Rodriguez Boys - I'm in the middle.

Rodriguez Boys – I’m in the middle.

Back in the early 1980’s, my uncle decided to visit with his brother, George (my father) and my family in New York. He noticed how both my parents were having a hard time with my brothers and I. He suggested to my parents that he could take us to his place in Connecticut for the summer to give them a break. However, I suspect what my uncle was, in fact, trying to do was give my brothers and I a break from my parents’ abuse. Our first summer in Connecticut was an adjustment for us. We expected the same type of abuse from Uncle Jesus as we had received from our parents. When this didn’t occur, it increased our anxiety. Eventually, we relaxed and began to truly enjoy this brief respite from the chaos and abuse we endured at home. Unfortunately, we had to return home at the end of the summer. We’d had a taste of what life could really be like when treated without even the threat of abuse. We begged our parents to allow us to return the following summer. Uncle Jesus readily agreed and our parents reluctantly granted our request.

The following summers were brief moments where we could live in an idyllic, albeit pseudo, family atmosphere. What resides in my memories of Connecticut the most was how my uncle and aunt would take us to different art shows and events. The Ballet, the play, an art exhibit, all types of art functions were presented to us. I also enjoyed watching my uncle play soccer and how the other team members would always cheer him on whenever he had the ball, always running to make the goal. It was a whole new world. One I desperately held onto every summer. I was unaware at the time of how much my uncle’s efforts seeded my consciousness. I also came across a poem during this time that would eventually open up the beauty and transformative experience that is poetry.

Then, my parents decided summers in Connecticut would no longer be allowed. I became depressed, desperately sad that I would no longer enjoy such wonders that were, briefly, within my grasp. Two years after the last summer in Connecticut, we moved to Texas. My parents had divorced prior to the move but decided to try once again to live with each other. They split up again a year after we moved to Texas. But, thanks to my uncle’s influence, I was ready to answer poetry’s call of self-expression at the tender age of 15.

Rodriguez Boys - I'm on the far right, yes, mullet and everything.

Rodriguez Boys – I’m on the far right, yes, mullet and everything.

Three to four years after I had begun writing, I started watching a popular television series starring Burt Reynolds called, B.L. Stryker. The name Stryker hit a familiar note in me but I couldn’t adequately explain why at the time. I decided to use the name along with the first three letters of my last name because I remember Uncle Jesus would sign checks and cleaning bills simply as Rod; hence the name Rod Carlos (my first name) Stryker. I have been using this pen name for a long time, but it was only recently while talking with my aunt that I understood why I actually decided on Stryker. Earlier I mentioned how I would witness my uncle playing soccer. I found out from my aunt that my uncle would usually play the soccer position called: the striker.

And so, here I am, an award-winning poet, author, art photographer, and more because my uncle decided to help three young boys escape, if only briefly, from the abuse of our parents. And, he introduced me to what eventually would be my liberator: the arts. I use Rod Carlos Stryker to honor my uncle and I always will.

Rod Carlos Stryker (a.k.a. Carlos Emilio Rodriguez)

award-winning poet, author, art photographer, human (thanks in no small part to Jesus and Cindy Rodriguez)

  1. whalefungus says:

    You know, I knew it wasn’t your real name, but never asked you about it. I figured I’d find out about it eventually….the eventuality is here now. Thank you. I’m sorry you had such a tough childhood. You were fortunate to have had your uncle show you a different world.

  2. whalefungus says:

    Then I owe him a debt of gratitude too….you probably wouldn’t have founded Sun Poet’s.

  3. Chris says:

    I only learned the story behind the name about a year ago, myself. Thanks, mi amigo, for telling the story; it’s not easy bringing up the past sometimes, but it is necessary to move ahead.

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