Header image  
    Table of Contents
John Martinez

Yes We Should Paint We Should Paint

                                             For Gilbert “Magu” Lujan


The sun burns round 
Like a paper machete
A tortilla on fire
Pinned to a washed
Slanted baby-blue sky

And if you peer deep
If you follow its real
acid burning arm to the south down the 99
Towards Selma towards Delano
Past the torture rows of grapes past
the spiral desert earth
That is Fresno County

You’d be following
Magu’s gaze
That concentrated seer of all things
You’d be looking
In the direction
Of his home his soul dome but first
a wall must be painted

Yes, we should paint
Magu would say

Cuz the Chicano proposal
Writers needed him
To say Yes we should paint
So they could reel in the dream

And the young Indio Chicanos,
With their cuff scrubbed Dickies
And white oversized undershirts
From the Westside Projects
From the Eastside Projects
From the proud Butler Street Homes
Needed him to say Yes we should paint
So we could come out and notice
The sky tagged to our glyphs and signs

And the after school Program
For inner City Youth
Mecha Central Alfonso Hernandez
With a UFW button next to his heart
Needed him to say
Yes we should paint 

So that our people would have the color
We always had, but this time drying permanent
Under the sun

In the rust colored summer
Of  1977 dates were kept on
Paper calendars we were dangling
Paint buckets paint brushes dragging
Drop cloths all in line with Magu’s pointing index

Magú walked like a Yogi Master leading us
He was our Jefe
El Profesor
El Veterano

And before all the tools were gathered to paint 
The Mural on the Community
Center Wall of the East Side Projects
Facing Hamilton Street two blocks from Cedar
The shade of bold oaks made everything hush
I followed Magu, just followed him around

I pimped a little
A proud swagger

I watched him
His moving face
Perfectly centered between Oak trees
a landscape of freshly cut grass
The military straight angles of Project Homes
The bluish sky the clouds bunched and thin
The primered roofs of parked cars
I watched him say

As we gazed ahead
“This Mural is going to be great.”