Sunday, April 30, 2006

"This Is Beat" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 25)

This Is Beat

San Francisco streets belong to me,
my placenta in some fish in a fish
in a bigger catch. Here, not sittin' on
the dock of the Bay. This bay, here, this
way of loving -- this grace. This freedom
from the show of pain or dissatisfaction,
of hesitation or incongruity. Just you and me,
my Cassidy, my daisy behind the inner ear.
Yes. This listening, this indigenous inheritance.
I buy a crystal from the corner seller,
the retired masseuse hippie, we smile
into another rainbow bridge. Me and Cassidy
and the open flower of a book, the open eyes
of poetry, that tearing on the page. Listen!
A thousand harps in the key of city lights
chime on a sacred rising. Ten thousand strands
of beads strung on a prayer. This hand now.
The casual gifting of another meal. I want this
now. The one last grace. To never fall.
To play this now and do it all. This
is Beat: The Way. The Way. Be an Artist.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 25

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

"Testimony, Trial" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 24)

Testimony, Trial

So many damaged souls,
the many souls of the Maya
now reduced to one mumbling
into eternity past. The simple
street scene, the reek. No one
to wash. No one to watch.
The many, stupefied into spectacle
on a San Francisco street -- far from love.
Alone, together, they gather on the corner,
line the center: wild ivy on a sideways tower.
Escaped from themselves, they lie
against the hardened offices, guttered
and guttural against the elements
of an elemental losing. Touch them.
Give them a cent. Re-center them
with sleep. The stark reruns unwind
indefinitely. Stalling. Stalling
at the testimonial chalice -- a witness,
a leathered bound book, a trial:
this person. Here.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 24

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

On This Day Last Year

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 "Lu�s" 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.



Join me if you're in San Francisco tonight at his favorite hangout, Cafe Boheme, 24th & Mission, the heart of the Mission, at 7pm for a Celebration Tribute & Exhibit for my father, Luis Cervantes, which will include poetry, music, remembrance and ceremony.

"Ceremonies heal." ~ Luis Cervantes

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Celebration, Ritual, And Tribute" to Luis Cervantes in The Mission, SF, 4/27

(I'm reposting this. Hope to see you in California!

~ featuring live music, poetry and love ~

Luis Cervantes
November 1, 1923 - April 27, 2005

Memorial Exhibition

Cafe Boheme
24th & Mission Streets
April 18 - 30

"Celebration, Ritual, And Tribute"
April 27, 2006
7 pm

Live music, poetry featuring Lorna Dee Cervantes & friends, and LOVE

Discover the groovy vibes of the Cafe Boheme in the heart of the Mission. Come and say hello. Discover one of the Visionary artists of the 20th Century.

"Ceremonies heal." ~ Luis Cervantes, November 8, 1982 (after my mother's funeral)

Off to California. . . Luis Cervantes Tribute Reading at Cafe Boheme April 27 - San Francisco - UC Berkeley, 4/26

To write is to get closer....but also to create distance.

Distance is a way of managing pain.

Eileen Tabios manages beautifully. What lace she tats long into the day. A wonder. The Delicacy and Strength of Lace is the title of a collection of letters between Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright; a way of saying what it is, one thing to look for in a good poem, a good work -- like they wrote. Eileen is writing good work. Maybe the best work of her life. Right now. Write Now. That's the epitome of blogville for me now, the *right now!* of it. Y ya. I can't remember now who (Allegrezza?) posted the pic of the bird flying by and swooping in to peer directly into the lens of the bird watcher's binoculars. That's how it feels. You go out looking to look at birds and one is looking for you, at you, directly into your lens.

So much to say. And I'm off to California tomorrow. (I love that banjo tune. I love the banjo.) "I'm Going Away to Where I'm From." Somebody searched this blog the other day for the Cliff Notes to that and other poems. Made me laugh, I kept myself up chuckling into the night when I was trying to get to sleep. Maybe I'll write the Cliff Notes. They must pay well, eh?

This is a weird business in this day and age. Po' Biz, p'tooey. At least in the old days they spared you the grace to be dead before they talked about you. Must be the season. I get weekly emails from students at all levels asking me about the poems I wrote when I was their age. I'm with Ed Dorn, poets should never consider their place in the socio-critical(economic) spectrum. MFA students now are trained to consider their theoretical stance before they even have the poems on the page. And the poems *are* the theory, that's what makes them critical. Critical that they be, that they become along with the poet.

Yes, it always seems odd to vacation in my point of birth. I'll be performing/ reading for June Jordan's class, Poetry for the People at UC Berkeley on wednesday. Then thursday night, April 27, I'll be reading at my father's Tribute exhibit, reading, ritual and performance at his regular haunt (excuse the awful pun) Cafe Boheme with all his friends and family in San Francisco, The Mission, at the corner of Mission and 24th. It'd be great to see any of you there. I was glad this invitation at Berkeley coincided with the first year after my father's death on the 27th. I'll be staying in San Francisco, then maybe heading down Santa Cruz way, returning Sunday.

Scroll down to read more about my father, community muralist, Susan Kelk Cervantes, and my schedule.

And, oh yeah! I'm on the cover of Bloomsbury Review this month with a rather long profile by Jeff Biggers. The profile that was pulled a couple of weeks before the AWP, after I'd known about it for a year, from Poets & Writers. I was to be on the cover of the issue they passed out for free to the 6000+ attendees at the conference -- instead of Franz Wright. The photo shoot was scheduled for the next morning before they called me that evening. My publisher had taken out an ad with the announcement that I was featured on "this month's issue of Poets and Writers." Good thing I'm a homegirl. I believe it when I see it. That's why I didn't announce it on the blog. But still, there I was, figuring out what I was going to wear for the 9 am shoot. Who cares? Bloomsbury is cool. I have a deep and sentimental connection to it -- Tom Auer was the first person I met when I came to Denver/ Boulder. I literally walked in from the street as I was on my way walking to the main Tattered Cover in Cherry Creek from the downtown bus terminal (a long long walk) when I happened to see their sign and had read the Review as I exchanged with them when I was publishing MANGO. It happened so fast I forgot I was shy. Tom was really nice to me and spent a long time with me. He offered me some books, too, but I was already carrying mine and they were too heavy for a gal who was hotel hopping about the southwest. So, Bloomsbury! Cool. You can get a copy by clicking on their website, or better yet, order a stack for your place of business or retreat. They're distributed free and have always maintained a high literary quality.

But, really. Here we go again. When I saw Sandra on the cover last fall, I joked to my publisher: That's it. No P & W. They already had a Latino on the cover, now a Chicana. Don't you know? Two's quota. Three's a horde.

Who cares? Well, being a former publisher myself, I know. Sales. Franz Wright is now the 20th top selling poet in America. And DRIVE is number 220,thousand-something -- of all books, granted. But, sheesh. It only matters because I just published my opus with a long-lived small press, and not Norton or the Bertelclones. A cover & a 20-page profile of my work in Poets & Writers would have sold a lot of books for an independent publisher.


But, here's good news. I just got a grant from the Puffin Foundation to collaborate with composer/ pianist Gabriela Lena Frank. We met at the Latina Letters Conference and I loved her work, and I asked her to join me in an improvisational jam at my reading that night. It was very very cool. Really cool. I asked her to stay and do another that she hadn't heard and we hadn't rehearsed. I loved it. She's a phenomenal talent. And I was really really sad no one had recorded it. So I wrote up a proposal to collaborate with her, my brother, and maybe other musicians, on some poems from DRIVE, including "Coffee" and present free performances and distribute cds inexpensively (podcasts?). The Puffin Foundation wrote me a really nice supportive letter, too. I didn't get full funding, but then, I had missed the deadline and didn't think they would even consider it. So, I'll be submitting more proposals elsewhere soon. Yea! Yea, Puffin Foundation!


Oh yeah, I spent years, not trying to but, being mistaken for a crotchety old white man on the poetry boards. People just assumed that's who I was. It was fascinating. To *be* without a face or a figure. Someday I want to write about that. I've been following the threads. Don't know if I want to go there. I'll tell you though, people are a heck of a lot nicer when they think you're a crotchety old white man (and probably tall, heck, I *sound* tall when I write, I believe I am tall.) There are distinct advantages.


Meanwhile, I guess I'll get to work on the Cliff Notes. I'm way, way behind on my typing. And check out the archives for last April for what I was doing last year. Like Eileen, I was in the passing.

"What is this life force?"

See you in California? I'm going away to where I'm from. . . today.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"Unconscious Mutterings #168 On 4/23/06"

  1. Rising :: in a web of love, the

  2. Third :: eye knows,

  3. Disruptive :: willows crowd the seams,

  4. Surround :: the river of desire

  5. Distant :: as ice in July. Hear the sullen

  6. Suction :: of their kiss?

  7. Fried :: moths litter the streets, hollow

  8. Nuggets :: of lust and parchment.

  9. Clip :: my wings and still I'll fly.

  10. San Antonio :: sails on, wails on the filaments of the net.

Be caught in your own lines, take the subliminal plunge weekly at La Luna Nina's website.

"Tension In the Body" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 23)

Tension In the Body

You wore it well, that swell,
that leaden grin you practiced.
Your ballerina grace now gracing
the table of your disgrace. What you
chose to hide now thumping at the gate.
Like a grand balloon emerging too soon,
its clumsy float beyond your reach,
beyond you, stuffing it into your pillow,
putting it back into that empty trunk
of desire, that restless opening.
Why do we survive? This tension
in the body falls apart at the slightest touch.
Some languor at the wayside of the muck,
a fine depression now lining your pewter face.
The mask of your continence, the flare
of your manicured hair, all the ways
you were suppressing it -- all the whys
we'll never know; How, now, will we
ever know?

~ to a suicide
written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 23

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

"Heart Shaped Scars" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 22)

Heart Shaped Scars

All around, the heart shaped scars,
the hidden claws surrounding. She looks out
upon a sea of high wounds, the shotgun shells
clattering at her feet. A world around her
and all she thought to call was the wooden police
who would not come, or when they did they smirked
into the midnight of her stark heart so
used to the abuse. The minute wings
of new flies joined in the cacaphony of chaos,
hard flecks of left still clung to the chipped plates,
a sucking sound harbored the toilet, all the
disrememberings left to overflow in the waste.
She and I, an anomaly, Ten Little Indians
and then us, last. We wove our way out of the maze,
the race behind us now sweating at the gate.
All the ways we played, the shadows on the wall
telling us our future, fortune formed by a play of hands,
the thumb out you show -- or no. All around her,
the shadow play. a Punch and Judy massacre,
all bloodless and wit. The heart shaped scars
of a silent war that punctuate her living, undeclared
in the waiting from birth. Her, her little soldier, all
uniformed and bright.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 22

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

"Stenciled Memories" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 21)

Stenciled Memories

There was always fabric in your lap
and a whistle in your heart. A sweet
sap to be sucked waited in the garden.
Nymphs of newts nestled under rock,
your role as She Who Brings the Waters
intact. Between the trilling of the crickets
educating into the night, and the sad sack
of cans in the mornings something grew,
flourished in the dark -- vines as sturdy
as telephone wire writhed in the breezes.
You patched together a blanket of us,
sewed together the mismatched and lopped
off edges. And anger grew a twin, ripped
through the bermuda grass, something stubborn
and determined. Me, in a leather patchwork skirt,
the bitter lemon song returning to its beginning
over and over on the Howdie Doody phonograph,
a handful of bandages, a faceful of ghosts
delivered from the mirrors. How did you stand it?
All of it. Us crunching through your set life,
kids scuffling through the mounds of leave.
Always making do. Your sunshine eyes,
those stenciled memories where
we still live.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 21

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

"Slaughterhouse" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 20)


slide -- all the way to the
grave, a grading off the mount.
The sideshows of summer settle
the score. The carnies call and cull
the crowd for a willing mark. Three
tries for a dollar, and a whimper
for your rent. The lithesome treaties
walk away; the wild get wilder, all
it takes is a little show. You up
the ante. Call it a draw. While
your life chugs along at a particular
stew. Can you stir the pot forever?
Somewhere cattle are shifting, the plains
settle into snow. Your everywhere
is sudden and surrounding, the smell
of you, and fear, some kind of substance
penetrates. Waiting with the tractor,
the boards in place, the bars, the hinges,
I'd follow you anywhere. It's the story
of attraction. Now, a chute for a life,
this final squeeze into the pen.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 20

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

Friday, April 21, 2006

"First Thought" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 19)

First Thought

best thought, you had taught
me -- a river runs through it,
the foot of the soul standing
stubbornly in the freeze, all
the shards of ice crumpling up
the banks, what survives
in the ignorance. Play it away.
Be ceremony. Be a lit candle
to what blows you. Outside,
the sun gives a favorite present,
mountain nests in ironic meadows,
otter takes off her shoes, the small
hands of her feet reaching, reaching; still,
far away people are dying. Crisp
one dollar bills fold another life.
You taught me to care in the moment,
carve day into light, or something,
moving in the west that doesn't destroy
us. Look again, in the coming summer,
the cruelest month alive still eats up
the hours. Regret is an uneven hand,
a rough palm at the cheek -- tender
and calloused. I drink another glass
of water, turn on the tap
for what grows, for you,
for what lasts, for the last
and the first found thought of you.

~ for Dad (November 1, 1923 - April 27, 2005)
written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 19

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Luis Cervantes Memorial Exhibit 4/18-30 & Celebration Ritual, and Tribute 4/27 @ Cafe Boheme, SF

~ featuring live music, poetry and love ~

Luis Cervantes
November 1, 1923 - April 27, 2005

Memorial Exhibition

Cafe Boheme
24th & Mission Streets
April 18 - 30

"Celebration, Ritual, And Tribute"
April 27, 2006
7 pm

Live music, poetry featuring Lorna Dee Cervantes & friends, and LOVE

Discover the groovy vibes of the Cafe Boheme in the heart of the Mission. Come and say hello. Discover one of the Visionary artists of the 20th Century.

"Ceremonies heal." ~ Luis Cervantes, November 8, 1982 (my mother's funeral)

"Wet Feet" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 18)

Wet Feet

You married a wetback,
my mother would say. Remembering that
startles the migrant starlings into battle
against the annihilation of autumns past.

In a hurricane season they come, hands
that know how to pick up sticks, legs
that remember the walk. Perhaps empathy
has played out her part. Maybe the vast breadbasket
of summer revved the tornado over Wichita's heart.

What we remember remembers us, these threats
of delay and departure, that stalling at the altar, that settling
at the table of despair. Where is the medicine
for the condition of injustice? What line
do I sign the treaty that gets you off --

the boot at the neck, the hand on the pistol,
the wretched signature of discovery and compiling interest?
I take this as I am: a country of error,
a willing sacrifice, repair.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 18

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

"Moonlight In Vermont" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 17)

Moonlight In Vermont

lit up the fire of rebellion,
you, in your woody wagon
that hadn't been washed since 1972.
"This car runs on alcohol, drugs and
guns" a fingerprint in the grime declared at the border.

Someone's published fate hung in the error
and the going on -- despite. In spite of the crime
you hunkered down downtown, hungry and angry
at the "Reich Likes Ike" button on the wall of your past,
the latenight telephone calls to the dead dad
who routinely tied you down to a red desk until you
got the grammar right, the argument
that came to blows between a son and his
father -- there in that paper stack room,
that chamber of the heart's interrogation -- the placement
of the period, in or out of the brackets
of a saying, telling, that multiple embrace of the notice.

I notice this particular season, same light
of a particular night in Vermont, passing through
with you and your "illegal alien" bride
going home to a place you'd never been,
never seen, among the placid cows I dread;
still inside a pen and the razor of the keys
and truth on that old Olympic, the constant pecking
order, the link and chain. The drive.

~ for M.C.
written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 17

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

"Oxygen" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 16)


You were an in way out, full-blown
panic in a parka. The angels
wrestled into substance in the snow
lay for us, expressing. Laid out
between the pee rings, the ghosts of us
loved eternally into the reasons, seasoned
errors, arreared into another penalty
before payday; they lay there, looking at us.
We, burning, believing into another century,
melt into the mold. We select furniture
and argue. We put up sconces, esconced
in our own individual dreams of tomorrow.
Will this fit here? This heat, this heart, this sacrifice?
I put you here -- where I'll forget. The photo
of us in relief, the military armor of a jaded
adolescence holding us right. Would you
remember me, the way I fashioned myself
then -- a bright balloon of down, a punctured
raft of sleep, a tied down stay, a phantom
breath of our last mingled, bungled kiss?

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 16

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

"Allure" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 15)


Autumn's a lure
of anything goes -- let fly
your seed pods, left behind
lovers; ubiquitous paper
colored to season decorates
the halls of dailiness. This down
here thinks it is a hurricane
going down. Baja inscribes the bay
with fast food wrappers, hypodermic
discards and the dregs of hangovers.
Over substance, the fine sheen
of flesh, the market of memory
hankering for a sell. Will you be
that video, playing all day in the hot
house of a dream? Could you shed
the particles of what you were -- that
mood in the grass, that turning? I let go
and glide into my future as the rest
of this tree, this heartwood, here,
foreign and carved into the symbols
of something I'm wrought. Will you go
with me to market? Can you share this shed,
mill in the departments of the loveless?
Lured into meadows and small mountains
of leaves -- these beginnings, those left.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 15

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Unconscious Mutterings #167 On 4/18/06"

  1. Ambition :: calms the nerves of the shattered and severed.

  2. Meatloaf :: served on a platter -- a life lived without

  3. Celebrity :: or chance. The wee

  4. Coach :: of the conscious telling the umpire off.

  5. Slacker :: in training, all the ways he means anything but

  6. Reflection :: the wayside, the

  7. Original :: Sin paving the way to

  8. Risk :: and siege. It was a blessing to be

  9. Saved :: here in the from-here-on-after of Autumn.

  10. June ::'s perky nipples stunning the band -- and a new song is sung.

* Say you will subliminally and save it sub-consciously at La Luna Nina, the Moon Child in residence.

"Unconscious Mutterings #166 On 4/18/06"

  1. Buck :: took a while, naming his time.

  2. Harry :: had the time complete; dawn, a

  3. Play :: filling the seats of horizon, the pink

  4. Monstrosity :: of a high beam fading the dingy

  5. Nightclub :: into sorrow. So much to see. So much

  6. Missing :: The angels of Mercy Street backfire in the dusk,

  7. Sprout :: halos of feathers in the after-glow. The winsome

  8. Flavor :: of whiskey settling the bet. My

  9. Identity :: or yours? You seal the lip.

  10. Saucy :: or shaken? Your rocks or mines.

* Name what's under the next word; try a ten-line poem subconsciously at La Luna Nina's web.

"Unconscious Mutterings #165 On 4/18/06"

  1. Desire :: revs her engines, lost

  2. Sleep :: counts down the nights,

  3. Lost :: nights count and the sleep of

  4. 2006 :: reduces into flan.

  5. Pump :: up the batter. Hit it to

  6. Space :: and back. The cleaving and the

  7. Stuck :: stick in the craw of memory's

  8. Reference:: that dry beginning when what mattered opened:

  9. Birth:: ritual, tempered brows, burrowed retreats, the

  10. Hand:: holding the self, autumn's salient flutterings.

* Be lost in the moment -- spare it now at La Subliminal Luna Nina.

"Unconscious Mutterings #164 On 4/18/06"

  1. Glass castle:: holiday, extra-terrestrial suite

  2. Preserved:: for the wedding of

  3. Jealousy:: and revenge, that faithful

  4. Territory:: of the ever garde.

  5. Coffee:: in the wry morning.

  6. Stephen:: on his way to work. The crisp

  7. Slut:: in the mind's eye jail,

  8. Dynamic:: and heartbroken. Telling

  9. Daybreak:: forming on the brow like

  10. Dew:: New and alarmed -- see through.

* See into your own sown seeds, go subliminal.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

"Silver" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 14)


suddenly appears the day after you went,
after spring pretended to die and the left
behind clouds decided to snow; the blizzard
happened in the midst of your constant laugh,
my last remembrance of you. Every time you are here
you are laughing -- that host, the mind's eye, grinning.

Now the mountains have lost their silver threads,
the hot rock reddens with the sun, and I think of you,
the gray hairs you teased me about wanting. "Stick around,"
you said, "you'll get them." The western landscape punctuates
the sky, the lost score of the peaks waiting to be sung.
I wish away the life I was without you, the handy
threads I pull to get away, the reasons,
unreasonable then, for why you left. And now,
without you, I feel your hand on my shoulder,
the steel of your fingers guiding, and the light --
the light there -- right there, providing.

(for Eileen Tabios)
written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month for April 14

Get your daily NaPoWriMo poem topic/ title here, then scroll down.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

This Time Last Year - On PoMo & Po-Bloggers: Notes On Jockeys From A Mule's Mouth

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."

Friday, April 14, 2006

"Kitchen Grief" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for 4/13)

Kitchen Grief

See the buzzards over Boulder
today. Dead hot. Earthquake weather
if it'd been on the coast. Circling
calculation. What station the next
body lay? The birds above the quad
over the head of an upturned Dalton;
Trumbo's all handed, all heart mission.
The bay of sky opening to the merchant ships,
the clouds, the few skiffs of passion
still lingering around the campus. Jesse,
dead but not yet buried, laid out today,
his boyish laugh laid to rest -- un sueño
in a glass of remembrance. The promise
of spring heavy as the odor of a hung-over
senior. All the misconceptions loaded
in a carafe of courage. These bold plans
now a kitchen of grief, the feasting
yet to come. And a single contract
is signed with a pledge of loyalty
and a drink to that. As the buzzards
of Boulder move up for a closer inspection
in this season of suicide and falling grades,
a full-blown something laid to nest
beside the roadside -- a ring of caps,
a circle of camps.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month

*scroll down to end of next post for today's topic/ title out of the hat

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"The Oranges At the End of the Meal" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for 4/12) & Topic/Title for Today w/ Updates

The Oranges At the End of the Meal

There were oranges at the end of the meal
and oranges at the start in the salad, and
an orange peel of your long ponytail satiated
and served. Your sweet lips still pursed
to the tartness in that garden. Nothing sweet
could end that fantasy meal. The poached mandarins
puzzling the bloody meat all night; and when it hit
the flames and the succulent dying began again
in the dying dusk, we licked the beasts we were.
All night awake for you. All day, the pungent night
remembering in the whiff of your scent. All animals
came to the remembering fire, a ring of fire
like in Cash's wife's remembering hit song
as I watched the wood flare into working coals.
All that work that hid you away from our
particular sorrow. All the ways I made you

today's topic/ title out of the hat for April 13 is:

"Kitchen Grief"
today's topic/ title out of the hat for April 14 is:

today's topic/ title out of the hat for April 15 is:

today's topic/ title out of the hat for April 16 is:

today's topic/ title out of the hat for April 17 is:

"Moonlight In Vermont"
today's topic/ title out of the hat for April 18 is:

"Wet Feet"
today's topic/ title out of the hat for April 19 is:

"First Thought"
tomorrow's topic/title out of the hat for April 20 is:

tomorrow's topic/title out of the hat for April 21 is:

"Stenciled Memories"
today's topic/title out of the hat for April 22 is:

"Heart Shaped Scars*"
tomorrow's topic/title out of the hat for April 23 is:

"Tension In the Body"
tomorrow's topic/title out of the hat for April 24 is:

"Testimony, Trial"

Don't read ahead if you want to play along until the day of writing. Since I'll be in California on the 25th thru the end of the month, I'll post next week's topics/ titles out of the hat.

topic/title out of the hat for April 25 is:

"This Is Beat"
topic/title out of the hat for April 26 is:

topic/title out of the hat for April 27 is:

tomorrow's topic/title out of the hat for April 28 is:

"How Good Sleep Sounds"
topic/title out of the hat for April 29 is:

"Candy Bar"
topic/title out of the hat for April 30 is:

"Live In the Moment"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

There's More to This Than You'll Ever Know

Which literature classic are you?

George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four. You are the classic warning against the threat of totalitarianism. To you, politics and philosophy are inseparable, auchtorities suck and the reality might not exist outside our imaginations.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Yup, gotta watch those "auchtorities."

"The Best Seven Minutes of My Life" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for 4/11) & Topic/Title for Today w/ Updates

The Best Seven Minutes of My Life

were spent with you. How many poems
open like that? How many yous open like that
to a touch? Your delicate face in my palms,
the blush of our truth on your cheeks. What sudden
love, yes, struck silly talking, a new you pressed
to my hips. We were a way out of that cul-de-sac
of our fin d' siecle. We were a single wave
pushing into a shore -- our lives, unfolding
before us: all the chip-lipped cups and the books,
the rats stacked up in cages, your instruments
and their cases completing the high-rise cityscape
in the kitchen. How I cooked for you, love
in the making, our love-making made permanent
in the stamping. Yes, I loved you. Yes, you were
the love of my life -- that time. Yes, we were.
Though we never made that summit and made love
in a tent above treeline. I never stopped wanting
you. You, in all your delicate shards and ways,
curling to me, covering me with your boney
wires, all the you coming out of you,
all the ways to live and love in seven
minutes of wonder, and wounding, or less.

written in 7 minutes or less for National Poetry Writing Month. Go to my MySpace blog to read all the poems as well as today's. Spend the best 7 minutes of your life finally getting out those poems and drafts of poems by writing one a day for the month of April -- or heck, any 30 days. I'll be posting "what comes out of the hat" -- those little slips of paper I've collected that were left over from my workshops & classes when we do this exercise adapted from Natalie Goldberg's book, "Writing Down the Bones." You can set a timer or use your computer clock and write a poem in 7 minutes -- then take 24 hours to type it, revise it if you want, and post it on your blog or here in the comments. I'd love to read them!

Today's slip out of the hat for April 12 is:

"The Oranges At the End of the Meal"

"Sweet Sugar On Brown Dresses" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for 4/10)

Sweet Sugar On Brown Dresses

Memphis Minnie stole the show
twangin' and wailing on her electric guitar,
making the trains sing through the blood of the dancers,
their sewing machines stitching brown uniforms into souls
through their steps, the dance taking the hand of sorrow
for a spin. She would plan the great escape, Sojourner
searchin' for her truth -- all gussied up and settling
for a six-string happiness. Next train to Clarksville.
It's a long walk home. I been there: taxi ride crosstown
with the Pakistani driver who was born there. "Sure,"
he said, "the paper just ran a big spread." Her stance,
her grinning gold, the accents of her indigenous brows
even near death, a face and the paralyzed hands folded
on the porch in Memphis. Another photograph. Another kind
of home, far from the stockyards, the killing pens, the Sundown
Laws. It was not that "my man done left me," that pleading
through the night, it was that "I hate to see the evening sun
go down" when The Law had the right to arrest you, you,
a Negress, unaccompanied," rape you, beat you, sterilize you,
and abort your child when the sun go down....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

NaPoWriMo Poem topic/ Title for 4/11/06

Get a timer ready. Write a poem in 7 minutes. Take 24 hours to read it or not, revise or not, and type it up and post it here or on your blog.

What came out of the hat for April 11 is:

"The Best Seven Minutes of My Life"

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sad News - Que Viva Los Derechos por todos!

Date: Apr 8, 2006 10:05 AM

[Repost From: iliana...thank you!]

Sunday, April 9, 2006
12:00 p.m.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
710 S. Sultana Ave., Ontario, CA 91761

Louise Corales, whose 14 year-old son, Anthony Soltero, died on April 1 after committing suicide, will speak to the community and ask for a prayer for her son this Sunday, following the 11:00 a.m. mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ontario, California.

Eighth grader Anthony Soltero shot himself through the head on Thursday, March 30, after the assistant principal at De Anza Middle School told him that he was going to prison for three years because of his involvement as an organizer of the April 28 school walk-outs to protest the anti-immigrant legislation in Washington. The vice principal also forbade Anthony from attending graduation activities and threatened to fine his mother for Anthonys truancy and participation in the student protests.

Anthony was learning about the importance of civic duties and rights in his eighth grade class. Ironically, he died because the vice principal at his school threatened him for speaking out and exercising those rights, Ms. Corales said today. "I want to speak out to other parents, whose children are attending the continuing protests this week. We have to let the schools know that they cant punish our children for exercising their rights."

Anthonys death is likely the first fatality arising from the protests against the immigration legislation being considered in Washington, D.C. Anthony, who was a very good student at De Anza Middle School in the Ontario-Montclair School District, believed in justice and was passionate about the immigration issue. He is survived by his mother, Louise Corales, his father, a younger sister, and a baby brother.

Ms. Corales will speak to the community after mass on Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 12:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. She will ask for a prayer for Anthony, whose funeral and burial are scheduled for Monday, April 10 in Long Beach, where he was born.

Next Topic/ Title for NaPoWriMo Poem for April 9 and April 10

Get a timer or do this with friends which is best with someone keeping time and calling out the 3 minutes left mark, 1 minute left and a 'wrap it up' signal. (I just use my computer clock and scribble on hotel stationary.) Type it up and post it to your blog and/or in the comments 24 hours later. Revise as you want. (Yesterday's wasn't revised at all except for an additional stanza break added in the typing.) Have fun. Go down deep. Hey, who doesn't have 7 minutes to write a poem?

Title out of the hat for April 9 is:

"The Crimes of Goodness"


Title out of the hat for April 10th is:

"Sweet Sugar On Brown Dresses"

"Friendly Fire" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for April 7 & Tomorrow's Title)

Friendly Fire

He was the friendliest fire
you'll ever meet, the burning brow,
hawklike -- eagle-eyed and splendid,
black wings opening when he looked at you;
you, stunning in the view. He had a vein
constricted at the temple, a single throb
pulse of rage before he hit you.

The most beautiful man you'll ever meet,
full of I love yous and honey, the stick
and sweet spoil of summer sweating off
that brow. He'll need you. He'll time you,
ride you 'til it hurts. Be a word
he doesn't speak, a turn of phrase
in French, something foreign to this land,
the red dirt that birthed him -- first son
of a lost civilized tribe. He was the most
too good to be true you'd ever seen
and then you vanished

under a lump on your head the size
of an apricot, plum-colored, plush.
Just you, first. First Nation
penalty. He was the friendliest
fire you had ever smoked. He was
the quickest burn in an underground forest
of men. He was the timber, a tender fire,
and going down in flames.

written in 7 minutes for National Poetry Writing Month
tomorrow's topic out of the "hat" (get a timer ready) is:

"Her Shallow Grave"

My poem for April 8 is posted at my MySpace blog: The Poems, The Whole Poem, And Nothing But the Poem.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Lorna Dee Cervantes In Portland 4/8 - Sheryl Luna & Time Hernandez @ CU Boulder 4/7

Two of the best new Chicano writers (Xicanerati) will be reading here at CU Boulder tonight, Sheryl Luna and Tim Hernandez. An incredible pairing and I won't be here! :-(

Friday, April 7th
7 PM
Dennis Small Cultural Center, UMC 457

University Memorial Center
University of Colorado
Near Euclid and Broadway.

Sheryl Luna (Pity the Drowned Horses) and Tim Hernandez (Skin Tax).

I'm off to Portland, Oregon - Reed College - to read at this year's Social Justice Festival tomorrow. If you're in the area come on by. It's free! (I'm taking my hiking boots. Orale!)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Onery (Poem for New Orleans and for Hurricane Survivors Where Ever They Are)"

My NaPoWriMo poem for today and the next topic out of the hat (get your timers ready to write a 7 - minute poem) is on the bottom of the previous post. Just scroll down.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

April 6th Is Luis & Susan Cervantes Day In San Francisco

San Francisco Chronicle - May 2, 2005
  • Luis Cervantes -- Muralist Who Inspired Generations of Artists

  • Cicero A. Estrella, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Monday, May 2, 2005

    Renowned muralist Luis Cervantes died at his San Francisco home Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer.

    He was 81.

    Mr. Cervantes, co-founder of Precita Eyes Muralists, a Mission District nonprofit that promotes the mural art form, inspired generations of artists.

    "He influenced a lot of Chicano and La Raza artists, and they influenced his work," said his son Luz De Verano Cervantes. "He was passionate about creating a message about one's roots. His murals were often about community, the universal themes of life and transformation and the spirit of family and friends."

    Luis Cervantes and his wife, Susan Kelk Cervantes, opened the New Mission Gallery in the 1960s, and in 1977, they started Precita Eyes Muralists, whose mission is to produce urban community art through collaborations. Mr. Cervantes directed many of the nonprofit's projects, including "The Cross of Quetzalcoatl" at San Francisco State's student union, "The Precita Valley Vision" at the Precita Valley Community Center and "Si Se Puede" at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in San Francisco.

    Mr. Cervantes was born in Santa Barbara. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1942 and served in England, Belgium and France with the 358th Engineer General Service Regiment. Mr. Cervantes was among the invasion forces at Normandy on D-Day.

    After World War II, Mr. Cervantes moved to San Francisco and found work as a custom mattress maker with the McRoskey Airflex Mattress Company, his employer until his retirement in 1992. He served as president of the San Francisco Furniture Workers Union for two years.

    Mr. Cervantes used his G.I. Bill scholarship to study sketching and sculpture at San Francisco State College and ceramic sculpture at the College of Marin and the San Francisco Art Institute. His sculptures have been shown at the M.H. de Young Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    Mr. Cervantes, who abandoned ceramic sculptures in the 1970s to concentrate on painting with acrylics, taught at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco State, the Galeria De La Raza and other venues.

    In 1990, he and his wife participated in the Ecological Arts Collaboration, a cultural exchange between American and Russian artists. The couple visited Russia three times and produced two murals in St. Petersburg and one in Moscow.

    Mayor Gavin Newsom proclaimed April 6 "Luis and Susan Cervantes Day," and May is Mural Awareness Month in the Bay Area.

    In addition to Kelk Cervantes and Luz De Verano Cervantes, Mr. Cervantes is survived by sons Suaro and Monte of San Francisco and Stephen of Corralitos (Santa Cruz County); daughter Lorna Dee Cervantes of Boulder, Colo.; brothers Angelo of Las Vegas, Juan of Crawfordville, Fla., and Frank of Lompoc; sister Aurora Cervantes of Santa Barbara; and five grandchildren.

    The family requests that donations and contributions be sent in Mr. Cervantes' memory to Precita Eyes Muralists, 2981 24th St., San Francisco, 94110.

    A public memorial is planned this month.

    Page B - 3
    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

    Help declare the Cervantes Studio a cultural landmark.
    Motion Granted for San Francisco's Frida Kahlo
    8-22-2005-Susan Cervantes & Suaro @ protest eviction
    Susan Cervantes with supporters
    Beyond Chron
    Alison Stevens Rodrigues 22.AUG.05

    Longtime resident, artist, and pillar of San Francisco's Mission District, Susan Cervantes, claimed a victory last week when a judge ruled that she did not have to leave her home of 35 years – yet.

    In response to the three-day eviction notice that landlords Douglas Wong and Pearl Yee served Cervantes in July, no fewer than 50 people assembled at 9:00 a.m. on Friday to rally against it, and similar evictions that have been sweeping the City. For half an hour, tenants rights activists and Susan Cervantes supporters stood in front of 400 McAllister, refuting the displacement of artists and poor people, before Cervantes and her attorney stood in a court room and received word that their motion to take the eviction to trial was granted.

    Widely acknowledged for her part in creating hundreds of murals in the Mission, including those along the Women's Building and Balmy Alley, Cervantes is known locally for her commitment to the Precita Eyes Arts and Visitors Center, of which she is the founder and director. The Center, which is one of only three community mural centers in the United States, brings art into the daily lives of people through its offering of classes, workshops, and low-cost supplies to both children and adults. It also has served as a starting point for more than 20,000 students and tourists who have taken the eight-block Mission Trail Mural Walk offered by the Center.

    "She's such a fixture in the neighborhood," commented Ted Gullicksen, president of the San Francisco Tenants Union. "That's why this eviction is particularly egregious."

    Despite her significance as a cultural cornerstone, and the significance or her work as historical and artistic references, Cervantes might be forced to leave the home where she has paid rent for more than half of her life. Located just a short distance from the Center, her apartment has been more than just a place to live; it has served as both a studio for Cervantes and her late husband Louis, and as the birthplace for two of their children.

    "It is sacred and holy ground and should not be demolished," said Cervantes, adding that for the landlords who want her to leave, it seems that making an investment is more important than human life.

    Wong and Yee bought the three-story property at 398 Precita Ave. in July of 2005 and gave Cervantes a three-day notice to leave. Because the previous owner had converted the bottom floor, zoned for commercial use, into a residential unit, they claimed that her residence was an unlawful use of space.

    Representing Supervisor Tom Ammiano, Tomas Lee said, "I don't think those evicting [Cervantes] know the contributions she's made to this city or the respect she's gotten in the artistic community worldwide."

    Gullicksen explained that the first-time landlords are using the wrong "just cause" for their eviction. Had they gone about the process correctly, he continued, they would have issued reason number 10 of the 14 just causes for eviction under rent control. According the SF Tenants Union Web site, number 10 states that "the landlord seeks to demolish or otherwise remove the unit from rental housing use, has obtained all the necessary permits, and does so without ulterior reasons and with honest intent."

    "Demolishing a unit can take a while," noted Gullicksen, adding that the landlord(s) must give the tenant 30-days notice in addition to obtaining the appropriate permits. The tenant may then argue the case and so the process can take even longer.

    "But with an illegal-use just clause, which is what [Wong and Yee] used, a landlord can give just a three-days notice," Gullicksen said. "It's a classic example of a pretext eviction. They're trying to get Susan out because of her low cost of rent."

    Community activist Richard Marquez pointed out that the Mission is always on spectators' lists because the cost of housing there is often half of what it would be in other areas.
    "The Mayor seems to be working toward gentrifying the city – people are charging outrageous rent and the low- and no-income can't afford it," said longtime Mission resident, Iris Biblowitz. "That's why we're seeing more and more low- income people having to leave San Francisco,"

    If evicted, Cervantes said she would likely be one of those emigrating, which is why fellow muralist, Marta Ayala, attended the rally. She recalled that when Cervantes' husband, Louis, was alive, he and his wife were the people that artists went to with their queries and conflicts. "They were the Diego and Frida for us here in San Francisco," said Ayala, referring to Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, who had been influential Mexican artists.

    If Cervantes leaves, Ayala insisted, the muralists of San Francisco will not know where to go. "We don't want to get lost."

    Meanwhile, Cervantes' attorney, Raquel Fox of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, said she was pleased with the outcome Cervantes' first court appearance, and Cervantes herself promised to continue putting up a fight.

    "We will continue the struggle for everyone," said Cervantes, adding that what is happening to her is just a microcosm of the injustices going on all over the world.
    mural detail (Susan Cervantes)
    ~ Alison Stephens Rodrígues
  • 398 Precita Avenue Cultural Landmark Status

  • download petition to declare bottom floor of 398 Precita Avenue a Cultural Landmark: petition.pdf

    Play Along for April - NaPoWriMo - National Poetry Writing Month

    * UPDATE: Scroll down for update and for today's topic out of the hat.
    Write a poem a day (Reyes Cardenas is yawning) for the month of April. My poems thus far for April are what I call "play poems" - these written in 7 minutes or less, and revised a bit (line breaks, etc.) when I typed them up. They all have titles that came out of whatever people wrote and put in a hat.

    I'll be posting whatever came out of the hat left over from various workshops and classes in reverse order of when they were pulled from it. Aha! Now something to do with all these little slips of paper!

    Don't have 7 minutes to write a poem today? Do what I do. Try 1 minute and write a hay(na)ku in 60 seconds (cool rainbow timer). Just go to OneWord com and get one; start there if you want, that's the first line in a hay(na)ku poem, the next is 2 words, the third is 3 words. Simple. Start again for next stanza. I end up with a 3 - 5 stanza poem in 60 seconds. Like running sprints. You can post it to their site. I use one slash to indicate line break and two for stanza break.


    So, got seven minutes to play? You've got 24 hours to type it up (I like to scribble, then I feel less like someone's going to be looking over my shoulder and censor) and post it to your blog. Post a link or post it here in the comments if you want to play along with me.

    Okay, here's today's slip of the hat - get a timer ready (works best with someone else in the room calling out the last 3 minutes, 1 minute and time to wrap it up):



    Don't like that idea? My students are writing ten lines a day for ten days. Try that.

    UPDATE: 4/6/06

    Here's my poem now posted at my MySpace space:


    for New Orleans and the survivors where ever they are)

    'Twas an onery wind
    blew in that summer sadness,
    that twisted the trees and the lumps
    in the hearts -- all those hearts thumping
    that day, that train-blasted winded
    day the levee didn't hold. Hold on!
    was the rains' echo, and its past,
    the summary of scattered pages,
    jackets sog-strewn and bogged down
    in the comprehension of it. Incomprehensible.
    All etched into history: the upside
    down non-survivors strung up on the crossing.

    You look out there, that sad somewhere
    cresting, that homesake sinking
    it in. I'm beginning again, and truth
    is all they have to say, the trailer
    bound, high-mark lifted souls in shatters,
    these shackles of survival hanging on
    a phone call, FEMA, the men in charge
    while memories mold and families hunger
    and the old just can't take any more.

    Will you take this loaf of bread?
    Would you trade this big screen
    for a loaf of time? Would you shoot it
    in the air for them to come to you, give water
    to the baby who does not cry again?
    Just to say -- I'm here. Come out and save me.


    Today's topic out of the hat is:

    "Friendly Fire"

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    NaPoWriMo Poems - April 1-5

    April 1, 2001

    The Milk That Does Not Lie

    Between fever and fewer
    she lay there, faceless
    and defaced, she lay there
    expressing less, needing more
    than a handle to hold her,
    wanting more than a crank to
    start her, a locked chest,
    a box of hope or sorrow's key:
    the latch that would unhook her.

    He held his own, the vanished skyline
    over the ridge of memory. Her hair
    brushing the softness from his face
    as he looked at her, unseeing.
    Defacing as she lay there. Heaven,
    a fatal flaw, a missed exit,
    a feeling.

    April 2, 2006

    Our Ways, Our Whys

    Why does the season fly off
    the handle? Why do the trees
    resist the birds, the passive
    passing of autumn, the migratory
    monarchs? Why does the single
    stand of oak still long
    for the acorn? Why does the milk
    sour and lie?

    Our ways wind across the valley
    of our lost loves, the beaten paths
    pour into rivers of rain. The ways
    of children hurt us, often. The why
    of willful folly, the why of sinful
    golly still hovering over pursed lips.

    Why does the winter hold us
    to the fire and then let go?
    You hold a hand, forgetting to let go
    of the heart. You see a flower
    still holding to the petal and
    blow it off. Your fingers, a ring
    of fate -- then, take it off.

    April 3, 2006

    White Walls Are Great For Poetry

    Chuy came late or not at all.
    He pissed off the principal and pulled
    the hair of the pretty chola by the cholla.
    He dissed his homework, fed the chinchilla
    barbeque Doritos until it died after excreting
    a brilliant orange mound of dust. He jabbed
    the janitor in the face with his pencil
    then furrowed the brow of the brow-beaten
    teacher. All the classics passed
    him by. All the books with spines
    he let fly. He broke the headlights
    of the head cheerleader's car then
    sling-shot the lights in the parking lot.
    He stole all the hotdogs from the cafeteria
    then ate all the strawberry popsicles
    too. And afterwards, he picked up
    a pen, and followed his fate, he
    scrambled up to the scribble
    letting long vowels and longing
    go chomping at the gate, his open
    hand, his heart in a great O
    of wonder. Oh, white walls are great
    for poetry.

    April 4, 2006

    How to Get A Car Wash

    Take a five dollar bill, fold it,
    throw it away. Take a penny,
    scold it, make it pay and then
    spend it. Take a chance, hold it
    to your heart, blow on it, send it
    to a friend. Take a moment, extoll
    it. breathe fire into its face.
    Face it. Then forget it.

    All the ways the highways go,
    drive them in a silver sedan.
    Ride past the grandmother with the palsied
    gait, the old man shuffler by the wooden crate,
    the child holding a blue balloon waiting
    by the grate. Forget them. Remember
    passion. Remember where you put your keys.
    Recall registers ringing on Christmas eve.
    Record voices and shrill sounds
    still ringing in the leaden ear.

    Then pay the master, pay the slave,
    fill up on tanks of rage and rest.
    Gun the engines of your folly. Flee
    towards the second best, the third eyes,
    the favored relative, the sullen child
    cheered by snow. Feel your way
    back to the second crossing. And, there
    by the fresh grave in the mirror,
    open the hoses, shine the chromey cheeks,
    polish the head -- and care.

    April 5, 2006

    The End of the World As We Know It

    happens on the dot of an "I", in each
    patter of a millipede's feet, in every beat
    of a hummingbird's heart. I see the field
    frozen to steel, feel the frost split
    the single blade, favor the awakening
    of a fern frond, feel for the hungry tongue
    awaiting the forever ripening. I go out
    into the woods, mark my way with a yellow
    ribbon, scatter the crumbs of love longing
    to get back home. Remembering to close
    the door behind me, I breathe in the smell
    of my name in the wind, succumb to something
    smaller than myself. Feel my way back
    to the grinding -- my metal
    to the pedal, that awful rowing towards God.

    for Anne Sexton

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Comment to Comment by Diana Marie Delgado Posted In the Previous Post

    Hey there Diana! I'm missing you. I just got in from Dallas Writers Garret Conference, the "Writes of Spring" Book Festival a few hours ago. I teach tomorrow then off to Portland on friday for a reading at Reed College on Saturday night. Then I'm off to UC Berkeley the 26th.

    I feel good because I feel good this trip. YEA, Po Chai Pills! And maybe because it was a book festival -- I love books. And low stress -- and, I stopped and stocked up at Wild Oats before heading off to the airport. Smart move.

    I just spent too much time dealing with el chavalo T.R. writing this post:
    Please read my latest post on this. Please note it says, "I don't like it. But I face it."

    Tony, you were in an MFA program (studying at one of the "best" with one of the "best" I might add) and now dissertating and teaching in one of the better schools because you are ranked. Your letters of recommendation all included a rank, a very specific numerical rank down to the decimal scale and an X on a horizontal scale. You will be ranked by several committees down to the Regents down to the hundreth decimal when you go to apply for a job. The only reason you haven't won a major award or book publication is because you are being ranked. NEA, Fulbright, state grants, any grant proposal, any foundation, any editorial board (as opposed to individual editors or foundations; hence, my essay, whenever I get the time on how the best editors or publishers are the best poets) is going to rank you, and most now go for the corporate model (the antithesis of "humanites") of numerical convenience. Yes. Absolutely. Atrocious. My hubby was a middle manager in a fortune 500 corp (and he's an artist) and that's how he describes it: "They sit in these meetings and move peoples lives around like they were chips on a board and some they sweep off the table and then act as if they didn't exist." I just do it publicly. But I do it honestly. This list is based upon EVERYTHING in the archives from the beginning in the order the posts were written (Eduardo! AD! Tony! Y'all poof things, that is, y'all are mad deleters) which is how I read blogs after something catches my eye, and I confess I was relieved to somehow bracket Ron as who can read everything in Ron's archives through the years starting last March? And, Steve, this accounts for why you haven't made this year's list as I just clicked on you recently & I haven't had time to read all the way through.

    Tony, what's your trip? Who said anything about your genes? You have some killer poems. And you have some killer depressions, or at least as expressed on your blog. I was just trying to help. You seemed discouraged about your writing and, THE POINT: You aren't writing, and not hitting them out of the ballpark consistently every time the Muse pitches them like Ali or Rebecca (who are like speed ice skaters in the Olympics: Ali "wins" by one one-hundreth of one one-hundreth of a second). And it's a shame. You're good. You need to play again. Or get mad and challenged. I tried to go for that. You wrote your best poem, that I've seen, during that time - and I said so on my blog. The one in No Tell Motel is "The Best." When I first heard about the anthology I knew it would be and requested the anthology for review so I could write about it; I knew it had to be in there. I'm supposed to be writing the review for it now, or soon, I missed the inaugural issue deadline.

    And, frankly, rank and order is irrelevant for as all of us know there is only one "Best." Heck, what the heck is the Best Seller list? The best for this gal this year and just newly discovered po-bloggers this past year. But The Best is the Best for just one man, most often, and the orderlies supply a ranked list in case the original "Best" is unavailable or declines. Hey, isn't that The President and the Supreme Court who last elected him? Isn't that the Electoral College?

    Anyway. Just read all the poems that are available (ideally in the order they were posted) from all thirty poets on this list and ask yourself, don't you think this is a fair ranking -- not based upon their books or other publications which would be unfair as I've only read books by 4 of these authors. Come on. Just read "Torn" and ask yourself, don't you think C. Dale Young is just a wee bit better of a poet than you? Consistently. And Ali & Rebecca Louden, they set my poetry bones to sing every time they chime. Y'all are good.

    I will tell you a secret, yes, this one time because you're Chicano. Also because it's a bloody shame you don't write more and think better of your own writing. (btw the only reason I clicked on your blog in the first place is because you were one of the first to click on mine the day or week I put it up, and the title: Geneva Convention; I'm a peace activist) I am routinely asked to identify "The Best" based upon no other criteria but "literary excellence." There are years I have missed the deadline. This whole process is antithetical to everything I live -- but in some cases it involves real money for someone worthy, for example. I agree with everything you and others have said, especially Rebecca when I read her post -- I got it. I was going to write about but for numerous travels & teaching. Orale carnal, it's our Xicanismo that make us this way. But I feel guilty for missing deadlines to nominate, especially when all it involves is typing a single name, or a phone call. I'm blowing it for someone who deserves it. So to atone, this year, I decided, okay, here's my ranked list of this particular criteria, if the grant read this way, then this is who would get the money. See? Sucks. But, face it. This is the way it is. Po-Biz, I call it. But, don't worry, you're a personable guy, tall, good-looking, witty, undoubtly gifted, at least, that I know of, as a poet and by the evidence of your rank, that is, your present position. And, let's face it. You're a white guy. You're on your way. Your onda will arrive. I was just offering to "wax your board" -- your surfboard implying you had a ready made good one and the only reason you keep falling off the board at the big ones (like first book) is that you need an editor, that is, you needed a little wax applied the right way before the next big wave hits. How you got the crazy idea I was telling you write like a Chicano or put tortillas in your poem I don't know. (Although I would mind some of your amás' recipes in a poem a la Hass.) But what you wrote about the "Tortilla School" in your post on the New Sincerity I found personally and professionally insulting. And defamatory and professionally damging to me. Now all these poets think I'm about that -- and show me the text! If I were so inclined I'd win a law suit for defamation. My sitemeter plummeted and people were writing comments who never read anything else on my blog much less my response to that and other posts. Definitely defamatory. Now I'm the lady who's trying to "ghetto-pimp" your poems.

    And, can't we all be friends? It would help to read the words on the page. And not go off interpreting or re-traumatizing on me, in regards to whatever happened to you in school.

    If you knew me you would have heard, often and good-humouredly, "Competition's for horses and schools are for fish!"

    But if rich people want to give their money away. . .

    You, like all the others on this list can use me or this list as a reference, ask for a letter, send me a review copy of your books, refer to my published list whatever. Man, I like you! Poetically speaking.

    P. S. The only reason Jenn is on the bottom of the list is that she's a stay at home mom with five kids without the luxury of a nanny or stipend to fund her writing. You get the raw stuff on her blog, and I recognize the feat. I added her to the list replacing Bruce Covey who was on my original list but I had to delete to be fair as he doesn't have a blog just a group blog member. He was ranked much higher. And I had already typed out my list title and wanted an even 30. The list I wrote rapidly in my notebook at the sunday breakfast table in a fit of pique over missing another deadline.
    I'll be back soon with more than anyone would want to read!
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