Rolando Hinojosa

Born in the U.S. Southwest., Rolando Hinojosa grew up in a bilingual household. He joined the army in 1946, and served in the Caribbean as a radio announcer and editor of the Army Defense Command newspaper. A professor of English, Hinojosa served as director of the Texas Center for Writers for almost ten years. He is most known for Klail City Death Trip, a series of bilingual and bicultural novels. The first novel in the series, Estampas del Valle won him the national award for Chicano literature in 1972. Four years later he won the highest award for the novel in Latin America, the Premio de las Casas de las Americas for Klail City y sus alrededores.  His work has been translated into several languages. 


Excerpt from Korean Love Songs

"Friendly Fire"

Light travels faster than sound,
But sound travels fast enough for some.

The burnt hand caught the shrap direct and sailed off
As the abandoned arm shot upward
Looking for its partner
Now partly buried in the mud.

The hip, too, felt the smoking clumps
Which now don't have to be surgically removed:
That wire-laying signalman is as good as dead.

The spent shell
Bounces and clangs with the others,
As the hangman's lanyard sways and waits to reactivate
the howitzer.

Sometimes, however, sound doesn't travel fast enough:
     "Raise those sights, Sergeant Kell,
     The forward ob. Says you're still short."

Still, sound travels fast enough for some
As it did for them
Who heard the first scream
In time to hug the sodden field.


Questions for Reflection: “Friendly Fire”

  1. Think of a time you were frightened by sound. Describe it. What affect did it have on you physically? Emotionally?
  2. What do you imagine are the sounds that eminent from Hinojosa’s poem, “Friendly Fire?”
  3. What is the significance of the title of the poem?
  4. Why does Hinojosa claim that “sound travels fast enough for some?