Arte Publico Press , 1996.

ISBN#: 1558851712

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He wrote about pachuco crosses and Hispanic gangs thirty years before American Me.

He wrote about acid busts, drug deals gone bad, and riots in the streets.  He wrote about suicide, murder, dope, pot, homosexual rape, reform school gangs, hostile surveillance and betrayal by the left and the right.

In Color of My Living Heart, he writes about love.

Berkeley novelist Floyd Salas, the seasoned boxer, street dude, ex-hippy and ex-pachuco, bares his heart in a book of love poems with selections representing over thirty years of work.

He writes of the Biblical Jonas’ obsessive love for God, his own love for a fish, his grief for his dead dog, his love of nature.  But mostly he writes of love lost and gained, writing with a sense of nostalgic loss even in the midst of tender lovemaking.

Book Reviews

"A splendid collection of poems . . in the landscape of North American poetry. Truly Color of My Living Heart shines with technique and passion. This collection of poems are the routes of his exposed veins broadcasting from his pumping heart a tender and strong masculinity, splendid erotica."

—Victor Hernandez Cruz (author of Snaps)

"Crafted in language that is bold, surreal and full of surprise, Color of My Living Heart is a joyous and poignant celebration of many loves: for brothers and lovers, for the world's oppressed, and for nature in its fragile beauty."

—Chitra Divakaruni (author of Arranged Marriage and Black Candle)

"Floyd Salas' poems strip down to gut-level the chords and voicings that power and color his novels and stories. Mostly these poems are about love -- bigtime. . . textured with sex and sorrow, celebration and loss, social and political savvy, rhythm & blues elegance, and a gritty beauty, the poems in Color of My Living Heart are for real; they speak out loud at gut-level, right here, right now."

—Al Young (author of Conjugal Visits and Drowning in the Sea of Love)

"Floyd Salas has written a book of the chanting heart -- of blood, gardenias, and tears. Readers who already know him as a powerful writer of fiction and memoir will find the same passion, the same compassion, in these deeply felt poems."

—Jane Hirshfield (author of The October Palace and Of Gravity & Angels)

"Floyd Salas's novels suggest a power of language which can properly be called 'poetic.' In this, his first collection of poetry, he shows how fine a poet he can be. These deeply-felt poems, written 'whole heartedly,' spin beautifully around the erotic. Salas's work is passionate, delicate, even funny, full of the love of life."

—Jack Foley (author of Gershwin and Exiles host of "Cover to Cover" on KPFA-FM)

"The passion of Floyd Salas' novels is reflected in a series of strong, physical love poems, a fine Biblical poem, and an unusual variety of poems on social themes revealing the strong concern for social justice that has always marked Salas's fiction."

—James Schevill (author of Stalingrad Elegies)

"Considering love's many forms and fluids, Salas . . . finds that the throb of existence nearly always has a sexual component."

—Publisher's Weekly

"Raw and uncompromising."


"Bukowski once wrote that clarity is sadly lacking in contemporary poetry. He would find it in Salas. . . The collection is a journal of love and what it means -- the pitfalls, the high points, the questionings that back up in the mind like freight cars on a siding in a railroad yard. Common themes and everyday backgrounds collide and then come together in the detective work that the poet undertakes to unmask the meaning of relationship. . . His words reverberate through the ages, leaping over literary trends and schools of literature. What remains is an almost feverish devotion of the unadorned image, the bone-hard truth of what he sees, how he senses, what he gleans from the ordinary world. Color of My Living Heart is a tender notebook."

—Neeli Cherkovski, Cups Magazine

Book Excerpt


She lies in the dark light
in a room in my mind
She stretches back
and smiles
tiny wrinkles
at the sides of her mouth

She is thinking
of the baby I want in her body
She is thinking
of soft clouds
in which she floats
She is thinking
of an altar
on which she stands
with me
below her
looking up
through the parting in her breasts
at the underside
of her chin
her small mouth

She sees me
with her soft eyes
She sees me
with the shadows in her eyes
her eyelid
is a wing
it softens her flight
It brings her back to me

She looks at me
from far back
in her
She looks in me
She searches
for the source of the passion
in me
She knows
there is a light
her gaze
is steady
She is serious
She knows
that I mean it
She knows
that if she looks deep enough
and long enough
she will pull me out
to her
that we will press together
cup mouths
switch tongues
that we will bend
to fit each other
that I
will lay myself down
on her breast
and cross necks

She knows
in the candlelight
all the secrets of the dark
She knows
all the strange cries
of all the jungle animals
She hears
the streams run
through the plantain leaves
the fan
of night wind
on a steamy bed of wild grass
She knows where the seat of my heart lies
She sucks
at the pit of its fruit
and shares it with me


A trail of ants crosses my window pane
They scurry from leaf to leaf
sill to sill
across the blue flat of space
fragile as glass
A breath will blow them away

I wait for the big black spider
back up
like a dome
swollen with the juice of his poisons
to creep out of the tent of a leaf
pop out of the dark in a hole
and pin pricks for eyes
and tusks of ivory
glide down an invisible wire
and pounce on me

I huddle in the nest of her sex
warm folds of love
that wrap me round
clutch at me
suck me in
kiss me
hold me
in prison
in the hollow of her arm
under the covers
fake sleep
to escape a bed check

The matron will pass by
She will nod her head and let me sleep
while my finger curls into my love
strokes the moist felicity

We spread our arms
in preliminary gestures of love
then close up
like a guilty sow bug
round as a cannonball
or an armadillo
plates of armor
to protect the soft inside
spongy as moss
or a vulva
secrete a case
to harden in
and petrify

I fall
into the invisible web
with fists of taffy
kick at the sticky fog at my feet
the air
like a boxer too blinded to see
my wings
twist and turn
and pull and squirm
until breath spent
fall upside down in the net
like a fish on a hook
or a slab of carcass in a freezer
or a pink chicken
hung by its scaly legs
with plucked wings
and a skin film over its gray eyes
the skin on my heart
cold as the frost in a chemist’s lab
makes your fingers sting to touch it
stick to it
to plug up the hole in the flesh
and keep the hot fluid
of love’s hunger back

Set me free set me free set me free
pluck me
out of the net
break the link
in the chain of slavery
put me
on a leaf
with all six of my legs
and I’ll wipe the cotton candy
from my face
with my forearms
and rub the back of my head
with the second pair
and stretch out my hind legs
and scratch them together
to make static

Come together at the party
hook hands
play ring around the rosy
Don’t let anybody leave
We will only be here a short time
a snap of fingers in eternity
Huddle under the warm covers
Wrap your arms around me
There’s a narcotic hum in the air
can’t you hear it?

dozing off-stage
sifting in between us
Slow chill
creeping over our flesh
like evening fog
It withers the lobes of our ears
bringing nightmares and tears
to spread over the land of our loving
those splashes and cries as we drown
to lay you down


Whole heartedly she says
and turns her face away
This is my love
This is the heart of the apple
This is the core of my heart
This is my love

Not unless it’s whole
and turns her face away

Somewhere the pain swirls in currents of blood
her breath fogs with hurt
small mouth opens and curls

This is my love
She turns her face away

Deep in the shadow of her eye
in the green light that turns there
I hear her voice

“Put your hand in your shirt pocket
touch the wound
small sting of salt on blood
taste it

Sweeter than syrup
or strawberry jam
this is my love
this is my sweet heart

Love me
only me
it says

Voice of heart and feeling
heart of her voice
call to me
love me

The rock dissolves with tears
just one at a time
for a thousand years
The rock
with tears