LA TOLTECA 2.0. #2 July 24, 2020


LA Tolteca 2.0. #2                                                                                                                                      July 24, 2020


During a world pandemic we all feel vulnerable.  Our livelihoods may be at risk.  Family & friends, out of reach.  Older individuals and people with compromised immune systems feel the stress of potential contracting.  Nevertheless and maybe because of all this, let’s not forget we remain relevant, appreciated and even admired– for all good deeds and smiles–if only at this time at a distance. Thank you to the contributors whose images and words we hope you enjoy in this second issue of La Tolteca 2.0.  

Sylvia Mullally (Berkeley, CA)

Public radio journalist, substitute teacher and translator (Spanish, Portuguese & English)

Mullally at home & about in the Bay Area

Melinda Palacio, poems below


Writer Melinda Palacio makes her home in Santa Barbara, California and New Orleans, Louisiana.






Grace Purpura, artist. See feature below.



Valerie Andriola (San Diego, CA)

Children’s Books and Art at the Border


Children’s Books and Art at the BorderValerie AndriolaIn December of 2017, thousands of Central America and Mexican refugees arrived in Caravans to Tijuana and other Mexican border cities, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Families were fleeing violence from their home countries, seeking asylum in the United States of America. When they were not allowed entrance to the United States, they became trapped in the border cities without adequate support from anyone. Migrant centers were hastily set up, and within a few months, food, clothing and shelter seemed well established with different humanitarian and faith groups on both sides of the border. One of the next questions that arose was what would be done for the thousands of children without access to school?
Children can express their feelings better with pictures than with words. They can communicate Something that longs to be shared can be communicated without words, by creating a painting. When shared in an expressive and visual way, the child’s inner life becomes less lonely. Like the picture book, the act of drawing and painting helps them understand and make sense of their environment. By talking about their creative work, they begin to open up a dialogue about their feelings and their experience.

children in shelter

The refugee children that I have worked with are proud of their creations and their ability to share their experiences with the other children in powerful ways that would be limited by words alone. Drawing and painting are beginnings of important conversations. When art work is shared, important validation is received and this encourages further creative expression. Books and art have a much needed positive and therapeutic effect especially on children whose lives have been interrupted by trauma.

Children in shelter

We do not know all that they may have experienced, but we do know that they and their families are running to save their lives. They need to be shown, by our acts of kindness, that there are adults of integrity and humanity on both sides of the border. To deny a child of the basic human necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, or the basics of a universal education in the form of books, pencils, paper, and paint, is to deny them their basic human rights—a crime against humanity. By providing humanitarian aid and addressing an important component of their educational needs, we are responding to our fellow humans with acts of social justice that begin to heal the horrendous suffering inflicted on these families in their home countries and on our borders. The migrant or refugee story is one that should not go untold. An important part of the human condition, it is the universal story of the human exodus fleeing oppression and injustice.


Grace Purpura

Ave Maria Prega per noi 3

“The madonna is mixed media–a high contrast digital photo repeated and enhanced with acrylics  I tried to get different skin tone colors because a black madonna exists.” 



by Grace Purpura

Lilies serie

Artist Statement:
My life is a work in progress. It is about having the soul of an artist in the body of an ordinary woman. I wanted life on my own terms–my own way to exist in the world.  I refused to be defined by others. I needed content and meaning in my life. It was a lonely path.
When I entered Kindergarten in Brooklyn, New York where I was born, I knew no English–being the first-born of immigrants from Sicily, who met and married in Brooklyn. My teacher, seeing that I never spoke, thought me deaf and dumb and called my parents. “She can speak,” said my father, “she just does not understand English. She speaks plenty at home.” So my teacher in all her wisdom,  put me on the easel to paint all day. I found I could say more with color and shape than I could with words.       That year, I won a medal for my painting in the annual exhibition of Children’s Art sponsored by the Public Schools of the City of New York. From then on, I knew what my life path was to be–flor y canto. As the Nahualt poet said, “Will nothing remain of my life here on Earth? At least flowers. At least song.” ~Grace Purpura

Los Viajeros


“My work was included in the online virtual art exhibition curated by Laszlo Ladany of Hungary who put on real art exhibitions before the pandemic hit and then went online with a continuing virtual art exhibition representing 200 international artists on ArtWall. They eventually will be included in a book on the Covid-19 show.”



Melinda Palacio



Unbox Me

And the people were told to stay home and isolate.

When days turned to months,

The lonely took to the streets,

Remembered words like Revolution, Freedom, and Viva.

They shaped a multilingual future,

Chose love and sacrifice over comfort and security.

You don’t know that I am Black,

Que todos me dicen en el negro, Llorona,

That I am your daughter.

All you see is a smile in a red dress,

Someone who breathes, takes your space.

Respeta mi existencia, o espera resistencia.

You know the hidden story.

You don’t have to pay 23andMe to see

There’s more than hair color that binds us.

While nine minutes can make a baby,

The slow tick-tock can break a man.

Sibling Rivalry

My mother’s hands replace me.

                                    Go help your brother.

The right mess tries to pick up a cup,

settles for a pencil, the left hand helps.

She scribbles a list, a secret only she can read.

Her children are finger puppets with no names.

Who needs names when only the left child behaves.

The travieso brother always needs help.

                                    Levanta esa babosada!

Curled brown knots on her lap.

The children play tug-of-war.

                                    You are the only two left.

                                    Soon, you will turn into birds and leave.

She sighs, holds back toughened tears.

Her eyes fail to meet me, her middle child.


Barbara Robidoux 



After the massacre the barrio listened.  They loved each other more. Held the hearts of the

injured. Made fresh tortillas and stirred the beans.

“Why?” an old mexicano with a face as wrinkled as history asks. “He didn’t even know


A five year old’s first day of school includes an active shooter lockdown drill. After school he tells his mother: “I won’t be going back.”

“Why?” she asks.

“They shoot kids there,” he tells her.

Her hair black as a crow’s wing tied back in a bun she sits on a sagging sofa and watches TV news

She does not slouch as she lights another cigarette . She sits up straight and watches a  young white nationalist slaughter Mexicans. They fall, men, women and children with terror in their eyes .  So much blood on the tiled floor.

“What is a nationalist” she says aloud “what gives him permission to kill us?”

The ghosts of El Paso still cling to their Walmart bags. Heavy paper bags filled with school supplies.

They hang out at the bridge or along the river. Reach out for those who stumble across . Give a hand to swimmers in the Rio Grande who cannot swim but paddle their way to America.  O! America your ghosts outnumber the living.

A prophesy unfolds: The condor and the eagle reunite. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador migrate north.

Our ancestors  return in the blood of those walking another trail of tears. Rivers were once our roads.

The waters remember everything.



Rob Rocha 

Santa Cigarra

Santa cigarra,

tu vida anima

mi alma.

¿Cuántas poesías y canciones

no se han escrito

por tu martirio

a la canción?


En la noche oscura,

cuando la luz del sol

descansa y el pueblo

se alista a dormir,

tu canción sale

y se oye

fuerte y apasionado;

flotando sobre el silencio

con una melodía de amor

y un grito de guerra.

Los dos conviviendo

así como la luna

y el sol.


Santa cigarra,

tan inocente

como la criatura

en la cuna,

que duerme

y sueña

sueños de paz;

de ángeles y

ríos de chocolate

y canela.

Somos iguales,

santa cigarra,

aunque yo no soy

tan inocente.

Antes de poder cantar,

tenemos que morir;

enterrados en la tierra,

esperando ese día bendito

de resurrección:

cuando el milagro no será

salir de la tierra,

sino salir de la tierra


    Dear Readers:  La Tolteca is back blogging La Tolteca 2.0 approximately twice a month.  All submissions must follow guidelines to be considered.


LA TOLTECA 2.0 is making its return here at  It is a virtual zine with ongoing posts. You may submit to ana@anacastillo.netYoul’ll receive an automated response and nothing further.  (If you don’t receive the automated response alert me on FB messenger) For consideration to the following new features only unpublished, never posted on SM, original images and material.  If your work is selected it will be posted the following Friday.  If not, you won’t hear from us but you may try again with something new.

New Features

BOX  4B:  Brown & Beautiful Babe-Boomers

You don’t have to be brown or a Boomer and your submissions don’t have to be selfies but you’re welcome to submit.  Send us what gave you a smile, lifted your spirits, kept you going that past week.  Smart phone pics work, no  specific format necessary.  Do NOT send images previously posted on social media or elsewhere.  Your submission is consent for use at L/T 2.0.  Add a couple of lines with your name and about the pic or yourself to be included, if selected.  If any of your submission is selected it will be posted the following Friday.  If not, you won’t hear from us but you will be welcome to send something new for consideration again.

Yo ¡Presente!

No rants or editorials, please.  Only clean, proof-read submissions in a journalistic style will be read for consideration.  Double space, 12 point, Times Roman—750 words.  Your most recent activist concern.  Include your name and a line describing how you participate in social justice issues.  Checklist for your piece:  What, when, why  who and how.

Poetry, Memoir and Flash Fiction

Original and unpublished work.  Spanish and English languages considered.

All submissions must have been proofread double-spaced, 12 point, paginated.  Fiction word count limit 2,500.  Your name and one line about yourself or your submission.  If selected, it will appear the following Friday on Tolteca 2.0, homepage.  No emails will be sent out.  If you don’t hear back it wasn’t selected.  You are welcome to send something else next time.

La Tolteca 2.0 is a blog.  We reserve all rights to post as and what we choose.

If your original works appear here you may use again elsewhere with credit to first appearing at La Tolteca 2.0 (and date.)