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Editor's Note

James R. Adair

On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote nationwide. This momentous change to the Constitution doubled the number of enfranchised citizens and changed the trajectory of democracy in the country, although the struggle for equal voting rights for all citizens continues. In this issue of Voices de la Luna, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of that vote.

We interview Madhu Sridhar, President of the League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area, and we discuss the importance of women’s suffrage and challenges facing all voters today, including access to the polls and gerrymandering.

Our featured poet, Leslie Contreras Schwartz, is current poet laureate of our neighbor to the east, Houston. Her poetry evokes the wildlands and wetlands surrounding her hometown and the history of Chicanos in Texas. Particularly moving is her poetic tribute to fallen soldier Vanessa Guillén.

Perhaps not surprisingly, several of the poems in this issue deal with the current pandemic, though others address matters such as memory, generation, and the natural world. We are especially pleased to publish the winners of the first annual Harold Rodinsky Memorial Poetry Contest. We hope to repeat this contest—with fabulous prizes!—in the future, so stay tuned.

We’re living through tough times, but we’re grateful for poetry, literature, art, and the support of our readers. Thank you!


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Themes for future issues
November 2020: Beethoven at 250
February 2021: Travel

Current Voices



Leslie Contreras Schwartz

My head with its star-night crown speaks to my hands, my strong legs, my two capable arms. I do not belong to this nightmare of 60 days, wet mud beside a river. The crosshatch of hate and a man’s hands and fury. I belong to the sound of my black Nikes hitting pavement, my 5'2" and my last bright smile. How I ran headlong and strong. The sound of my little sister, Lupe, laughing into my ear in our last phone call. “I can handle it, baby. Don’t worry.” Now my blood pumps and pounds the sound of your name into ground, throws rocks and bricks and grenades into the hand on my wrist, my neck, until you are dust. Say it to the edge where the road cuts into sky, where men mouth and teeth their bloody tongues and are obliterated by unending evening’s horizon. Say it to the face of your mother, your grandmothers, all your mother’s mothers. Say my name to all your brothers, your sons, your grandsons. I’ll be remembered for my 5'2" and last bright smile, how I ran to joy headlong and strong. I wasn’t that everyday Mexican American young woman you think of that doesn’t exist. My name was Vanessa, I ran cross country, track, played soccer. I was a soldier, I wore blue with a straight spine and my face upright. Say it to my feet, the strong muscles in my God-given legs, I’m hanging right before there’s a chance any man or boy can catch up. I’m running as hard as I can to outrun all of y’all, the ones who made me feel small, the ones who would not see me, the knife or hammer or your own bare hands. I’m running to the place where women can rest, where a woman named Vanessa no longer has to run.




Momento No. 19

Andrea Reyes





James R. Dennis

He was named for a poet from Hartford, who wrote in brilliant colors of paradise and peacocks and pines crusted with snow. But there is no poetry in his soul. No, I live with a killer. And I should have known. Shortly after he came to live with me he unraveled the mystery of two carpets and ravaged three bedspreads. At first I thought he felt abandoned, but later I concluded that, like me, he simply could not abide a loose thread. And I have seen him gut hundreds of stuffed toys, beginning with the squeaker, which he removes with surgical precision. And then he threads the stuffing, the innards, through the puncture, tossing his head with deadly derision. And he barks, he shrieks, at each and every dog or cat or bicycle that comes near our house. He hates them all with a passion, like I hate mimes. He growls and rages at anything that crosses into his street, his neighborhood, or that intrudes upon his landscape. And every day I tell him “no” a hundred times. But he reserves the sharp edge of his rage for the squirrels. Like Ahab’s whale, they task him. He dreams of ripping into their throats, his face covered in squirrel goo. And in his twisted mind, he carries their lifeless carcasses into the house, tossing it down so that I might finally prepare a proper dinner of squirrel stew. And yet, every night, at the end of each long day, he curls up beside me in bed, as snug as atoms in a supercollider. He rests so that he may redeploy tomorrow. And I repeat the same tired lie every night, unsure who I’m trying to deceive: I scratch his head and whisper, “Good boy.”




Chemin dans les blés à Pourville

Claude Monet




Walking to the Piggly Wiggly

Betsy Martin

We’re walking to the Piggly Wiggly, Oma and I, for groceries. She’s ninety-four; I’m twenty-six. I’m holding her arm, but there’s a hole between us. My mother should be filling it, the three of us with arms linked, a proud heritage of empowered women walking to the Piggly Wiggly. She was a colicky baby, Oma says with a lemon face. So Oma and I are walking in the heat of the day, very slowly, to get bread and milk for the weekend— that’s what she thinks we need.




Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth



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