Orale Pues

Orale Pues….

The back story…

For a long time, I wished I was a Chicana. I wanted beautiful dark eyes with long thick lashes like Maria Duran. I wanted to hully gully like Theresa Navarro. I guess you could call it ‘identity issues. At thirteen I started smoking and wanted to be grown up. My 9th grade English teacher, Miss Brandes encouraged me to write—she liked my story ‘The Lion’ and told the counselor Mr. Kirkland I didn’t belong in the flunky classes. He transferred me to college prep.During this time I joined the “Modernettes” a modern dance club and the rest is history. My grades soared. Unfortunately, I had a cigarette jones and smoked for many many years. Dance was my savior. Then I had to give it up when my hips wore out and in 2008, got a hip replacement. That’s when poetry became my savior.

 During Covid 20 my blog kept the light shining.

The Tanka Prose, Orales Pues is a tongue in cheek but true story of my teenage years in East L. A……

I like

 my Japanese American eyes

it took me a long time.

August 29, 2021

Orale Pues    

Photo: Genie Nakano

born in ELA barrios

I live in a world of dualities

in my tight skirt and sweater

I  can cha cha ‘n hully gully down

but I don’t know who I am

I peroxide my hair red

rat it high, rat it high

pierce my ears with the catholic cross

orale pues*—sansei*

Buddhahead becomes a chola.*

homeroom teacher

sends me to the back of the room

my hair is too high to see over

she calls me a disgrace

oye, better to nap in the back

black eyeliner, jade green shadow

I look older now

times going too slow

I want to get out of here

I am Maria of Westside Story

in my purple skirt

I twirl with amateur grace

round and round

and then again…

suddenly a balance

that’s it for me

dance sets me free

forget those guys,

those blackened eyes

Catch me in the Rye

while legs grow strong

my spine becomes a willow

time moves in rhythm

and everything makes sense

the world becomes a dance

keep on is all I say

you call me a show off now

I don’t care—cause I feel good

and don’t you wish you had my legs

orale pues, right on right on.

Originally published in Atlas Poetica, editor M. Kei. (thank you M. Kei you started me on this tanka path.!!!)

*Sensei..third generation,

*chola gangster girl,

*orales pues, right on,

*Rat, backcombing the hair,

*Huly gully, shimmy shoulder dance.

Published by genienakano

I love writing--It's my joy, my therapy--my confession. I'm a performer, dancer, yoga and meditation instructor, write a poetry column for Rafu Shimpo. Growth and love of life is a key to my happiness.

4 thoughts on “Orale Pues

  1. There must have been some good for how your parents raised you. It shows in your writings. My dad let me run wild-(raised by a single parent–Dad). I yearned for the life of your childhood stories. Consequently, I’m not always sure of myself a poem I wrote “Soshite” is about that. I think I’ll re-blog it because I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.Gosh, there is always another side to our stories isn’t there. Just reminds me to embrace my present and give myself a big hug.


  2. High school is a tumultuous time for a lot of students, a time to try many new things. My very conservative parents with their archaic restrictions made me feel like an outcast during those years…no makeup, no shorts, no dancing, no movies.

    I am glad you discovered your talent for dance and writing which brought you lifelong joy. I developed an interest in writing and art, interests I am pursuing in retirement.

    A beautifully-written, interesting poem, Genie! 🙂


  3. Yes, it was a coming together. I loved the Midnighters band a real East L. A. treat–made you dance all night. How lucky we were! I had many angels in my life that guided me through dance/performance. Yes, angels and bodhisattvas.


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