Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Our Lady of the Crossword 
Author: Rigoberto Gonzalez
Publisher: A Midsummer Night's Press
ISBN: 13:9781938334184
Reviewed by: Sandra Scholes

Rigoberto Gonzalez has written such poetry books as So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water Until it Breaks and Other Fugitives and Other Strangers so this book of poetry is the sort that can be read on the go to work or play and one of the best I have so far read from A Midsummer Night's Press.

Build as a chapbook of poetry, Rigoberto focuses on what he remembers from his youth; 80s Mexican TV, can-can dancing and of course the enigma of the crossword puzzle.

In Our Lady of the Crossword, a young man watches his father doing the crossword and imagines what it would be like to be a woman like the one in his newspaper. He mixes his Latino upbringing with his Catholic faith and own personal view of what it means to be a gay man in Mexico as purely an observer with his observations being rightly noticed.

In Our Lady of the Crossword, Rigoberto tries to be himself while also wanting to show his father he has femininity and as a male he isn't showing weakness but a different kind of sexual power.

But my father is not amused
when I shake the painted
spurs over my nipples

as I shuffle with my penis
tucked into my legs,
my baby pubes shy as nuns.

In Anaberto Skypes with his Mother, Anaberto remembers his mother's cooking while she frets over whether he is getting enough to eat and no woman to cook for him. He does have a man living with him, which she doesn't yet know is his lover.

In New York-joy denied in Mexico.
How thin my son without my stews, she fears,
How lonely and neglected he must feel
without a woman in this place he shares
with another boy, another orphan.

This is one of Rigoberto's funnier poems while Alfonso a Love Story reads like a short story rather than a poem.

What I noticed is Rigoberto's poems are much longer than some I have read in previous chapbooks by A Midsummer Night's Press, which sound like excerpts from his life that read as being very personal to him. There are snippets of emotions; love, humour, the strangeness of being a young man in a world he doesn't fit in. As the poems are so long they are smaller in number. Some are more descriptive than others which can be vague. This is a collection of very deep and emotional poetry that impressed me with its honesty and different look at another person's life.

I like the symbolism of the cover art by Chairez of a naked Mexican man on a white horse sporting a pair of stilettos shaped like a pistol. It is well drawn and shows the duality of both the masculine and the feminine.