Young Leonel

Guest artist, Leonel Toromoreno. Oil on canvas.

Self portrait my uncle Leonel painted maybe 30 years ago, while under the influence of Picasso’s “blue period”. I’ve always liked this painting, and treasure it now even more, because it reminds me of my own son, Gabriel.

Maid in Hollywood

para Lupe Ontiveros


Now that she is a vieja

with dyed blonde hair

and not a threat to any gringa’s

beauty when she steps into

the frame of someone else’s fame,

you get to know her nombre, hombre.


Lupe Ontiveros

does not roll off your tongue

and she paints no picture

in your mind because

you never knew she

was acting like a star.

You never went to a matinee

looking for her name

or waiting for Lupe to say,

the only lines she always had,

after knocking on the door

and peeking in, “Excuse me,

senior, do you need room service?”


She was a minority detail

in the mise en scene of

the movies we all went to see.

While the stars of film and life

carried on in the foreground

of our attention, in soft light and

perfect make up, with witty

lines and music for the moment,

Lupe was in the background, like us.


But she had a master key

to Hollywood, a back door entrance

that service people used to bring in

the catered lunches and distilled agua;

and when no one was looking,

she was letting otros enter,

making room for dreamers named

Lopez, Alba, Rodriguez, Dawson,

del Toro, Hayek, Mendes,

y para ti tambien.


Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved