Thursday, December 7, 2023

GAS Featured Poet: Richard Vargas

 Richard Vargas was born in Compton, CA. He earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin and Richard Lee He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980, publishing early works by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Alberto Rios, Nila Northsun, Dennis Cooper, Michael C Ford, Ron Koertge, and many more. His first book, McLife, was featured twice in February 2006, on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. A second book, American Jesus, was published in 2007. His third book, Guernica, revisited, was published April 2014, by Press 53, and was featured once more on Writer's Almanac. A fourth book, How A Civilization Begins, Mouthfeel Press, was released in September 2022. His most recent publication is leaving a tip at the Blue Moon Motel, Casa Urraca Press, July 2023. Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010, where he workshopped his poetry with Joy Harjo. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award, was on the faculty of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference and facilitated a workshop at the 2015 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. He also edited/published The Más Tequila Review from 2009-2015, featuring poets from across the country. His poetry continues to appear in poetry journals and anthologies. Samples of his poetry, videos, and etc. can be found at

leaving a tip at the Blue Moon Motel


i always take it for granted

the dusted chest of drawers and nightstands

the well-made bed with the crisp sheets

folded and tucked at each corner

sure to bring a smile to the grumpiest

of drill sergeants


the snow-white towels, the clean tub and toilet

a commendable attempt to add a little class

with that peculiar folding of the first

square of toilet paper hanging 

from the roll


rarely giving a thought to the women

who roam the hallways in the morning

knocking on doors looking for the empty

rooms ready for them to do their magic


no thought given to

the kids they raise

the bills paid late

the men who leave

and don’t come back


they pick up after all of us

oblivious strangers passing 

through on our way to a better

place than this


i leave a five-dollar bill and loose change

on the table as i check out

my small token of appreciation

for these hard scrubbing angels

doing their best to provide

a place to rest on the long

way home

from leaving a tip at the Blue Moon Motel, Casa Urraca Press, 2023



from inside the breakroom

eating my lunch and surrounded

by co-workers munching on spicy Cheetos 

washing them down with Mountain Dew

staring into their electrical

hand-held devices that

suck out what’s left

of their humanity


i look out the window

see them gather

in the space designated

for their shortened 

life spans and lungs

congested with thick phlegm


a stranger asks for a light

and in the blink of an eye

an arm extends with a small flame

to be shared and appreciated


standing in small circles

they smile and look each

other in the eye

engage in conversation


i almost envy them

talking about things 

the rest of us have

long forgotten


living and dying

as they see fit

from leaving a tip at the Blue Moon Motel, Casa Urraca Press, 2023

anti-climate climax


this spaceship

orbits a hot ball 

of solar blasts cracking

a sky with skin cancers

dried up riverbeds

and whirling dust devils


guardian angels throw

grief and poetry at the walls

watch them stick

blow chops of melancholy jazz

on tarnished horns

in small rooms filled

with clouds of skunk 

weed smoke and 

the clinking of cheap 

shot glasses


it’s almost last call

one more day awaits

their ain’t enough


cool to go around

thanks but no thanks

you avert your eyes
i returned home, damaged goods
your peace has a price

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