Los Gatos Canyon

I stare into the clouds where the eagles fly.

In the cool of the dawn we await the plane.

I stand with my brothers in the pale moonlight,

We wait for the wings that will take us back home

Side by side we wait for our names.

Side by side we look toward the sun.

With bags in our hands and our ticket to fly,

We go back to the place where our season begun.

Arms open wide they welcomed us in,

then lined us and sprayed us with the DDT.

Just in case was all they said.

G.I. cots for to lay our head.

In place of our dreams they gave us despair

We stared to the clouds where the eagles fly.

With the coins in our hands

we hear the rumbling sound.

We watch in wonder as the silver wings

come down

Side by side the dream tumbled us down,

taken by the black wind

and the terminal fall,

to the dark soil of Los Gatos Canyon.

Taken by the murderous ball

we dropped straight to the rugged ground

no time pray

no time to say goodbye

no time to think

to save our own names

the DC-3 took us down

and scattered our dust on the canyon walls

They have forgotten our names,

even to this day.

They placed our bones

in a nameless grave.

There we sleep in

the cold silent earth

The poets and the scholars

brought us back from the

deep jaws of darkness.

Now we can rest,

Side by side, where we wait for our names.

Praises to the heroes

praises to those who remember our fate

praises to those who remember the clouds,

where the eagles fly

above the walls of the canyon.

Those who met their fate on January 28, 1948:

Miguel Negrete Alvarez,

Francisco Llamas Durán

Santiago Garcia Elizondo

Rosalio Padilla Estrada

Tomás Aviña de Gracia

Bernabé López Garcia

Salvador Sandoval Hernández

Severo Medina Lara

Elias Trujillo Macias

José Rodriguez Macias

Tomás Padilla Márquez

Luis López Medina

Manuel Calderón Merino

Luis Cuevas Miranda

Martin Razo Navarro

Ignacio Pérez Navarro

Román Ochoa Ochoa

Ramón Ramirez Paredes

Apolonio Ramirez Placencia

Guadalupe Lara Ramirez

Alberto Carlos Raygoza

Guadalupe Hernández Rodriguez

Maria Santana Rodriguez

Juan Valenzuela Ruiz

Wenceslao Flores Ruiz

José Valdivia Sánchez

Jesús Meza Santos

Baldomero Marcas Torres

Posted in autobiography, California History, Flight, heart breaks, poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


   The Admiral kept his word to his men. They would all be free men, free to return to their homes. They would face no charges and no consequences for the mutiny they took part in. 

   Francisco de Parras would be the only exception. He was put in chains as soon they reached Santo Domingo. The citizens came out to greet the rescue ship. It was still a small craft and there was hardly any space for anyone.  

   “Come, dear Admiral. Come, and welcome. We will take you immediately to my residence where you can recover.” 

   “My many thanks, dear Governor. As you can see there are men here with more urgent needs. I beg you allow them to disembark first so they may be treated.” The Admiral stood by the mainmast to speak with the Governor.  

   His men stepped ashore single file. They were a miserable lot. Their skin burnt to a crispy dark brown. They were nearly naked and after all that time marooned over a year on Jamaica. They had no meat to hold their bones together. Many of them got down on her knees and shouted out prayers of gratitude. Some were too weak and weary to bow down, so they stood and made the sign of the cross or mumbled their own private prayers. 

   Carlitos stood by Han and the rest of the grommets. Together they watched their fellow survivors being escorted. Eventually the ship was emptied and they were the last to leave. Han put his hand on Carlitos’ shoulder. 

   “You good boy. You brave boy. You will be a man of honor.” 

   He now spoke to all the boys. 

   “All of you brave boys. You go your way and become brave men.” 

   He stepped off the ship and walked away. He seemed to know where he was going as he disappeared out of sight.  

   Borrego, Migue, Chavalo, and Chuy stared at the city that was growing beyond the wharf. Carlitos turned to them. They did not seem lost, nor worried. Then he understood. This is where they belong. This ship will be their new home. 

   Borrego stepped down to the fogata. There was a small pile of kindling and he started a fire. Migue also knew what to do, he rummaged about until he found some grain they could cook. Chavalo, and Chuy also rummaged about. They found some wine and cups and bowls. 

   Carlitos watched them. Their bonds of friendship were broken now. They were grommets and he was once again, Master Carlos. He felt a lump in his throat, another lonesome farewell. They would do well on their new ship. Without a word he stepped off the ship and walked away from the wharf. 

   On June 25, 1504 the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Cristopher Columbus, stepped foot on the wharf of Santo Domingo. His fourth and final voyage came to an end.

   Carlitos felt his stomach growling. He could smell food, and it smelled delicious, coming from the tavern called Brasserie Pat’e Palo. He could smell the meal being prepared at the Governor’s home. He had no money and no place to go. He saw a tree in the Plaza. It was getting dark, and he was miserably tired, exhausted actually. He sat himself down and leaned against the tree. 

  “Nena, please sing me a sleepy song.” 

   He did not have to wait. He was already asleep. 

Coming Soon

Nena the Fairy

part four

Posted in Ancestry, Columbus, Fairy Tale, Family History | Tagged | Leave a comment

In the Beginning

I am an old man now,

and I am drifting in and out of moments.

I am not sure what they mean,

what the silent muse is trying to show me.

I remember imaginary moments

that never happened.

I see other moments too painful to imagine.

I see the weary face in the mirror,

that tired old man with the

graying and thinning hair.

The questions and demons that I have battled throughout my time,

still haunt me.

Will all my sins be forgiven?

Are they even forgivable?

Will I ever be worthy?

Will I be remembered?

Countless, never-ending plagues of angst.

   Is this how it begins? My story?  Seven pounds, thirteen ounces, two feet, ten toes, on Thanksgiving Day in 1947? I was told much later that I ruined Thanksgiving dinner that year by popping out of the oven about the same time as the turkey.

   On that day I became the second son and fourth and youngest child of Carlos and Christina Nájera when my soul was sucked out of that vast eternal ether and given a place in their family.  Given name is Jaime, which is why I have always have had a special affection for my cousin of the same name. It is still a mystery why or how I became Joseph Edward.

Posted in autobiography | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Night Sweats

he speaks the truth,

the man of many voices.

In the sleepy hour of cold dark night

He drifts in and out my peripheral.

In the silence of the bay waters

I know he’s about

Somewhere in the deep dark shadows

Of the garden walls

A twig snaps

Leaves rustle

Is it? Or is it cat paws?

I hear the silence

Then it is broken

By tormented screams

Outside my window

The primitive howl that breeds inside us all

From door to door, pane to pane

Screeches and shrieks

Shatters the warm summer night

Till at last he stands over me

He breaks into a grin and

speaks only the truth,

for he cannot lie.

He speaks the truth not as release

but as entrapment.

Speaks the truth when

all I am wanting is comfort.

He speaks the truth when

All I am wanting is forgetfulness.

He finds me in deepest hiding.

He brings with him no comfort,

no peace, no wisdom,

just the cold,

just the lifeless,

only the terror and fears and exposure.

He speaks the truth and it rattles inside my chest.

Beads of sweat form above my brow

My heartbeat so loud

It joins the drum beats

Out side my window

My mother’s scorn radiates upon me.

And the man who tells the truth

stands close by

hands outstretched

and warms himself in my pain.

He stands close by,

syringe in hand, dripping,

ready to dispense another dose.

Posted in poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Old News is Good News by Jackie Villarreal Najera

Getting old doesn’t make you wise

Some don’t read, I’m sorry to say

Getting old, I started to analyze

Watching T V for advice is a wasted day

We don’t have too many years

When our hair turns from red to white,

Isn’t that all peoples blight?

There are elders that don’t read

It is clear, no TV they, say no need

Yet Knowledge comes from no greed

Why, I ask, do I have to heed?

Why, makes us able to be so smart

Can we ever be as smart, even in part?

The elders tell me I never went to school

I looked around and noticed everything

It was not more than an awakening

Too many people go through life asleep

How can we be as amazing as you?

Never follow the sheep, they say it’s true

I do read books and watch TV too

Watching TV when you’re feeling blue

Only rots your brain some people argue

I don’t believe that, thinking doesn’t happen

If you do with no conversation, who knew?

Listening to people on TV that are crazy

Watch it for real news, not just opinions

Opinions are like a condition that is hazy

Do I do believe that I finally went crazy?

Posted in poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Children of the Hummingbird

In 1491 I was an eagle

I flew through the shadows of the sun

I breathed in air that

Has never have been breathed before

I soared above the snowcapped mountains

And drank from the great Red River

The One World was under my shadow

Where the earth children and lived

And worked among their fields.

The Winged One was my brother

He brought the seasons to the land

And the harvests to the fields.

He brought the light for labor

And brought the night for rest.

In 1491 I was an eagle

I lost a feather soaring in the wind

I flew into the shadows of the sun

Where we were the children,

The sons and daughters of the Great One

The day watch brought us

Closer to the one reed

It was the time when

His heart was broken

And the scales fell from the sky

The children of the hummingbird

Became orphans.

The winds of the sea

Brought to us our destruction.

The year of the One Reed

Brought us to our knees and

The Great One tumbled to the sea

Gone forever, gone forever, no more.

The children of the hummingbird

Became orphans.

They became dust upon the land,

A distant memory no one remembers.

In 1491 we were eagles,

We flew above the shadows of the sun

We breathed in the air that

Has never have been breathed before.

The children of the hummingbird

The last offspring of the innocence.

Posted in Columbus, poetry, the feathered serpent | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Doña Margarita

1883 to 1981

Given name of Margarita Bernabé Ramona Guzman. Husband of José Odilón Ledesma. Mother of Faustino, Manuela, my mother Christina, Emily, Catherine, Melesio, and Eduardo.

   She lived a generous portion of years. I am thankful that I have shared some of those years with her. I can still her gentle laugh. She spoke to me in Spanish, I was not very good at it but I managed to put words together in short sentences and she understood me.

   I was in my thirties when she started to fade away. I made a special trip from my home in San Jose to Oxnard to spend some time with her.

   She was in St John’s hospital. My wife and I went in to see her. Of course, it broke my heart to see her curled up in a fetal ball.  She was sleeping and dreaming.

   “¡Papá!” She cried. “Wait for me! I am coming!”

   Every few minutes she said that. It felt like she was at the train station calling out to him. I do not know for sure if she was dreaming or if she really was at the train station.  

Posted in Ancestry, autobiography, Family History, growing old, heart breaks, Oxnard, San Jose, Spanish | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Old Place

I grew up in the Santa Clara Valley. My school years were in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Many years ago on a family outing to visit the relatives in Oxnard, my family took us to the Ventura County Courthouse. I am the youngest in our family.

My father led us downstairs to the Ventura County Museum. This was old news to my siblings but being the youngest, everything was new and an adventure. There was lots of things to see about the old days, including things about my father’s family. This was why my father wanted me to go there.

That picture was from his Oxnard High school yearbook. He was a senior in 1927.

 My father had two names Carlos L. Nájera and Charles Olivas. Both names were legal and he was proud of both of them. After his father died, his mother married John Olivas. He adopted my dad legally and gave him his last name.

Here’s my father, on the left, standing next to my grandmother Maria Concepción, His sister Natalia is next, then his brother Uncle Robert. That’s John on the right, and my two uncles Frank and Henry Olivas. Frank and Henry have their own story, if the Good Lord gives me time enough to tell it.

John Olivas was a descendant of Don Raimundo Olivas whose home became California Historical Landmark No. 115.

Here I am sitting near the front gate. As you can tell, I don’t like to pose for pictures.

This plaque briefly tells the story of Don Raimundo’s place. If you are ever traveling through Ventura County on Highway 101 take the Telegraph Road exit and follow the signs. It is between the cities of Ventura and Oxnard.

Here is a view of the old house. At the time it was built there were not too many two story adobe houses in California. This is one of them.

This plaque is near the entry of the Adobe grounds.

I wrote about this house earlier in a post: A Kevin Bacon Moment by Joseph E Najera

According to my father, somewhere in the kitchen wall is a hidden well for emergency water in case they were ever under attack.

This is not the way I remember the kitchen. It was a lot more primitive. There was a fogata, a fireplace where the cooking was done. I am remembering when I saw this in 1965 when I was a teenager.

The rooms have been restored with period furniture.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-10.png

This old photo was inside one of the rooms. They must have been John’s people. I don’t know if they have been identified.

At that time that we were there, June, 2016, there were several groups of students on a field trip. Milady and I followed a group. The docent gave a very good talk as he led us through the house.

The back yard gate faces south toward the city of Oxnard where both my mother and father grew up in the early 1900’s.

According to my dad, that building to the right was the original building. Don Raimundo lived there while building the main house.

The caretaker was living there when my father took me there. His name was Roy, and he and my dad were classmates at Oxnard High. He gave us a private tour of the house. It was a mess inside, full of trash and broken furniture. Roy’s job was to take care of the grounds and protect the house from vandals.

The house has a website: http://www.cityofventura.net/olivasadobe

They have events throughout the year including performances and weddings, keeping the traditions alive.

If there are any Olivas cousins out there, say hello. You can find me at Facebook.

Posted in Ancestry, autobiography, California History, Family History, Oxnard, Santa Clara | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Th’ Brave One World

We crossed th’ Ocean Sea

We who dared

We filled oor sails

At th’ mercy o’ th’ trade win’s

We left th’ Old World

An’ found th’ One World

We wer humble men o’ th’ sea

It was nae oor intent

Tae turn th’ page o’ history.

I pray yee carve these words

On th’ stone above me head

On th’ day I breathe me last.

Posted in poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment


This night time passing,

This darkened dome that reigns upon us all

in our hour o’ fear,

This nightly milling o’ th’ stars,

Showers doon upon us its

blessed meteors o’ darkness,

moistens th’ sighted eye

an’ brings rest tea th’ lidded redness.

This ghostly passing,

this darkened dimmed iris

breathes welcome,

breathes welcome tae th’ great an’ silent shadows.

This nocturnal passing that shields us from the sun,

Bids us welcome, safe harbour,

Safe entry intae th’ hollows o’ wondrous dreams.

This be th’ time o’ darkness.

It is th’ time tae drift intae th’ hearto’ God,

tae touch briefly intae th’ meaning,

intae th’ timeless,

until th’ dawning unravels in a splash o’ brilliant rays,

until th’ dawning conquers.

This is th’ time tea settle among th’ night sounds,

tae utter th’ most ancient prayer:

                   One mair, one mair.

                   This time.

                   This is thae time,

                   Let thare be

                   one mair day.

                   Let th’ morning

                   bring surprise.

                   Let th’ sun glow upon us

                   one mair,

                   one mair time.

Posted in poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment