San Antonio, Texas: Pecan Grove Press, 1994
Cover art by Mary Ann Blue Gotera
From the Introduction . . .
This short book dovetails the new with the old, the imagined with lived
experiences, cementing this mosaic of possibilities. Some terrifying moments are
encased in chrysalises of beatific clarity and certainty. . . .
These poems lead us as readers to search for answers in ourselves. I am not talking
about profundity (though there are numberous profound moments here); in essence,
I am speaking about how those simple overlooked glimpses at our common lives
tend to rise to the troubled surface of the poetry. . . Gotera
paints the score in brilliant, bold, and brave strokes across an encompassing
canvas. . . .
A tension through juxtaposition is what Vince Gotera's Dragonfly achieves
in a miraculous light that sobers the mind. Characters ease into each other's
dreams, taking us along with them, and we are better and more complete because
we have humbled ourselves long enough to peer through the eyes of these
-- Yusef Komunyakaa
Poems from Dragonfly . . .
Tutubi Milagrosa -- a Tagalog phrase emblazoned
across this sack of jasmine rice, also in Vietnamese,
Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Lao, English, and Thai:
a concert of tongues, scripts, pictographs.
But the crudely drawn dragonfly cruising the names
seems hardly a friendly miracle: metallic globes for eyes,
skeletal legs from a giant mosquito, hairy carapace
like some gene-fused nightmare from a low-budget movie.
Abdomen shaped like a missile -- a penile sting.
Not gossamer wings but helicopter blades: Cobra chopper
streaking over silky jungle mist hovers, cybernetic
killer machine poised on a stream of fire, molten metal.
No. Dragonfly out of my childhood is delicate,
a four-year-old's handspan from wingtip to wingtip.
Almost sunset near the Rizal monument in Manila's
Luneta Park -- cicadas in full choir, singing a canticle.
A little boy in khaki shorts, a scrape on one knee,
stands still then takes a step like a tightrope walker
in line with the slender tail of a jade
and ultramarine dragonfly. The boy's gaze,
his whole being, funneled into fingertip and thumb.
For a moment, a small universe
of utter beauty and grace in his hand, my hand --
intricate shimmer of wings, the eyes iridescent jewels.
In the Church of Saint Jimi, purples and blues
played in the gold haze of the spotlight.
A glass butterfly slicing through
Spanish forests on ebony nights.
At Monterey, Jimi's hips
had thrust vermillion into white
hot flames. Strumming with lips,
fingers, tongue -- Hendrix had spiraled
into our brains, fired the wicks
of our secret candles. We fed on his crystal
bones like vampires at some vile feast.
How could we have known how brittle
he really was? That the prince was just
a mirror? His flesh, only flesh?
Praise for Dragonfly . . .
Dragonfly is a welcome collection of poems. . . . In a simple,
straightforward style, Gotera begins by writing about a father's tender love for his
son. Poem by poem, and ever mindful of the big picture, Gotera goes on to explore
the painful contradictions of cultural identity with dark humor, wisdom, and
-- Jessica Hagedorn
Vince Gotera's Dragonfly has exciting images, like fine photography
packed into a chapbook. These are spirited poems about legends exposed, or
missed and forgiven -- and about ordinary people accepted and honored for what
-- Walt McDonald
To order a Dragonfly, click here.
Sorry, Dragonfly is out of print, but
used copies do show up in used and rare bookstores from time to time.
To return to Vince's homepage, click
on 29 November 1997.
Revised on 30 November 2007.