By Brent E. Beltrán
In 1997 I co-founded the Chicano literary publishing company Calaca Press. In 1998 Calaca Press published it’s first book, a collection of poetry called Bus Stops and Other Poems by Manuel J. Vélez. Inside this sixty-four page tome, which included amazing artwork by Chicano Park muralist Victor Ochoa, was a poem called “Vato Loco de la Maravilla.” The poem, using caló (a code-switching hybrid language of Chicanos using English and Spanish in the same sentence and sometimes within the same word), highlights life inside the barrio and how stereotypes of barrio youth can be used to justify negative perceptions by “the judge, the news, and us.” Since the book came out the author has become a tenured Associate Professor of Chicana/Chicano Studies at Mesa College. Bus Stops and Other Poems may no longer be in print but the poem “Vato Loco de la Maravilla” remains with us in video form and is today’s poem of the day.