Fall 2009, Volume 7

Poetry by David Dominguez

The Ted Dominguez Latin American Combo

This afternoon, I put my glass of ice tea on the coffee table,
stared at the framed poster promoting my grandfather’s band,
and was lulled to sleep by the ceiling fan and the gentle
rattle of the vertical blinds that keep my family room cool and dark….
I saw my grandfather walk out of Heinie’s Club with my dad,
who earlier played in the Selma/Kingsburg football game.
He smiled and said, “I played my trumpet with swollen, bruised lips.”
I was with them and wired because all night I had slapped
rhythms into the quinto, conga, and tumba as we flooded the club
with big band, mambos, cumbias, rancheras, and tangos.
Grandpa said, “Anden, mijos,” and we forgot about the vineyards’
inescapable longing and slipped into the sheet music draped
across the stands that lined the edge of the stage quivering
against the crowds and the smoke hovering above the dance floor.
At midnight, Grandpa paid the musicians with a fistful
of ones and fives and shook their hands before we walked
through the parking lot despite the fights spilling onto San Benito.
Suddenly, we were cruising old 99 in Grandpa’s C10.
Outside Selma, we stopped along a vineyard, leaned on the truck
and talked about performing at the Fiesta and Marigold
before we stared at the fields where the family worked day-long.
Dad said, “I don’t want you doing this kind of work,”
and squeezed my shoulders down to the bone: “Do better.…”
Dad, if we performed at Heinie’s Club, if I watched you
lift your trumpet as Grandpa conducted the orchestra—
lips, shoulder, fingers, and feet trembling with joy,
why wouldn’t I be with both of you the next morning?
The music of those days is gone, but on my wall
I have a poster featuring grandpa wearing a black suit
as he dips his horn above a conga and finishes
another night’s work with “Moonlight Serenade.”


BIO: David Dominguez’s first full-length collection of poetry, Work Done Right, was published by the University of Arizona Press, 2003. His second collection of poetry is forthcoming with C and R Press, 2010.
      Dominguez’s poems have been published in magazines and journals, such as Bloomsbury Review, Crab Orchard Review, Poet Lore, and Southern Review.
      His work has been anthologized in The Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California; Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes; Highway 99: a Literary Journey through California’s Great Central Valley, 2nd edition; How Much Earth: the Fresno; and The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry.
      He teaches composition and poetry writing at Reedley College and is the co-founder and poetry editor of The Packinghouse Review (www.thepackinghousereview.com).