From psychologist to poet: Jerry Amaya

HARLINGEN — He told the story as if it was yesterday, complete with the voice changes that portray the sound of a young boy.

It was more than 60 years ago when Jerry Amaya’s mother told him something he couldn’t believe at the time. But now, it seems as though she may have had a premonition about her son.

In sixth grade, Jerry was asked to sing for Christmas by his teacher. But that teacher soon realized and even told him, “you cannot sing.”

Jerry went home and cried to his mother, who was a Mexican immigrant. That’s when she spoke the words he never did forget.

“The first thing that came to her mind was, ‘you are not a singer, you are going to be a great poet,’” Jerry described. He laughed it off along with this sister, who said he “couldn’t even write.”

All these years later, Jerry can have the last laugh.

His first book, called “Bird of a Broken Wing,” has been published by Sarah Book Publishing. And, guess what? It’s a book full of poetry — his inspirational and philosophical poems.

The 75-year-old admitted, when he first saw the book, there was no value to put on that experience.

“I saw my name on there and I said wow,” he said. “I actually preached what I believe and believe what I preached. It is my own creation.”

But, the book is even more than that.

“I felt pretty much like Michelangelo when he saw that big rock and he said he would get David out of there,” Jerry said. “This is a little book, but to me it is a giant. This is bigger than me and whence it came from I have no idea.”

It’s been a long journey for Jerry, who dropped out of school to go to work at a very young age. But, he never forgot that he had dreams or many of the things his mother told him, which included that he could do anything he wanted.

At first, it seemed as though Jerry’s dreams would be snuffed out by decisions he made as a young man, being poor and being married at a very tender age. Born in Bayview and after moving to San Benito, he went to work for his family at a young age.

However, Jerry wasn’t going to let that stop him. He admits to writing hundreds of notes when he was young talking about trying to strive for a better future.

“I would write, dear future, know I am coming,” he said. “Dear future, I am on my way. I learned along the way, if there is something in your mind, you see it and magnify it and there it is.”

In his late 20s, he found his way back to school and earned his degree. When he was 34, he received a master’s in psychology and worked in the mental health field for 35 years.

Although he wanted to work until the age of 80, some medical issues caused him to change that thinking. But, it also allowed him to find time to pursue writing and other hobbies.

A few years ago, he was reading a magazine and it suggested submitting a poem for publication. He did and it was published. He said he was told it “was wonderful.”

“I had just sat down and wrote it,” he said. “I just write poems, but that was the way this all started. I had no idea this would happen.”

He wrote some more and book publishers seemed to like what he was doing and asked him to keep providing them his poems. Then, he said they thought we could create a book with them.

He already has a second book full and ready with about 150 poems and is working on a third book.

It appears his mother was right all along, it just took Jerry several decades to realize it.

Where you’ll find it

It is available at: