Putin’s Puppet: A Poem



Thursday, February 25, 2021

Book Review of Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century by Juliana Aragón Fatula

The collection of Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century presented by Cutthroat Journal of the Arts and the Black Earth Institute communicates the focus on Chicanx culture and heritage and hundreds of years of marginalization by the dominant culture. In this historic anthology, we meet poets, scholars, and la gente anxious to tell their stories. This irreverent, rebellious, inventive, rasquache, distinguished compilation contains poetry and prose by the talent of candid 21st Chicanx writers in the U.S. These writers offer an assemblage that will be used in Chicanx Studies, Ethnic Literature, Chicanx Literature, Creative Writing and Poetry classrooms, and writing workshops. Students in high schools and universities will benefit when this book is added to their literature curriculum. To advance in education and lead the world in racial equality and cultural diversity, this book belongs in our schools and libraries. This anthology deserves every award and praises it receives. Lessons learned in these works lend the reader an eye to Chicanx culture often marginalized and undervalued.

Many of these writers are Chicanx icons in the literary canon. They communicate their own distinctive attitude about impoverishment, social and health issues, and the necessity to educate our children to think one world, one people. They are warrior poets who weave the motherlands tapestry.

The editors and staff of this self-funded publication exemplify the very best of what this Chicanx culture has to offer. From the gorgeous southwest painting on the front cover, “The Wall” by Anita Endrezze, and the back cover art, “Milagros Border Wall Installation” by Alfred Quiroz, to the editors’ selection of the finest writing by seasoned writers they honed the artists’ poems and prose into pages of inspired testimony of the epoch of global epidemic, racial inequity, and social matters for the underrepresented.

In Ana Castillo’s poem, “Two Men And Me” we are told there are no mistakes in hell. It’s poignant, humorous, dark.

Two Men and Me*

I left Bukowski again, went back to Bolaño,

both men bad to their women.  Both smoked and drank

themselves to death.  They liked it rough, said

that was how they got their best writing done.

One winter we all ended up in hell, ran

into each other at a café.  [REVISION: bar,

Ana Castillo on vacation in Dominican Republic, 2019)

public bath…FILL IN THE BLANK.]  Chuck

wanted to fuck.  Roberto punched him in the gut.

We quaffed a few whiskies.  They knew.  I knew.

I wasn’t that kind of girl.  Instead, we set out to do

a three-way poem.  Tu primero–said Bolaño.

“What?” Bukowski said. “No comprendo.”



 “You illegals!” the other started racializing the situation. 

(No wonder he was in hell. Then, again, we all were.)


Roberto yelled throwing another swing.

This time he got me in the eye by mistake.

“There are no mistakes in hell,” the demon bartender said, handing me

some ice.  “That’s the beauty of this place.” 

The guys stopped.

No one had ever seen ice in hell.   

Yeah, it was the start of something big.


But her poem “Xicanisma Prophecies Post 2012 Putin’s Puppet” tells another story. It’s hard-hitting political power. Want to read a poem that explains the political nightmare we are a part of, read this poem and memorize it and recite it at parties.

Ana Castiilo at home in NM, 2011.

For my readers here:

[Xicanisma[1] Prophecies Post-2012]         Putin’s Puppet *

 is not Aryan (or a golden-hair-Thor) but through & through as close

                                                                               to yellow as it gets.

A flim-flam man claiming billions no one sees.        

                                                                                     He & the Czar

had a chat at the Ritz,                                                  in a bar,

over Red Bull, vodka, coke and complimentary chips,

served up by naked women who took American Express and rubles in I.O.U.s.  


One rat said,

You take the East.                                                                I’ll snatch the West. 

It’s all for the taking for swine like us                                   and our friends


 like ‘we’ have friends), rapacious and sly,

unconcerned with who or how many die as we take the planet.    Don’t worry, man.


              the jaundiced Chinese & ‘Rocketman’ (we’ll send to the moon.)

France can eat escargot.  Palestinians must go.  We’ll suck the earth dry. You & I,

pillage until we are down to two. We’ll compete for the universe.

Fair enough?  (Haw, one said.  As if we define fair by anyone’s terms.)


I, the poet rest my head on a pillow or a rock, the throb is the same,

my brain doesn’t stop a slideshow of doom. 

 viewing Dr. Strangelove scenes,

reruns play & no new plots.

No breathtaking aerial shots—

Aston Martin racing along the coast toward the villain’s hideout.

No soundtrack.                                (We are silent, not censored, not yet.)

No scientific facts in this version of a world for the taking.

No historical reference without revisiones

 (No Spanish or you may be arrested.

They are watching, legions in camouflage, 

hoods or riot gear,

ready to take you out.

On your mark.

get set.


Putin’s Puppet doesn’t read books,

see films, listen to a symphony (or even the Top Twenty.) 

He doesn’t look at art.

Instead, he shuts beauty down,

the big man on campus with the loyal fraternity.

Putin’s Puppet knows one color, said his son–green.


I’ll disagree.   Putin’s Puppet does see color and it revolts him.

Blacks belong in Africa, he opines, and Muslims must stay in the Mid-East.

Mexicans are the scourge.

Like with his father,

his father before him and so on.                             Race serves one purpose–

servitude or genocide.

As for women–

you kill a rhino for sport or for its horns. 

[A woman is worthwhile only if she enhances

your environment.]


How did we get here?  How did we, indeed.

Not without concessions, not without greed.                           Down the rabbit hole

the nation went                                                                      into Wonder-less slime.

We are in it deep this time.

When I can’t sleep, I spot the devil pissing in the dark.

I’ve lost feeling in my hands and feet. 

I am an indian woman off                                           the reservation,

as they say in racialist double-speak. 

We do have reservations for the original peoples of the land.

Take a moment to think on that.


 [1] I coined the term Xicanisma in the 1980s as Chicana activists and scholars began to form our own feminism.  It was discussed at length in by book, MASSACRE of the Dreamers:  Essays on Xicanisma. UNM Press, 1994,20th Anniversary Ed., UNM Press; 2014, NM)

*Both poems appear in forthcoming collection, MY BOOK OF THE DEAD (UNMP, September 1, 2021, Abq., NM) Two Men and Me, Pushcart Prize nominee first appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal.