October 31, 2006 > Fremont native pens bold poems and shorts
Fremont native pens bold poems and shorts
by H. S. Sheikh
By Tony R. Rodriguez
Fultus Books; 167 pages; $14.99
Tony Richard Rodriguez’s recent work, Simplicity Regurgitated: Poems and Shorts, is short, bittersweet, and worth checking out. His characters talk about pain and loss, about joy and worth--ultimately, about the mundane and spectacular experiences of the human condition.
One poem about family muses, “Being a Family means that I’ll first believe a lie, and then later I’ll forgive it,” while another about unrequited love laments, “You’ll one day forget my name and I’ll one day scream yours. We’ll grow old without each other: two lives never joined. I’m saving a Sacrament for you, but you’ll make that agreement with him. I’ll continue to be your forgotten fool.” Other memorable poems include “Popcorn girls,” “Still counting,” “Matinee,” and “Sorry,” which ruminate over superficiality, jealousy, and failed expectations, all in a simultaneously crisp and melancholy tone.
The latter part of Simplicity consists of shorts that retain the empathy and bittersweetness that Rodriguez’s poems achieve. “Savant imaginative” and “A familiar face” are particularly touching. “Savant” details the brilliance and inner luminance of a seventh grader with obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, and mild dyslexia, while “face” follows the betrayal and heartbreak of a young UCSF student into the bottom of a gin glass.
Rodriguez’s work is touching and accessible, and that is not merely because he writes in a lucid and concise style, but because he seems to have a sound grasp on what makes humanity human. He never resorts to hubris, platitudes, or fables. Instead, his poetry and shorts reflect sympathy for the faults and shortcomings that inflict and unite all of his human brethren.
Rodriguez, a middle school teacher and native of Fremont, has also written The Disappearance and the Slow Awakening and Rapid eye Metaphors. He “spends his time gaining weight, lecturing his two kids, loving his wife endlessly, correcting papers and complaining about the irrational parents of his students.”