Thursday, June 30, 2005

"Famous" Rose. . .

. . .in the Café today. Read Rosie O'Donnell's new poem for Tom Cruise here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Terry McMillan & Company - Is It Fiction Or Memorex? Or, On How Stella Lost Her Groove & Then Just Lost It (drive/ she sd)

Prologue: Most spelling is intentional.

This from a blog that's been on my coffee table a long time from a writer who can come to my house any old time, or even a young one, Mohogany Browne keeping the Big Apple shiny. (Click on her name to read the dirt on Waiting to Exhale author, Terry McMillan: love, loss, bank accounts, no accounts, divorce & homophobia.)

I could be rich. Instead of baking hobo apple pie (recipe to follow, some blog, I promise; Part 2 of Hobo Cookery forthcoming, as I am oft' apt to be) and huevos rancheros — tamales from scratch, arroz con pollo, inventive recipes from discounted and clearance condiments, leftover Jewish holiday stock is the best, Cinco de Mayo next — which 't aint so bad. Hanging out here in life's Victory Garden. "If he's so famous how come he's not rich?" asked my son about my father at his recent memorial & regarding this year's mayoral proclamation declaring April 6th "Susan & Luis Cervantes Day" In San Francisco. "That's not what it's about," I answer, quoting his often heard phrase around his always bountiful dinner table.

Death is expensive.


Layered like a hobo potato pie.

I could have been rich. In answer to one of those questions which don't interest me, as a writer, nearly as much as "What Was I Doing At 17," regarding literary repect or fame & fortune—and which are you gonna choose? I always did detest the either/or & had a secret lust for Kierkegaard ("I'd show him God," I said to myself at 17) and as I would do if required to perform any literary—I almost typed 'military' & let it stand, but I know how my rollercoaster logic must be hard enough to read as it is sometimes & I wouldn't want to get the blame for it: typing against the government or some other Kafka's choice—"exercise"; I'd find another way to do what I want. But do it.

And do it well. (A bowl of water?) ("And, thou..."?) As Saint Gramma always said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well."

Well, back to hobo pie. And having to take a ticket.

Joseph Papp once bought my ticket to be a one-day worm in the Big Apple. And I gladly took it. It was better than an eye. And I got to be the lost seed, finding her groove in the grooviest world on earth: The National Writers Union...Convention? Conference? Gathering? Uh, I was mostly into the Union part of it, and poetry. Sitting amongst the idols, true gentle giants of literary genius; seated on a panel on Poetry & Politics (hey, I just go where they point me) with Audrey Lorde (& deeply disappointed over Brodsky's absence) and others I wouldn't want to name for the exclusion and the consequences of my hard drive, so to speak. All the (living) luminaries of my childhood, all My Black Muses, smiling and shaking my hand. Gwendolyn, for the second time. Jerzy Kozinsky fixed me with a smoky stare 40 minutes long and long down the hall of desiny and around the dim corner of fate. What a winsome half-lear to go with that eye half-cocked, face chisled as a fighting cock. Definitely dangerous and delicious. All his books in my matching stare, the double dare, there. He had eyes the color of my own, eyes the color of yes. Lock stepped. And unaware. My marriage vow of silence. The groove not taken. "y volver, volver, VOLVER. . .".

I got to talk to Joe Papp. We had met earlier, when I was a guest of Miguel Algarín, when I was spending those years working for free good poetry, sucking in mangos beneath the nourishing roar of the waterfall (think Paterson and other modes of dynamos) that was/is The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. That spell. El Coco Que Habla (RIP) to the slick white suits of stanzas from newly NEA knighted Noel Rico. Joe & I were once waiting for Amiri to sign books at the Theater, and the others, Miguel, Amina, were chatting with someone, maybe Ntozake: wearing a white transparent blouse (without a jacket) long before anyone wore anything transparent as anything other than a personal/political statement, much less braless—and it was just Joe & I for nearly 2 hours, me not realizing who he was; we talked about small press, my rasquache printing set-up in my cocina, cheap good stuff right away, the masses aren't asses even though Pedro Pietri's perky & pricky play says they are. (Book review: Google a rare copy of The Masses Are Asses by Pedro Pietri. And anything else by him. He's good.) We talked for a long time; he seemed interested in the technical details of the press and I was always a sucker for talkin' shop, how you make do with what you have. (It's doing it well that makes it "rasquache" and not cheap.)

I never thanked him for the ticket. He startled me by asking me to come to NY to work on a production for the theater based upon "Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway." I told him thanks but no thanks, as politely and quickly as I could. I told him he could do whatever he wanted to do with the poem or the book, but, more or less, leave me out of it. "But, I'm a poet." Seemed reasonable to me. He tried for a long time to convince me. He assured me that I could do whatever I wanted, even just stand there and read. No. "But, I'm a poet." Not that I couldn't play the part. I started out in Po-Biz via Chicano Theater and acted in lead roles in junior high through community college and was up for the lead in a community theater production of Wait Until Dark when I sprained an ankle, badly, on the day I was called in for first rehearsal; so I knew theater, and what a theatrical production entailed—from any role. But, no. I'm a poet. He had just had a smashing success with Ntozake's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf" and was going into rehearsals for Linda Rondstadt's "Pirates of Penzance" (sp?) (I've been up odd hours with this book/s.) Linda is one of My Ladies & down with her xicanisma, but even that wasn't a big enough carat for me to switch to the fruit bowl. It was like telling a really nice guy who happens to be crazy rich, thanks for the proposal. "But, I'm not *in* love with you." But I'll always love you.

And then he died.

Don't get me wrong, there was nothing romantic. Strickly Post-Romantic Tragedy with a musical twist. For all I know, Joe Papp was gay. None of my business. I've always preferred the company of men (none of your business), to be one of the boys, little sister to the lead guitarist & never the groupie; my best friends, who were never lovers, have all been gay men. Or lesbian women (and, no, that's not a redundant construction) because they just 'act right.' (None of your business.)

But, I'm a poet. In a way, everything I say is suspect. Who cares? A poet may never be America's next American Idol. But, it's a channel. And current, if not good currency.

Orlando Ramírez circa then: "Can I go into the Safeway and say/ the reason you should cash my check/ is that I'm a poet with a steady muse?" Quoting from memory so don't hold me to the breaks.

To break or not to break. That is the question. Whether it's Nobeler to suffer the sings and bellows of lesser editors/ Or bask in the sorrow of Sunshine (what the main light on a lead in a 'motion picture' is called) ("We'll sing in the sunshine/ we'll laugh everydaaaaaaay/ We'll sing in the sunshine/ Then I'll be on my way...) to court. There are worse fates than hobo pie (the apple is delicious, I swear) and reading the above article made me think of them. And think about the power of a good line.

It's sad. And sorry. All of it. Death. Love. Loss. The rut in the road ahead steepled with erosion. As a poet (which already assumes the lifelong admiration), Jack Gilbert, once remarked after introducing a poem he was about to read to his deceased & beloved wife whom he was convinced had come back to him in the form of a neighbor's tethered dog: "Love, it's terrifying. Why anything can happen!" And it does. Drive, she sd. Enough of the novel. "Let it go/ my morning mantra..." (~LDC, '86)

But, it's my business. All of it. Even what I give to you. As long as I ride the carriage return.

"Y volver volver, volver/ Y me mueron por volver." And other polvo.

The smoking gun. Newspaper fine print staining the cloth. Another poet-friend, stranger-friend's tragedy distant from me but I bleed. And imagine. And know—it's enough. I wouldn't tell you because no one talks. And, what can I say?

And, enough said. Why bash? It happens. Love happens. Grooves erode in a traveling act. We fall in and out, but the way remains the same. How we treat each other in the day to grumpy dailiness. No such luck. "Detour ahead...". And very shaky ground for a plot.

Death is expensive. Even the petit morir, le petit mal or the Grand One. But joy glistens in the flushings like nuggets of truth, like love caught in the roots of the fallen oak at the bank, all golden from the picking. And there for it.

(And what does it have to do with being gay?)

She asks, cradling the aside.

So, what is poetry's power? Poetry is just poverty without the vee of flight and a pound of the present tense.

recommended listening: Memphis Minnie: "Ain't Nothin' In Rambling"


"I will tell fortune that I will play no game with her,
and she may reach me in my Asia of serenity
and indolence if she can."

~Thoreau's Journal: 27-Jun-1840
posted by Greg at 11:23 AM

copyright c 2005 Lorna Dee Cervantes
blog alert (to Self): Could I Thoreau it down for a year? Hymmmmm, "For a plover in the clover..."

Would you trust this poet with your peach?

Peachy Lorna Dee

Were I A Girl. . .

I'd be:

You scored as Hippy.



Nerdy Girl


Popular Bitch


Athletic Tomboy






Preppy Girl




What type of girl are you?!!
created with

This cracks me up. This graphic is SO not hippy. humph

La Raza de Colorado. . .

. . .is truly excellent
and so was Part 1 of the documentary aired last night on PBS
part 2 in production to be aired in Nov. - El Movimiento
loved, loved living Lalo
looking forward to more laser beam, Ernesto Vigil
!Ajúa! de orgullo, Linda Raza de Colorado,
the only thing that keeps me here
stubborn on this rock

Monday, June 27, 2005

unconscious mutterings

  1. Useless:: Peach
  2. Radiant:: Squid
  3. W:: Worry
  4. Unpaid:: Bills
  5. Geek:: Greek 
  6. Unfaithful:: Nation
  7. Reboot:: Jeopardy
  8. No!:: yes
  9. Squad:: Squalor
  10. Fetish:: Fiend
unseeable characters - less than slash o El Greater Than:: (!pq)

unconscious mutterings at 12am

Current Favorite Line: On Certain Pomo Promo; Or, 'Who's On First?' - D(ee)ario

"There's more to the American diet than burgers & franks—¿que no?"
~LDC out of the woodwork

Re-Cognition/De-Conocido; Or, Whose Poetry Is it Anyway?

"I often think that my interest in autobiography and memoir stems from the ways that the self, my self-fashioned “I,” must continually re-invent a story so as to make a metaphor out of U.S. brutal literalism."

Dang. The World's Smartest Woman, Claudia Milian is at it again.

Here's an article I read last fall while I was in the thick of it. And, sick of it. Literally sick to my stomach. Thank the goddesses, these days, I can 'sup again on the Whole Enchilada—thanks to the petals of poetry.

Back to the books I hope to send off today.

Meanwhile, Happy belated birthday, Peter! "Estas son las mañanitas. . ."

And, thanks, de nuevo, Claudia.
See my comment & stab at translating Dario on Out of the Woodwork today. I'm way behind on putting up new links.
Some blogs off the top of my bloghead I'd like to roll: Lit Windowpane, Therapist With A Dream Inside, 666Poetry-Not Ms Finch's Blog (when I first stumbled on this, as I do any bird-referenced anything, I thought this was a Lorna Dee parody), Land Mammal, Sisyphus Walking, Poetry Hut, Eileen Tabios, Rebecca Louden, Home Schooled By A Cackling Jackal, Dialogic, Bill Allegrezza, Pelican Dreaming (more birds), 13 Ways of looking At a BlackBird, Box of Birds, Wood's Lot (for the birds), A Burning Patience, Radical Druid, Wor(l)d Binder, Growing Nation, Fait Acompli, Stephen Vincent, Joseph Beuy's Hat, Save Cow Pastor (Tom Raworth for Kamau Brathwaite), Margaret Cho (who just rescued a new pup, too, who looks just like mine!), Never Neutral, Ironic Points of Light, Emily Lloyd, the world a letter, Gila Monster, and Didi Menendez who just invited me to join Café Café. . . just off the top of my block. (I can't believe I just did that, but I did, so now here's some for me to click 'til I get 'em up in their rooms.)
P.S. Re: Oprah in Hermes—NOT
It's not the price of the bag that counts, it's who's in it. Or, who it is.
What it is, poets.

(better go now before my publisher gets mad at me) Poetry On!
Elizabeth A. Reyes is a staff psychologist and the coordinator of multicultural student programs and services at Pennsylvania State University at University Park.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Chronicle Review

From the issue dated September 17, 2004


Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?


Even with increased awareness of diversity throughout our society, we academic professionals of color often find that our white counterparts treat us differently from the way they do other whites. Not long ago, I was invited to give a guest lecture on working with diverse ethnic groups to students in a course on counseling psychology. As part of my job as multicultural coordinator at the university's counseling center, I train counseling supervisors and provide therapy, so the lecture topic obviously fit my areas of expertise. After my talk, the professor asked if I could share with the students something about the development of my ethnic identity as a Latina. I felt that I was being asked to sum up what it was like to be Mexican. Because my presentation had not covered Latino psychology or working with the Latino population per se, I was caught off guard. I asked the professor to repeat the question, just to give myself time to think. Was I really supposed to share, on demand, personal experiences that had shaped me?

I found myself wondering whether one of my white colleagues would ever hear: "In the time we have left, I wonder if you could tell us a bit about when you came to grips with your white privilege or racism?" My first thought was to observe that asking the question exemplified white privilege. But even as I searched for a more appropriate response, I knew that the question was a wake-up call about what I may expect as a professional of color. I realized that my continuing education of
others did not end last year when I left graduate school -- another setting in which I was one of too few voices representing diversity. Moreover, the question alerted me once again to the deceptively benign nature of white privilege, even in academe.

Because my lecture had focused on the development of racial identity, rather than Latino values, I suspected that the professor was not asking me to talk about my culture as much as about my experience -- as a person of color -- of prejudice, shame, pain, and rage. Here was one of those cases in which members of minority groups are not treated the same as whites, who are seldom asked to bare their souls in the interest of educating people from a different ethnic group. Although I was taken aback by the question, my cultural upbringing (which emphasizes respect for my elders and authority figures) made it impossible for me to challenge the professor in front of the students. I felt compelled to say something, and something that I hoped the professor would not find disrespectful. So I began with a lie, stating that of course I am happy to share information about myself. Then I explained that such sharing can be a double-edged sword: When only members of ethnic minorities are asked to share, it reinforces the notion that whites have no culture to share. Accordingly, I gently invited the professor to share some personal experiences with the class as well.

For my part, I began with the story of my family's migration to the United States, which bought me some time to think. Then I talked about how I had learned that no matter how hard my family tried, or how equal we looked from an economic standpoint, I would often be called a spic. I described a visit I made to a friend, two weeks after I earned my doctoral degree.
When I neared the house, a stranger who was one of my friend's neighbors asked me if I was there to clean the house. "I am looking for someone to clean my house, too," she told me.

Clearly, I did not fit her model of the type of person who would live in or visit her exclusive, gated community. As a Mexican woman, I fit her idea of a housekeeper, not a houseguest. I sometimes feel that racism can be like a car that zooms past and splashes you with water from the nearest puddle, leaving your clothes soiled. Although my racist experiences were not my fault, at the end of the day, I was the one walking around with the sullied spirit, wishing I could wipe away the stains. The perpetrator goes on his or her way, often not even aware of having offended anyone.

As I shared my stories, I couldn't help wondering how it would change the students' perception of me as a professional. Would they feel pity or embarrassment when they saw me again? Or would they quickly forget what I had said? Which would be worse? I understood the professor's hope that my remarks would be educational, but it seemed to me that whatever I said
could diminish my credibility and status as a professional in the students' eyes. I left the class feeling exposed; I was also confused about how to deal with that feeling. I knew that I felt vulnerable because of what I had revealed to the students. I told myself it was not the professor's fault -- I could have decided to share less about my past. But I had barely had time to think what to say. In addition I suspected that my reaction was another facet of white privilege: People of color often react to racism by blaming themselves for being too sensitive.

The experience made me wonder when in the future I will be asked to "share my story" with predominantly white audiences or students whom I might have to supervise. How would I seize the opportunity to educate, without making myself feel vulnerable or as if I needed to prove something? I certainly would not want to discourage efforts to increase multicultural
awareness, but we too often expect people of color to do all the educating about diversity. In dialogues on race relations, many whites say that they have no culture, or that they are simply "American." Too often we fail to challenge those assertions. Though we have a growing body of literature related to white ethnic identity and white privilege, too little of it is included in education about multicultural awareness. And beyond the literature, white students and professors need to explore their own identities. It is too easy to focus on the group that we see as the other instead of exploring ourselves.

Now I need to figure out how to prepare myself for future confrontations with white privilege. How can whites become more conscious of the impact that their actions, comments, and assumptions have on people of color? How can we make whites more aware of their blind spots? Multicultural education can help enlighten professors and students by including white culture in racial dialogue: In this country, all culture and ethnicity exist within the context of white privilege. Remember the popular metaphor of looking out the window. We are so used to seeing what is outside that we don't notice how the window itself shapes our perception. Multicultural awareness means refocusing our eyes so that we see the window. Is there a
windowpane? Does the glass have a crack? Is there a screen? How do those factors influence our view of what we think we see? In order to help students see the windows of their culture, we need to engage white students in a dialogue about their culture, worldview, and privilege. It would be particularly helpful if white professors shared their own journey of self-awareness with students. That openness would make fellow professionals and students of color feel less vulnerable, and it would be a valuable example for white students -- especially if the professors described moments when they recognized their own prejudice.

In addition, graduate schools need to teach students of color how to handle racism -- both conscious and unconscious -- in academe, how to educate their future white colleagues and peers about white privilege, and how to serve as mentors for their own students of color. I wish the professor had asked me before class if I would be comfortable talking about myself to the
students. I continue to struggle with the question of how much to disclose in the future. Unfortunately, that was not on the curriculum in my graduate school.

Elizabeth A. Reyes is a staff psychologist and the coordinator of
multicultural student programs and services at Pennsylvania State
University at University

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Soft & Hot, Hot & Soft ('You're Too Soft, Always Were...')

You scored as Soft. You are nice and soft, you love everyone and everyone loves you, while you are fiery or too exciting, you are always pleasant.

















What is your sexual style?
created with

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Which Am I? The Lovers

The Lovers Card
You are the Lovers card. The Lovers card is about
union. Each of us carries in our DNA the
ability to be the opposite of what we think we
are. Often our romantic attachments grow out of
awe and respect as we see in another the
characteristics we repress in ourselves.
Society often presses us into molds of what it
thinks masculinity and femininity should be. As
a result, many of us associate with our gender
certain positive characteristics and call
others negative, when if these same qualities
were held by a person of the opposite sex, our
attitude towards them would be reversed.
Getting in touch with our inner animus and
anima, (Jung's terms for our inner male and
female), allows us to see the whole of our
personalities in a positive and constructive
light. When you draw The Lovers card in a
reading, you are working with balancing these
forces. Depending on where the card is, you
have either achieved balance or need to. The
Lovers could indicate a romantic or even a
platonic relationship. Ask yourself is this is
a positive relationship that contributes to
your growth as a complete human being, or if it
fills an emotional craving within you that is
actually detrimental to your personal growth.
Image from: The Iranian artist Riza.

Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Drive (new cover)

Drive_new cover

'What Is Poetry?' - PAW POW; Or, On Peddling Peace - 'I'm Sam, I Am...'

Thanks to Joy Harjo for posting yesterday—with permission—Sam Hamill's peace, "A Monk's Tale" from the Virginia Quarterly, Spring, 2005. It contains this quote which I had to write down, and now have to store in a reasonably labeled file for handy reference when I need a definition of poetry—as much as something which by its very nature resists definitions may be de-fined:

"Poetry is social speech in musical measure with traditions including the serious investigations of history and culture and language and the human condition."

And then he goes on to present an example of such in the Iraqi poet, Salah al Hamdani's poem, "Bagdad, Mon Amour." This poem made me cry. These lines, translated by Molly Deschenes:

"This is my misfortune
Like a comma locking a line of ink.
Bagdad my love,
I was crouching in the corner of the page
In the shelter of the arid days,
Far from the torrents of blood
That carry the name of those shot with the silence of man."

How a line of ink makes a link, and locks it. How the torrents of blood are the same everywhere without a name.

And, another way of naming poetry is presented by Hamill: Poetry is "a way of asking forgiveness for the evil in human existence." (~Abba Kovner, a Jewish poet from the Vilna resistence) Resistance against the right to annihilate. Resistance as a right to resist annihilation—of the body, of the Spirit, of the mind.

This, to my mind, is the Poetry of Witness. Not merely to record, to document, to take down names—it is this—but as a way of asking forgiveness. For as my late father said, in his dying days, about a poem I had written about a massacre in Chiapas, Mexico: "What does it do to take away the sadness?" It tells the truth—for someone. It leaves a trace. It leaves a name in the dirt.

"And if some poet feels obliged to speak for those whose voices have been silenced, we might benefit by listening, even as that means listening to the dead. And numbering and naming the dead." ~Sam Hamill

This, to my body, speaks to the ignor(e)ance of some to certain traces and blaring distinguishers of human existence different from that of the dominant class; and speaks to the problem at hand to the writing hand that is the body of a blasted child, the dead blast of baby lodged in an Iraqi mother from over tons of depleted uranium, or not enough water. It is a certain knowledge that keeps me to the reading page, to the poem about somebody's Chinese grandmother's love-pigeon to a learned grand-daughter, the knowledge of the slaughter in 1886 of so many mothers' mothers burning in California "China Towns" in fires lit on feast days by local firemen. Makes me want to read the poem. And makes the poem stand apart from someone else's experience of a Lutheran 'nana' (I probably have this wrong) in upstate somestate (somewhere leafy) rendered "invisible", left culturally unmarked to the "general" reader: de classed; re if-fied.

The spirit of the poem is the Spirit of the Dead, which is always already plural and finitely singular; experience.

Poet, Joe Richey, once quoted me as saying that poetry is the opposite of war. I think the question was "Does war make poetry possible?" No. War is made possible by cancelling out the individual, and the trace of that human experience in all its blooming freedom. And is fought by a few sincere individuals and the many afraid of dying for lack of the economic benefits to be found therein.

"True peace is achieved from within, one person at a time. Poetry clarifies the vision." (~SH)

And talking about (interpreting, cataloging, reifying, creating hire-archies of species of poets and phylums/fie alumns of formal movements & informalist writers—most typically dominated by those, quite fortunate and few, privileged with the tools of formal/"Educated" discourse—hueing and hawing away at curricula for standardized testing. etc.) poetry muddies the sight/site.

"There are no absolutes in poetry. And that is the only absolute." I'm sure this is written in more than one poetry notebook from my poetry students. In poetry there is no/thing but vision. And in a world of seeming darkness, I'll take "Vision" over "Sincerity" any hour. (Some liars are the most sincere.) Particularly when the "New Sincerity" threatens to become another label for old -isms and moldier -ists.

So, Poetry. (UGH) What is it good for? ("Absolutely NOTHIN!") ("Say it. Say it.") ("Say it again...")

"Poets are good at helping people look more closely at words and all their implications." (~SH)

Good, to me, in a New Age of Bullshit. (see Frankfurt's Theory of Bullshit, it's a philosophical term and not a profanity, or allegation; it could be a declaration) It tells the truth. More fact than fiction: facts of history, of culture, of language. And, maybe even, utter facts of joy. It can happen.

"The poem is a little body of language and music and enlightenment. . . . A poem can change a life." (~SH)

One of the little consequences of poetry—that user of metaphor/meta for that which, "besides usuary," is the only thing which produces excess value as was expounded by Pound who never gave a pound of birth—and coincidences to be found therein; poetry, whereby (perhaps) "men" (sic) don't "die everyday for lack of" its "hyacinths & biscuits," they just die.

Some, miserably. Some, having lived their change. Some, having left it.

"This is the song of begining.
And this is the benediction of the birds at 5am
Because the star returns to us again
To break the hungry dark."

~Joy Harjo, from 6/22/05 draft of poem, "Benediction"
And yesterday morning, I stay up 'til T rises at 4:15am. Afterwards, a choral choir, sweet trills, more than usual. A nest of nestlings, naked under the drainpipe outside my writing window. Sweet feeding, an elegant hunger.

On June 23, 1852, Thoreau wanders through a forest wearing flowers on his head: "There is something in the darkness and the vapors that arise from the head—at least if you take a bath—which preserves flowers through a long walk."

On June 23, 2005, my Franklin planner says: "Men are created different; they lose their social freedom and their individual autonomy in seeking to become like each other." ~David Riesman

As, this movementless poet, now, puts another book* to bed—as old newsmen say—and extends her PAW for POW.
* book update: finished BIRD AVE last night/this morning. Typing up new poems for Hard Drive, the last (final) draft to go. I hope I can finish it all to send to Bryce today before Luis Urrea's reading at Tattered Cover @ Cherry Creek (a long way to go without drive-ing) tonight.
*note: POW stands, here, for Poetry of Witness, but can also stand for my preferred acronym: Poets Opposing War (Poetry Opposite War?) as (not) opposed to "Poets Against the War"
To Be Continued Post Libros. . .

mientras hasta la paz
  • PAW

  • PAAW

  • The Downing Street Memo - What Is It?

  • The Pentagon Strike

  • What Really Happened?

  • Think Progress

  • Grand Theft America

  • More Democracy Now

  • Hope

  • Peacemakers Teams

  • Freeway Bloggers

  • Rants

  • Take Back the Media

  • Think Yellow

  • Don't Mourn. (Ch)IMPEACH!

  • Don't Mourn.Poeticize
  • .
    Chuck Class & Poetry!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    I Am the Tanka...

    anyone got a wankan?

    I am the tanka.
    The attention of others
    Is unnerving, and
    Since I try not to draw it,
    I'm left alone. Which is good.
    What Poetry Form Are You?

    book update: 2 sent, 1 & 1/2 done, 1 & I/2 to go
    fine tuning cover - obtained permission to use Irving Norman's "The Bus."
    or, I may be …

    If they told you I'm mad, then they lied.
    I'm odd, but it isn't compulsive.
    I'm the triolet, bursting with pride;
    If they told you I'm mad, then they lied.
    No, it isn't obsessive. Now hide
    All the spoons or I might get convulsive.
    If they told you I'm mad then they lied.
    I'm odd, but it isn't compulsive.
    What Poetry Form Are You?

    Thanks to Peter Pereira's Virtual World for the quick diversions. (anyone ever hear of steam kettles? if ya can't play in your own house where can ya? wheeeeeeeeee …)
    … now, back to strop the strophe
    Meanwhile, read my poem to Sandra Cisneros on Librarian 2, announcing the Latina Letters Conference, while I revise it for a final time this afternoon for the new book. Hope to see & meet some of you there, in San Anto, July 14-16. I'll be reading this and other new poems from the book(s) on Saturday, July 16.
    (note to self: Chinese vegetables coming up. Rocket lettuce taking over. T makes a patio for 2. I plant lavendar datura, one double purple, one big white.

    & think of Dad.)

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    DRIVE (cover image)

    Irving Norman -

    10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me (and buy my book...) (lol)

    1) I used to play the banjo.

    2) I've been arrested 10 times. ("Civil Disobedience IS Civil Defense")

    3) I'm afraid of cows. (don't ask)

    4) I'm addicted to Brainbuster, an Egghead Trivia game that doesn't seem to exist anymore outside of Sports bars which is beside the point. Brainbuster is the sole reason I ended up online in the first place, after slipping that aol disk into my 'puter. If you've ever played Brainbuster & just surfed in, please email me for info on a fix. ("anyone got ntn?")

    5) I believe some wild birds can talk.

    6) I once found a two-headed butterfly — and let it go.

    7) They used to call me The Cat Girl before I was known as La Bird.

    8) I intend to save the world with chaya, the Precolumbian Mayan Miracle Food for the New Millenium.

    9) All of my poetry books are alphabetized but I can't find a clean dish.

    10) I am philosophically adverse to New Year's resolutions until this past year when I figured out they didn't have to be so bad, so I resolved to have more sex this year & to stop procrastinating. (I'm still working on that last one.)
    SO - on to the get to it, now that I have my list on (thanks to Deborah @ 32 Poems) (I'm running out of things you didn't know about me due to this blog).

    The next time I visit will be after I get these final drafts of the manuscripts off to my publisher, both virtually & in the page. (today?) Saiyonada, simon que sí y bon voyage! Bon appetit y bien provecho!

    You can order advance SIGNED copies of these new books bound into one special hardback edition entitled DRIVE: The First Quartet by sending a check made out to me for $25 to my new business manager, Gigmaster 7, at
    Lorna Dee Cervantes; c/o Anthony Vasquez; 950 Miami Way; Boulder, CO 80305.
    Or, you could win one (1st out of the box) by guessing "Who Was the World's First Blogger?" (aw, come on & play). Order copies for your classes direct from the publisher, Wings Press. (What better press for a Bird?) You may also order an advance copy of a limited art books edition now listed at Amazon for $250. This is a special boxed edition of the five books (2 of which may be bound into one) in a hand-crafted wooden box which may include additional goodies. This edition is listed at Amazon because I decided, with publisher Bryce's fine advice, to go with the "permanent hanging" of the 5 books in a hard-bound first edition made affordable instead of the five (or 4 if 5 were not fundable) individual books I wanted to have appear simutaneously (a reviewing nightmare, my publisher assured me).

    Why hold off for 14 years on 5 new books? you ask (a post-tenure nightmare, my salary committee assures me) (now I know why it's never been done before post-academia).

    I am influenced by painters. Irving Norman, in particular, whom I once met when I was about 18 when I wrote a poem about one of the major images in his show, face-masks, that was exhibiting in the San Jose State Student Union gallery where I was giving a poetry reading and read the poem. He was there, when I looked up and said his name, and I gave him a copy of the poem & he invited me to a party closing the show. There, a young woman had questioned him before a tryptic (think Bosch): three individual paintings which create another composition, another solid image, when hung together—of a futuristic warscape, mostly blood and ash colored dominated by armies of armored behemuths that must have inspired Star Wars. She asked him: "Do you really see the world this way? Just brutality & greed? Do you really believe that people can be so awful?" And he just cried. Silent tears streaming down his face for an uncomfortable 20 minutes. What a number on an arm can tell about a paint smear on cloth. An artist only paints what he sees. An artist only paints what she was meant to see. Intent. The after-image of grey felt by Beuys blooms into a colored mural in someone else's life a continent away, a heart away. That close.

    The books are intended to be read in any order the reader desires. They are bound together in this edition for affordability and for carrying them with you, perhaps, like me, under some tree. Bound so that you don't have to worry about getting them dirty, books intended to be consumed with wine & cheese, pita & hummus, Soyrizo & tortillas organicas. A book that could serve as a table, a plate, a platform.

    They are all, like us, distinctly different from the others but linked to some common phenomenology, some base language of Spirit where we thrive, an inheritance of disparate images, the over-abundance of flowering & decay under history & chance; this United State.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Luís (on right) & Susan Kelk Cervantes with muralists in Russia

    An Artist For Life - Luis Cervantes (6/12/05 article)

    reprinted from
    copyright 2005 Mercury News (for personal use only)
    Posted on Sun, Jun. 12, 2005


    By Nora Villagrán

    San Jose Mercury News

    Reminiscent of the vibrant, bright-eyed hummingbird he painted for the collaborative mural on King Road in San Jose, Luis Cervantes lived a beautiful life of art, conversation, community and familia.

    A fine-arts painter undefined by any one medium, Cervantes was also a sculptor, muralist, ceramicist and storyteller who found wonder and happiness in his everyday life.

    If art made him fly, bringing art to the people was his destination. Now, his contribution to last summer's Mayfair Mural Project at the Mexican Heritage Plaza stands as his final gift to San Jose.

    The spirited, soft-spoken artist, who was 81, died of cancer April 27 at his San Francisco home and studio with his wife, renowned muralist Susan Kelk Cervantes, at his side.

    ``We were looking at each other,'' says Kelk Cervantes, 61. ``And he started to kiss me. I said, `I love you.' He said, `I love you, too.' Then he took his last breath.''

    She was 17 when they met in an art class, and they spent the next four decades together.

    ``It's been a beautiful experience,'' she says. ``Luis was so vital and strong; everyone remembers his great hugs. That's what I miss most.''

    Memories of Cervantes' gentle wit and sparkling insights will be shared today in San Francisco at a public celebration of a spirit that soared.

    The free event, expected to draw artists from the Bay Area and beyond, features slides of Cervantes' life and work, along with displays of his art and project books filled with his sketches, concepts and ruminations.

    ``There's a wonderful picture of him in a zoot suit, looking very dapper,'' says his daughter Lorna Dee Cervantes, who will do a poetry reading. ``He went through many eras -- beatnik, hippie, social and cultural upheavals -- but was not defined by them.''

    In addition to music by his son Stephen Cervantes and friend Jorge Molina, there will be an 81-candle lighting ceremony for each year of his life and a barbecue reception celebrating the 26th birthday today of his son Suaro Cervantes.

    ``I can still hear his laughter,'' says Suaro Cervantes, a muralist. ``He taught me to be hands-on in life and in art. Happy, and still persevere. Playful, and still be focused.''

    Amid the loss, Cervantes leaves behind his five creative offspring and his work, including abstract paintings, wood sculptures and the memoir he'd begun. He also leaves his many legacies, from blue-collar visionary to gifted mentor who brought out the artist in people.

    `Food for my heart'

    ``I pick and choose my male figures; don Luis -- I listened to him the first day,'' says Carlos Rodriguez, 25, an emerging artist from San Jose's East Side, who met Cervantes during the Heritage Plaza's mural project. ``He talked to me about life, painting and metaphors. It was the food for my heart I'd been looking for.

    ``Before he died,'' says Rodriguez, ``I told him: `You will always be here. When the younger generation asks a question, I will tell them what I learned from you.' ''

    A Santa Barbara native and World War II U.S. Army veteran who served at Normandy on D-Day, Cervantes believed it was good ``for life to go on,'' says Lorna Dee Cervantes, 50, who grew up in San Jose and teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

    ``We can talk about the past or we can go on from here,'' he once told her. She says, ``That set the tone for our visit and for my life: the gift of living in the moment, not in a past you can't change.''

    Co-host of Radio Caribe on KUSP-FM 88.9 in Santa Cruz, Stephen Cervantes, 54, says his father sought to be an artist, not a celebrity. ``He wanted people to feel they could talk to artists, to see artists working on the street, to realize artists are everyday people.''

    Toward this end, Cervantes and Kelk Cervantes founded the Precita Eyes Mural Center in the city's Mission District in 1977 to bring art outside -- where people lived and shopped.

    But it was his longtime job at a San Francisco mattress factory that allowed Cervantes to support his family. He also served as president of the San Francisco Furniture Workers Union.

    ``I admire him; it took guts to be a blue-collar guy who worked a 40-hour week and be an artist,'' says his son Luz Cervantes, 35, a painter and president of Precita Eyes' board of directors.

    ``His life is an example for me,'' he says. ``I know guys who work for a paycheck; that's the sum of their lives. My father made the most of each day because he believed in creating meaning and sharing it with others. This is how art can change a neighborhood and a culture. This is his legacy.''

    Saved for art classes

    Bay Area muralist Miranda Bergman, 58, says, ``Luis showed you can be an artist no matter what. He had to save his money for art classes and save his days off to take classes. For me, that's his legacy -- his steadiness, along with the twinkle in his eye.''

    The steady Cervantes went on to teach art at several locales, including San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the city's Galería de La Raza.

    His sculptures have been exhibited at SFMOMA and the M.H. de Young Museum. And an abstract painting is part of the Oakland Museum of California's collection.

    For Rupert Garcia, 63, professor of pictorial art at San Jose State University, ``Luis' contribution is his great sense of artistic freedom. He was a profoundly creative individual. For him, to explore art was to explore life. His diverse work reveals his belief in the interconnectedness of life. It was very exciting.''

    Cervantes's joyfulness affected all who met him, says Lorna Dee Cervantes. ``He was like a Tibetan gong. He gonged people.''

    Definitely struck was Juan Felipe Herrera, performance poet and the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in creative writing at the University of California-Riverside.

    ``Luis didn't have a tight bone in his body,'' says Herrera, 56. ``He taught us that meeting the artist is as important as meeting the artwork.

    ``Art is a postcard from the artist,'' he adds, ``and the artist is a postcard from the universe.''

    Luis Cervantes, 1923-2005

    What - Public celebration, art and performances

    When - 2 p.m. today. Free; donations accepted to benefit non-profit Precita Eyes Mural Center

    Where - The Precita Valley Community Center, 534 Precita Ave. (between Folsom and Harrison), San Francisco. (415) 206-2113

    Info - Precita Eyes Mural Center, 2981 24th St., San Francisco. (415) 285-2287;;

    Contact Nora Villagrán at or (408) 920-5909.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    note to "My Father's Poem"

    note: The following was written 1 hour before my father's memorial last sunday which was attended by over a hundred people (I can't estimate crowds, but judging by the number of people left over without the 81 candles which were lit in his memory) where I presented it to my brother's wooden flute music. I had been thinking about the poem since his death, aware that other than juvenilia*, I had never written about my father. I wasn't able to read or write anything for the Mural Arts festival - it was very emotional for me, such a perfect day and all. But I had been thinking of the line over & over that I knew had to be in the poem: "Time is Art. Art is Time" which is what he lived. Finally, on sunday morning, after fidgeting over it like a jittery dualist, I heard his voice in my head, "Well, ..." (here, I paused in the intro to the poem knowing the people who knew my father & just asked the audience to complete the phrase, which they did) "do it." And I did. After laughing.

    Here's the poem as it was read on Sunday, June 12, at the Memorial Ceremony Celebration for "visionary" Visual Artist, Luis Cervantes, at the Precita Valley Community Center in San Francisco. (oops, I'll have to use lines to make the spacing until I'm more html literate)

    "You were barbells under the sink,
    a bucket of mussels on the kitchen floor,
    a swimming catfish in the kitchen sink,
    bleu cheese dared on a cracker ...".

    ~ "L. D. Cervantes" circa 1968 (age 14?)

    "My Father's Poem"

    My Father's Poem

    I couldn't write about your ceremony,
    the raw ritual when we laid your laugh
    to rest. Only that I felt you
    leave, saw a sagging, a shallow hollowing
    of the Spirit self on that fifth
    and final day when your 5-pointed
    star of being left, and left
    a husk of mariposa for our
    rememberance of your vital body,
    La Fuerza that was you. Fuerte.

    ...........................................My father
    was fuerte, strong, and not afraid
    of la Muerte who he met
    and courted for 175 nights
    under fire in a foreign land. "The enemy
    is not the self." My father taught.
    Why do what the body can
    but the inner call resists?
    A love that weakens you
    is not love we should be renewing.
    Now's the time,
    my father would say con un abrazo fuerte.
    "Art is time." And time is art
    to create and share.
    ...........................I know I cannot write
    this poem. But, "There's no such word
    as can't," my grandmother would say
    and he once called her "a saint,"
    and who else could say that
    about their ex-mother-in-law?

    But you. But, you. But you
    fashioned a scroll of your heart,
    leapt to the light, and shone
    an inner sun, that inner strength
    you passed to me.
    ........................I write
    and take another dance on the Spiral
    of Life you left. Sacred. A legacy,
    a father; an inheritance
    of heart, a gene pool not confined
    to the flesh, or family.
    ...............................You grew —
    a heart, a home, a neighborhood,
    a Nation — who doesn't know it yet;
    who lives in a laugh and wears a crown
    more precious than the gold
    that raked your raza? Golden One, Ahau
    en Tzolkin, Yellow Sun in the Mayan calendar,
    a legacy of unexpiring flame,
    unextinguishable light. Our art,
    ancient seeds in the bone jar
    of home; our dirt, this flesh,
    these hands now, an ancient
    garden coming to life — an ancient
    tree coming to fruit in our lives.
    May we practice the art
    of the hug, the love. May we
    write off the sadness. And,
    ..............................the time.
    Time is Art. Art is Time.
    It's time.

    c 2005 Lorna Dee Cervantes

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    Remembering Luis Cervantes (Nov. 1, 1929 - Apr. 27, 2005)

    There will be a Public Memorial Ceremony Celebration Remembering "Visionary" Visual Artist, Luís Cervantes in San Francisco this Sunday, June 12 at 2pm at The Precita Valley Community Center, 534 Precita Ave (across from Precita Park near Chavez & Folsom in the Mission) at 2 pm. Everyone invited. (Donations accepted.) Join the Cervantes family, Precita Eyes Muralists, and friends in this tribute to the Father of Art in the Mission.

    Here are just a couple of comments written in my book, May Day, when we bid my father nos vemos on his journey outside the spiral. These are comments from just two of the artists who will be joining us for the dance of another day in the Spiral of Life. Add your own. And, come help us celebrate Suaro's birthday, his second youngest son, as we remember 81 years of grace, truth, vision and laughter. Art, poetry, music, video, talk-story, ceremony, and real life featured as we practice what he taught: living life to the fullest at the moment in the moment - with vitality, lightness, and doing that "inner thing, whatever it is" with heart.

    See you there. See.

    Lorna Dee Cervantes
    Remembering Luís Cervantes

    Luis Cervantes
    a mixture of grits and love
    Humility and Pride
    you were my mentor
    and lightened the pad
    not so long ago
    now you are on the path
    and you gave me the
    inner strength
    to be an artist

    ~Henry Sultan

    En honor de tu papá, Luis, Lorna —

    te doy un corazon lleno de
    luz, relampago y
    Que Viva
    el ARTE

    ~Juana Alicia

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    off the blog to dog my dog

    or, where my good dog gone dog's done gone
    times like this I wish I drove
    "bow wow, bow wow..." ~from my favorite Chicanine poet, tr. by Mark Doty

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    A Quick & Dirty...

    ...IQ Test
    Your IQ Is 115

    Your Logical Intelligence is Above Average
    Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
    Your Mathematical Intelligence is Above Average
    Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

    If I Were A Famous Modern American Poet...

    ... I'd be a little Daffy. That Diva.

    You are John Ashbery
    You are John Ashbery. People love your work but
    have no idea why, really. You are respected by
    all kinds of scholars and poets. Even artists
    like you.

    Which Famous Modern American Poet Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    C. Dale Young is right, this is hilarious. And scary.

    Best review of my work came out in Scotch Gaellic and was published in a journal from Ireland. I was so proud of that piece once it was translated for me. It was the first critical piece, outside of that written by my homegirl dissertation grrls, to deal with my words on the page rather than what I represent ethnically, culturally, linguistically, ..., ad libertad. Change is the essence of freedom. And freedom to stand the same is the essence of positive change. The local and the public experience and struggle is assumed and subsumed within the context of lived contradiction. Leave it to the Gaels to stick the subtext where it goes. In no place did the words "Chicano," "Mexican American," "Latino," or "Hispanic" appear—in any form. It was the first piece to analyze my poetics and poetic strategies rather than merely interpret my meaning and intent based upon poems I wrote when I was 17-20 years old. I swear, this must be the only occupation whereby one is held to what one writes at age 19. The piece concluded by saying that the American poet I most resembled was John Ashbery. Something that makes perfect sense to me. Especially since at the time I was thinking a lot about Ashbery, how Al Young had described the poor translator in Russia attempting to translate John's poems from the early nineties on the spot, the puzzled, and only mildly troubled Soviet faces.


    "My small self in that bank of flowers:
    My head among the blazing phlox
    Seemed a pale and gigantic fungus.
    I had a hard stare, accepting
    Everything, taking nothing.

    ~John Ashbery, from “The Picture of Little J.A in a Prospect of Flowers”

    "From a very early age, Ashbery was shy, bookish, and intellectual." (....) "Ashbery seems to present himself here as a kind of distrustful outcast (...) a complicated mix of the gentle, the geeky and the learned."

    ahem, yeah

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    "In An Eagle's Nestling"

    In An Eagle's Nestling

    We took no photograph
    of that fledgling peace;
    a graph upon a map,
    a salmon sun, raw upon
    the horizon, blessed us.
    That maitre d' of the soul's
    arrival, Spirit dressed
    in a flag, a drape, a shroud
    agape upon the flyer:
    that bird as symbol, a
    flap of heart. Would it serve?
    Here, now, learning to speak,
    to soar. We were learning to begin,
    too sore. We were learning to begin,
    again—that constant rolling
    up the matted nights, that constant
    rowing toward the shore of what
    we think we desire. That bird.
    That beast of a State. That veil.
    A fingerless ring hawing up
    through a recital of wings.
    This bird. This heart. Dear heart,
    deer-hearted in the distance
    once. I tell you, autumn sings
    in the betrayal
    of proximity—one edge
    too far; another, the darker
    sister, a mother of another—
    you, deciding. All of that.
    A bird I didn't catch, there
    on the side of a mountain
    lake I didn't drive us to:
    your breath, a hair
    away from me. All of me
    beneath the shadow of a dime,
    home to a shadow of crime.
    You, loving that accounts
    manager of some made
    for life movie, that soccer mom
    of the what-should-I-do


    that a spark of freedom
    flared there in that nest:
    you and me, and some setting
    that has us sitting out the part;
    a new beginning in the world
    and chaste, too chaste,
    this sometime used to be—
    now alive and breathing
    here beside a Rocky shore
    of more, more open, more
    mouth, more noticing.
    As I held you, a bird
    was learning to open the wind,
    to trust. Again. Us, a new
    honeymoon, a new date
    on the calendar of lust
    and fulfillment, same sullen
    thing — no more. Hope on a
    wing. Freedom in a word
    breathed heavily in;
    and it takes. Oxygen relieved
    through the trees, those officiates
    of this marriage to the will
    of a world which allows us
    to see. "I love you"
    in a world, in a bird.

    Copyright 2005 by Lorna Dee Cervantes
    All rights reserved.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    Thought of the Day On the Day My Dead Father's Home of 35 Years May Be Sold From Beneath Susan's Feet...

    from my Franklin Planner (June's Monthly Focus: Renewal - Sustain a reserve of physical, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy.)
    "Eden is that old-fashioned house we dwell in every day
    Without suspecting our abode, until we drive away."

    ~Emily Dickinson

    for more about Luís Cervantes see this link to my May 2 entry. A public memorial, A Tribute to His Life & Loves, is planned on Suaro Cervantes's birthday, Sunday, June 12 at 2pm at the Precita Eyes Community Center across from Precita Park in San Francisco.

    Flotsom & Jetsam: Found This Poem I like A Lot by Mark Lamoureux Today

    on Mark Lamoureux's blog ----------0----------. I love finding something really tasty to bite down into early in the morning like this. Oops, blogger won't allow the link, so here's the opening lines:


    The guests came with
    a box of water. Raptors
    in the eaves of the middle

    Spanner, planer, a piston.
    Gunburn has a big moth,
    a flawless alibi.
    Some notion of seemly
    fog. It was
    the best fish in the net,
    look me up sometime.

    Poetry Contest - Win a Signed Hard-Bound First Edition of DRIVE (Oct. 12)

    Caught your attention, eh. No poems. Easy to enter. First person to guess the answer to:

    Who was the world's first blogger? (whom we know about)

    wins my new book, DRIVE which is actually 5 books of new poetry in one, like a literary pentych.
    I'm also taking advance direct orders for signed additions (24.99 - an affordable price) hot off the press, being cash poor & poetry rich. (Death is expensive)

    Besides, I figure if I commit to a give away of the first copy out of the box I'll finish these galleys sooner for my all-suffering publisher, Bryce Milligan at Wings Press—a fine literary press I selected for it's independent vision and ability to produce the fine detail of a future boxed set. Not to mention the fact that the book/s include an "unpublishable" poem which I could, under no circumstance, omit from the final manuscripts. So well.

    And, the next time you are in "town", pay me visit and stop to play. "Or, better still, come to buy." ~J. Joyce

    Wanna Play Tag? What Were You Doing at 17?

    S. T. Coleridge

    I got this from Multiple Hellrosis, in answer to a young blogger who originally asked it.

    To play, all you have to do is write a post on your own blog (I read a lot of them daily) with the subject title: "What Was I Doing at 17?"

    Poets, at heart, are all secret voyeurs. That is, voyeurs of what my gramma would say is "NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS."

    And it is.

    Playing Music Tag

    1. The person who passed the baton to you?

    Jean Vengua at OKIR. This one was the one that's been lingering the longest. Sorry for taking so long, Jean. (BTW, is Margo Ponce the same one who graduated from Berkeley? If so, tell her hello & give her an abrazo for me. Ask her to visit me on the blog)

    2. Total volume of music files on your computer.

    I have no idea (scroll down for my Book Meme post, re: Who counts?) Not much. All legally & ethically attained, I might add. Besides, I'm too much of a techno mensa to do otherwise. Most of my audio files on the computer are mpgs of poets reading. Next, a lot from my Memphis Minnie collection (15 cds), I made a cd of a 12 song progression that my screenplay is structured on, beginning with "Frankie Jean" and ending on "I'm a DownHome Girl (And I'm Tired of Fooling With You)!" My son has Deep Purple's Greatest Hits on my 'puter (cool guitar riffs, so I let 'em stay). The rest is radio playlists of Classic Blues and lots of radio streams, mostly blues and little college stations. Coyote's Radio Free Boulder. My brother, Steve Cervantes's music, I'm trying to figure out how to post something from The Journey of Quetzalcoatl to play when you open my website I'm still designing. And lastly, my "ladies": ever Joni, Tracy Chapman, Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, Ferron (I have a quote from "Shadows On a Dime" opening my new collection of 5 new books of poetry, DRIVE), Joan Armatrading, Billie Holliday; my soundtrack for a life ("I dont say a good life. I say: a life." ~James Wright) so "my ladies" also include guy balladeers: Ever Dougie MacLean, Dick Gaughan, Ricardo Arjona (whose incredibly poetic lyrics I'm translating just because I do), Marc Cohn (for "Walking in Memphis" to which I've written a montage scene for my screenplay that includes a young Elvis wandering into a tent show for the music and running into the stuffed remains of "The World's Ugliest Woman" and her child, her baby pickled in a jar by her showman father, the indigenous woman's owner), and Ruben Blades. Nancy Griffith. Lourdes Pérez. I'm fixin' to google up an early "lady", Filipina poet/musician June Millington & a more recent, but equally obscure poet/musician Ana Egge who I first heard at the New Mexico book festival organized by Denise Chavez. Yowza! What a voice, with lyrics to match, so fine they pulled me in off the street because I just had to see (and hear) who was singing. Now she's an important part of my personal soundtrack. I once saw her in the Denver airport eating a good burrito (the only edible food in the DIA) and I so wanted to go up to her and fawn & fan at her feet. I knew it was her. (I tend to listen to the same thing over & over incessantly in waves) She had her guitar with her, en route in an entourage of singularity. I know it would have really made her day. I don't know that she has many fans who would spot her in an airport. I would have complimented her on her choice of airplane food.

    3. The title and artist of the last CD you bought.

    Los Lobos: Acoustic en vivo.

    4. Song playing at the moment of writing.

    "I'm so glad/ I don't have to ask you for a thing...". ~Wolfman Jack.
    Song playing at the moment of composing this piece in my head: Joni Mitchell, "I was a Free Man in Paris" and lyric playing at the time of reading & composing the answer to this question: Joni - "They open & close you/ They talk like they know you/ They don't know you...".

    I never write poetry to music. Although I can play, at the computer, to streaming classic blues. Most of this blog is written to blues stream, unless I'm posting Rosie, when I switch to Joni. Mostly classic blues stream at which I suspect is a long playlist loop on my itunes. But, what do I know. It's all geek to me.

    I'm passing this baton on to the same writers I tagged in previous book meme post: Manuel Ramos, Cynthia Huntington in LoveAndSalt, Luís Rodríguez, Luis Urrea and Rosie O'Donnell on this. I'd like to hear from Silliman, "himself" but I doubt he reads my blog. As opposed to Ro, who is more accessible to me than the guard dogs of the post-avant.
    I will post a secret. Answering this tag honestly, and I am ever honest, makes me feel geeky. And, not in a good way. It reminds me of the date I lost with a guy who was interested in me in order to be more in touch with his Mexican-ness (his inner "Nessie?") and liked the fact that I listened to Mexican music, everything from Roc to Conjunto (Jean, accordian!), from my beloved Arjona to Trio de los Panchos, from Lola Beltran (from whom I owe my poetics) to Vicki Carr, from Ana Gabriel to El Véz. ¿Y qué? KUVO's Canción Mejicana every Sunday morning. But at the first date/meeting, when he asks me: "What are you listening to now?" I just had to be honest. "Celtic music. There's really this connection, on an indigenous level. I listen for the poetry. Great lyrics...". And, that was the end of that. Or else it was the fact that I told him I was a writer. "YOU WRITE BOOKS!?" And, not in a good way. "More than one." "More than one!?" Eight ball down the right corner pocket. He was kind of cute and, until then, kind, so I never let on that I was a Professor of English. I profess! Some people! Or, what if I had told him that the song going down in the hard drive of the bone piano of my skull is "Pans of Biscuits." "It's pans of biscuits/ bowls of gravy/ pans of biscuits/ we shall have...". And, unlike my first husband, who was not Mexican, he would never ever get Black Banjo Then and Now.

    Thanks, Jean!

    Streaming: "You're black and evil.../ But I love you and/ I just can't help myself...".

    Streamingly yours, Lorna Dee (which stands for Lorna Doone, and not the big-boobed porno star of another era which must account for some percentage of my present traffic)

    now streaming: "Nobody loves you when you're down & out..."

    Lorna Dee Caught On Updated Blogs

    still trying to figure out why I'm not updated on Blogging Billy Poet's Poetasaurus...
    Recently Updated

    These are the ten most recently published blogs.

    The Eleventhousandaire
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    tuesday, June 7, 3pm, MST

    My Long Book Meme; Or, My Love Song to All the Books I've Ever Read and Lost

    I was passed this baton many flowers, furrows & book revisions ago by "The World's Smartest Woman", Claudia Milian en una hermanastra lejana, a blog I found, kinda like jetsom & flotsam, on a 'recently updated blogs' list on blogger March 1, the day I surfed into Blogville. That day she had just posted her entry on "Vacationland: Revisited" and when I read the first line of the piece:
    "Not too long ago, I visited M., my inimitable, gay Mexican divafriend.

    At M.'s place, a phone call interrupts.

    "Let's drive to Maine," proposes the voice on the speakerphone.

    "Now? It's midnight." I say.

    "Come on, girls. It'll be fun" is the nudging.

    "Okay. But I'm not driving, mijita," the diva bluntly announces, with the quick instruction, "and your ass better not fall asleep behind the wheel."


    Camden is . . . white and yuppie. We look for a place to eat. The locals stare, measuring us: two Mexicans and a Salvadoran.

    "I feel like I'm a walking sack of beans," I say.

    "I feel like I have a nopal on my forehead," M. says.

    "Don't be so colonized," says our other friend.

    I don't like the vibe of this town. We foolishly paid the hotel for two nights. Such uncouth American provincialism. Brutes with money, I always think.

    "I don't want to eat here," I tell them. "I don't want the Latin Special Treatment on my food. Y'know, spit as an extra condiment."

    We go back to the car and head to the outlet stores in Freeport because the diva says we need to reward ourselves and feel fab after this experience.

    Surely, mass-produced capitalism will embrace us." (....)
    I can't resist the lengthy quote, no more than I can resist repeating the following dialogue—no, dis/course:

    "I feel like I'm a walking sack of beans," I say.

    "I feel like I have a nopal on my forehead," M. says.

    "Don't be so colonized," says our other friend.
    Blues cue: "If you've ever been mistreated/ You know just what I'm talkin' about." "yes yes" (what's on right now) (really)

    This is my moment of the laugh. And love. The re-cognition ignition in some engine of the lone soul and lonelier soles wandering along unwritten streets. The "Me! That's Me!' of the reader's voice as opposed to the "me/not me" of the poet's whimper or wong (as in won(go) ("If you've ever been wongo/ You know just what I'm talkin' about.") You laugh 'cause you know it's true. I read it to my friend/ex-colleague due to unenlightened flu, ethical seizures, institutional paralysis, hypothetical prejudice of the left lumbar, general high staff affluenza, and other maladroits. She laughs. She gets it. When the veil slips from Race, the shadow passes off the inappropriate touch of Power, the salary committee bottoms out on Class along with your Humpty Dumpty pggie bank. Yup. I got friends like that. Loves. I got 'em in my head when I walk the demeaning streets of 'one bigoted town' as an ex-lover, full-blood Chotaw once proclaimed this native land (having grandparents who had slipped off The Trail of Tears to a land of 'Nuthin' but Dirt) when I first arrived at the foot of this flagstone butt. All three. The walking sack of beans whose secret post to postsecret would be "I couldn't walk into a restaurant until I was 24 years old." The surreal cigar of Magritte dangling off my nose like a rooted out carrot. The Dee of my name which stands for Doone which stands for Digression. The upshot of it all. The danzante of the Free Throw, barefooted and pregnant, once again coming of age in an Age of Nopal. The "Don't be so colonized!" voice in my melon head on the shooting range discoursabating away the raw fear in a Fanonian Moment:
    "Time freezes. We are motionless. Horrified. We are silently raging and simultaneously wondering what it is they are seeing. The elevator is slow. Too slow. We attempt to exit first. They push their bodies further back. Repulsed. They don't want our clothing, our bodies, our dirty anything, to touch them. The moment is Fanonian: "Look, un Nègre!"
    The Other I Am which deems me no sociopath and redeems me in my mind's eye. Lorna, don't be so colonized. Then, I go and look it up. No Love Song to Professor Prufrock. The Irony I Am: Professor Prufrock in a secret lust. (Pistachio pound cake? Lobster Lorraine? Transluscent squab from Jones, The Different Butcher? Sweet Lorraine? 17 ways to eat a peach? 17 ways to say eating crow, Jim?)

    Yup. Got 'em all there. And, here. Here:
    1. Total number of books I’ve owned:

    ¡Híjole! Who counts books? I vowed never to think in numbers after I graduated from high school. I know people who know exactly how many books they have in their libraries, but that's because they sell them to special collections in university libraries. Me, I sold my books when I decided I needed to change my dreamscape and escaped the big California earthquakes in the insuant & truant years. When I left my marriage & started living in Santa Cruz "permanently", and, incidently, took up with The Maniacal Choctaw, after my coursework ended & financial support for finishing my dissertation dissolved, I sold my books in an ironic progression. First book to hit the box & the book buyer's counter was the study, The Indian in America, which bore a nearly new price tag. And price. I don't know how many or which books I sold because I mourned every one and I don't like to think about it, kinda like my private version of the indigenous and inculcated taboo against ever speaking the names of the dead out loud. It's the "I've" that stumps me. In a lifetime? Híjole. Quatrozillion? Oh, no. Couldn't be. That must be the price (avoid the typo "prize" as Zeta stands for Zebra and Zoo) I've paid through the years shipping dead trees state to state, country to country, state to State via all the various vias y villas. When I think of books I think of Benjamin's essay on packing the books. And his subsequent suicide, that Angel of History daily defaced by another word for Nazi that resists the easy translation. Packing a book is hard work and a lot of time. And packing a book will get you a lot of time, hard or soft, one way or another. I think of "Pablo's" (as the unsuicided poet is ever in pseudonym in effect if not in fact) precious books trashed out on the floor of his Isla Negra study by the illiterate fascist boot. The shattered shell collection at his feet, the metonymic progression which is, really, what breaks the poet's heart, the endless substitutional long-division of transferred categories of "meaning" and none of them good. Or, very fun. How many shells? How many shards of love? Can one buy that cut at the butcher's on some saturday night? When I get paid it's pig meat all around when it comes to books for me. I once walked into Bread & Roses Books—a book store I loved, partly because the owner, Bob, let a cash-poor poet hang out on his store's sofa reading books all afternoon but only buy a fifty cent Chicano litmag (El Caracol, eg.) or, if I were flush with a dollar, the latest El Corno Emplumado—and bought up all the books I wanted, about $750 worth, 10 percent of my first NEA which I figured the guy deserved. I brought two helpers with me to carry out the boxes. It was a fantasy of a lifetime. Hey, some people buy all-white suit with their first fellowship grant. I chastise my students: If you write poetry and don't buy books you are a hypocrite. I swore to live in a library when I grow up. I'd live in that comic book aroma of vintage literature and gild. Well, kookoo people peruse the stacks in the local and a private library is, in the end, what one can afford not to lose. I buy every book I can. I love the serendipity of a twice read book, the casual color of a bargain bin novel, the pristine elegance of a letterpressed first edition. I used to subscribe to Ed Ochester's partner's business, Spring Church Books (gosh, is it still around? Note to self: next wave of surf) that dealt in all poetry books. Yikes. I go into bookstores making fake blinders out of my hands and say, "I can't look in here." I've bounced lots of checks in my scattered lack of math, but I doubt I've ever bounced one to a publisher or bookstore. My friend tells me she is moving to Poetland (I mean to type "Portland" but I let it stand) and immediately I think of Moes. I once walked all the way to Tattered Cover Books from the downtown bus depot in Denver. (They didn't buy my hand-carried books, the one I wrote, that is, and was selling to pay the price of my relocation hotel, the Miles Standish. Funny to me. ) At 17, I picked a place to live based on the algebraic equation designed to bring me to a hometown with the closest proximity to the greatest amount of best book stores, this place, this boulder of Boulder, in fact, between me and a hard drive. Funny fact, but not a laugh.

    12,000? Books I'm in take up 2 5-shelf units in my lving room, but a lot of that's chunky anthologies (closest to the front window for chucking some burglar, or worse, on his unsuspecting head. I have (am left with) 96 cook books not counting issues of Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, Gourmet, & Cuisine - Bon Appetit being the one I buy in a cash register pinch as it is the most eclectic & the least class-bound. I once donated 3,000-something titles to found a small press room in my old library which had been taken up by the then named San Jose Poetry Center. I got a tax relief that year for it, so I know there were about that many, over 3,000 but most of those saddle-stitched, mimeos, chapbooks, newsprint journals, Chicano & otherwise, several rainbows of the complete El Grito/Quinto Sol/Tonatiuh series of jounals & books. The nearly complete collection of El Corno Emplumado, missing one issue, the original inspiration for the title of my first book, Emplumada, and the origin of my Mango 'split-fountain' technique on my little multilith printing press. I mourn my Third World collection back in the day before we knew we were first world, old world, next world, an Other World, other-worldly and fractured at the literary pawl into all our microscopic and myriad distopic dysentery of divisions. I mourn the books that never make it out of the box. I mourn my poetry books, anthologies, criticism, translations, philosophy and theory locked up in my hop covered office on The Hill. I mourn Paterson on the sabbaticalled shelf. Many ways to mourn. Many stranger friends between the pages. Many, too many books loaned to students under the pedal of pedagogical thrust: "Here. Read this. And it's Gallway opened to "The Bear" because the kid (sorry, I get to say this now that aarp is at my post box - "Oh, look! Dolores Huerta is on the cover!") says that he can't write, spent all weekend in the woods (the only place I am most My Self) and can't write a line about what that's like. "Count the verbs." I tell him. And, I never get it back. But I read him in the poetry publications now, and think of the power of the right book, the right word, at the right time. Stranger Friends I've loaned to students: entire collections of Hass, Olds, Vallejo, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, Dorn, Silliman (most chapbooks among those donated) Hugo, Greg Pape, Carolyn Forche except for the most recent which I won't lend out (because it's in the stores), Stafford, Alan Dugan, Rilke, Dante, Ai, Wakowski except for Greed, Parts 8, 7 & 9 (title? I'm away from my mourned shelves at the U) ... Et al. (Note: If you still have my book I loaned to you, please redeem)

    2. Last book I bought:

    Opal Palmer Adisa, Carribean Passion. Last books I was given (by my publisher) (booty!) Robert A. Fink, Tracking the Morning; Chip Cameron, Tropical Green; James Hoggard, Wearing the River and, a poet I like, Pamela Uschuk, Scattered Risks. I've also been collecting first books by the new guard Xicanerati (copyright LDC), Sherl Luna, Tim Hernández, Anthony Vigil, Deborah Paredes, Rigoberto González (as always) and others. I'm looking to buy Diana Delgado who is supreme, maybe even sublime.

    3. Last book I read:

    Opal Palmer Adisa, Carribean Passion and Cecile Pineda, Redoubt (I read them together on the same day). I've been reading the complete work of Cecile Pineda. Talk about Xicanerati! This blog is my way of unclogging my lifelong prose block; I was asked to contribute a critical piece on her for an anthology to be edited by Juan-Bruce, and I'm still blogging that clot away, one plunger at a time. At least now it's getting so that the sink is clear every once and a while so that I can wash a dish.

    4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

    This one's really hard for me. Mean? Meaning? yes yes The long metonymic substitutions of those choices which then grow to define you. The list slips under the weight of age. So that, finally, I was able to change reality to fit a number, but I had to do separate lists, separate questions, separate passions listed in cronological order. Here's a list of books that "rearranged my molecules" as Santana says of good music. (the first 2 on my list are actually four, from childhood, forever fused in muse:

    • Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child' Garden of Verse and 100 Poems for Children (ancient when I got it from the Jesus Saves Rescue Mission or was carried in in boxes of Christmas presents & groceries from good ladies wearing hats and sniffing their noses at the television set. The Stevenson was a gift from my father when I was 8, I think.
    • anthology of "Negro Poetry" which was rescued from the books discarded by the public library, same library I donated my small press collection to; there was a basement window and a low window well where we'd, my brother & I, go to fish books; and an anthology, I Am the Darker Brother, given to me by a friend in high school and made precious for her poetic thoughts on race & class, poetry & friendship written in her cramped idiosyncratic hand.
    • Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan, a Yaqui way of Knowledge.
    • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot
    • Eduardo Galeano, Memoria de fuego/Memory of Fire, Parts 1-3

    Then I decided to drop the juvenilia and answer "most meaningful":

    • Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan, a Yaqui way of Knowledge.
    • Pablo Neruda, Residencia en la tierra/Residence on Earth
    • Alan Ginsberg, Howl (the book not just the poem)
    • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot
    • Eduardo Galeano, Memoria de fuego/Memory of Fire, Parts 1-3

    Then I asked it another way, Which 5 books changed my life? (Don't they all?) This is too hard to keep to 5:

    • Pablo Neruda, From the Heights of Macchu Picchu (this one, I realise, closer to truth), 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair, and Residencia en la tierra/Residence on Earth
    • Tomás Rivera, Y no se lo traigo la tierra/ And The Earth Did Not Devour Him
    • Alan Ginsberg, Howl
    • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot
    • Eduardo Galeano, Memoria de fuego/Memory of Fire, Parts 1-3

    Then I asked it as What authors changed my literary life? (again, hard to limit to 5) A category I subtitle: "Lives" as in, I live these books

    • my black muses
    • Carlos Castaneda (but then I decided to just call him Jesus, leave it off the list & assume the work as Bible: note: this is tongue in cheek. I met the man, as I knew I would when I first read him at age 15, and I started an early prose piece about that super strange meeting called, "My Dinner with Carlos."
    • Pablo Neruda
    • all New Directions & Black Swallow books
    • Dostoevsky
    • Galeano

    And, finally, I had to frame the question in terms of love and the single book. Subtitled: "Loves." This, too, I had to do chronologically, like the others, but broken into the three phases of life I've been dealt:
    • A Child' Garden of Verse
    • I Am the Darker Brother
    • From the Heights of Macchu Picchu
    • Howl
    • The Idiot
    • Y no se lo traigo la tierra/ And The Earth Did Not Devour Him
    • Anais Nin, A Spy in the House of Love
    • Marge Piercy, To Be of Use
    • Wakowski, Greed, parts 1-15
    • Robert Hass, Field Guide
    • Robert Hass, Praise
    • Carolyn Forche, Gathering the Tribes
    • Carolyn Forche, The Country Between Us
    • Residencia en la tierra
    • Eduardo Galeano, Century of the Wind, Memoria de fuego/Memory of Fire, Part 3

    Interesting, to me, how the last on the list stays the same. I don't think I've read anyone else who has influenced (impacted, but that sounds too much like a bad molar) me the way Galeano has.

    5. Which five bloggers am I passing this to?

    I'll have to check to see if they've already been tagged (yea! I got to play, afterall!) but, I'd like to hear from Manuel Ramos, Cynthia Huntington in LoveAndSalt, Luís Rodríguez, Luis Urrea and Rosie O'Donnell on this. I'd like to hear from Silliman, "himself" but I doubt he reads my blog. As opposed to Ro, who is more accessible to me than the guard dogs of the post-avant.
    Anyway, the five books that are the most meaningful to me right now are the ones my publisher is waiting for, the five books that comprise my new "pentych" collection forthcoming this fall, DRIVE_The First Quartet (books). I've been avoiding the muse and asleep inside an old guitar too long. But, I wanted to play; this, mixed as it in my mixed emotions after reading a blog & feeling incensed & insulted. Comments which feel, to me, like stuffing the same old dead birds, except this time around shooting them out of the sky first. I think of this passaage from another Hermanstra Lejana: ""Good God. They're deaf. What can I say? I'm at a loss of words right now."

    "Small town, small minds is what I have to say" M. adds.

    "That would take too long to learn how to say in sign language," I remind him. "A 'fuck you' would be much quicker. And multi-purpose."

    "Well, here's what I have to say now," M. insists. "You racist, deaf-mute bitches are bunk!"

    Why write this down now? Because I refuse to keep American madness to myself." (end)
    I've been away from my blog but not Blogville. I've been mourning my father who passed last month (public memorial in SF this Sunday, June 12 at 2pm, I & others will be reading poetry, all are invited to the Precita Community Center event; come and say, hey), mourning the impending loss of my step-mother, Susan Cervantes's home of 35 years, mourning how this might impact the Precita Eyes Muralists & the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center they founded, mourning my dog who a friend let out of the backyard last week and who is too wiley to be captured: a Mexican indigenous dog, lassooed off a beach in Isla Mujeres, half-wild and, like me, pert'near extinct. A Xoloitzquincli. A cholo. Like me.

    I've been too mad at this stupid post to blog, afraid of what I might say to this kid I don't know who is not a very good poet in the first place. So, I borrow words, even if I might not be able to give them back:

    "'Well, here's what I have to say now," (...) "You racist, deaf-mute bitches are bunk!'

    Why write this down now? Because I refuse to keep American madness to myself."
    Thanks, Claudia, for the opportunity to tell you that my guy knows you as "The World's Smartest Woman." He heard it from me. And, that's no trope.

    "Dont mourn! Read." ~LDC

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    In My Father's Words: For Memorial Day, 2005 - 'Prelude to War, 1939 - Santa Barbara' From the Memoir of American Artist, Luis Cervantes, RIP

    *NOTE: A Public Memorial Ceremony Celebration & Tribute to the artist & co-founder of Precita Eyes Muralists and Mural Center who was recently honored with a Proclamation from the Mayor declaring April 6, "Luis and Susan Cervantes Day" will be held on his son's, Suaro's, birthday, June 12 at the Precita Valley Community Center. Join Susan Kelk Cervantes, Luz de Verano Cervantes, Lorna Dee Cervantes (poetry), Steve Cervantes (music), and other family and friends of Luís Cervantes including artists, Henry Sultan, Juana Alicia, Jorge, Ernesto Paul, and others on Sunday, June 12, at 2 pm. Anyone wishing to perform or read are welcome, please let us know. All will be invited to speak. All will be invited to look at 55 years of art, 81 years of a life lived art-fully. Come wish Suaro a happy birthday.

    And, help us save the home my father 'built' by dwelling in it for 35 years, the 'body' of Precita Eyes, for without a home for the heart there is no vision. On June 7th, a hearing may grant the sale of their Precita Park home which they have rented for 35 years to another. Help us save Precita Eyes. Help us creative finance a solution. Help us create a new future for son Suaro, perhaps the best birthday gift you can give is a donation of art or cash or an item for a silent auction. Help us find enlightened investors willing to invest in the future of community mural arts in San Francisco. Help! (to be continued)


    ~by Luís Cervantes - San Francisco, 2004

    We were just kids, hanging out at the beach like we always did during summers. There was a gang of us from the east side of Santa Barbara that spent most of our days running around the beach playing football in the sand, diving into the surf, riding the waves into the beach, swimming as a group out into deep water, diving down and touching the bottom, or swimming along the bottom with our eyes open through the kelp beds, coming up and floating on our backs. Sometimes we swam out to the anchored fishing boats and sunbathed on the deck. After, we dried out with a good burn, dive in and swim back to the beach.

    I was a freshman in high school so most of the guys were older. Three of the guys that hung out at the beach were seniors, and the talk at bonfires was what they were going to do for a living. The Depression was still on and work non-existent for young guys without job skills. The talk was of going in the army. Montez was talking about going to Panama Canal in the army. Kipur, a good football end, wanted to go to the Phillipines and see the wide wide world. Things changed for us Beach Boys, I was now one of the old guys. Montez and Kipur ended up in the Phillipine Islands, at Corregado Island. Jerry Lamb went to Alaska in the army. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor—we were in a war now. Montez, Kipur and Lamb never made it back alive from The Phillpines or Alaska. That was 1941, I was 15 or 16 years old, going to school at Santa Barbara High. Things changed fast in Santa Barbara. For us in the East Side, we could see before us how our mix played out. By mix, I mean Mexican-American, Mexicans, not-US-citizens, Chumash Indians, Chinese-Japanese, Blacks, with a few Hawaiians, Peruvians, Chileans, Puerto Ricans; whites were in the minority, mostly Italians, Germans, Russians. In schools and in town, the Japanese families, and Chinese, were disrupted disasterously out of the east side of town. There was a Chinatown and a Japanese Town that had been in Santa Barbara for a long time. Jimmy Lee, and Susuki Moto disappeared right away. Japanese Navy submarines kept appearing around the Santa Barbara area for months. The Japanese subs lobbed some shells at the oil fields north of Santa Barbara at Elwood. Some of the guys joined the Navy, Air Force, Marines, paratroopers, and Army. No other work for the pay. I was making 1 dollar a day working out in the fields. I didn't know that one could earn more than that. There was chaos in Santa Barbara. We were not prepared to go to war with anybody: no army, our navy was sunk at Pearl Harbor, hardly any Air Force patrols over our coasts. When the Japanese subs lobbed shells at the oil storage tanks at Elwood we had blackouts in town as a protection. No one informed the towns-people that this was going to happen. I went to a sporting event on a thursday night, to watch some boxing matches, when the lights went out and the sirens wailed. We sat in the dark for half an hour, when a flash light went on in the middle of the ring, with the announcement that the fights were over, to leave and go home. Out we all go in the darkness with our heads going around in circles. Out on the streets police blocked intersections to have cars put their lights out. Everybody out on the street wondering what to do. Newspapers' headlines with pictures: "Japs Shell Elwood Oil Fields", the war had struck Santa Barbara and the U.S., 'Where Will They Strike Next?" The Army sent 4 soldiers, an army truck, and a 30-caliber water-cooled machine gun set up on the end of Sturns Wharf pointed out to sea. The Japanese sub could have come in close and mined the harbour or shelled Santa Barbara without anyone knowing what happened. We were lucky nothing happened, everything died down, life went on, in a war. A lot of the guys enlisted and dropped out of school. I dropped out of school in my junior year, going on 18, 1942, I left for San Francisco to work in the shipyards at Moors dry Dock in Oakland. After working in Santa Barbara for 3 dollars a day, I now started at $1.25 an hour as a sheet metal worker on the outfit docks. I stayed in San Francisco, working at Moors for 1 year. When I turned 19, the Army called me, so I returned to Santa Barbara before I was inducted into the U.S. Army Engineers in Jan., 1943. Before, while I lived in San Francisco, I had bought myself a Brownie box camera to take pictures of San Francisco and send them to my mother, to show her what San Francisco looked like. I happened to bring that camera with me to the army to shoot pictures of my army life. Cameras, guns, knives, liquors were not allowed, they were not permitted. No one saw the camera, and I didn't want to throw it away, it was mine, and I had it mixed with my dirty socks and shorts where nobody looked into, so that became my box camera's hiding place, and it traveled with me to England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and home again. When ever my duffle bag caught up with me I would do my laundry, and bring my camera out. The guys got used to it, and would pose and fool around. I picked up film and had my pictures developed at local shops where ever I was without any trouble. I ran out of film on the ship home, Dec., 1945.

    I left New York City on board the Queen Elizabeth, the second largest ship in the world, its sister ship, the Queen Mary was 4 foot longer so it was number one. The Queen Mary was lying on its side in Manhattan habour, out of service. These English ships were the only way to cross larger ocean spaces fast. It took the Queen Mary and Elizabeth 3 days to cross from New York to Scotland; large freighters, seventeen days or more. Airline flights were unknown. Something like 80,000 soldiers pile on from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, plus U.S. troops, paratroopers, Air Force, Army infantry, tank troops, artillary, and us, engineers, on this floating hotel. I meet three guys from Santa Barbara that left with me for the army on 3 busses that day, on board the Queen Elizabeth, bumped into them on board in the middle of the ocean going to war.

    Copyright c 2005 by Luís Cervantes. May not be copied or reproduced in any form without the expressed permission from the Cervantes family.
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