year, too. I’m actually NOT any mystery — I like to write, I like to read, and I like to fight. Also, who’s Gus?

Now, a NEW poem, subscribing to the Beat mantra of “First thought, best thought.” And I’m going to do it on my ’79 Ford Supercab, which I drove the other day:

Una camioneta…well, not gris
Because you’re brown
Glorious brown
Two-tone outside, three tones inside.
A tank. OLD SKOOL. Leather. Heroic.
Nomás falta a bull sticker.
Can’t get more Mexican than you.
My dad drove you from Anaheim to Jomulquillo with some tios in the 1990s
And you became their dream
A dream unfulfilled
They wanted to eventually return to Zacatecas and retire there.
With their kids visiting often.
That didn’t work out.
Instead, you stayed in a garage for 25 years.
Always taken care of. Never forgotten.
But abandoned.
You’re now mine, the ultimate dominguero.
A beautiful piece of heritage, of personal history.
A damn fine troca.
Why can’t you give me better gas mileage?

Okay, I’ll stick to my day job haha. But you want great poetry? All about LibroMobile, so GO GO GO and BUY BUY BUY!


This is the newish feature where I take your questions about ANYTHING. And away we go…

Please don’t misunderstand my question: I am a long time Mexicophile. I’m only asking to be better prepared to answer those who are supporting that infernal wall business.

My question: despite all the negative aspects such a wall along the complete border would have, would such a wall at least put an end to the terrible mistreatment of migrants by the coyotes? I mean, might it put them out of business?

The U.S.-Mexico border at San Diego-Tijuana. Tijuana looks cooler. By Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde –, Public Domain
“Out of business?” HAHAHAHAHA. Time was when Mexicans could sneak into this country without the help of anyone. Time was when you had to pay coyotes a couple of hundreds of dollars to bring you over.

My aunts did it. My abuelita did it, for chrissakes. No mistreatment whatsoever. Whenever they talk about it, they laugh like it was a trip back to the rancho.

Those times are a generation removed. Cruzando la frontera cannot be romanticized anymore. And it’s all the fault of increased border security.

A wall will not deter anyone from coming into this country sin papeles. It’ll just make it more expensive and dangerous. Anytime the government cries that part of increased border security is to save people from exploitation, it ain’t crocodile tears — it’s pinche Stegosaurus snivels.

Got a caliente question? Grítale a Guti here.


Enough ranting. This was the semana that was:

LISTENING: “El Negro José,” La Sonora Dinamita. I’ve long maintained that these cumbia legends are the happiest group EVER. There is no way you can listen to any of their songs and not want to dance. Even this one, which I find melancholy for some reason (actually, I know the reason). But even whenever I hear it and want to tear up, I still DANCE. Also one of the few times that the male Sonora Dinamita singers don’t play the buffoons.

READING: “Rebel priest Roy Snipes discusses his fight to save a historic chapel from Trump’s wall”: In a week filled with great stories, this is the one that resonated with me the most: a true holy man, with wise, hilarious words, for a legendary small magazine (Texas Observer). Whenever I tell people to keep the faith, this is what I’m referring to.

Gustavo in the News

For the record: 18 journalists on how—or whether—they use tape recorders”: I don’t use tape recorders when I interview because I find them a crutch. Gay Talese feels the same — and that’s the only time you’ll ever read our names in the same sentence, in this Columbia Journalism Review.

The benefits and dangers of using a recorder; Podhoretz apologizes for ‘bomb J school’ tweet; fired Tampa news director reinstated”: Poynter shouts out the above, and singles me out!

Gustavo’s Stories

For the first time in a LOOOOONG time — actually, I think since 2002 — I have absolutely nothing to report. Nada. Those of ustedes who know: yep, it’s happening. Those of ustedes who don’t know: I’m working on a couple of big things that’ll make my one week of nada worth it. Details to come…

You made it this far down? Gracias! Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram while you’re down here. Buy me a Paypal taco here. Venmo: @gustavo-arellano-oc. And don’t forget to forward this newsletter to your compadres y comadres!