Natural Takeover of Small Things
Paperback ($15.95), Ebook ($15.95)
Natural Takeover of Small Things is a collection of poetry that offers an unflinching view of “California’s Heartland,” the San Joaquin Valley. In his distinctive, lyrical, pull-no-punches style, Tim Z. Hernandez offers a glimpse of the people, the landscape, the rhythm, and the detritus of the rural West. As Hernandez peels back the façade of the place, he reveals that home is not always where the heart is.
The book opens with an image of Fresno as “the inexhaustible nerve/in the twitching leg of a dog/three hours after being smashed/beneath the retread wheel/of a tomato truck en route to/a packing house that was raided/by the feds just days before the harvest.” It ends with “Adios, Fresno,” an astringent farewell to the city: “You can keep your fields,/the sun will follow me./I won’t reconsider./I’ve overstayed my welcome/by three generations.” By then, we have toured the breadth of the San Joaquin Valley, have tasted Fuyu persimmons and lengua, have witnessed a home crumbling to foreclosure, and listened to the last words of a dying campesino. We’re made aware that this is an atmosphere scented by an entirely organic stew—a melding of culture, objects, and forms. This is a place where rubble mirrors the refuse of lives. But garbage is also compost. And if we squint, we can see through the wreckage a few small patches where love could be taking root and hope might actually be sprouting.
"This collection is distinctive in its ability to utilize crisp imagery, lyric, musicality, and narrative to create a collection that flows smoothly and opens the reader to a new window in the Chicano experience." —Matthew Shenoda, author of Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone:Poems
“A lyrical invocation of the San Joaquin Valley’s semi-arid landscape, with a loving and deft portrayal of those who grow up, toil, and die within its vast, flat expanses.” —Diana García, author of When Living Was a Labor Camp
"Tim Hernandez’s poems are a rich, rapt, blooming wonder. These songs, sutras, terrific long poems, portraits, visions and anthems are rooted in the soil of California farming towns like Fresno and Salinas. Hernandez has a deep and true sense of the hidden sacred in every gritty bit of life." —Amy Gerstler, author of Dearest Creature