These autobiographical poems express hard-won wisdom and equilibrium. Monolin Manny Moreno offers a clear-eyed rootedness in place and family, love of and respect for Indigenous community and ceremony, the courage to examine dishonest and self-destructive choices, the compassion for those who are consumed by self-hatred, and the power of prayer, and the pain of forgiving. Moreno is not just a Central Valley poet, however, but also an accomplished photographer and painter, so first the reader lingers on the exquisite cover: a Moreno photograph of his niece looking out the door of a country shack in which his family spent years after the untimely death of his father. The shack, "we affectionately knew as home…. stands a sapped up elder/ready to cross over/a hollowed bone" ("Starting Out from Longview Road"). In this world, grandfathers plant willows and fruit trees, help build families a house, give boys the first tomato of the season and discourage them from sampling a habanero. They banish false identities with gentle but persistent truth-telling as when Grandpa Manuel tells the boy buckaroo who'd rather be on the side of the cowboys, "Tu eres indio, Yaqui/Tarascan/Never forget/Never be ashamed" ("Except for Tonto").
Moreno's family is also ravaged by alcoholism, as Moreno gets his first sip of wine when he is just nine ("Story of the Sips"). The elders of Native communities who break his self-destructive cycle and confirm his Indigenous identity, connecting him to his legacy of Indigenous heritage.