Inspired by Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

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The Fabulous Mambo King
By Alexis M. Collazo

The Fabulous Mambo King,
Cesar Castillo.
Singing his beautiful boleros.
His machismo enticing women.
All night, every night,
Dancing across the stage.
Swinging his hips to the beats,
The Rumba, the Pachenga,
the Mambo, the Cha Cha Cha.

The Fabulous Mambo King.
Serenading all the ladies.
Miss Vanna Vane on his arm.
Drinks for all on his bill,
Festive songs flowing all night long.
Brother by his side,
With his trumpet playing,
Beautiful Maria of my Soul.
Over and over and over.

The Infamous Mambo King,
Leftover from the old days.
Haunted by ghost of his lost brother.
Memories invading Hotel Splendor,
Recollections of the Mambo U.S.A tour,
Playing on I Love Lucy with Mr. Arnez,
The girls who he wished to have loved.
Luisa, Gloria, Elena, Lydia
Maria, Ana, Margarita, and Delores.

The Infamous Mambo King.
No longer so fabulous.
Loneliness dragging in his bones,
Eating away at his body,
Whiskey eating his brain.
Long gone are the days of the Mambo,
Of the dance halls and fine women.
Old records collect dust forgotten,
While Cesar takes his last drink,
And writes his last words,

Beautiful Maria of my Soul

Death and Mourning in Ethnic Literature

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I am halfway through my last semester at BMCC and am taking this great literature class. We are reading four different novels by ethic writers. In addition, we have to read several articles dealing with the process of mourning, loss, and trauma. I think it is very interesting to apply some psychological theory to the way that these writers interpret how people deal with loss. The books that we are reading are Bone, by Fa Myenne Ng, Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, by Carlos Hijuelos, Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko, and Praise Song for the Widow, by Paule Marshall.

In the class, we are not only focusing on the indiviual loss the characters go through, but also about the larger issue of loss for ethnic people in America. Besides the literal physical death of family members these books deal with the larger issue of loss of identity and culture. These authors use a death to represent these larger issues of loss. This applies a lot to the immigrant stories but as well to all nationalties that are not thought of as mainstream, majority, white America. For example, the novel Ceremony is about Native Americans, who suffer the loss of their land to outsiders, who in turn made them feel like outsiders in their home.

The class is very compelling, but very difficult. The themes and some of the material that we are dealing with takes a lot of effort to grasp. For the class we have to write three papers. I just finished the second paper for the class. For the first time in years I really struggled with getting the  paper done. I just had so many things that I could have covered and had a hard time organizing them into a coherent paper. It took a lot of work to cut things out and still have it be understandable, clear and to a point. In the end, I’m not even sure that I was able to accomplish that. I’m just glad that I will be able to revise the paper and hand it in for a new grade. I just hope that I will be able to get the last paper done well. I have a little over a month left and I am really starting to feel the pressure.