Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Only Time I Dream the Blog... the first night. I dream I'm having trouble with my Cost of the Iraq War counter. It stalls completely, then slowly picks up speed as it begins counting behind as I imagine the spent votes in Ohio look counting down the freedoms backwards. Money unravels as hundreds of millions unpeel. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I spend most of the dream trying to decide as I paste and repaste code, publish and republish, but the results stay the same. Something's not true. Or, if it is, we shall win this war: dignity, justice and peace prevail; someone is eating well on the land in the land. Free and true? The deleted pages. I woke up disturbed, unresolved. It took a long time to feel it didn't actually happen.

Last night I tell T, "Every once in a while my father will say something that just gongs me out...(long pause)...for a couple of decades." He laughs. He knows. He's heard it. The first time I was 18 & had just written a poem that would get anthologized ad verbatum, "Refugee Ship." He said: "Where's the solution? You state the problem but there's no solution." I am still writing the string of formuli for that one. The last time was when he was looking at "Coffee." He said: "What does it do to take away the sadness? How does it do anything to take away that sadness?"

"It tells the truth." I don't know if that is the answer but it was my answer then to my dying father.

As my counter goes into numbers I can't read any more, some foreign tongue, como pita con lengua frita.

"Poem For the Trundling Buffalo of Maryland" (thnx 2 32 Poems)

Much thanks to Deborah Ager at
  • 32 Poems
  • for this diversion from the morn of harsh reality; you gotta see the
  • picture
  • of the one jumping over the net before you read this poem. Peace to all buffalo, living and dead.

    Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

    You're bound for burger, yet,
    you with the dreadlocks dangling
    from your chin, you of the back
    hump, bad hair day everyday
    you will not be shorn, "I Tread
    On You," a distant memory
    of the ice bit plains, a plain
    song of discovery and regret,
    railroads and a child's yellow
    wallow—a Walmart Godlike token
    spent on a tennis court reservation—
    it's love and match and set.

    My stack of meat lies, twinkling
    dew, defrosted. Would that be you?
    Tomorrow at the barren landscapes
    of the King, organic and prion free,
    who would capture you or deface
    your rare and toasted memory?
    Some smoke stack signals guide
    you home, the smell of range, decay,
    the stench of your breed stunning
    in the slaughterhouses of America,
    Land of the Free, and meat, its greatest
    living symbol: I'll fry this line-caught fish

    for me.

    c Lorna Dee Cervantes
    P.S. Think of Vachel Lindsay's "Trundling Buffalo" while you read the article. Good poem, that, from an early hippie. Although this one will do:
  • "The Fower-Fed Buffaloes"

  • 9:16 AM
    P.P.S. Think of
  • Dougie Maclean's
  • song:
  • "Buffalo jump/ feel the thunder..."
  • from his cd "Singing Land" - bohdrans, digeridoos & bagpipes on a poet, doesn't get any better than that.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    Susan & Luis Cervantes Day in San Francisco - April 6, 2005

    PROCLAMATION - City and County of San Francisco

    Whereas, San Francisco recognizes the individual achievements of its residents, celebrates their contributions to the community and appreciates their rich legacies of ingenuity, creativity and innovation; and

    Whereas, San Francisco owes a debt of gratitude to Susan and Luis Cervantes who established Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center in 1977; more than 20,000 students and tourists have passed through their doors as the starting point for mural tours; and

    Whereas, Precita Eyes, a non-profit multipurpose community arts organization, holds the distinction of being one of only three community mural centers in the United States; and

    Whereas, with its deep rooted community ties, Precita Eyes has added to the beauty, culture and economic vibrancy of the Mission, while at the same time encouraging community residents to embrace all forms of artistic expression; and

    Whereas, Precita Eyes offers mual and art classes for children and youth that enable them to develop their individuality and confidence through creative activities and to experience unifying, positive social interaction through collaboration; now

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Gavin Newsom, Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, on the occasion of Precita Eyes' A Celebration of Community Mural Art, do hereby proclaim April 6, 2005 as...


    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto
    set my hand and caused the Seal of the City
    and County of San Francisco to be affixed.

    Gavin Newsom, Mayor

    April 27, 2005 - My Father Dies Today

    A few hours ago, approximately 2:30 pm in San Francisco, my father, the artist and philosopher, Louis "Luís" Cervantes died at home with family in the arms of his loving wife, Susan Kelk Cervantes. Last week two Tibetan monks chanted over him, as did two curanderos, he was seen by a Chinese herbalist and acupunturist, and a group of danzantes. A Tibetan monk is saying a prayer over him now, he has placed something on his forehead. His spirit is strong and present. The remembrances are loving. I am grateful that I was able to tell him that I am grateful for him. I truly am. Grateful to have had him in my life, been blessed by his influence & sensibility, grateful for the honor of having him as my father. Grateful for the art he left the world.

    It begins to rain in Boulder. It is raining hard and raining snow, streaks of slush pass through the budding crabapples. It has always rained when someone special passes. It is a special blessing, a small blessing, that he didn't suffer the pain or misery that so many have who have suffered this particular kind of cancer. His spirit and vitality—virility—was always such that it was impossible to think of him ailing, to imagine him as frail as he was in the end. In less than two months, he is gone.

    And I am not there. I had returned for a thesis defense that was scheduled without me & without my knowledge while I was away last week. I discovered the fact in the SF airport while waiting for my flight home. I can't believe anyone has done this. I am on sick leave and have, not surprisingly, been quite ill. I had reported to my chair that my father was dying and that I would be flying back to tend to him. And now, I have returned for nothing. Now my student does not get the benefit of my signature or shaping of his thesis. I feel worse for him. He is a fine poet, and could have had a publishable manuscript. Another reason to be so sick to my stomach—all I can't stomach.

    The rain is healing. Time to give love and thanks to water.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2005

    The Death Angel Cometh

    Reading blogs & blogging for almost 2 months now, I'm struck by how much this reminds me of when my sole/soul goal in life was to found a school for disturbed children. My father thought it was a "waste of brains" and that I should become a lawyer instead, "help people who have something going for them." Ahem. Hear me out: It's about modes of communication, the infinite variety of matrices of speech, how you get your message across. As training, I took all pre-med courses in high school and interned as a volunteer in a series of schools for the "Handicapped," the "Severely Disabled" and the "Severely Mentally Retarded" as they were officially referred to then. It was the latter, my senior year at Abraham Lincoln High, that creates the most correspondences with what goes on here in Blogville. Although I have often, particularly in my role as Director of Creative Writing, smiled to myself at the thought of how I had, somehow, achieved my lifelong "dream" (a word, btw, I never utter unless I mean REM or, as here, when used ironically) it is now that I realize my most valuable preparatory experiences have been serving as a "teacher's aid(e)" for the "most severely" "severely mentally retarded" "kids" aged 2-18 with the "mental capacity" of a 2-6 month old. They all had their way of talking. If they were ambulatory they could "talk" if the listener chose to pay attention to the system. One girl clapped, clapped and rocked, and if you repeated her patterns back to her she laughed and got really excited. You had to do it before you could guide her back into the building or call her for lunch. They didn't know their names but they spoke a language. One boy could speak English, "Hey there! Hey there!" An entire sentence at his private command. "Hey there! Hey there!" was the reply, but with situational inflections. Another boy, slender reed of a lost Tagalog dumbed out & numbed out on pharmacutical speed, you had to spin, you took his spider thin arms by the wrists, raised them over his head like a ballerina and spun him around in a dance that only he could hear. Another only noticed jewelry: shiny rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, all things she was not allowed to own or handle, but remarked on by touch. One morning recess we were out in the jumble of wheelchairs & crutches, balls, bawls & bellows when I greeted her with a touch, displaying my 8 rings on each finger. She grabbed the abalone shell I had strung on a length of rawhide around my neck. She reached up and held the 2 ends of the cord behind my neck and pulled. I choked and couldn't get my breath to call out. She was one of the eldest walkers, 18 and wirey strong. I passed out before someone noticed and got her to let go by shaking his keys in front of her. I felt bad that she was transferred to Agnews State Hospital the next day. It was my fault for wearing something like that around my neck in the first place. There was another boy who was 18. He could say "Yeah." "yeah, yeah, yeah...". One day my favorite teacher got in trouble for holding a mock wedding for 2 of the older, more functional students. Two friends in love who wanted to get married like normal people who can conceive of the concepts. (But what is conception but the touch and its aftermath?) She argued that it was innocent play, and therapeutic, but the yeah-yeah boy whipped it out as he was wont to do whenever he wanted. He got in the middle of the "aisle" and proceeded to masturbate, laughing all the while, saying "yeah, yeah, YEAH" and it was all, when you thought about it, quite brilliant, all the connections he and the others were making at that moment. The one "student" who sat it out was one of the eldest in the school and in my group. She spoke through records. Diagnosed as "severely mentally retarded" at a young age, she would communicate with the world solely through an old red child's phongraph with a needled arm the staff would have to replace on the record over and over again. It was easy to become annoyed with her, and most staff left her alone with her rocking and silent listening, stuck as she was in some infantile time-loop. You could get her to go outside if you sang, but it had to be the record on the turnstile, no other song would do. I forget what song it was. One day my favorite teacher asked me what I thought of her, that she was soon to be transferred out of the school, to be tended until her death at Agnews, but not enriched. She said, "I don't think she is retarded. I think she's schizophrenic." "How do you know?" I asked her. She had no degrees. "Watch this," she said. And she took the needle off the record, continuing to sing the song (Jimminy Cricket singing When You Wish Upon A Star?) but then singing the wrong words to the tune, the wrong meaning, wrong emotion ("When you kiss upon a jar...") and the girl immediately became agitated. So the teacher switched back to the right words and the girl calmed down, then back to the bogus words. The girl became so infuriated she started throwing things and had to be restrained. She was transferred out to a children's psychiatric hospital the next day, aand we were so happy. And so sad for alll her lost childhood. What would make a girl, as a baby, never want to enter the word again? To have nothing to do with others except what was recorded on vinyl. Yes, what. yeah yeah yeah

    This is all married in my mind (stapled to my bulletin board? attached to my personal email? sent for in error through the post?) with being denied an appliction for a visa to visit Ireland & the Celtic Isles as my "poet's tour" after high school because I was "colored," the legal definition for "Mexicans," "Mexican-Americans," and "American Indians" in 1972. A fellow teacher had also been denied entry at the airport for wearing his hair in an Indian-style ponytail and forced to return back to the States or fly to the Jolly Ole Empire. He stayed on the plane. "So don't feel bad" he told me. I felt bad. I didn't hold it against the Irish although a Welsh Chicano poet/playwright traveling in Ireland, Wales & Scotland confirmed that we all experience our colonization differently; he had a barkeep in a pub tell his friend, "You can stay, but your nigger friend will have to go." I couldn't help but make the connection between what we were doing at the time, spending our lives on enriching others who would be ash for the smouldering fires of selection & the Final Solution, little baby bubbles in a future pope's peddled gas solution. My genes on a list everywhere I turn. I'll let you spin the record.

    I love the blogs I have listed & one's I've found, discovered or were guided to but haven't yet posted. Each one has their unique voice, their singular matrix of voice. From Lyn's single sentences weaving meaning & light in the backwards or forwards scroll, the poem of her life as indeed it is, to Ron's laser erudition; from pendants on the black banjo to fluids dribbling down their backs like "tampon strings," from multiple "hellrosis" to 48 million a year, from play to depression, from verse prey to poetential stalker: the Death Angel Cometh.

    I've always been intensely private, what for all my strategy of intense personal public-ation. At least, that's what the few interviewers have to say. I've also never been one for sittin through a chorus of tootin my own horn. My "official website" was started and maintained by poet/musican/writer/musicologist, Tony Thomas, almost a decade ago. It had been unalterable for years, but it had lots of free poetry & no criticism, hype or FAQ. I liked that about it. But it was zapped by aol last year & I've been designing my own, double rainbow website. I've been dusting off my never-used cv for circulation so I've had to compile & catalog, a task too tedious while trying finish the final drafts of new books of poetry. So I got sucked into Blogville the way one stays too long at the pachanga ''til it turns into a lifelong paranda en paradiso. But, more than that, I have decided to take on the responsibility of my name—for the sake of the living names of the dead. Why responsibility? Or, as Richie Havens preaches it, "response-ability." Because once someone thinks they know your name, they think they call you out.

    Years ago, I ran a small press out of my kitchen. I raised my husband's little sister & at night, I'd open all the windows & doors and print. One night, early morning, some time after the bars had closed, I felt the hair on my neck & body raise up & I turned to see a skinny hen-chick of a white boy flicking his wrists and wiping his mouth obssessively. He wore a jean jacket cut off at the shoulders and stitched with crude but elaborate embroidery satanic symbols. He stood close enough to touch me, on the other side of the tiny mailbox shaped multilith I printed my magazine, MANGO on. Man go. I was trapped where I stood. He was, clearly, deranged, and maybe not so clear. "Is this where the poetry is?" and reached for something at his side. "Poetry?" I asked, stalling as it seemed like a trick question. "No poetry now." "But this is where the poetry is. It said, this is where the poetry is!" and I rememembered the article that had come out in the newspaper's Sunday section that week. An article on Mango Publications, the "1st Annual Mango Toast & Jam" that had jammed over 200 people over the course of the afternoon to after midnight into my tiny 1-bedroom house for potluck spin-the-bottle style monopoem readings/presentations that had included Robert Duncan, Miguel Algarín, Robert Hass, Phyllis Koestembaum (fellow student with me in Bob's workshop), Diana di Prima, Ishmael Reed, Juan Felipe Herrera, Merritt Clifton (Samisdat), Francisco Alarcon, Michael McClure, along with the Mango Collective: Orlando Ramirez, Adrian Rocha, Art Editor: José Antonio Burciaga, Muse: Víctor Martínez & Sgt.-at-Arms: novelist, James Brown; and announcing the launching of a new chapbook, books & broadsides series. The poor suffer the poverty of insecurity. That is, it pays to be safe. We couldn't afford a PO box, much less a copy camera (I built my own out of a hole in the wall to my backporch darkroom & a calibrated arm to hold the original along with tapemarks on the floor. ¿Y qúe?) so the published address for subscriptions & submissions ("Subs & Subs, Inc.) was my home address. I felt physically threatened by a crazy person in my kitchen. I was alone but for the sleeping 8 year old girl. All the guys, it turned out, were over another writer's house (we all lived in tiny houses clustered around a driveway, a former farmworkers camp, it turned out) and they were watching some fight on cable. They wouldn't have heard me scream. What was a homegirl to do? Why, what would *you* do? I offered him a chicken taco. (Feed the insane.) "I could make it vegetarian," I offered. It completely unnerved him. His face turned redder with fine white lines flickering in the afterthoughts. His hands frenetically shooing away imaginary birds. I gestured to the pot. I dared turn my back & took off the cover. It smelled good. It was hot. I had just fixed a batch from leftover barbeque, had the comal & tortillas ready on the stove for when the guys were supposed to be back from "helping James fix his car" outside. I had covered it while I turned off all the gas & pilots in order to get a few pages in. A couple of tortillas might still be warm, waiting for me as I get too involved to eat. He snniffs the air, a distracted guard dog, diverted. A move as good as any kung fu master's. "Yeah," he says. He'll have it. I roll a taco on a paper towel, open the fridge (refridgerator) and take out a few sprigs of fresh cilantro, cebolla, a beer (XX oscuro) and I fill his hands and mouth with food and drink, and before he has time to think I say, "Would you like to read me a poem?"

    "People tell me I sing the words "love" & "hunger" like no one else, well, all I know is that you have to have a little love in your life, and something to eat, before you can sit still through anybody's damned sermons." (Billie singing the the Blues)

    About 2 1/2 hours later the guys, after drinking through the extra rounds, came tumbling in like hounds at the end of the chase. I was very glad to see them, puffed up as they were, but by then the energy had changed, a very content and much calmed down & better nourished guy sat on the couch, my underlined 1st paperback edition of Carlos Castaneda's A Yaqui Way of Knowledge in his hand, ready to go to bed. I knew I would never see him, or my CC again. So well. I shook his hand in the leaving, met him in the eye. "In the midst of some mindless cacaphony/ we all clammor to be heard..." ~LDC circa "72. "All we are saying/ is give peace..." a taco. And, listen to a poem. You have nothing to lose but your time, finite and infinite in the stolen moment. It was the only weapon I had to play. Later, the guys, Adrian, I think, said "What was that crazy guy doing sitting in your living room?" "Eating a taco, drinking a beer, and reading me his poetry." "How long was he here?!" asked J, my much alarmed husband. "A couple of hours. How do you know he's crazy?" I ask—me, my shorthairs tell me. "Well, I have to admit I freakedd out when I saw the "Death Angel" on the back of his jacket like the Virgen de Guadalupe and saw the big knife strapped to his belt." (Orlando? Adrian?) "He had a knife?" "You didn't see it?" No. Nor the Death Angel on his back, needled there in his own hand, a kind (of) embroidered poetry.

    Ever since I haven't liked to give out my name, my address, my telephone number. But, what Xicanisma IS is IS, the defiant definition against what calls you out: If I don't define myself someone will define me. If I don't speak for my self some one will speak for me, and 70,000 hecateres lost in California with the sweep of a pen and the power of attorney.

    This is who I am. This is where I *live*, this is what I look like, minimal protection from the particular Death Angel who may stalk & claim those more fortunate in class and the classic look. So well.

    This is what I say. Lorna Dice. LornaDeeCe. What say you? Say, "Lorna Dee, say....". All we may want, you & me in the end, is something good to eat right now, maybe something different from the Norm who sits on his stool & accepts his piece of meat & the domestic brews on tap. Maybe all we want is to be heard—in our own language.

    He never asked to be published. For that, all the atom bombs in the heartland will not claim. But there is something we share.

    The Death Angel Cometh.

    new pics of Lorna Dee Cervantes @ Opal Palmer Adisa

    I just posted a few pics from the reading at Cody's with Opal Palmer Adisa, but I can't figure out how to post a pic from that here so it shows up. Meanwhile, you can check it out here or click "fotos" on my LDC site - which is still very much under construction. So, until I get my scanner to talk to my wild cats here, you can check out the pic of me & my son performing with his homemade digeridoo here:

  • fotos of Lorna Dee Cervantes
  • Sunday, April 24, 2005

    more on Kamau Brathwaite & Cow Pastor

    Check out
  • Jordan Stempleman's First Nation
  • to get contact information on where to send letters of support & protest what's happening at
  • Cow Pastor
  • thanks to a site set up by Tom Raworth. Also, Jean at
  • OKIR
  • has a sample of Kamau Brathwaite's poetry from
  • "Stone" in Middle Passages.
  • Click on the link to his name and you'll find a great site on him from my favorite online poetry project, the Online Poetry Classroom. (While you're at Jean's site, OKIR, do read the small treasures she keeps in her
  • Night Jar
  • I especially love the earlier short prose pieces.)

    One of the most moving & inspiring readings I've ever attended in Boulder was when Naropa brought Kamau to read at the Fox Theater. Here was Poetry married to the Muse married to Spirit married to Music married to Justice married to Mind married to Matter. Talk about "It Takes A Village." I had the most amazing conversation with him after the reading. Writers, please support a major living poet, write now! And buy a book.

    Jordan adds these suggestions: Hi, More info can be found here:
    Letters to those responsible might help, as well as letters to the editors at Counterpunch:
    & Native Forest Council:

    Please pass this on to whomever can offer suggestions or support.

    Kind Regards,
    Jordan Stempleman

    Gracias, Jordan

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Reyes Cardenas's "Calcetines"

    I just posted this to
  • Reyes Cardenas's blog & I just gotta post his poem, "Calcetines".

  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Lorna Dee Cervantes  said...

    Dang, Reyes! You make me cry. That good. My son gets a bag of underwear every year, along with all his other presents, just to remember, just so I re-member. Gracias, for remembering. I think I'll go wrap something in the funny papers now...

    April 20, 2005 9:49 AM

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005


    We were so poor
    when we were growing up
    Christmas meant

    a pair of socks for me,
    and that was it.
    My uncle Frank

    and Aunt Luisa
    gave me those socks
    once a year

    I needed them
    or not.

    These were not the socks
    from Neruda’s
    Ode To A Sock,

    these were not
    insect socks,

    these were not
    sock drawers
    in a Borges mirror,

    these were plain and simple
    brown, chicano

    Now all
    I needed
    was zapatos.

    posted by RC @ 3:00 AM

    Kamau Braithwaite - Literary History at Risk

    Just found this on Lisa Jarnot's blog. I am in total agreement with this assessment of Kamau Brathwaite. Writers, please write. (anyone have more info?) Where's a good PEN when you need one?

    Tuesday, 19 April 2005

    This just in from Lisablog Correspondent Rod Smith and new Lisablog Correspondent Tisa Bryant:

    Dear All,

    Kamau Brathwaite is a treasure of a human being, a brilliant scholar and magnificent poet.  He has long been battling the Barbados government to keep his land, Cow Pastor, in Christ Church parish, and now, in his 70s, it looks like he may lose it, which puts his livelihood, his home, and his archive of Caribbean literature and literary history at risk.

    His tone is bleak, and frightened.  He's talking about burning himself upon the land, and is clearly asking for community support.  Please write to him at, urge other poets and artists who care to write to him, and simply tell him you support him, and ask him what he needs to save his land, not what he's doing to save his land.  He is asking for academics, poets, artists, to come to Cow Pastor, see what's happening there, and help him mobilize to save it. If you know artists and writers in Barbados, please contact them and urge them to help.

    If you can do this, do this.



    Friday, April 15, 2005

    Lorna Dee Cervantes Video-Online Poetry Classroom

  • video of Lorna Dee Cervantes @ North High School (sophmores) - Online Poetry Classroom, '01

  • These students wrote and posted papers on the net which were then incorporated into LDC " critical scholarship" you would now find on textbook websites. I also went to Lincoln High, Escuela Tlatelolco & Corky's alma mater, Manual High School - all in Denver.

    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Of Benedict & Arnold & Other Near Death Experiences

    I received this link via email from E. Stone 1/2/04.

  • Inspiration In Time of darkness: The Near-Death Experience of Mellen-Thomas Benedict

  • As for Arnold, he doesn't lack for publicity. I'm in the mood for a good B movie.

    more of my comments from silliman's blog - more notes - On Jockeys From The Mule's Mouth

    Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

    I forgot to say: Duncan stitched the horizons.

    I often wonder if we'd be sitting here today—stuck in our Weimerian word loops—had Duncan, Kaufman & others (you) continued to write and publish poetry through Cultural Cold War II (would that make this the Gulf Wars?); all criticism aside, but what is criticism but the bread on the table? And this panadería is so good it's hard not to gorge before the main feast. As for a certain critical absence, I've always stood with Dorn (another connection, Ron, your readings: wherever Gunslinger showed up I was bound to be, speaking of good bread & "Indian tacos") - The poet should never criticize one's own age. As any good indigenous poet knows, that's for others to do—humility being a Native, if not natal, value. The value of 'afar and afield' depends upon what one is looking at. As Creeley exhibits (does a sun 'exhibit' its light? It's glow? It's heat? It's energy? It's flare which never burns out or up but, al contrario, creates & recreates galaxies—refuels and sustains?) the point is to resist the seduction of afar and afield, stars though they be, however relaxing & inspiring the landscape, and look/ "out where yr going." It's what's out there that matters the most & most of us are driving through the Dark Ages; and, The Iceman Cometh. "I don't say a good life, I say, a life."

    And, if one must have cake, a poet's teeth ought to be sunk into the fare/fair of some other cultural restaurant's horizon, even if that means venturing afar & afield; one should only theorize another age or shed light on the ecopoetics of another language & stew, preferable one in a tongue pert'near extinct.
    Unless one is starving or craving tacos de lengua in which case it's a matter of survival to select only the freshest young flesh.

    And that brings us to the uncomfortable "A(a)" word (Atkins anyone?) before we begin going on about (B/)brocolli since it does come with the 'trace' of that distasteful relation of the bird to the Bush, (and the gas! Isn't that what the Pope -RIP- was selling as a "chemist" in Aushwitz?) and though we can cut to the chase & go to V in the lexicon, as in the plea for civility: "Some of us at the table (Tabula Raza) are vegetarians" and "Some of us are dieting, I'm under strict Orders of the Surgeon General!" And, for some of the many, the gluten will kill us, gunk up the synapses so bad we can't spell. "Yo no soy de la Cultura de Trigo!" But you'd have to study economics in order to get it right, and who has the lifetime?

    No, let them eat poetry. The poem, the whole poem, and nothing but the poem, so (help me) muse. I believe I said something to that effect to the panel when someone brought up, as some are ought to do, "This smells to me like the standard you'd find in any streetcorner language deli." Or else I just said "¿Y qué? Take a bite." I was there as a judge of "literary excellence." The unsung ta(i)le of 'Pocahontas' is one of honor and duty. And believe me, it was like selling Spam to ham. But as some say, as well, a poem is a poem is a poem and "a arroz is arroz is arroz" (José Montoya) except to the florist; and, i just had to say, You give good poem.

    As for 'courtship rituals' here's a whacker, my greatest (critical) love & influence in grad school (HisCon) was Jed, speaking of Tabula Rasa (Rasa=Greeze in Sanskrit) but it was strictly Platonic in every sense of the Cave; and there was that matter of attachments, and our attachment, not a question of incompatiblility but the object of hard we/ar: he was texting into Excell, I was still munching away on my original Apple II what with all that polishing. His first book is a masterpiece, speaking of lifetimes. And who wants to wreck a good relationship with the endless cinematic loop of 'so, wadda you wanna eat?' 'I done no, wadda you wanna eat?" or "waddaibe today? Chinese? Mexican?" (...) ad nauseum, when all some of us want to do is just get in the car & drive. And some need to use the toilet or 'facilities." And some, like me, have a bleeding uulcer from all that I just can't stomach.

    So you see (taste touch hear smell heart know) all these opinions sometimes don't help. It's like someone is wielding a sable brush for the final portrait of a father dying of cancer, another a boar's hair for a comic mouth, another raises the scythe to the ravager, another is pulling Excaliber out of a stone because it's the only thing he's learned will slay a dragon, however extinct or imaginaire; and another is desparately digging potatoes out of the desert with her hands while another is naufrago in the middle of a hungry Carribean sea, in the middle of nowhere (think: Open Water, the movie, that scene with a thousand sharks below if you only look and not a single boat in sight (site-geist))—and they are all calling out to the other: Here! I'll save you! Take my weapon!/Use my tool. For no wonder the man with sable brush with it's impeccably pointed tip hollers out, Save me? What for? My father is dying and there is nothing to save but the final memory. But that would be a paper titled "Hoots, Hollers, and Hankies."

    Ron said:
    "One often wonders how such things come about."
    Ain't that the truth? Chance? That Pinksy & I would be paired with your stack? Folly? the arbitrary selection of me to 'present' you? I love it. It makes me laugh. The irony of it. "I'm Sam, I am. I am!" "Thank you!" My thanks is finding this blog this month. It is important, critical, that we continue to talkstory. Power on.

    2:04 PM

    Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

    Anonymous: You raise excellent points, all. The books were expensive, but they got into the libraries and stayed there, unlike the fluff & pulp, so that barrio blokes, like me, could read Kelly in the library but bust up the piggy for the Olson, Creeley, Wakowski, and even the occasional Bukowski. My favorite B was always "The Angel Who Pushed His Wheelchair." In a way, that's what he was. What marketing brilliance was that, though for me, too much wading through those tsunamis of pages in order to rescue the one rare dolphin stranded on the mainland. And, after teaching long enough to have Bob C sign his last book for me: "'Old Timer!'" I will say that not a one of my students had ever heard of any of those BS (unfortunate monogram) authors, but they *a*ll had read Bukowski, most of them loving him and citing him as the reason for their presence in a poetry workshop, however unfortunate that may be. It was easy then to sell them on W or O. I miss those beautiful books & humble but elegant vellum, books that held up to the wear because they were loved. You always knew what you buying when you bought a Black Sparrow book. Some of us can eat chicken every day, and I did.

    But, point well-taken, B at the expense of how many others? Ones who can dance. So it's a toss of the coin as to who is that Angel of literary history: Bukowski or a Black Swallow? I say, it's the chair.

    Why Risk Linking Corky's Name to My Name in the Title?


    Po(o)r VIDA, Joaquín Rein Beau

    Mexica tiahui, "¡Simón que sí y bon voyage!" ~Juan Cuellar

    Latinidad With Wings: Q&A With the Chicanaesque Poet—Bryce Milligan—My New Publisher

    Latinidad™ Newsletter – March/April 2005: Poetry

    1. Saludos: Poetry
    2. Editor Q&A: Bryce Milligan, Wings Press
    3. Author Spotlight: E.A. "Tony" Mares
    4. Upcoming Workshops: How to Pitch Your Book Idea/What Editors
    Really Want
    5. Writing Opportunities: True Poet Magazine Seeks Poems
    For lists of agents and editors seeking Latino writers, visit and click on Writing Opportunities.
    1. Saludos
    April is Poetry Month. While there are numerous journals that
    publish individual poems, it can be challenging to publish a book-
    length collection of poems. Thankfully, there are a number of small
    publishers that are dedicated to supporting poets. Wings Press,
    which is featured below, is one example. When seeking a publisher
    for your collection of poems, focus on smaller or regional
    publishers instead of large publishers.

    Helping Latino writers get published,
    Marcela Landres

    2. Editor Q&A
    Bryce Milligan is the Publisher/Editor of Wings Press, one of the
    oldest continually operating small presses in Texas. Wings Press
    publishes up to 15 titles a year, including a wide array of
    multicultural poetry, fiction, anthologies, and scholarship.
    Milligan is also the primary editor of the anthologies Daughters of
    the Fifth Sun: A Collection of Latina Fiction and Poetry and of
    ¡Floricanto Sí! A Collection of Latina Poetry.

    Why is Wing Press a great home for Latino writers?
    The Dallas Morning News a couple of years ago said that, "at
    Wings, 'diversity' is about the preservation and propagation of
    distinctive literature." That really is true. I certainly don't
    limit the focus of the press to Latina/o writing – but I have always
    found Latino/a literature to be distinctive. I do have to say that
    for the most part, my heart belongs to Chicano/a literature, at
    least in terms of what I publish. Even though I edited a couple of
    the first "all-Latina" anthologies to come from NY houses –
    Daughters of the Fifth Sun (Putnam/Riverhead) and ¡Floricanto Si: A
    Collection of Latina Poetry (Penguin) – I've never been comfortable
    with the implicit melting pot ideology of the term Latino or Latina.
    But back to the question at hand. Ramón Renteria, the book editor of
    the El Paso Times, said last year: "Without publishers like Wings,
    Latino and Chicano literature would remain in a deep well in
    America." I think what he was getting at was that presses like
    Wings, and Bobby Byrd's Cinco Puntos Press, and others celebrate
    this literature for what it is and on an equal footing with all our
    other titles. I have great admiration for most of the old Chicano
    and Latino presses, but in the mainstream mind there is a too often
    a perception of ghetto-ization when they see a book from a press
    that is limited to one ethnicity or even one gender. If a title is
    on the Wings list, then readers know that it is there because of the
    quality of the writing, the breadth of the imagination, and the
    intellect. I try to the best of my abilities to publish only books
    that have those qualities, no matter who the author is. That being
    said, I must admit that I've never published a Republican to my

    Which Latino authors has Wings Press published?
    It is a long list, actually. Some of our more well known authors
    are – alphabetically -- Marjorie Agosín, Ana Castillo, Lorna Dee
    Cervantes, María Espinosa, the journalists Patrisia Gonzales and
    Roberto Rodriguez, E. A. "Tony" Mares, Cecile Pineda, Raúl Salinas
    (raúlrsalinas), Virgil Suárez, Carmen Tafolla, and Alma Luz
    Villanueva. Of course there are several other major writers in some
    of our anthologies. Wings also publishes a lot of first-time
    authors, mainly poets. For a while we had a prize – the Premio
    Poesía Tejana – for Texas Latinas under the age of 30. There were
    seven books in that series, by Greta De Leon, Victoria García
    Zapata, Celeste Guzmán, Carolina Monsivaís, Nicole Pollentier, Mary
    Grace Rodriguez, and Frances Treviño. Some others include Wings,
    Sheila Sanchez Hatch and Deborah Parédez.

    I really like publishing great writing that has been or is being
    overlooked by readers. For example, I republished two of Cecile
    Pineda's books from the 1980s and 90s – Face and The Love Queen of
    the Amazon. A third republication is coming next spring, her novel
    Frieze. I've also published three new works by Cecile: Fishlight: A
    Memoir of Childhood and two extremely innovative "mononovels,"
    Bardo99 and Redoubt. Now, if you don't know Cecile's writing,
    consider this statement from last September's (2004) Bloomsbury
    Review: "Writers, readers, teachers, and creative writing classes,
    take note: Cecile Pineda is an American original, a literary
    treasure, and her prodigiously inventive and important work, finally
    returning to print in a landmark and long-awaited reissue, deserves
    a place in the forefront of American literature." By the way, you
    can expect to hear an interview with Cecile on Latino USA on NPR
    coming up in the near future.

    Wings has three very important Latina titles coming out in the fall
    of 2004. The first out will be a 200-page collection of poetry by
    Marjorie Agosín entitled The Tree of Memory / El arbol de la
    memoria. It is a facing page edition, Spanish and English. A musical
    based on this book will be touring the country in 2005-2006. Next
    out will be Ana Castillo's first published play, Psst … I Have
    Something to Tell You, Mi Amor, which is about the rape and torture
    of Sister Dianna Ortiz at the hands of US-funded and US-directed
    forces in Guatemala. The third is a serious coup for any publisher
    interested in Latina literature – Lorna Dee Cervantes' first book in
    14 years. Drive: The First Quartet is nearly 300 pages of really
    really powerful poetry. Drive will debut with a reading at the
    National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 14.

    What kinds of manuscripts do you seek?
    I have probably published more poetry than is good for any press, so
    I'm moving more toward fiction and non-fiction for a while. But to
    answer the question, I'm not "seeking" anything in particular. I
    know what I will publish when I see it.

    How can writers avoid your "Reject" pile and get into your "Pursue"
    The first thing is to pick the right publisher for what you are
    writing. I get an enormous number of romance novel submissions, for
    example, and just a glace at the website will indicate that this is
    one of the last things on earth I would publish. Actually reading a
    book or two from the press and mentioning them in your cover letter
    is an excellent thing to do.

    Don't send me an entire book. It won't get read and it is a waste of
    good trees. I prefer to get an informative cover letter with just a
    few poems or one or two chapters, and I prefer to get them by e-mail
    first. If I am interested, I'll ask for more. Also, as the website
    says, Wings does not publish poets who do not read poetry. You
    wouldn't believe how often that happens. Something else that will
    get my attention in a cover letter is a clear indication of how
    active the writer is when it comes to giving readings, going to book
    fairs and conferences, all that. New authors sometimes do not
    understand that a publisher is not automatically a booking agency.
    Except in special circumstances where the sales are likely to be
    substantial, we do not arrange or pay for book tours. Think about
    how many books one has to sell just to pay for an average airplane
    ticket. But the single most important thing is to interest me with
    both the cover letter and the sample.

    Other than honing their craft, what is the smartest step writers can
    take to become happily published?
    "Successfully" is a relative term here. Beyond the satisfaction of
    publishing a good book, for the publisher, success is necessarily
    measured in sales, reviews, awards, etc., but mainly sales. For the
    author, it could be that "success" simply means another book on
    their shelf, or perhaps it is the thing that puts them over the line
    in pursuit of university tenure, or perhaps it is just about getting
    a good critical response. The author expects royalties, but no one
    should reasonably expect to be able to live off the royalties from a
    regional publisher. On the other hand, my authors can buy their own
    books on credit at a 50% discount, then go out and sell them at
    their non-bookstore events such as readings and lectures at schools
    and other organizations, conferences and book fairs, etc. One of my
    authors does at least two educational conferences a month, and at
    each she sells 50 books or more. For a $16 book, that means she is
    making about $400 per event in book sales, plus her honorarium. As I
    said above, the author must be actively involved in promoting the
    book. I have rejected numerous authors with five or six books to
    their credit, many trailing awards, because when I call up their
    other publishers and ask the crucial question -- "Do their books
    sell?" – I am told that the author doesn't help to push the book. I
    do not think that many regional publishers have any illusions of
    getting rich in this business. Almost all of us plow a significant
    portion of the "profits" right back into the next book. So "success"
    requires effort on everyone's part, but the author most of all.

    Send submissions to: Bryce Milligan, Wings Press, 627 E. Guenther,
    San Antonio, TX 78210 or
    Wings Press web site:
    More Editor Q&A

    some comments on silliman

    posted today in response to Ron's ever brilliant response to the rebirth of Black Sparrow Books. P.S. I left out Escheleman.

    Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

    Right on, Ron, as usual.

    Alan & Kristin met in my undergraduate poetry workshops in Boulder. I believe the moment they fell in love was the night Alan prepared an elaborately nutritious caserole construction for our class potluck, I seem to remember a brown rice mountain, broccoli trees and a river ran through it, it may have been a model of some place at the foot of the Flatirons - nobody would eat it but Kristin. I miss them.

    btw, by hook or by crook or by chance, I ended up with your nea submission in my stack. It was at the top of my picks & by hook or by crook or by folly, I was selected to present it to the general panel (Pinsky was paired with me). I don't remember what I said, but it felt eloquent. I quoted lines, I now can not recall which or the words, as I take the anonymity aspect very seriously, besides, I was then directing cw, so who had time to read recent poetry. I felt I convinced plenty that this was the best poetry being written in America today, and it ought to be supported. When the final selections were made, ranked and names announced to the panelists, I had jotted down the numbers of my top 5 so I asked "who was number ******" after every one else had asked. "Ron Silliman." All right, I said to myself, grinning - and that's not a mispelling. Felicidades! You deserve it - after all these dog-gone days. I remember back when in the BA, when you and Ron (RIP) were the hot up n coming when I was in high school & attending the teach-ins & readings. I remember your prison work, your class work, and always with that laser on your shoulder. I read all the litmags back then, being a smallpress fanatic. I especially remember your early writings, the l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e work. I have used the phrase, now all in the past, "Ron Silliman is highly underrated."

    $o bravo belated for bravery and heroism. Congratulation$. I've long admired your work from afar and afield. As I tell my students, "Just write it well." Don't you think that writing well is the best revenge?

    And coming from me, hermitting out the "Culture Wars" with my little pencil en mano...who woulda thunk it?

    And just think, I was just thinking: "When is SOMEBODY going to write about Diane?!"
    There's more:

    p.s. not a Chicanao application in all my stack, that I could discern, but one excellence Chicanesque poet was funded, to my knowledge

    Lorna in Passing

    Thanks to all who asked and consoled regarding my father. You know how much it helps. He is dying. He is much stronger today. The Chinese herbs to stop the hemorraging in his stomach seem to be helping. He is eating. My brother brought him a pot of albondigas. It is difficult for him to swallow. But he eats. He was feeling well enough to agree, again, to the radiation treatments. Then cancelled his appointment that day they were to begin, and he opped to attend the opening instead where he was presented with a proclamation from the Mayor declaring April 6th "Cervantes Family Day" and he enjoyed it all very much. He is much stronger in voice now.

    On passing, he says, "Oh wow! I guess what it means is that you get to see everybody. Farout!"

    I will try the chaya, but I'll have to go there to get it.

    Avoiding the Muse; Or, "What Kind of Book Am I...?" (but, sung with passion)

    anyone else love the Jerry Lewis version best
    "No, hombre,! This is scary."

    You're Cat's Cradle!

    by Kurt Vonnegut

    You believe quite firmly that free will deserted you long ago and far
    away. As a result, it's hard to take responsibility for anything. Even though you show
    great potential as a leader of a small 3rd world country, the choices are all made ahead
    of time. You're rather fond of games involving string. Your fear of nuclear weaponry is
    trumped only by your fear of ice.

    Take the Book Quiz
    at the Blue Pyramid.

    first sticky rice cakes con puto, now this
    you know, I'm a dominant kisser, but "artfully"

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    "Corky's Next Elegy"


    a kingdom—blast
    withered amid the Bushes
    ...somewhere down
    that quarter by the water's edge
    ....there, but where?

    from his—a journal, and an April
    will not buy it again

    13 de abril
    he has passed on a portal day 13 Ahau

    c 2005 by Lorna Dee Cervantes

    "Corky's First Elegy"


    "He is somewhere down
    amid the withered
    sedge and alder bushes there
    by the water’s edge, but where?
    From that quarter his shrill blast
    sounded, but he is silent, and
    a kingdom will not buy it again."

    c/s Lorna Dee Cervantes: 13-Apr-2005

  • The Journal of Henry David Thoreau: 9-Apr-1856

  • ....

    Corky Gonzales passes on...

    Another email...
    "DENVER - A Denver human rights activist and leader of the Chicano movement has died. Rudolpho "Corky" Gonzales died at home Tuesday night, surrounded by his family. He was 76.

    Born in Denver in 1928 and a graduate of Manual High School, Gonzales literally fought his way out of poverty. He was a champion boxer, winning the national amateur athletic union bantamweight title in 1946.

    Gonzales became determined to overcome the discrimination that was common during those times. He campaigned for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and later organized "Crusade for Justice," an organization that worked to break down social barriers and advance the rights of Latinos and indigenous peoples in the 60s and 70s.

    In 1970, Gonzales founded the Escuela Tlatelolco, an alternative elementary and secondary school for Chicano students. His daughter Nita still runs the school.

    Supporters credit Gonzales with paving the way for Denver's first Latino civic leaders.

    Gonzales withdrew from public appearances after suffering a heart attack in 1978. He recently left the hospital, choosing to stop treatment for heart and kidney problems. Funeral services have not yet been announced.

    You can read more about the remarkable life of Rudolpho "Corky" Gonzales in Wednesday's Denver Post."

    c/o Daniel Escalante

    "I woke up early and see the emails on Corky & Creeley. I am still processing Octavio's passing. I am still writing elegies in my head. The words are like leaves that won't stay put on the tree."

    from "I Knew A Man" posted by Lorna Dee Cervantes on April 3, 2005 at 5:43 PM 

    New Zine: Xochiteca's Floricanto

    One of the things I intend to do with this site is use it to host another: Xochiteca's Floricanto. Hey, once a publisher always a publisher. Once you start folding and falling into that quartet, from 8 years old to 80, you just gotta make a book.

    My best friend, Xochiteca, has agreed to risk life & limb and play fall guy, bad guy & vile villanelle villain. I'll just serve the host. One of the reasons most litmags or literary publishing houses, especially any one marked "small" or, banks forbid, "poetry", are womaned by single owners or blood & money partners is that that's just the way it is for those of us who give life, heart's blood, breath, soul, and even baby's bread, for something the majority of the few could care very little about, if at all.

    But, there are those rare lonely birds who call, like H. D.'s hyla, and that's Thoreau, and who(m) should be heard whether they can spell or not—when they do—for they harken the fact that we're still here.

    So for now, until X ("FlowerChild") opens a box suitable for the deluge, you can send me a few of your best marked WEBZINE in the subject line and I will pass them on for a read. For, in this business, that's half the cake. They may be in English Spanish Maya Nahuatl or dressed in your granma's lace knickers, just no pajamas please, and no need for sombreros, we want to see the "real" you, particularly the brackets (braces are fine). Do show "sew chi" your degree of Xicanisma. "We don't need to show you no stinkin' badges." And, as always, no attachments or attachment, please. This is a plain text kinda place tho' we pine for enrichment, as if you didn't know. Just paste to email or send us a link. She will also be "publishing" great poems as "reviews" from other magazines or books. I will pass on all submission and correspondences. She will be tending the fields. Y'all will be reaping the harvest.

    Thusfar, she has picked the fruit of other gardens. And though she be barren herself, she always picks the best fruit of the season. What else are best friends for? I am so happy she has agreed to do this, I'm positively giggy, and that's a megabyte for ya. I can't wait to get cooking, although nothing beats stripping for Wobblies. "Those were the days, my friend."

    And as one fruit to another, some trees are slow, some get hit by hail. So expect something sometime soon. After all, IT'S NATIONAL POETRY MONTH. Watcha sittin there for like a duck on a log? Git up and POEM. And, pass the pixel.

    In true MANGO manner, all rights to the poems on the page or website are copyright of Xochiteca's Floricanto, with all rights reverting back to the author upon publication. (That's why I'm not rich, ese.)

    WARNING: THIS SITE IS PROTECTED BY P.E.T.A. (Poets for the Ethical Treatment of Artists) and WE PURSUE. (Researchers Unite!) c/s y qué

    So, How Much Is A Colored Girl In Higher Ed Worth?

    $50, 926 after 16 years & tenure. Gross.

    as my Iraq war counter peals off that increment in less than a second

    how's that for taxing?

    On Plucking A Rose From Rose; Or, On Trying to Open a Floral Shop

    I actually posted this on Formerly Rosie's site this morning:

    a rose of rose — plucked from Rosie O'Donnell's blog for A Lonely Bird In the Early Hours of Sky

    "barbra was right and wrong
    personally she exceeded my expectations in every way
    but everything did change for me
    a huge shift of perspective
    the illussion of celebrity –
    the distorted importance i placed on talent
    the seperation of me - us and them
    my world order had been shaken up,
    earthquakes n explosions - the lights dimmed
    a vacant space lay where hollywood heaven had been

    so i started rebuliding
    the scaffolding is now in place
    i pick my kids up from school each afternoon
    pure joy - baby brain confessions from bubble gum lips

    “you know mama i think i am in love with jenna”
    my son said to the back of my head
    how so i asked
    "it’s like there is a magnet in my hand, and one in hers
    they just go together - our hands – like magnets –
    do you think that is love?”
    yes parker, i do"

    from "December 2002" posted April 10, 2005 by
    Formerly Rosie
    Miracle of miracle's! You've dared the demon comments. Yellow is back! And Light, which is the presence of all.

    Hi Rosie (my mother's name), I'm a professional poet & former Director of Creative Writing at my university where I am an Associate Professor of English, currently on leave & sabbatical until '06. I wanted to write to you to ask permission to post this to my blog (welcome to the Blog! Now you're "Rosie From The Blog") but I already went ahead & did it. I couldn't resist it, it is so beautiful: poetry. See how you say: I do, that vow. That's how I framed the poem. "Barbra," that spelling, we know it's Babs as you are who you are, that's the connection. You have the most incredible line here: "pure joy - baby brain confessions from bubble gum lips." I tried it out on my 10 year old son & he laughed out loud with just the joy of how true and good that sounds, what I call "the unexpected inevitable" which makes for the "good" -ness in so much good poetry. I clipped & posted this in answer to another writer's blog, Teresa Ballard In the Early Hours of Sky (when else is a mother to write?) one of the first blogs I found, asking why she never reads about a writer's struggles writing (musing!) while parenting. Anyway, I'm new to this, as of early March, but early on I linked your site to my blog, so I'm sure you'll be visited by more literary (& cool) types as well. Keep blogging, Rosie. There is much poetry therein.

    Should you ever allow someone to pluck a nice bouquet of "Roses of Rose" for you and some lucky publisher, let me know how to apply for the job. I wouldn't change a word, just snip here & there from what's already written, maybe prune the bush, perhaps some Japanese arrangements or rearrangements. But true to the text, the Yellow.

    I am not a tv watcher, spent a couple of decades without it ("I like you best in motel rooms" ~Robert Pinsky) but they get you through your kids, doncha know? But I've seen your acting & standup early on. I started paying attention to the tabloids at the dentist when you came out, and especially after your activism. I liked what you said, I identify with your Spirit & spunk, especially when you quit the mag, and much more when you bunk the malarchy. Yeah. So when I caught your link on Blogger news, what the heck, I said, and I was hooked. I click on everyday & miss you when you're away. Thank the goddesses you ventured comments again, though I imagine they're being screened. Good for you. Turn em off, Turn em on. You're Queen of this Sheba. Love on. Green on. Peace on. Or, Quanta on, Lady.

    Down In the Frumps, So A Quick Wok Around the Blog

    My server has been down several times this week. One of those retro Merc thangs. I thought what I was paying for was a long long drive down this super duper highway, pero nooooo. Everything slowed down, even booting up which was weird. Can't even get through to The Company for the long line of complaints. But don't blame mac, my new set-up is the cat's lap. Heck, I don't even know how to drive this thing, much less how to work all the doodads. It pretty much drives itself. I just try, as always to look "out where yr going."

    So I haven't been able to respond to comments yet, or update the links. Or post my versions of the "royal wedding" poems, including the one from the PLE, the "official" poem. (can you believe he got away with the phrase "winter's wreckage" in their wedding poem?) Just play. Jeez, no one believes a poem is a poem anymore unless it's in quatrains--so I put it quatrains, changed the rhyme scheme, much as I hated to. And I wrote one for the zeitgeist, "The Barker of the Dupes," to the tune of a great song by Skeleton Key I found on a manga artist's blog from Japan, kind of piece I could do with my brother in a band. Whee. I want to add a place on the blog to post "flotsam," except that most would take that as an insult if they weren't devoted beachcombers like me. Maybe "jetsam" has a better ring? Except that flotsam would bear more booty. Jetsam being what one would sacrifice when sinking, something already selected, whereas in flotsam one might find some jewel of the wreckage, or the prize of something useful and rare when you least expect it, something comes along that you never knew you needed. And, ain't that a poem? Maybe "Flotsam & Jetsam", those things I find serendipitously while clicking on a phrase from a long scroll of recently updated blogs. (Hey, why won't mine update anymore on anyone else's site?)

    I've been wanting to take "A Quick Wok Around the Blog Before I Go" in order to comment on certain links on my site & why they are there, such as comment on a major long poem posted by one of my favorite poets and fellow fellows from P-Town, Cynthia Huntington in Love and Salt ((((((((CYNTHIA!!!!))))))) which should be entitled, "Shot By Suzy Creamcheese." (sorry, Cynthia, I'm riffing off your title, the only thing I'd change in all those lines.) This is a stunningly important poem. I wish I had written it, wanted to write it, was thinking of attempting it, and now it's done, and so mistressfully, and now I don't have to, just take off on its wing. like Hummingbird out from Eagle's beating heart. Yes, isn't this why we are all here, when we are, doing exactly this very thing now? We will never be able to thank you enough, Cynthia. "My head thanks you, my heart thanks you, my vagina thanks you...".

    And lastly, I just had to have adobo for dinner last night. Yes, comfort food. I'll be posting what's for dinner sometime soon en La Cocina, recipe from Dr. Lolo's Famous Adobo, he's a real M.D. Tag on Tagalog. Me, myself, I'm a sticky rice cake who can make a mean adobo, pancet y lumpia (poet on, Pilipinos! Ahoy, pinoys!) How did I learn how to do that? Well, no one should leave this planet before first reading Carlos Bulosan. I grew up in San Jose, my mother's generation were the girls one could marry. There was always somebody's uncle to feed. Besides, I was once the World's Worst Waitress in a Filipino restaurant. How bad was bad? I once served a customer who ordered red wine ("The house wine will do") a glass of fermented pig's blood. Hey, what did I know from wine? I was looking for a bottle with the label "House Wine." I'm pertnear a tea tottler. Back then, when I did drink a bit, I drank beer with the boys. I looked in the fridge for red wine, found a bottle of wine that looked good. He approved the label, ya know? Now I'm a total tea tottler, and from the look on his twisted & blood-red face back then, I'd say he is, too.

    But, they did trust me take charge of the lumpia and I refined a few of my favorite dishes.

    So, what kind of Dish am I? My sticky rice cake description says that most folk can't figure out what the heck I'm made of ("Are you a yam?" "You must be cake." "I can't believe this is not butter." "Samoan?" "Madelleine?" ad nauseum "What?? She quotes Hans Bethe & Rosie O'Donnell in the same blog!?" "Laureate Lalo y Pinsky?!") But, another thing that is definitely true about me: I always seemed to be "paired with some puto. CYMBAL CRASH!..." Hey, note the quotes, but I get it, and it's true. (this stuff is scary) "Some of my best friends are putos" or, in other words, in other's senses, I always taste best "sprinkled with freshly grated coconut." So try me with a shred of my fovorite coco loco, there's always good coconuts in his house, grated fresh daily @ Alivianate El Coco, tended by Reyes Cardenas. It's good for the head, real brain food & it can heal what ails you & coconut oil can burn all night in your own writing lamp. "There's always hot coco in this house." (One of my all-time favorite lines of poetry, I find it coming to me in odd and sizzling moments, is from the poet, Jessica Hagedorn: "There's always hot water in this house.")

    Time to Greeze!

    LD aka La Bird ~ "Sprinkle me! Sprinkle me!" "Oh Baby, now you're such a drag..."

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Andrea Dworkin - Dead at 58

    I just found this from
  • Arse Poetica

  • Feminist Andrea Dworkin Dead at 58

    RIP, Andrea Dworkin. I left the following message on the Memorial Message Board at Dworkin's website, and I'm placing it here because it is how I feel, and I do not have more to add. If Dworkin's work meant something to you, I hope you'll consider leaving a message.

    I read Dworkin's Pornography with great interest many years ago while researching my thesis, and I was struck by Dworkin's fierce eloquence and strength of conviction on such a polarizing subject. I believe she was, above all, one who held us to be our better selves in defense of others, and not just when we felt like it. The resistance she faced speaks volumes about how precious, how guarded, and how fraught our most private moments are.

    I am sad to hear of Andrea's passing, and I send my deepest condolences to those who loved her. I wondered many times if we would have had her voice if she had had more peace in her life. I thank her for her unwavering commitment to women's sexual safety and expression and hope that she has peace now. I will revisit some of her writings now to remember why I sought her out in the first place.

    Dworkin's partner of 30 years, John Stoltenberg, wrote a beautiful essay in 1994 about their life together. It reads now as a moving obituary of a shared life -- mindful, loving, mutually reinforcing and challenging, as all good partnerships should be. Knowing the pain Dworkin suffered, I was happy to be reminded by Stoltenberg that Andrea was able to share in the security of a rich partnership for most of her life. Upon Dworkin's death, Stoltenberg released information prepared by Dworkin, the catalogue of her life's efforts. I don't have an outside link, because it was sent to me via a listserv. I have placed her Lifetime CV, as I call it, here. Sincerest condolences to John Stoltenberg, a loyal friend, comrade, and partner.

    [P.S. So, why did I have to learn about this from Pen-Elayne? Rhetorical question. The MSM just got wind of this story a couple of hours ago. Apparently news of influential feminists' deaths travels first across the pond.]

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    "Quantum Theory Made Relatively Simple" - 3 lectures by Hans Bethe

    Arthur Miller, in his autobiography, Timebends, quoted the great physicist Hans Bethe as saying, “Well, I come down in the morning and I take up a pencil and I try to think.”

  • Bethe-video lectures

  • Bethe-video 1

  • Bethe-video 2

  • Bethe-video 3

  • Bethe-introduction
  • Where In the World is Lorna?

    THIS SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 7:30 - Poetry Flash @ Cody's
    Cody's Books • 2454 Telegraph Avenue (at Haste) • Berkeley

    Lorna Dee Cervantes has published two books, Emplumada, which won an American Book Award in 1981, and From the Cables of Genocide, Poems on Love and Hunger, which won the Paterson Prize for Poetry and the Latino Literature Award. Her work has been widely anthologized, in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Unsettling America, No More Masks!, After Aztlan, Latino Poets of the Nineties, and elsewhere. Joy Harjo says of her poetry, "Lorna Dee Cervantes is a daredevil.…We are transfixed as she juggles rage, cruelties, passion. There is no net. Seven generations uphold the trick of survival. No one is alone in this amazing act of love." She will be reading from her 5-volume "pentych of poetry" ("How Far's the War?", BIRD AVE, Play, Letters to David A. Kennedy, and Hard Drive) to be published by Wings Press, October 12, 2005, in a special hard-bound first edition of all 5 books entitled DRIVE: The First Quartet.

    Opal Palmer Adisa is a poet, fiction writer, storyteller, and critic. Her new book of poems is Caribbean Passion; among her publications are the novel The Orishas Command the Dance, the book of stories Until Judgment Comes, the books of poetry Leaf-of-Life and traveling women, Bake-Face and Other Guava Stories, the children's book Pina, the Many-Eyed Fruit, and much else. Born in Jamaica, she learned storytelling from her grandfather and great grandaunt and has performed widely. A professor of Literature and Creative Writing and former chair of Ethnic Studies/ Cultural Diversity at CCA, she given much back to her Oakland community through a variety of workshops for young people, women on welfare, prisoners, educators and students. Donation: $2.
    Parking is available at the Durant/Channing Garage; Cody's will validate one hour of parking with purchase.

    Cody's Books: 510/845-7852 • Poetry Flash: 510/525-5476 

    THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 3-5PM - Bay Area PEN Writers

    Join me for an intimate afternoon of poetry, process, wine and cheese with local PEN writers in Berkeley this Saturday. Leave a comment with addy here or email me if you're interested in attending. If you know Brenda Webster, you can contact her directly for more information. Space is limited. All are welcomed at no charge, but membership in PEN is appreciated.

    You might catch me at my father's exhibit with Susan Kelk Cervantes and The Precita Eyes Mural Center at the San Francisco City Hall.

    I'll be in the Bay Area this friday until Tuesday afternoon, from SF to Santa Cruz/Cabrillo. I'll be glad to hitch my hey to any last minute gigs or classes. I will be returning for a lengthy stay or several times in May.


    Snail Mail:

    Professor Lorna Dee Cervantes
    English Department
    UCB 226
    University of Colorado
    Boulder, Colorado 80309-0226

    opened the door to this at the Poetry Hut

    A new book meme circulating around the sphere is going by the name “123.5,” and its rules are these:

    1. Grab the nearest book.
    2. Open the book to page 123.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
    5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

    “The point is this: the legal definition of ‘intoxicating liquor’ is, though perhaps unscientific and absurd, perfectly fixed and objective.”

  • The Poetry Hut wordpress
  • "A Portrait Poem" From 'Rough Portrait' by Barbara Jacobs


    from "ROUGH PORTRAIT" by Barbara Jacobs

    Attracted by the jackets
    of their dagger breasts,

    one year varnished, two years
    placed in a wooden bookcase,

    my sister, my mother. Naked
    women, polished and buried

    deep in their ample books.
    My father and I, he himself,

    attracted—my naked year
    buried deep—two wooden years.

    c 2005 Lorna Dee Cervantes

    there goes the day with the 11 past deadline, day 4 before leaving for Bay Area readings

    NOTE: All BVSD schools are closed today, Monday, April 11, due to snow-covered and icy roads in the Boulder and mountain areas.   For more details... CLICK HERE.

    nothing to do but didgeridoo
    it's a sign from the gods, the ancestors

    i'll practice a poem with my 10 year old son on his handmade didgeridoo
    maybe the ancestors poem

    the postcard out my window
    is heavy with the new

    o you tv show
    from the icy fifties

    lend me your age

    page 123, line 5: "polished one year and varnished two years later—that had naked women..."

    "My sister and I were attracted by the jackets of my father's books—those he himself placed in two wooden bookcases my mother would have polished one year and varnished two years later—that had naked women with daggers buried deep in their ample breasts."

    from "Rough Portrait" by Bárbara Jacobs, translated by David Unger in WRITING ON THE EDGE: a borderlands reader
    page 123, line 5 in the closest book at hand

    a rose of rose — plucked from Rosie O'Donnell's blog for A Lonely Bird In the Early Hours of Sky

    "barbra was right and wrong
    personally she exceeded my expectations in every way
    but everything did change for me
    a huge shift of perspective
    the illussion of celebrity –
    the distorted importance i placed on talent
    the seperation of me - us and them
    my world order had been shaken up,
    earthquakes n explosions - the lights dimmed
    a vacant space lay where hollywood heaven had been

    so i started rebuliding
    the scaffolding is now in place
    i pick my kids up from school each afternoon
    pure joy - baby brain confessions from bubble gum lips

    “you know mama i think i am in love with jenna”
    my son said to the back of my head
    how so i asked
    "it’s like there is a magnet in my hand, and one in hers
    they just go together - our hands – like magnets –
    do you think that is love?”
    yes parker, i do"

    from "December 2002" posted April 10, 2005 by
  • Formerly Rosie

  • ALonelyBirdInTheEarlyHoursOfSky
  • Saturday, April 09, 2005

    Thoreau's Journal: 9-Apr-1856

    Sorry, but I just had to yank a hank of Hank.

    I made it an annual ritual for a decade, from the time I was 13, to read Henry David Thoreau. (What happened to my copy of the journal???) I had a special old oak in Willow Glen Park with a hidden branch I would climb into, a crook I could fold a sarape into, and birds, birds, birds. Mostly it was deep shade but at 4pm in the spring a bath of light would nest there, turning true gold, then salmon and blue. Every spring weekend, reading into summer break. Catching these lines just now, now I know why I love Thoreau in April.

    "From that quarter his shrill blast sounded, but he is silent, and a kingdom will not buy it again."

    Thoreau's Journal: 9-Apr-1856

    I go off a little to the right of the railroad, and sit on the edge of that sand-crater near the spring by the railroad. Sitting there on the warm bank, above the broad, shallow, crystalline pool, on the sand, amid russet banks of curled early sedge-grass, showing a little green at base, and dry leaves, I hear one hyla peep faintly several times. This is, then, a degree of warmth sufficient for the hyla. He is the first of his race to awaken to the new year and pierce the solitudes with his voice. He shall wear the medal for this year. You hear him, but you will never find him. He is somewhere down amid the withered sedge and alder bushes there by the water’s edge, but where? From that quarter his shrill blast sounded, but he is silent, and a kingdom will not buy it again.

    The communications from the gods to us are still deep and sweet, indeed, but scanty and transient,—enough only to keep alive the memory of the past. I remarked how many old people died off on the approach of the present spring. It is said that when the sap begins to flow in the trees our diseases become more violent. It is now advancing towards summer apace, and we seem to be reserved to taste its sweetness, but to perform what great deeds? Do we detect the reason why we also did not die on the approach of spring?

    posted by Greg at 1:19 AM 0 observation(s)
  • Henry David Thoreau Blog
  • Friday, April 08, 2005

    "Which of the Greek Gods or Goddesses are You?"

    Found this link while Avoiding the Muse via the Virtual World via A nest of Birds. How telling.


    ?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
    brought to you by Quizilla

    How cool is that?

    My secret ambition in life has always been to become a Man of Letters.

    "Fetch me my owl, Hegel!"

    On Saving the Queen...

    I posted this to aol yesterday. They were asking for poems, but I missed the deadline by 17 minutes. So, I decided to post it the aol message board.

    Anyone have an in with the future King of England? How does one apply for the job of Poet Laureate of England? I would save the Queen hogsheads of sherry.


    Subject: Re: for real poem for them
    Date: 4/8/05 12:36:11 AM EDT
    Author: LornaDeeCe

    Rating: 50% of 4
    people liked this post.
    Do you? Yes or No

      Thank you for your rating.  

    I just wanted to say that I despise them, and mourned Diana's passing and sad life. I thought it'd be a challenge to pretend I was the Poet Laureate of England with the obligation of trying to write a decent poem about something so antithetical to what one is feeling. I tried to write a real poem which meant I had to try and empathize, to put myself in their souls.

    Weird task.

    Rating: 50% of 4 people liked this post. Do you? Yes or No 

    "Of Camellias in Love's Garden"

    Of Camellias in Love's Garden

    What the heart knows
    hands give back
    to the earth—love's bounty.
    Love's rime, a coat of age
    seeding the furrows. Time's fine
    liquid in the eyes of one,
    beloved unto death, blessed
    in the dawn of her eyes—once more
    quickening. All truth tells
    in the twinned shoots daring
    the frozen fields, the fragrance blooming
    true on thickened wax, flush
    evergreen: evertrue. The sweet
    sap of April, the old thrust,
    the bonds between them, an endless
    hush. And, now, the bright buds of May,
    bursting with happiness, are harkening
    on the bough. Take this, thy ring, thine hand
    in thee, and with these things, these
    tendrils and madrigals of a fair
    awakening, I give you these halves,
    these now made whole, these sacred
    vows opening to the sun on her hair, to
    the heart beating there, sire
    of love in love with the evergreen
    camellia. Let the bloom and rebloom
    of love's imagining blossom.
    Let the lapping of faith through the land
    carve its face upon the sandstone
    of the tender age. Let a single graft
    perpetuate in a filial kiss of fate. Let
    love navigate, and wait. And lift her
    grace, and this man's place
    beside her, coiled inside love's
    heart-shaped locket. And, a new world,
    celebrate—this taste, this ancient wine
    and twine of souls—a matrimony.

    For Charles and Camilla on the occasion of their marriage
    April 9, 2005

    c 2005 Lorna Dee Cervantes

    On Saving Hans Bethe

    I first noticed him from the bus. About a block away I could see a frail bent form quivering on the corner. I was picking up any late final manuscripts in my box or slipped under my door from my summer intro to poetry workshop. My stop was the next one, but traffic being what it is "on The Hill" and my wanting to reach the English office before lunch (I wasn't sure that I had brought my key) I figured I could walk there faster than the bus could take me and, it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, I'm a walker anyway, and I wanted to just swoop in and out, back to my backyard to read poetry manuscripts (I never did like or understand the term final "portfolios", we're going for the first book here, and the integrity therein.) But, I'm sure the reason I ducked out the bus at that stop, after a long line and wait while people loaded bikes and a wheelchair was being lowered, was to save the Austrian mathematician and nuclear astrophysicist who worked with Oppenheimer and Max Planck on our final solution, The Manhattan Project, Hans Bethe.

    I thought he would have crossed the street by the time I walked up to him. I could see him, wobbling on his crooked cane amid the passing clusters of students moving like hungry pigeons, ignoring him, obviously taking him for a drunk homeless man, or, in the least, none of their business. I could see that he was frail, maybe confused, he was sweating profusely and moving slow from the palsy. It seemed that as soon as he got his cane and step and hand coordinated enough to look up and speak, the person would look away & walk past. I kept my gaze steady and I was already close enough to touch him and saying, "Can I help you?" by the time he looked up at me and pleaded, "Help. Would you help me?" Certainly, I said. And I did.

    Our entire encounter, my helping him get across Euclid from the corner of Broadway, and up the stairs and inside the Student Union where he could phone his wife and take his medicine lasted approximately 2 & a half hours. He had to walk that slow, and later, I realized that we had taken the exact route, cutting sideways across traffic, and through the side door through the art gallery to the phones, which he had calculated to be the shortest trajectory conserving the most amount of energy. During these hours we talked.

    One of things I wanted to do in this blog is tell some stories of the dead. So that the stories would not die and the names would not be forgotten. Also, there have been certain encounters in my life, certain seemingly impossible occurances of circumstance, impossible coincidence. This is one occasion which left me stunned, maybe for life. The chance encounter. The Chicana poet and the nuclear astrophycist. Hand in hand. The man whose calculations made Hiroshima a misery and Hell on earth a possibility, that man and an anti-nuclear activist meet, and she helps him across the street. What made it even more extraordinary is that I saw him again, his wife was wheeling him down the incline from the Student Union, almost the exact spot where we had met before. And we talked. I was so glad to see him alive. He would have died that day, and we both knew it was true. After typing up the draft of the following poem, I realized I had misunderstood his name (we were discussing Karl Popper) and I googled up his obituary, March 8, and a video of him delivering a lecture at his "retirement home" in Ithaca. He was 97 years old at the time of our encounter.

    My doctoral work at UC Santa Cruz was not in poetry, but the poetic imagination: Ecopoetics, a word & concept I coined from something the poet & anthropologist, JuanFelipe Herrera had written on one of his several litmags in the early 70s, Red Trapeze? Tin Tan? a Journal of art and ecopoetics, or something like that. I was studying semiotics & rhetoric of the signified with Hayden White and Continental philosophy with David Hoy, and feminist critical theories with Teresa deLauretis, and cultural criticism, ethnography and decolonial consciousness with Jim Clifford, and indigenous philosphies on my own in 1984, a good year to begin studying power and language. My, unfinished, dissertation had a working title of Ecopoetics: The Semiotics of the Poetic Imagination. It was to be a comparative study & analysis of two instances of cultural production and the instantiation of ideology: the work of blues musician, singer and composer, "Memphis Minnie," and the Weimer Republic, its "failure" in a certain way in relation to Hitler, Goebbels, and the rise of Nazism within the same historical period, 1911-1947. At the time, it seemed an impossible task (would I have to learn to speak German??!), and I took leave after my completing my coursework, decided I desperately needed to change my dreamscape after a painful divorce and set out to find Joy, literally, I came here, to Boulder, to see Joy, and I missed her by one day, and ended up with her job. I've been here ever since, too long past joy. I set out to become a philosopher, not teach poetry which I have always considered to be a contradiction in terms. I figured the world was ready for a Xicana philosopher. I knew it had taken me 20 years before I could, confidently, say that I *knew* anything about poetry. I knew it would take me 20 years before I could, confidently, write philosophy. I figured 50 was a good age to begin. I was 49 last summer, and planning my return for my doctorate, which meant returning to my original dissertation which had gotten bogged down, pre-911, divining an appropriate poetic symbol as "masterpiece" that could change and shape a nation's ideology in a day. The threat of planetary nuclear holocaust, although it works for some, just didn't seem to be the seme I was searching, fairly formless. ("unforma...give your fears a shape" ~Robert Hass) I was writing about Fredric Jameson's "Political Unconscious" and a critique of Postmodernity. The bulk of my writing was on the French chemist/physicist turned philosopher, Gaston Bachelard. "Poetry is the soul inaugurating a form."

    What did I know from Nazis and the blues? I ask myself. What does a poet know from theoretical physics? It's a 12 chord progression.

    Since then, I have had several extraordinary instances of the disseration coming to life; it walks around, like in Neruda's poem, tired of being a man; it longs to dance in real time.

    It takes us an hour to cross the street, from the time we leave the curb to the time we lift up to the other. Cars with red-faced men-children begin to honk at us after the fifth light cycle. I put on my best Loisaida face and mime: "We're walking here! Waddaya gonna do, run the old man down?" when that is, clearly, what they would prefer to do. I am conscious of the fact that I look like the old man's nurse, Spanish-speaking and minimum waged under the table. But kind. I remember at that moment that last semester a student, a young woman of 20, was run down and killed in this very spot. I know that if I were alone, frail or not, one of these students would kill me to get to wherever they are going. They can wait, I think. This man needs to get across the street to take his pills. This man has a Nobel price, and all you are is late.

    He thanks me, profusely, over and over again. He is so grateful he is resorting (retrograding? regressing?) to "feminine speech" patterns. "And, such a lovely lady," he adds, after saying that I am "so kind." Lovely, a word I'll tolerate having never been pretty, in any culture, (something to do with being off the Golden Mean) the word my ex used and it sounded true, so in love were we. "Love-ly." I am in love. We are getting married at the end of that month, on a Blue Moon. I am dressed in jeans, probably, I am not teaching that day or meeting with anyone, just there, by chance at that time, to check my box for those who just can not resist the final revision, even if it means losing the final grade. I want to accomodate. He says I should just leave him off at the other side of the street ("Why did the nuclear physicist cross the road? ..."). "Absolutely not." I say. And then add, "I won't hear of it," feeling rather Victorian to match his fading Austrian accent. He says he has kept me long enough, and feels bad to be taking so much of my time. "I have nothing to do today," I say, "except wash my dishes and read poetry." As it is difficult for him to manage all the synaptical exchanges necessary to coordinate more than a few movements at a time, he has to stop, an already halting crawl (I swear, most insects would have crossed the street before us) in front of a raging, pink-faced white boy, to turn and look at me, scanning me as well, as if for the first time, from my tangled mane to my shoes. I tell him that I am just on campus to pick up my mail, "late papers I have to grade." I think the look he gives me, that wonder, has to do with the fact of reading "poetry" but later, I realize, I had been talking to a man who has never washed a dish in his life, and neither has any professor he has ever known, male or female. Not to mention, the utter possibility of those two words ever serving in the same sentence. Ecopoetics=house work. "You are a professor?" "Yes," I answer, "Associate Professor of English." I learned 16 years ago, how the title is a golden key in a college town, not that any of those gilded doors, once opened, didn't slam shut again. "Ah!" he says, "then we are colleagues." You were a professor here?" I ask. He looks rumpled and crazy. He looks drunk, but is not. I forgive the students who left an old man on the corner to die. They know not what they do. "Many years ago," he says, "before you were born," he adds, returning kindness. "In what department?" "Physics."

    "What the hell?" I think, and the poet in me adds, "a nuclear hell," I'm going to talk to him. I figure he will die today. No one but ourselves will ever witness this conversation. I tended my grandmother who was invalid in the last year of her life. I understand how old he is, can empathise, I imagine, with what he is feeling. Both the acceptance and the resistance. "Well," I say, pausing a moment too long in my secret in-joke, the inner pun I always seem to have going, as in "be well" and "well with tears at the thought of the lack" and poking a stick in the ground for meaning and thirst, and all the many definitions of the word, "what do I know? I'm a poet. I was hired to teach poetry workshops. Unlike Einstein, I never think in numbers. But," and here I pause, awed at what I am about to do, this breaking my silence, this hand-in-hand with the New Science; a First World chair, "one thing I do know, as a poet, is that the one thing physics, the "new physics," teaches us is that our separation from the "world" or each other is an illusion. Just like those kids hurrying to lunch, thinking that their bodies have nothing to do with anyone else's. The illusion that we are all individual entities when, in fact, we share the same bonds, being formed and broken, whether we are aware of them or not. And, for the most part not. But that's poetry, the poetic consciousness, our consciousness of matter, whether we can put it in words or not, a way of observing matter and the relations of matter—for what matters. Like today. This is what studying physics, not the formulas, theoretical physics, the written accounts, Heisenberg, Planck... has taught me, that I am not apart from anyone else. We are all connected in Spirit. So I help you. What is your name?"

    "Popper," he answers, or rather, I think he answers at the time, but instead, I realize today, he is adding to my list of accounts, and/or persons I should read or a synopsis of exactly what I am trying to say, that changing (spiral) paradigm. Karl Popper. I recite a quote I just heard the other night, with T, on Dyers show from one of them, Planck or Bohr, I forget now, and I don't want to know, because the next thing he says is that he worked with them all and knew them quite "well." "A good man, ...!" and "... was a bad, bad man, a terrible man!" Remember that the theme of the day was kindness. As he spoke, I was aware of who, exactly he was, I figured he was the mathematician, as those were the ones I knew least about. In high school, and later, for my dissertation, I had read everything there was to read in English about the making of the Atomic bomb. Robert Oppenheimer, a wanna be poet who carried the Bagavad (sp?) Gita in his back pocket while Teller threw up to the sight/site of that Gonzo mushroom of destruction. Robert was Stanley's friend and influence. I consider Stanley Kunitz one of my mentors (gurus) althugh I never studied with him—physically. They both loved the Country parson whose name I can't recall right now, but I know the effect of his poetry on me in those *high* school years, as that is my particular curse, forgetting the names and not being able to recite the lines by rote; it is a miracle that I could recite the passage from ... at that moment. He waxes in the fond recall. I am able to let him know that I am familiar with those of whom he speaks, and apologize for my ignorance of him, my lack of math skills, etc., and he tells me stories. By that time, we are scaling the Lyons sandstone steps. He insists on climbing them alone. His cane is crooked at the end so that he could pry it under his foot as he steps, something about the physical texture or grounding that stalls the palsied shaking, his tremors are like aftershocks from a major eruption. He is best when he touches the large sandstone blocks that facade the walls of the institution. He walks best for lack of a solid plane, when he is balancing on the faux river-rock walkway or the jagged slabs of flagstone. I can't help but say, isn't it interesting, that in the end, for all our ego and id, we still need the earth, we need the gravity of rock to sustain us? Yes, he says. "Yes."

    I tell him about my unfinsihed dissertation. I talk to him about Gaston. I talk to him (E)arnestly and honestly, all of my misgivings about the feasibility of my knowledge. I talk to him about indigenous thought, the epistomology that destroyed my line of pedigree and led to "my" epistomological, and physical, annihilation. There is barely the trace of the Indian remaining. It is summer; my "nutritionally deficiant" wrist looks black in his grasp. I tell him, again, "what do I know?" He stops, completely, makes sure he meets my eyes in the saying, and says, deliberately:

    "You are right."

    And how does one note that on her Faculty Report of Professional Activities for the year? Something I have been doing for the past week, typing it into the microsoft form I am forced to comply, knowledge and art and product confined to the characters in a virtual box and assigned an unknown (to me) mathematical formula of comprehension and value. I have been away from this blog, typing up my Brownie points for a badge.

    Both the acceptance and the resistance.

    Two different forms of matter may almost touch, shoulders apart, and something new is formed (formulated) in the wake of their separation. Does anyone know what this is called? There's a formula for it. But nothing in words.

    Or, That's Poetry.

    I should have said, "No, thank *you*, Hans Bethe. You are a lovely man."

    The weighty matter in death is the regret at what we thought we never had the time to say.

    The following poem was a series of "notes' I thought I was jotting down that day, having, I think, already talked the poem to T that evening. I typed it up on the blog, aware at the time of our meeting, and later, that this was going to be part of my series of long poems, quartets entitled "Bananas," "Coffee," "Oil," "Californium, and. possibly, "Chaya." I'm trying to finish Oil & Californium now, I'm past deadline for these books (they are all from "How Far's the War?")

    I'll be inserting a link soon to video of Hans Bethe's talk at his nursing home.

    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    On Saving Hans Bethe—a fragment from long poem, "Californium"



    I was holding the hand of Hiroshima,
    I was palming the damaged workers
    in the holes of a nuclear hell.
    I was holding a frail nation
    up by the arm, propping
    aristocracy up by the delicate
    wrist. My covetous place
    finally, firmly in lockstep
    with the withered Age
    of Reason. Here,
    take my hand,
    talk of peace,
    the Big Bang
    and the Final Dis-
    I have only dishwater to waste,
    what we do with our hands & heart,
    as we take a serious trajectory
    through a vaguing past
    and the fairied future,
    as we weave in slo-mo
    through the impatient face
    of now in its shimmering
    vehicles. Let it wait.
    Let me clutch the hand that
    drove us into space. Let me
    guide the calculation of the race
    to his place of rest, into
    the formula of fusion and the
    fission of our final desti-
    nation. Wait.


    Monday, April 04, 2005

    from "Chaya, V"



    The frigate doesn't always get
    her fish. She dives. She plunges
    in, her heart in her head. All of the morter
    in her wings, aloft; alive with the bounty
    of best. Again.

    We earned this battle. History,
    forgotten four times over, the foreigner
    always wins. The vanquished concedes
    the sugar. We've given all we got.
    Now we are the receivers, the perceivers
    feeling our way past destiny.
    What we are is a bitten fruit
    gazing into the sacrifice
    of the sun; the rotations of the hemispheres
    known to us a millenia before
    NASA. We receive the data of the dead
    on the butterflies flight—those tourists
    to the nine unknowns, the first explorers
    stitching the continents back into the memory of when
    they were one vast turtle's back.
    Perceivers of the nine dimensions
    —what isn't said in words.

    You burned the books
    so you wouldn't know.
    We burned the books
    so you wouldn't take
    more. More of the same,
    the pillage and rape
    of the deepest dark, the grand
    debauch in another country, on
    another tongue, the conquering
    of the mind. I didn't say
    you did this. I say
    this is history. It is not
    the song.

    We sing in our sleep, wake
    remembering—how not to kill
    for the shape of the Other's fears,
    how to feed the mouths that
    say us. Speak to me not of dreams,
    but of the songs you hear in your head,
    the Mother Tongue lapping at the banks
    of worlds. The New World crumbling
    in on ourselves, all the towers imploding,
    the twin desires caving in to empathic
    imagination. We are how we imagine
    the other to be. Let us be
    happy in the pursuit of peace. Free
    to stand for as long as we want
    without some other saying,
    "No! You can't stand here.
    This is mine,"
    without imagining
    another country
    same as the rest.

    c 2005 Lorna Dee Cervantes
    from the forthcoming book, "How Far's the War?"
    (Book 1 of DRIVE: The First Quartet, Wings Press, Oct. 2005)
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