Levi Romero

 

The lowrider has always been a representation of individual expression and identity, with connotations of a rebellious and non-conforming nature. The vato loco archetype became the model for the lowrider, and it was that paragon of social deviance that formed the alluring quality that sometimes attracted a young Chicano feeling the need to affirm his individuality and social status. In my contemplations regarding the lowrider lifestyle, as I have witnessed it and lived it, as I have loved it and have attempted to outgrow my attraction to it, with no success—I have come to recognize that the lowrider bore not only the burden of his own individual identification, but also sustained the cultural traditions of language, religion, spirituality, allegiance to community, proclaiming proudly, even arrogantly, his existence in the reality of a social status smirked at by the status quo. I can recall as a young boy seeing these individuals parked in their lowered rides under the shade down by the river, or alongside turn-arounds, or cruising slowly through some dirt road weaving through the village; their slow rides bouncing rhythmically to the grooves spilling out from their car radios.

 

Levi Romero, an author and New Mexico Centennial Poet, is from the Embudo Valley. He has taught creative writing, Chicano Studies and cultural landscape studies at the University of New Mexico. His language is immersed in the regional manito dialect of northern NM.

 

Los Héroes

 

los watchávamos

cuando pasaban

echando jumito azul

en sus ranflas aplanadas

como ranas de ojelata

 

eran en los días

de los héroes

 

cuando había héroes

turriqueando en

lengua mocha

y riza torcida

 

Q-volé

 

ahora nomás pasan

los recuerdos

uno tras del otro

y mi Corazón

baila

 

bendición

 

benedictión es

estar content

 

Señor, gracias por…

 

Gracias por todo

 

 

Wheels

 

how can I tell you

baby, oh honey, you’ll

never know the ride

the ride of a lowered Chevy

slithering through the

blue dotted night along

Riverside Drive Española

 

poetry rides the wings

of a ’59 Impala

yes, it does

and it points

chrome antennae towards

 

‘Burque stations rocking

oldies Van Morrison

brown eyed girls

Creedence and a

bad moon rising

over Chimayó

 

and I guess

it also rides

on muddy Subarus

tuned into new-age radio

on the frigid road

to Taos on weekend

ski trips

 

yes, baby

you and I are two

kinds of wheels

on the same road

 

listen, listen

to the lonesome humming

of the tracks we leave

behind

 

 

 

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