Dionisio D. Martínez: interview

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November 14, 2005
KUHF 88.7 FM
uston Public Radio

            Click to hear interview
Alison Young, associate producer of  KUHF's The Front Row, speaks with Dionisio D. Martínez.

The conversation includes the reading and discussion of two poems from Climbing Back. The text appears below.

 To listen, please click on the microphone.

The Prodigal Son considers a diplomatic career

Out of respect for the elders of the village where he finds himself sober for the first time in years, he shows reverence for their gods and doesn’t laugh at their icons. They believe him and make him a holy man. Fearing that the villagers might be contagious, and thinking only of himself, he seals their wounds and concocts potions for their pains. They trust him and make him a healer. To show his vulnerability, he bathes in a small pond with the men, eats from their unwashed plates, sleeps with their women. As they parade by his bed, the villagers dry the cold sweat from his forehead and call him a martyr. He tells them that his condition is temporary. When he regains his strength and gets up, they call him a prophet. He predicts that from time to time, in their sleep, the women will hear the voices of the gods. The elders tell him that the women have always heard the voices of the gods. They call him a fraud and make him chief.

©2001 Dionisio D. Martínez

The Prodigal Son forgives his brother

When summer gets too loud, they collect crickets. They put them in a box and give them leaves to eat. And poke holes in the box—not to let them breathe, as one might reasonably assume, but to be able to see what goes on inside. In one of those rare moments when bewilderment binds the two boys, they peek through holes at opposite ends of the box and wink at each other. Between them, two crickets are mating or struggling to flee; it’s difficult, especially when one is so young, to recognize and name the various desires. They see the crickets eat too much and they will see them starve. A curious sound seeps out of the box, a muted echo that varies depending on where the crickets are in relation to any hole or combination of holes. Just think of how fingers work on a wind instrument. The older boy studies the pattern of the crickets’ conversation and begins to imitate one of the voices. He wants to understand it, but has to settle for this ability to speak Cricket the way some singers learn to sing in a foreign language: phonetically and with complete ignorance.

©2001 Dionisio D. Martínez

Interview ©2005 KUHF, Houston Public Radio