Crackling Blueness by Nicole Henares

“I observed those who read him and were not Negroes and listened to all their misinterpretation of him.  I thought of those who had been around him, those that were not Negro and were not in crackling blueness…”

                                                                        Bob Kaufman “Ancient Rain”



Nicole Henares (Aurelia Lorca) is a poet, storyteller, and high school English teacher. Her work has since appeared in The San Francisco Bay Guardian Newspaper, The People's Tribune, The Acentos Review, Huizache, Luna Luna, Quailbell, Sparkle and Blink, Razorhouse Magazine, and Red Fez. Her manuscript Monterey Gothic won Honorable Mention in Leapfrog Press's Fiction Contest. In 2008 Nicole edited the Labor issue of The Monterey Poetry Review, and the 2010 issue in tribute to Ric Masten. She is interested in the immigration history of the Monterey Peninsula and how Lorca’s duende, the duende of Andalusia and flamenco, is a cross cultural spirit.

         What is the exhaustion that comes the persistence of breath?

         What does it mean to live in crackling blueness? 

         How am I here?  Why am I here?  Whom do I owe a debt to? 

         Sometimes I think my words need a new language.  Yo tengo mucho desperacion para palabras.  Nuevas palabras.   What separates despair from desperacion? desperation. There is a fine line between despair and   The duende is a goblin spirit, a trickster spirit. It almost sounds like the same word for home.

*                          *                          *

Beneath this skin is a history:

Estoy clavo,



I am carnation,



See that onyx along the curves of my petals? 

Yo soy Africana,

yo soy Judia,

yo soy India,

yo soy Gitana. 

Yo tengo muchos nombres. 

Me llamo Andalusia. 

Me llamo Al-Andaluz. 

*                          *                          *


Never mind my little prancing ego.

Let me find voice for butterflies without borders-

their painted wings is the grandeur

of the wild God of the world arching from my fingers.

Let us be here.

No opposites.

Become light.

I cannot discern the difference

between ache and spirit.

The king of hummingbirds knows

goodness is the reward in itself.

Yet, here is the nightmare that stabs through my not so innocent heart:

The tiny and soundless dance of sand

and obstinate resurrection.

What astonishes me is the caution,

“life is no dream, only flesh exists.”

But I am that lunatic, delicately warped and feminine.

I am too much fool to be a mermaid singing:

I speak quickly,

or stammer and hide.

Nonetheless, I want to embrace the

synthesis as it arrives.

I want to no longer fear the fear

of feeling lost,

or bewildered.

Often I bite my tongue in after-thought until it bleeds.

I am too much fool:

A secret one night clown magic show

of black lace stockings and red lipstick.

I am fool.

I am fool.

I am spirit.

I am yellow ginkgo leaves.

I am resurrection.

I am Jester.

I am Queen.

I am a full house on one card.

I am eyes shut, don’t look at me, don’t look at me.

(It is all a disguise any way.)

I am too much fool,

too much fool.

My eyes struggle being seen,

but my words can make worlds.

I am mouth.

I am breath.

I am a loose hope,

a ritual,

a fit of fevers,

a laughing of ghosts.

Oh the perfection and perfect of if

when my fingers start to breathe.

How do I

allow it all

when I feel very small,

humbled into a corner

by all the ways my voice could be louder,

and less trembling.


Such a thing, swagger.

What I lack in confidence,

I make up for in enthusiasm,

and crazy ass gitana hair

that for some reason I keep trying to tame.

There’s something to be said for never wanting to let go of grief.

I hold my heartache close,

and find healing

in the blood drawn from wounds.

*                 *                          *

Beneath this skin is a history.





See that Onyx along the curve of her petals?

Shares a Coast With.

Is a mix of




         At the conference, we are told to write  the non verbal elements of narrative, and the story that could not be written. 

          “Make a noise or sound if you wish,” we were told. 

         A woman started screaming.   I wanted to scream too, but the past was the past, and this was the present.  My father understands the calo in his uncle’s petenera but he will not tell me what it means. 

         We are told we can scream.  I had been wanting to scream, but no sound would come out. The room was crowded with too many bodies, fluorescent lights, and the itch of grey carpet curls. Somewhere there was a jackhammer from outside where the city has become jagged in unhappy lines.

         I wondered what my body had become.  My tights felt too tight.   Would there be a red mark later that night?  Was I gaining weight, again?   A fat American.

         We are told:  “The sensory motor sequence  is a grammatical sequence  and the body’s memory is a discharge.  Disjointed syntax is the reflection of cultural trauma.”

          I had swallowed my lunch  without chewing, worrying how the language  and words never seemed to fit, and my tongue did not pretend to understand.  At best, I was a mouth hustling in chomped off bits. 

         We are told to focus on love.   So I went home early and found exhilaration in taking off my too tight control top stockings.  I found breath in watching the flamenco guitarist I was living with practice guitar while complaining about his pinky nail being too short. 

         I found peace when he stopped playing the guitar and pulled out a record.  I decided that the phonograph was a meditation on a present built from the past that shaped a twirling future. It spun, how it spun.

         “These are real gitanos,” he said. “Real puro flamenco.  Raimundo Amador, Negra is not fusion, though it was created from fusion.  The word schizophrenia has a negative connotation.  Blues de la frontera was recorded in 1979.  Listen to the attack.  It sounds the same as when it was recorded.  I met them when my father returned to Spain after Franco died.  They had remembered him from before the War.”

         His father had danced with John Bubbles on a train in 1942.  They found the same rhythm.  But John Bubbles had to go to a different part of the train once they crossed the Mason-Dixon line.  His father did not say anything, could not say anything.  He was a refugee from Spain with a Mexican passport, and he made sure to speak English with a French accent.

          And seventy years later at a conference about cultural schizophrenia and cultural identity, I am just a white girl saying white girl things to say.

*                 *                          *

         Was Lorca killed because he was a homosexual? Because he opposed fascism? Or

because while other Spanish modernists distinguished Spanish literature as separate from European ideas and structures, he distinguished Andalusia as separate from Madrid, holding up poems from the deep song next to those from the Persian poet Hafiz and revealing the same poem.

         Is this why my grandfather when he visited Spain during the Franco era was held at

customs and interrogated under the suspicion of being Moroccan and having a fake passport? Is is this why I, in the post-modern interrogation of identity, am often confused for Persian, Afghani, Indian, Gitana, Jew?

         Clare, in Nell Larsen’s novel about passing passed as a Spaniard.

         Yet, even now, in the 21st century my family is still tight lipped.

         “Leave it alone,” they say. “Don’t talk about the past.”

         I ask my father what was the family name of your grandmother, the one who was six feet

tall with the red-brown eyes and black kinky hair like mine who wore rings on each finger like

weapons, and claimed just a little too much she was Castillianos- the Andalusian idiom for ‘not a

gitana?’ My father says she never could remember. A Spaniard who couldn't remember her

mother's family name. Yes, even in America, these are the Wounds That Heal But Never Close.

         Langston Hughes is one of the poets who translated Lorca’s In Search of Duende into


         Hughes breaks with the Talented Tenth in writing poems of Blues.

         Lorca breaks with the 27 Generation in writing of the Deep Song.

         The Deep Song and The Blues share no coincidental echo but the persistence of memory.

*                          *                          *

         In the green of mourning all I want is for my soul to turn orange colored, and my heart to

punch out words, and my mouth to tear down walls.

         All this want, all this algebra of need- retro style dresses and booty shorts that I fill out

so well.  I have been told my ass requires a pounding so hard that I can taste it- and yet it is always something more.

         All this want is Lorca’s refrain about his last heroine: “Lovestruck gonadaleer, farewell

beautiful girl, farewell, for love will never come.” And then he was murdered before he could

give his nostalgia a cathartic slap in the face to place her in the present.

         Aurelia, Lorca’s last heroine. Aurelia, her name, my name is a cry of vowels, even more

than Aurora, dawn of the horizon, troubled back and very much aware.

*                          *                          *

         Beneath my skin there is a history. Being that truly free is a choice I never had. I am forever girl-child, only slightly feral, and over-costumed. A one night clown magic show of fishnets and red lipstick, I am too much fool.

         In January, I had a dream about having a bullet in my third eye, but not my


         Such history makes things blurry as memory itself. I am as I have been accused-

Childish, crazy, forever fossilized in a woman’s body. I am a little girl’s longing for love in a body I struggle to understand- Something was taken from me a very long time ago.

         I understand my body as much as I understand my garden- Another man has recently told me that he wants to re-build my garden. The magnolia tree has droopy flowers but the leaves are

strong. Everything needs more water, though the bougainvillea has gone mad. This man got the vixen only a few times. It’s all such a disconnect. Now he get's the little girl. The lonely little girl, squeaky voiced and stammering let’s go swimming, want to go swimming? Roller skating? Let’s go play dolls! Don’t leave me alone, don’t leave me alone, leave me alone.

         After you’ve been molested by multiple people as a child because your dad was too checked out to notice, raped by your first boyfriend at fifteen, you will put your fist into the throat of any fuck-boy who dares to try and say so, or at the very least give him a priapism and then apologize like a big dope how sorry you are to disturb his swagger.

         I can’t make it and I can’t fake it. But sure, re-build my garden. That would be nice.

*                          *                          *

         Let’s focus on love. 

         Let’s focus on the persistence of breath.

         Beneath this skin, there is a history. 


*                          *                          *

         Last night, I finally asked my mother if she realized how much the people in Andalusia were the descendants of slaves, and how that influenced my grandparents immigration to the Hawaiian sugar plantations.

         “Where have you been?” she said. “You’re father has always said this about being Spanish. Get a clue. It’s why he was an affirmative action officer.  Get a clue. It’s why I took you to see The Color Purple two times when we were divorced those fourteen years. Get a clue. It’s why your father took you to see La Bamba three times though he was unemployed. Yes, it’s complicated.  But I love you, both of you.”





The Acentos Review 2019