Mountains of Rust
Torn photos flitter in the desert night
dangle from acacias mourning
sun kissed bones like candles
under a giant sky’s brilliant stars
-from "Desert Crossing"
"I wanted to write about poppy blossoms / But I live in Fresno,” Patrick Fontes writes in the poem "Poppy Blossoms." That line contains the crux of all the poems in Mountains of Rust. Fontes' poems detail the lives of the poor and working class of Fresno (and elsewhere), all of whom had things they wanted to do with their lives...but they live in Fresno. Or they’re addicts, or migrant farm workers, or just broken down in a rent-by-the week motel room. Still, the poems and people in Mountains of Rust are not without their own beauty. Whether its a woman playing pennies, two punks sharing a cold beer in a dark bar, or a man enjoying a bowl of pho—there may not be poppy blossoms in Fresno, but there are moments of poetry and hope. In Fontes' breathless verses, you can feel the heat of Fresno streets rising off the page. To read this book is to experience real life in all its shit and heartbreak and glory.
Summer in Fresno when boys throw june bugs in their
sisters’ hair laughing amid a serenade of ricochet
bullets near Kings Canyon and Sixth streets where
blood broils on sidewalks sizzling santa sangre
offerings to the Fresno Police martial enforcers
of control during the goddam dog days of summer.
-from "Summer in Fresno"
Praise for Mountains of Rust
This book of poesia is a long love letter to his home town Fresno, California, and the people of Fresno, his entire familia (I am Mi Familia), his beloved father- To My Dad, George Rodriguez Fontes (RIP)-"even before you were ten you were a workingman/you told me stories of toil,/heartache and joy growing up a poor Chicano/in Fresno County dirt floors, tents, Anglo farmer's sons/harassing the Greaser rocks thrown walking home/after school carrying a bag of books hunched over/under the Fresno sun. Pachuco scholar interrupted." And when Patrick Fontes pursues his PhD at Stanford University, he writes: "I didn't know I was so Mexicano/until walking the stone cold courts of Stanford/Brahman lily white faces that glare/behind political pretensions/aquamarine eyes burning holes into my skin" This is a searingly honest, passionate voice; un libro de poesia to be read with a shot of tequila, a lick of salt and lime. And the photos throughout serve as a window to this poet's vision- BRAVO, Patrick Fontes. The ancestors are proud.
-Alma Luz Villanueva, author of Song of The Golden Scorpion (fiction) and Gracias (poetry); www.almaluzvillanueva.com
In Mountains of Rust, Patrick Fontes exhibits a lyrical and narrative commitment to the working class that many writers profess, but few can emulate. These poems honor the aging punk-rocker, the 'society-beaten dregs' of thrift stores, the child reeling from the invocations of a racist principal, the 'the chapters of toil' in which whole generations labor in the unsung fields of America."
-Michael Meyerhofer, author of Ragged Eden