First Look: Chicharra Chorus

Eddie Vega‘s Chicharra Chorus is, like its namesake, the ever-present South Texas cicada, a tiny but persistent witness, an almost unnoticed physical presence whose voice is long and lingering and leaves us haunted with the tragedies of everyday reality. Vega’s casual tone is deceiving. It bears an innocence and a gentleness that only hint at what lies deeper. These poems go down easy, like a cool agua fresca, but their ingredients are complex and powerful, ground in a homemade molcajete, fruit of heirloom seeds cultivated for centuries. This is a poet whose sensitivity to human suffering is draped gracefully in a finely tuned sense of humor. Vega’s poems demonstrate his ability to dance a humorous balancing act between two cultures and between the aching of our dreams and the chill of our realizations. Everyday life (and death) receive their tributes, in poems like There was no Carne Guisada, and a sci-fi voyage into the future, Ice Age, rings too true for comfort, and too ironic for us to not shiver at unending echoes of prejudice and immigrant exclusion. In true Vega style, he ends the collection with People of Olmos Park, every bit a joke, but true, where the punchline is dagger sharp. One cannot read Eddie Vega without sensing one’s compassion deepened, one’s heart more human.
– Carmen Tafolla, State Poet Laureate of Texas