Mi Abuelito Chepe's Poem

I would not be me without him!

The poet before you is because of him!!

For you see, he thought me how to read

and write; a writer himself. I recall mi

abuelito Chepe would write for hours and

at times I would ask him,

“Abuelito, que escribe?” “Mijo escribo

pensamientos!” he replied.

I always thought he had some long thoughts!

However, this is not the way mi abuelito

Chepe’s poem begins—it begins with the

letters “A..E..I..O..U,” the vowels of the

alphabet; the first day we began practicing mi

abuelito Chepe brought a white leather belt to

the dinner table; that’s where we ate, my dad

would pay the bills, and where my abuelo

Chepe thought me my vowels  “A..E..I..O..U’s”

I quickly learned why the white belt?

Mi abuelito Chepe would  pronounce the

vowels once before practice, then I started, “A,”

“La proxima,” mi abuelo Chepe commanded…

I said, “B,” and before I could catch my breath

again, I felt the whip across my back. “Es, E.”

he said.

I started from the beginning again, “A, E, C...”

but as the letter ‘C’ was becoming a sound, I felt

the white belt lingering in the air above, striking

my back like a snakes bite! Or a bumblebee’s

stinger! Then the tears started rolling. “No estes

llorando!” Mi abuelito Chepe directed at me.

“Es para tu propio bien, y porque te quiero te aporrio!”

He added. As far as I can recall that was the first and

only time mi abuelito Chepe  had said to me these

words. “Because he loves me, he discipline me!”

He continues to tell me, “Cuando te apriendas las

vocales bien, las vas a decir haci de rapido, “AEIOU!”

No pauses, or letter breaks, only one long ass vowel,



 After the first practice every practice was the same.

He said, “A.” I would say “P.”—the white belt,

“Yeah, it was there too, it never went unused! Sadly,

I miss the belt, because it reminds me of mi abuelito

Chepe’s strong hands, a leathery feel…harsh, not soft!

When mi abuelo Chepe arrived home from work as a

security guard, he would first put his uniform away,

before he even ate dinner, he would call out to me,

“Sergio, traime el cincho!” “Bring me the belt!” Just

the thought of the whip on my back was enough for

me to shed a tear.

He would be waiting at the dinner table, I would hand

him the belt, and sit next to him; practice began with

‘A’ smile from mi abuelito Chepe, and ended with ‘U’

finding it hard to believe I was reading and writing in

less than two months. It was the fear of Jose Lopez in


In first grade myself and another little girl were the

only two whom knew the ‘A..E..I..O..U’s’ of the

alphabet; the very little we knew, her and I shared

with our classmates.

In the third grade, I wrote six childrens books, which

won a couple of classmates and myself a trip to Ms.

Robin’s home to watch all three of the Star Wars

movies back in 1986…

since that day I have yet to leave heaven!

This could be the Ode’ of Jose Eulalio Lopez-Mejia,

but it wasn’t his commands that made my knees

buckle or the hairs on my neck shiver; it was the

sound of the leather belt breaking wind upon my skin.

The welts it left on my back ached as I lay to sleep,

sometimes I would cry myself to sleep. My days

seemed like neverending, anticipating mi abuelito

Chepe’s arrival from work; practices felt like military

training. He was the General, and I was his cadet.

I thank him for the discipline he bestowed on me back

in the day when I began learning my vowels. I say my

vowels, because I earned them the hard way. I own the

vowels ‘A,E,I,O,U!’


I thank my mother for not teaching me my vowels; she

tried but I didn’t listen. So she called her father! Mi

Abuelito Chepe!

Today, I bleed these vowels and the rest of the alphabet

upon pages, napkins, receipts, even dollar bills—

I created an image he laid the foundation for;

Soulcriticpoet... Rise!!

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Because of Jose Eulalio Lopez Mejia, I am Sergio Valencia!

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