Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lorna Dee Cervantes, Victor Hernandez Cruz @ Amherst - Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award

Lorna Dee Cervantes, Victor Hernandez Cruz @ Amherst College 12/2/06

I'll be leaving tomorrow for Amherst College in order to receive the Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award along with one of my earliest literary heroes, Victor Hernandez Cruz and Roberto Marquez. So, high honors indeed. I'm stoked! I'll be reading on Saturday, Dec. 2, with the other awardees, Louis, and some great spoken word artists and musicians including my favorite of the up & coming, Robert Karimi. It's free and open to the public starting at 6:45. Just click on the flyer image to see a bigger pic. If you're on the leafy right side of the country, come on out and say hello. Blog buddies always get a book discount.



I've been absolutely inundated with error messages in my email account as someone has lifted my name domain address and spammed it out. I spent most of yesterday erasing. I received about 200 of them. So, if you get anything from spelled out in my full name and mostly offering vacation fotos -- it's not from me! And, sorry, sorry for all the sorry spammers in the world. I'm not sure what to do at this point. It does make it hard to find my real email, though.


So, "I'm on the road again..."

"Unconscious Mutterings #199 On 11/30/06"

  1. Rhyme :: and the world chimes with you

  2. Substantial :: to the max, and

  3. Instant :: gratification is and the bloody

  4. Greed :: is not. Here is what I know:

  5. Brad :: did not decide, the whole world doesn't know,

  6. Season :: with spice and the nice ones expire.

  7. Accomplished :: to a T? I guess so.

  8. Invite :: the smiling masses, say lively,

  9. Sparkle :: and wit away the hours. A

  10. Rainbow :: everlasting is not the cure.

* Lie in your own wakeful dreaming the subliminal Luna Niña way.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I Bought Nothing Day And More On A Monday

Friday was my I Bought Nothing Day. I learned early on, about as far on as some of you, my favorite po' bloggers, are in age -- that far on -- that the most revolutionary thing I could do is stop consuming. Besides, I love the serendipity of segundas. A former student, Kayann Short has projected that message in Boulder with Buy Nothing Day, the day after Thanksgiving, usually with a farout fashion show on the mall for years. If it were me, I like the meat idea: [insert link to "carne at the courthouse" sometime soon] But, that's me. If you know me you know that I'm a lifetime non-driver. I decided that it was something I could do in my lifetime, never drive, for El Mundo's sake. El Mundo, which is about as close to a concept of "God" as I can fathom. La Gaia. Ya. So I know enough about driving to get someone to the hospital if need be, but that's about it. And get a car with a stick shift started. Otherwise, cars just aren't part of my culture. Talk about feeling like an alien. Or feeling in exile in one's own homeland. Ahem.

Anyway, every Thanksgiving I swear I'm going to fast. Just because. For history's sake. But, I don't. I get into Thanksgiving. I'm in my element -- feeding people. I always make enough food to feed a Mayan village. But it gets eaten. That's what the rest of the long weekend's for. That, and working puzzles. Gets the old stress valves down. I was hoping for T-Day by the Bay this year, but it was not to be. Too much, "The check is in the mail." Oh well. I love turkey on my table. It makes me feel so grown up. And, in control of my own life. You ACA types will understand; the best part of about having such a crummy childhood is that it all gets better in every way on every day. Yeah. And a good leek soup, too -- might as well -- with roasted butternut squash this year.

I'm getting ready to type up some prose, some essays I've had for a year or so. But for the grading. And grading. And grading. I ought to have a whole stadium erected by now, with an olympic-sized swimming pool what with all the grading. I'll also be posting soon about the books I've been blurbing this year, including the new anthology of new Latina/o poets. Killer. I think I've been inspired by it. That and Alfred Arteaga's new book, Frozen Accident, which just came out in the vellum November 11. I'd say, Poe to my Eliot, but, that's me.

One thing I'll be typing is part two of my long literary autobiography. One of the things I've been thinking about alot lately has been the unwritten unheralded connection between Boringuens y Xican@s in this country, especially in the early years of the Chicano Renaissance. For example, no ever writes about all the years I spent visiting the Nuyoriquen Poets Cafe every six months and hanging with Miguel Algarin all those years from 1976-1986. And of Miguel and poets hanging in my driveway, the MANGO courtyard back then, in their van while on their venture made adventure to "Discover the West." There would be no Chicano Literature were it not for Pedro Pietri's "Puerto Rican Obituary" and his First Draft Movement just as there would be no market today for the Latina Re-emergence in ChicLit. But, that's a long story. We can take it up in Amherst this weekend. I'll be accepting the Louis Reyes Rivera (one of those poet/activists whose work influenced me in those early formative years) Lifetime Achievement Award on December 2, along with one of my earliest influences, Victor Hernandez Cruz, at Amherst College saturday night. We'll be joining some great poets & spoken word artists; it's bound to be a great & historic night.

Meanwhile, here's a MySpace video of one of my new MySpace buddies, La Bruja without the band and scratch. Check out the rest of her music and poems on her site and blog. She started out in the Cafe as well. "There are many paths. They all lead to the same place, nowhere. But only one has a heart. One path weakens you. The other will make you strong as long as you are one with it." I've been listening to Manu Chao, "Esperanza" this season. It makes me happy. All that polyglossia and intertextuality. Una Esperanza y ahua. Chao. Y provecho.

Posted By:LA BRUJA

Get this video and more at

(currently listening to Mana, AMAR ES COMBATIR: "Combatiente" y "Somos Mar y Arena") Somos.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Easy No-Fail Thanksgiving Recipes - Cooking Like Poets (For Orlando Ramirez)

A poet gives advice and no-fail recipes for herb-brined roast turkey, bread stuffing with holiday goodies, sauteed mixed vegetables with dill, and sweet orange yam casserole topped with caramelized pecans. All prepared with her secret ingredient: love.

BLOG NOTE: I wrote this a couple of months ago but was too busy to type it up before deadline. I wrote this in a rush, giddy with the possibility of branching out and writing "content" for pay: cooking, travel, literary and other articles for this online agency. So, I'll post this today, in case ya'll are faced with a big ole turkey you have no idea what to do with -- and it's not your boss. I dedicate this to Orlando Ramirez, a real food writer, foodie and poet extraordinaire. If you don't know his work, read him. Nando, I think of you fondly every year -- for the past 20 years. I miss you in the kitchen. Here's to another Thanksgiving again sometime soon. Glad you're with friends, cooking it up and writing it up. (Great new poems!) I'm thankful for the memories. Buen provecho, all.

A poet gives advice and no-fail recipes for herb-brined roast turkey, bread stuffing with holiday goodies, sauteed mixed vegetables with dill, and sweet orange yam casserole topped with caramelized pecans. All prepared with her secret ingredient: love.

There's no way to fail when preparing a Thanksgiving Feast. Everyone will be so grateful that you're doing it that no one will care if you've overcooked the turkey, failed to mash the potatoes completely or over-salted the veggies. Don't worry. Thanksgiving is about receiving and expressing love and that's what cooking is all about. It's a natural given. Relax. Put on your favorite music, pour a glass of your tastiest elixir and roll up your sleeves or get out grandma's apron. You are about to work wizardries of love. Feel it.

First thing to do is buy the turkey — if you're serving it, that is. Even if you haven't reserved your free-range, organically fed, no-additives bird, you can always find an extra at the local health food store, either small (perfect for my family) or very large (perfect for that family reunion or flurry of friends). These turkeys are partially flash frozen as soon as they are processed and are fresh and defrosted at the time of purchase. Succulent, naturally tender and flavorful (happy gobblers), it's hard to go wrong as long as you closely follow safe handling and cooking instructions.

I brine mine. The day before I use a large stock pot and fill it with half a bottle of good Chardonnay, Gefirtzagamer, Riesling or other white wine recommended for turkey; add one cup of sea salt, 2 tablespoons each of rosemary, sage, oregano and tarragon, and enough water to reach the top of the submerged bird. (You can use a small clean or new bucket for extra large turkeys.) Keep refrigerated overnight up to 15 hours. In the morning, drain, rinse and dry. Prepare using your favorite recipe as instructed. I preheat the oven to 425 and roast for 45 minutes before turning down the oven to 375-350, browning the bird and sealing in the juices before slow roasting. I also believe in the virtues of frequent basting (with wine, butter, herbs, shallots chopped fine (or onions), and broth from simmered turkey necks and tails. I also place the turkey on a bed of whole celery stalks, carrots, and leeks which adds flavor and keeps the turkey from sticking to the bottom when it comes time to drain the drippings for gravy.

"Me! Make gravy?" you ask. Piece of cake, I say. Or, a box of corn starch. Have some handy. Skim the fat off the top of drippings after pouring a 1/4 - 1/2 cup of wine or a little wine or cider vinegar (Chinese rice wine vinegar works well) into the pan (after remaining turkey and vegetables or stuffing left in the roasting pan) and stir, scraping up and dissolving all the flavorful bits. After all fat is removed add cooked giblets and neck meat (if you must, I just use neck meat as I don't like innards) and chopped mushrooms (I like shittake which are also healthy). Stir until cooked. Then, have a bit of milk, half & half or unflavored rice or soy milk, and place 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in a cup and add a half cup of liquid, stirring well as you do. When cornstarch is dissolved add, while stirring, to the simmering liquid. Stir constantly until it thickens. Adjust liquid (you can add broth) or add more cornstarch mixture to reach desired thickness. Gravy will thicken as it cools. Pour into your grandmother's gravy boat or other server. Add finely chopped parsley to garnish. Simple and delicious. You can also add a can of mushroom soup to the basting liquid at the last hour of roasting to enrich your gravy or your memories of old time sake.

Now, you say you'd rather take this bird and stuff it? Piece of bread. 6 - 8 to be exact. I lay them out on the rack of an oven set to low until dry and hard. But, in a pinch, I just toast them. Use your favorite bread. We're gluten intolerant but can tolerate spelt bread. You can also use non-gluten rice bread or make non-gluten muffins (without sweetener) the night before. Good to get the kids in on the crumbling. Clean hands an dry toast just seem to go together -- when it's okay to make crumbs.

Get up early for stuffing. We eat later than most anyway. That way our friends can come over after their family meals for a second helping. But the turkey must be stuffed immediately before roasting. And you can't assemble the ingredients ahead of time. Be sure you allow extra roasting time for a stuffed turkey.

When is a stuffing a dressing? I don't know. But, dressing in a dish is just not stuffing to me. It's the most complicated and time-consuming part of the meal. So, if it's not in the turkey, soaking up all that rich goodness, then what's the point? Just do it right, paying close attention to the safe-handling and roasting instructions.

I like crouton-sized chunks in my stuffing, so I crumble the bread to half crumbs, half 1 inch pieces. Then I add sage, tarragon, oregano, pepper and a bit of marjoram to taste (1 tablespoon each). I always grind dried herbs between my fingers as I'm adding to bring out the oils and flavor, and keep sprinkling until it looks right. Mix well. I keep the salt out, and always use unprocessed sea salt which seems to affect people who are on low-sodium diets. Besides, I usually make the broth using sea salt and simmered heart, tail and turkey necks in chicken broth (also salted), a cup of white wine, and chopped celery, carrot, parley, onion or shallots, garlic, a bay leaf or two and the above mentioned herbs. Strain and moosh cooked vegies through the strainer into the broth after simmering 2 to 3 hours adding liquid as needed.. Make plenty broth. This is a good stock to have handy throughout the meal preparation. You can also use a can of mushroom soup in this which will have plenty salt unless you buy otherwise. I sprinkle 1/2 - 1 cup of this on the bread crumbs along with half a stick of melted butter or ghee, and an egg mixed well to moisten. Do not over-moisten. Stuffing will absorb liquid from the turkey. Mmmmm.

I add all sorts of goodies before adding the final liquid to the stuffing; whenever I'm feeling nostalgic: celery sliced at an angle, chopped parsley, shallots, mushrooms, water chestnuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, cooked neck meat or other bits of turkey, a handful of bean sprouts, a few shakes of paprika, apple (Golden Delicious), dried figs, dried papaya, golden raisins (the latter fruits left out these years as my partner stands far to the extreme when it comes to the sweet/savory debate; he likes no sweet in his savory). Loosely stuff the turkey. I keep large darning needles and clean cotton thread reserved for actually performing surgery on the bird, then tucking the legs back into the wire or plastic holds. Place a wad or two of stuffing in the neck cavity. Or, if you have two stuffings, try a different one in the neck (which will cook more thoroughly) sewing the flaps of skin over it.

Rub bird with olive oil and ground herbs, sprinkle with paprika and dot with 1/2 stick of butter. Pour 1 cup of white wine and 1 cup of turkey stock or chicken broth into the side of the pan, being careful not to wash off herbs for turkey. Roast. Relax. Baste every half hour after the first 45 minutes.

And the rest? I finely slice sticks of vegetables about the length of my second knuckle (julianned): carrots, zucchini or other squash, green beans, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, red and yellow bell pepper, and fast wok or saute them in 1/2 olive oil and about a tablespoon of butter (hey, it's a special occasion) and maybe a splash of wine (to keep it consistent) or broth or water. Cook until limp but still somewhat crisp (you can add the mushrooms and zucchini last along with 2 teaspoons of dill weed).

Let people bring the rest -- as long as someone brings the refritos topped with cheese. Of the other side dishes my favorite is My Mother's Special Sweet Orange Yam Casserole topped with Toasted Carmelized Pecans. Just wrap garnet yams, stabbed several times with a fork, in foil and place around the turkey in the oven. When soft, split skin with a knife and scoop out yams into large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 stick of butter, 2 tablespoons each of condensed frozen orange juice, Gran Marnier (best) or other orange liquor or 1 tablespoon of sweet sherry (okay), and mash, mixing thoroughly. Spread into buttered or greased casserole dish (9x9 square). Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium to low heat in a frying pan or skillet and add crushed or chopped pecans. (I hit mine in the bag with a rolling pin.) Saute, stirring constantly until lightly toasted. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of raw sugar and stir until thick. (You can add a splash of liquor before this and let alcohol bubble off before adding maple syrup.) Scatter these with a spoon over casserole. (You can prepare this ahead of time and freeze.) Heat for 20 minutes in oven set at 400 degrees. (Watch that the pecans don't burn, you may have to cover with aluminum foil in final minutes of cooking. Hubby eats this discretely on the side, after consuming all his savories, that is. Like dessert. Kids love it. I still do. It makes a good breakfast, too.

Add your own memories. Build your own feast, fest and fancy. Invent and recreate family treasures. After all, everything, when touched with love, is good. And, don't forget to say "Thank you."

Copyright 2006 by Lorna Dee Cervantes

On Thankstaking

The Puritans were not just simple religious conservatives persecuted by the Church of England. They were outcasts and fugitives who came to the new world to establish a "Holy Kingdom". And they came to America in at least 100 ships. Their plan was to take the land from the native people to build their own country. They were the "chosen ones," or so they thought, in a holy war against Satan. Here is what Thomas Mather, the leader of the Puritans, was reported to have said on Thanksgiving day;

"In a Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plymouth in 1623, Thomas Mather, an elder, gave special thanks to God for the devastating plague that wiped out most of the native Wampanoag Indians. Mather added in his sermon that he praised God for destroying chiefly the young men and the children, whom he described as the "very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth."

To the Pilgrims, the Indians were heathens and instruments of the devil. The Indians were considered dangerous. They courted them, waiting for additional ships to arrive. The real reason behind the first Thanksgiving feast was to negotiate a treaty for land that would give the Pilgrims time to build their Army. The irony was that the Indians brought most of the food for that first feast.

As the Pilgrims gained military strength, they rejected friendship. One night in 1637, without provocation, Gov. Bradford, the commander of the colony, sent his militia against his Indian neighbors. The soldiers conducted a surprise assault and while the village slept, every man, woman and child were killed. Bradford used these words to describe his night of fire and death:

"It was a fearful sight to see them frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same and horrible was the stink and stench thereof. But the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice and they [the Massachusetts militiamen] gave praise thereof to God." Afterward he called on his congregation to give thanks to God for the attack "that on this day we have sent 600 heathen souls to hell."

A decade later, most of the New England Indians were either exterminated or fled to Canada. Others were sold into slavery. It was the success of selling Indians into slavery that prompted the Puritan ship-owners to go to Africa for black slaves, bringing them to America and selling them to colonies of the South. The first ship deployed for this purpose was the Mayflower.

Upon learning this it was a sad revelation about this special holiday. The TRV sessions were conducted in the blind and do tend to confirm the historical record of Thanksgiving as a bloody and terrible episode in American history. Certainly, not what we were all taught to believe growing up. But after thinking about it, though the history we have learned may be in error, it doesn't take away the intent of millions of Americans who on this day raise a glass and toast family and friends celebrating and giving thanks for their love and bounty. (However, This bubble of illusion still needs to be busted into reality-AUG)

It is also comforting to know that we have access to the truth. Even though it might be painful or not be the truth we want, at least it is the truth. And knowing the truth is always better than honoring a lie.

From the Matrix site

Kramer: 'You See There's Still Those Words, Those Words, Those Words ... To See What's Buried Beneath You Stupid M**F**S'

I'm really bummed out about this. Kramer was my favorite comedian on Fridays (?) early on decades ago. I thought he was cute, and smart. Anyone remember that poet character he used to do? He'd seduce some lady with poetry -- the hilarious bit being that it was actually good poetry, done Kramer style, wearing wide lapels and tapered pants. But you know, there was always an edge of outright racism to Seinfeld, enough that it made me uncomfortable, to the point of never telling anyone that I watched it. Not that I watched it much, come to think of it. What I watched I watched in reruns. I still do now. Or, did. I'll never be able to watch it again -- and laugh. Never. I used to watch it for Kramer. Now, Mr. Richards, you're an ass. And racist. This video is shocking, and not in a good way. ("... a fork up your f... a.." ? How'd he know that? Family legends?) Given our history, that is, real US History 1a and 1b, this is totally uncalled for. Yeah, they ought to arrest him. There oughta be a law.... Oh, wait, there is a law! Scary part is he doesn't even seem drunk to me. One needs a good dose of Guillermo Gomez Peña after this, maybe the one where he beats the dead chicken with a nightstick until pieces of it are flying into the audience's lap, just to clear the head palette. And, the heart.

Indeed. It's shocking "to see what buried beneath you stupid m..f..s." Bummer.

And... Kramer on Letterman: "Jujitsu" (!!?) Hardly. Try again. Personal work? You need some "personal work?" I know where to get it. Rehabilitation. It's called jail. Arrest this Cracker Jack! He broke the law. There's a reason there's a law. He ought to serve time for it. Then he'll know sorry. Hey, he might even make some friends. I'm sure the Aryan Brotherhood might find it funny. We don't. And, anger is no excuse, just as it's no excuse for any kind of assault. I'm on the stage all the time. Anyone who takes to the stage learns early on how to deal with hecklers in a bar, especially a self-described "out-of-control" comedian -- who's definitely NOT FUNNY. "That's what happens when you interrupt the white man." Yeah. "That's it. We had it."

Another Paramilitary Attack in Chiapas: Action Alert

From Global Exchange:


In the early morning of 13 November the indigenous community of Viejo Velasco Suarez, Chiapas State, was attacked by armed individuals, many of whom were wearing security force clothing. About 40 individuals in civilian clothes and armed with machetes and bats first arrived in Viejo Velasco Suarez from Nueva Palestina that morning. About 200 individuals followed soon after, armed with high caliber firearms usually commissioned by the military. Some reportedly wore military clothes, some wore uniforms of the State Police (Policía Sectorial) and others wore balaclavas.

Two men and a woman died during the attack. According to testimonies, the woman was raped before being killed; she was six months pregnant. According to the testimony of a woman from Viejo Velasco who had been held hostage in the nearby community of Nueva Palestina for two days after the attack, three men – one of them her father – were killed when she and the three were taken to Nuevo Palestina. The community reports four men missing that might include the ones the woman reported as having been killed. However, their bodies have not been found for which they are considered disappeared. 39 people, including 5 children, from Viejo Velasco who only recently had returned to that community are displaced.

On 14 November Diego Arcos Meneses, a resident of a nearby community, was walking near the site of the attack when he was threatened and detained by agents of the Attorney of the Selva Region (Fiscalía Regional, Zona Selva]. Diego Arcos Meneses was reportedly forced to load the body of a dead woman onto the agents’ helicopter before being taken by them to the office of the Prosecutor in Palenque to be questioned as a witness to the attack in Viejo Velasco Suarez.

Diego Arcos Meneses, who does not speak Spanish very well and who cannot read Spanish, gave testimony verbally in Spanish and was not provided with interpretation. He refused to sign the written version of his testimony because he could not confirm its accuracy. As a result, he was reportedly beaten severely and was put into preventive custody. He remains in custody and the Fray Bartolomé Human Rights Center and the Center for Indigenous Rights are taking on his defense.

Reportedly one man from Nuevo Palestina also died in the attack and another who was injured was taken into custody. This man in his declaration to the police confirmed that the attack against Viejo Velasco had been planned and deliberate.

Recently a group of subcomuneros had carried out provocative actions in Viejo Velasco, such as cutting off the water supply to the community. The community demanded that they leave and they signed a document stating that they would leave the community on November 11. Two days later they came back as part of the aggressors against Viejo Velasco.

In the first reports of this attack the survivors denounced 11 deaths of people from their community, including 2 children, and 4 from Nuevo Palestina. These numbers were the result of the total confusion and chaos in the community as people dispersed fleeing into the mountains. When they gathered again, they assumed all the people missing as dead. The families remain displaced in various communities in precarious conditions.

There have been threats by the Lacandon community that events like this attack against Viejo Velasco could “repeat themselves” if five communities (among them Viejo Velasco) are not relocated.


Conflicts around land issues in the Selva Lacandona, Chiapas State, have brought violence to indigenous communities for decades, starting with a presidential decree of 1972 that granted 614.000 hectares of land to the Lacandon community, disregarding the presence of other communities in that same region. In 1984 an agreement was signed that relocated Tzeltal and Ch’ol communities such as Viejo Velasco to the region where they are at present and where this most recent attack took place. Following another agreement in 2005, the Federal and State government committed to regularize the land rights of 28 communities, including that of Viejo Velasco Suarez. However, since April 2006, conflicts began again because four communities were being left out of this regularization and the local government, allegedly with the support of pro-government militia groups and individuals from communities such as Nueva Palestina, began to threaten these communities with forced evictions and relocations.

[Note: In August 2006 Global Exchange organized a delegation to isolated communities in Montes Azules, Chiapas two hours hike from the closest road. Upon their return, the delegation participants wrote a report on the history and current situation in Montes Azules, describing vulnerable communities faced with frequent illegal and somethines violent eviction attempts.

Click here to see full report.

Please take these actions recommended by the Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center and Amnesty International:

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:

- urging the authorities to charge Diego Arcos Meneses with a recognisably criminal offence or to release him immediately and to investigate his reported beating and arbitrary arrest on 14 November;

- calling on the authorities to ensure the safety of the displaced inhabitants of Viejo Velasco Suarez, following the attack of 13 November by a group of armed individuals, some of whom wore security forces clothing;

- calling on the authorities to take emergency measures to establish the whereabouts of those who seem to be missing, and to ensure the safe release of those reportedly held hostage in Nueva Palestina;

- calling on the authorities to identify without delay those who were killed and to ensure a full, prompt and impartial forensic examination and secure protection of all evidence;

- calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the violent confrontation of 13 November, in particular reports of official involvement, with the results to be made public and those responsible brought to justice.


Attorney General of Chiapas
Lic. Mariano Herrán Salvatti
Fiscal General de Justicia del Estado de Chiapas
Libramiento Norte s/n, tercer nivel, Colonia Infonavit “El Rosario”, CP 30064
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico
Fax: + 52 961 61 657 24
Salutation: Estimado Sr. Fiscal/Dear Attorney General

Governor of Chiapas
Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía
Gobernador del Estado de Chiapas
Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas
Av. Central y Primera Oriente
Colonia Centro, C.P. 29009
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México
Fax: + 52 961 612 5618/612 9189
Salutation: Dear Governor/Señor Gobernador

Federal Attorney General
Lic. Daniel Cabeza de Vaca
Procurador General de la República, Procuraduría General de la República
Reforma Cuauhtémoc esq. Violeta 75, Col. Guerrero, Delegación Cuauhtémoc
México D.F., C.P. 06 500, MEXICO
Fax: + 525 55 346 0908 (if a voice reply say: “me da tono de fax por favor”)
Salutation: Dear Attorney General / Señor Procurador

Minister of Public Security, Chiapas State
Lic. Horacio Schroeder Bejarano
Secretaría de Seguridad Pública
Libramiento Sur Oriente Km. 9
C.P. 29070 Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas
(01 961) 61 7-70-20
Fax: + 525 55 961 61 7-70-20 ext. 16045
Salutation: Dear Minister / Señor Secretario

Human rights organizations

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas A.C
Brasil No. 14 Barrio Mexicanos, CP. 29240, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

Embassy of Mexico in the United States of America
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20006

Carlos de Icaza, Ambassador
Phone: (202) 728-1600
Fax: (202) 883-4320
Salutation: Dear Ambassador /Señor Embajador

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Change Is the Only Constant (Headache)

I've been working on something, in earnest, for the past week or so - longer, but not so earnestly - that has the potential to change my life, big time. Not a bad thing. So I've been procrastinating on it - not a good thing. As the mad fork plunges in and divides, I stand, the crossroads. At heart, I'm a fixed sign.

How about you?

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Unconscious Mutterings #198 On 11/20/06"

  1. Teacher :: of the sudden dimension,

  2. Fifty :: times you is no one squared. The worked

  3. Crossword :: where I bury your name remains

  4. Stuffed :: in its sack of saved words savored like

  5. Family :: or the Big L langouring in the hot car. Your

  6. Purr :: inessential now that its out of range.

  7. Toad :: in an imaginary garden, I drink a wry

  8. Cocktail :: of your talk, your loving

  9. Insecurity :: Before you I was so sure,

  10. Magical :: and primed. What now? Test me.

* Belong to your own moment, speak your own movement at La Luna Niña's.

"Unconscious Mutterings #197 On 11/20/06"

  1. Nick :: in the chink of time,

  2. Focus :: on desire. Be salve.

  3. Police :: the state of your lonelier

  4. Miles :: Be the road ahead. You can

  5. Earn :: me paying no one, no meter touched

  6. Twice :: I expect a raise. The shallow

  7. Razor :: of the heart expires on the next swipe.

  8. Personality :: is a drag in disguise, the smile of the

  9. Dumped :: riveting as a mask. You were

  10. Reliable :: to a fault - an earthquake.

* Monitor the eruptions of your own subconscious; be a point-six on your own Richter scale via La Luna Niña.

"Unconscious Mutterings #196 On 11/20/06"

  1. Theft :: of the heart. You send me.

  2. Storage :: overload. The overlord of my

  3. Pick :: why send me? Your

  4. Los Angeles :: winks from afar; blaring

  5. The one :: into night sky and neon. Your

  6. Accent :: marking time into cellophane and

  7. Rivalry :: The heaven of your heavenly

  8. Process :: daring away on an empty pillow. No

  9. Streets :: seem any good anymore. Your

  10. Museum :: mausoleum of the heart is packed.

* Pay your subconscious a visit today, celebrate the holiday of you at La Subliminal Luna Niña.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"Nothing Lasts" - New Poem For My Father's Opening

I read this last night for the first time at my father's opening of his art exhibition: "Luis Cervantes - A Retrospective (1923-2005)" now showing at the SomArts Main Gallery at 934 Brannan in San Francisco every day except mondays until Nov. 29th. My brother played the concha right before it and a flute solo right after on wooden flute. I wrote the first six lines after my reading at Purdue University around 2:30 am, then the rest friday, up in the air with Spirit. As a poet I am only partially responsible for what I write; the rest is planetmind. Provecho.

Nothing Lasts

Only the land lasts, not you.
Only your steps upon it, the cut
glass of memory and your smile within
it survives. Only the land lasts; simple rock
and the dumb scape of lusting lack,
the rack and pinion of flight and fall.
Autumn doesn't last. Not spring
with all its fine tithings. Not the shine
of those young girls' hair, not the waists
of women, not the fading fire. Not you
and the way we were. Only the land
lasts, and the ridges of waiting wearing
out the pursed lips of furrowed ranges,
and not the cold within their lair. Only
the stunned shale, the red-faced cliffs,
the heights where someone sometime ascended there
and stood, and loved, the land layering there
laid out out in its full affair, the glinting
mica and the dream of hard brooding diamonds,
all the hidden glory, the unseen flake
of gold and petrified burl. Not this
hand stroking life into an empty palm,
the smooth skin of summer, the sudden
skim of a wayward glance. Nothing of you
or the lonelier retreat of other
killer mammals and their heat.
Nothing lasts but the land, not the water
or the tearing, not the creeks and the clearings,
not the withered heart nor the soiled clothing
of social graces, nor the mouthy flaring
of wondered disgrace. Nothing lasts of this house,
not the boards nor the worms nor the birds. Not
the words I use to slow it down and make it stick.
Nothing lasts like the red clouds on the day
of your passing, the wicked gassing
or the olvido. Nothing lasts but this sand
drained of your sea; this chisled frown
in the chipped flint, this skirting of canyon,
this flaw and filing, this grinding down
but lasting, the silk touch in a handhold,
in the holding out for the summit. Nothing
but the wounding in the craters, the uplift
and the gurgling lava; all the ways we read
a stone's hieroglyphics, the ore's heavy lead.
Were we to discover, we would uncover a myth,
the stories we tell to renew the pact
with this earth. This, love. Nothing lasts
but the land and our love
of it.

Copyright 2006 by Lorna Dee Cervantes

Lorna Dee Honored: Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award - Amherst College, 12/2

WMD's: Weapons of Mass Discussions
6:45 PM - 10:00 PM

from Shaggy Flores:
9th Annual Diaspora Poetry Concert
Amherst College
Amherst, MA

This year we are honoring Lorna Dee Cervantes, Roberto Marquez, and Victor Hernandez Cruz with the Louis Reyes Rivera lifetime achievement award.
Please, please spread the word about this great - and yes, it's free - event! Good food, good music, good poetas and a historic night of performances! Hope to see you there!

Here are the details for the event on December 2, 2006:

WMD's: Weapons of Mass Discussions
6:45 PM - 10:00 PM



Shaggy Flores
Nuyorican Massarican Poeta

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Luis Cervantes: A Retrospective 1923 - 2005, Today, 4-8, SF

Hope to see you today at my father's art opening, "Luis Cervantes: A Retrospective (1923-2005)" at the SomArts Main Gallery at 934 Brannan in San Francisco's South of Market District. It's free and open to the public with good eats, music, poetry, great art and many blessings, all counted. Come celebrate my father's life and work, an influential figure in San Francisco's culture. Come meet us all and say hello. I'll be reading with my brother, Steve Cervantes, who'll be playing music. There will be other musical groups and presenters, including his life partner, the muralist, Susan kelk Cervantes of the Precita Eyes Muralists. Hope to see you there. It's from 4 - 8 pm this evening. Oh, yes, I'll have copies of DRIVE. Search this blog for more info, sorry I'm there now and on my slow laptop. Hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"BIRD AVE" on YouTube! Lorna Dee Cervantes @ Purdue U, 11/9 & My Father's, Luis Cervantes Retrospective Art Exhibit Reception Sat., 11/11, 4-8pm, SF

Hey! I've been YouTubed! Someone must have had a cell phone recorder and caught this version of "BIRD AVE" at UH - Nuestra Palabra reading in Houston this last week, Oct. 24. This was also simulcast on the radio, KPFT, so you can hear the whole thing there - scroll for link. This is not the best reading of this. I wasn't planning on reading it, and hadn't read it in a long time. I say, "version", as this one is much flubbed. But, the spirit is there. I mean, considering your standard Gary Soto delivery type poetry reading. It will give you an idea of when it's right. Provecho!

Maybe I'll see you at Purdue University this thursday, either in Professor Sonia Gonzalez' grad seminar or at the reading that evening. Come say hello. I'll have books.

Or, maybe I'll see you in The City. I'll be San Francisco starting friday, and performing with my musician brother, Steve Cervantes, at the recepetion for my father's artwork, Luis Cervantes, a retrospective of his work at the SomArts Main Gallery on Saturday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day -- He was a war hero - saved Normandy, for one) from 4-8 pm. Come on out. See the work of one of San Francisco's most influential artists, and one of the first Chicano artists in The Mission and elsewhere. Come celebrate. Dance. Hear some spoken words. Other poets and bands to perform. SomArts Main Gallery is at 934 Brannan St. in SF. The exhibit runs until Nov. 29.


'Cause "life on Bird was tough...."

I VOTE - You Vote, Too

Please vote today -- especially if you live in California with one of the most important Attorney General elections in the country. We're counting on you, my homies.

And, if you want to talk about it, check out this link first, for for information on true Jeffersonian democracy. I support true democracy -- One Person One Vote: Cut out the middle man! -- The Indigenous Way. ¡Ajúa!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fotos From the Road-Front: Nicolas Kanellos, Naomi Quinonez, Alfred Arteaga, My Big Brother - & Maybe You

(click on pics to enlarge)
Lorna Dee Cervantes & Nick Kanellos
Me, Lorna Dee Cervantes with my second publisher and old friend, Nick Kanellos at the Southwest Writers and Artists Festival at Texas A & M, College Station, TX. Oct. 25, 2006.

Poet, Naomi Quiñonez & Novelist, John @ DeYoung
Poet, Naomi Quiñonez with her novelist husband, John, outside the De Young Museum, Oct. 8.

My Brother, Steve w/ Dr. Loco's Rocking Jalapeno Band, De Young Museum, 10/8/06
My big brother -- I love it when he plays the harp! 10/08/06 with Dr. Loco's Rocking Jalapeño Band outside the De Young Museum, "Chicano Expressions" Art Show, San Francisco.

Steve Cervantes w/ Dr. Loco's Rocking Jalapeno Band
Steve Cervantes with Dr. Loco's Rocking Jalapeno Band - De Young Museum Patio, Oct. 8.

Steve Cervantes On Break @ the De Young Museum
My brother, musician Steve Cervantes

Alfred Arteaga & Irma @ De Young
Alfred Arteaga & Irma, my brother's partner, yukking it up outside the De Young Museum during the Chicano Expressions show.

Naomi Quiñonez, LD Cervantes, Alfred Arteaga
Naomi Quiñonez, Lorna Dee Cervantes & Alfred Arteaga: 3 Poet Professors outside the DeYoung Museum, the Chicano Expression show after listening to my brother play with Dr. Loco's Rocking Jalapeño Band, Oct. 8, 2006.

John, Naomi Quiñonez & Alfred Arteaga - 1

John, Naomi Quinonez & Alfred Arteaga - 2

John, Naomi Quinonez & Alfred Arteaga - 3
Novelist, John and wife, the poet & professor, Naomi Quiñonez with Alfred Arteaga feeling like his old self, 10/8/06.

Alfred Arteaga, 10/7/06
Poet Alfred Arteaga. You can read his poetry and other works on his website. Click on the corazon link to find out how to donate to his experimental stem cell heart treatment.

Alfred Arteaga next to his poetry plaque, Berkeley
Poet, UC Berkeley professor, Alfred Arteaga was recently honored with a poetry plaque on Berkeley's own Poet's Way. You can read this and other works on his website. Click on the corazon link to find out how to donate to his stem cell heart treatment.

Alfred Arteaga stands next to his poetry plaque in Berkeley

Alfred Arteaga's Poetry Plaque:
Alfred Arteaga's poetry plaque in Berkeley: "Corrido Blanco"

Alfred Arteaga's Poetry Plaque:

Lucha Corpi's Poetry Plaque - Poets' Way, Berkeley
Lucha Corpi's poetry plaque, Berkeley

Alfred Arteaga
Professor Alfred Arteaga in his office, 10/09/06, UC Berkeley

Professor & Poet, Alfred Arteaga, UCB 10/9/06

Alfred Arteaga in class, UC Berkeley

Alfred Arteaga & UCB students
Professor Alfred Arteaga @ UC Berkeley w/ students from his Creative Writing and Major Chicano Authors class where I spoke, Oct. 9, '06.

Lorna Dee Cervantes & Alfred Arteaga
Gente de Cobre

On the road reading/ performing at:
Nov. 9 @ Purdue University, Indiana - Professor Sonia Gonzalez' class and a reading that evening.

Nov. 11 @ SoMarts Main Gallery, San Francisco - Luis Cervantes: A Retrospective 1923-2005
Opening Reception 4 - 8pm w/ Steve Cervantes

Saturday, November 04, 2006

On "True Love"

photo Copyright 2005 Geneva Convention, Anthony Robinson

Friday, November 03, 2006

Invented Quote Attributed to Me in Houston Press, Oct. 24!

Another one of the reasons I started this blog is in order to defend myself. Nobody seems to actually talk to me, so they invent things. Here's a case in point, this one attacking my teaching. It claims I was quoted as running my creative writing classes by preparing them for issues of single motherhood and teaching that "racial and ethnic strife" was "warfare" "seen as genocide by minority groups". HUH!!! First of all, I was never interviewed. Second, and most importantly, I would NEVER HAVE SAID THAT in ANY INTERVIEW. I can't say something I don't believe in or say I do something I haven't done. Ever. I like to think I'm famous for training my students to stick to the words on the page. Or, at least, write them down and don't just invent things. Especially defamatory and inflammatory REMARKS I NEVER SAID. Or ever would have said. You can tell the shoddy journalism in that he says I won the National Book Award, I didn't. Cheese! No wonder there was a low turnout for the event. I chalked it up to the radio simulcast which I know a lot of people listened to, but no. Talk about being stuffed into a can of worms!

I'll have a blog up soon, long in the planning, and you can see for yourself what I teach. There isn't a welfare mom or a wifebeater in sight. Just good developing poets getting better. If I read them this quote I bet they would laugh. I'm not.

Read it yourself, click and scroll.

Just another non-poetic interlude in the life of the Rodney Dangerfield of poetry. I get no respect! ~ R.D.

Crazy for Love?

I recently received an email invitation from my dear friend, amiga literaria, Ana Castillo, regarding an anthology or project she was doing on "What is the Craziest Thing You've Ever Done for Love?" -- de los mas atrevidos y aventados por amor. Hmmm, me? Crazy *in* love, yes. Crazy sad because of it, the unrequited kind, well, none of your business. But crazy for love? No. My answer bothers me. For two months now I've been scratching at the memory matter banks, way inside the barrel back to junior high school y no. No. I don't know why I should find this so depressing, or surprising, that I don't have a story of sure locura over some gaga or another. No. Suffered. Yup. Plenty y plenty poderes -- thank you very much. But gone loca or did something I would not have done otherwise if not for love? Nope. Who, me? For some man? Nah. Too early suckled on the do-good I'm-not-a-bad-gal look-here-man-I-don't-want-that-junk-outta-you tunes of my mentor Memphis Minnie to be anyone's fool. Not for love or money. Not that I haven't made some colossal mistakes and mistakes of judgement and hung around too long out of blind faith and dogged stubbornness. I would move for love but haven't yet. I've stayed in the same place I didn't like for love. I've left a place to change the dreamscape of a love gone bad which rewinds on repeat in my stupid dreaming otherwise. I wonder if taking someone back after years of infidelity counts as crazy. It seemed plenty rational at the time. Which may be an answer in itself. Me, I tend not to want to be where I'm not welcomed -- in heart or hearth. Takes a lot of glue to make that stick through an age of the exchange of goods and services and where flesh is a trade commodity. And that's a lot of woo and coo, in my book. Why not? You got anything better to do? I owe it, perhaps, to my father (whose birthday was the other day, Dia de los Muertos, Nov. 1, and who passed last year so that's why I'm thinking of it) who never failed to flare the flames of his longtime love -- til death did them part. Nice work if you can get it. And, "what's death/ got to do with it/ do with it?" Yup. Did I say love? Nice news and work coming out of the Reyes-Bermeo household. You can always spot it. At least, I can. All I had to do was take a glance at the first picture of their embrace when Barbara was in NY. They looked like the great cover of her first book, the skeletons embracing -- same posture. And when the world was morning, and here on Turtle Island after the hurricanes hit, in a time of great mourning, I called out for people's stories -- well, not narratives, just winning lines. What line got you, to where you knew it was love. Madame B's line from OB: "You inspire the hell out of me!" Yeah, that might d it for me. How about you? I find people's stories of "when did you know it was the Big L?" kind of soothing, especially at a time of great grief, it's that ole Eros/ Thanatos thang. And how it plays out in real life. The Whole Lotto Love as I secretly call it when I muse. The buy-your-ticket-now and what-the-heck of it. And how telling it is when there is no story. El clavo. Y las olas del mar. Anyway. No stories of crazy deeds and dos for love from this writer. Not much beyond listening to "I'm Crazy" and "Tu. Solo Tu" over and over again, ad nauseum. And trying to hoe the fields of an unfaithful love, of dreaming through the droughts of trust. And, maybe the craziest, considering the do-it-again. For what's more crazy than taking that risk? As Jack Gilbert once said at a reading, "Why love, it's terrifying! Anything can happen" and I think of a casual friend's horror one summer, the blood and the hearts. It happens. Risk.

Would you risk it all? Then, would you tell?

Now, I think I'll listen to my Neruda cd: "este es my destino ... o, destino de escombros. . . . A! Mas allá de todo! Mas allá de todo!" except for the shuffle god's who always, somehow, switch me back to Ruben Blades: "Sin tu cariño no hay nada más . . . No hay poesia ni alegria/ cuando no estás. . . ". And the dance. Yeah. (sigh) Any dancers? Or is it all Plato's cave and the conquistador's mode? The Captain's Verses. Were I a tiger I would not eat you. As Susan Tedeschi comes on to pitch: "Security. I need some security." And it's the postmodern age all over again. As a jet-lagged Dougie Maclean sings from Edinburgh: "But this love will carry... I know this love will carry me." Yup.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Poetics of Liberty

I just received this tacked to the end of an email from my dear friend, Michael:

"Liberty is the possibility of doubting, the possibility of making a mistake, the possibility of searching and experimenting, the possibility of saying "no" to any authority- literary, artistic, philosophic, religious, social, and even political."
- Ignazio Silone.

YEAH! Now I know how to answer the question: Why do you write?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's Happening in Oaxaca

A poem I wrote at age 19 has been published and republished under it's original title, "Heritage" -- the published title in my first book, Emplumada, is "Oaxaca, 1974." The poem is just a fragment of a massive change of consciousness I experienced in Oaxaca the summer of '74. The place and its peoples have remained special to me ever since. In many ways, it's why I blog, in a round about way. I never would have been much of a technologically inclined person had it not been for the hurricane that hit the Oaxacan coast I loved at a category 5 force. Me and my little mac and my 4.something modem ended up connecting dioceses across the mud-ravaged land. I raised much needed funds to help out indigenous communities inundated in mudslides, floods and impassable roads. I was able to communicate right away with battery operated laptops. I knew how to research and how to disseminate. It was the least I could do.

Now, my son is of these people. He's half-Mixteco from the Oaxacan mountains.

Now, to see these videos in the zocalo ...

Support teachers, workers and indigenous peoples' struggle for justice and dignity -- paz y pan. Scroll down for an updated posting on events near you protesting police and paramilitary violence in Oaxaca. There will be a gathering outside of the Denver Post building in downtown Denver this friday, Nov. 3 at 6 pm. Be heard. Hear others.

Sad News - Brother of Mana Guitarist, Juan Calleros, Discovered Dead

If you know me you might know that I'm a BIG Maná fan. I just got this bulletin from one of my MySpace buddies, Manatica, from DF. I remember first discovering Maná when they first toured California in the early 80's as the Los Calleros. Aurelio was playing with them then. The thought that he committed suicide just as Maná was hitting platinum worldwide just makes me sad. I almost wish it was over a woman. Let me know if you know anything more.

Asi es Manáticos ayer nos llego la noticia que el hermano de Juanito fallecio.. no se exactamente pero fuentes de Vallarta confirmaron lo sucedido...
Juanito estamos con tigo. lo mas doloroso es que por la gira y por presentaciones confirmadas para el dia de hoy y mañana Juan no podra asistir al entierro....

DEP... Aurelio Calleros

p.s. Just by chance, I happen to be listening to "Tengo Muchas Alas" in loop when I read the news. I'm still listening. "pasado es pasado ... Yo tengo muchas alas pa' llegar al cielo" "el peligro que yo me caiga"

"Unconscious Mutterings #195 On 11/1/06"

  1. Costume :: the wear and tear with a smile.

  2. Beg :: and ye shall receive: the willowy

  3. Hottie :: , the fay runaway, the deliberate Richard: -

  4. Celebrity :: to the fallen stars, alone, he walks on

  5. Saturday :: , the Blues riffing away tomorrow on the

  6. Buckle :: of a brow. Catch a ringing

  7. Doorbell :: in the midst of the sell.

  8. Rude :: and impetuous tomorrow, no sale for today.

  9. Absence :: stuns the gaping fish of the heart like a

  10. Hyper :: active child to the back of it, wrenching my way to you.

* Just do it for the dead. Be the maestro of your subconscious at La Luna Niña's.

"Unconscious Mutterings #194 On 11/1/06"

  1. Stuff :: of the oaken heart,

  2. Block :: of wooden lead for the splintery head,

  3. Ingredient :: ingrata, I stay in my locked room,

  4. Flagrant :: and flagrantly unloved, the dead

  5. Dandruff :: of my days sloughs off like me, a

  6. Betty :: in a bar, barred from your exclusive

  7. Tide :: , a touch that touches me.

  8. Judges :: would exonerate us.

  9. Take it easy :: Rest in the knowledge of rage, that

  10. Chef :: in high standing, that pot-boiler: the ya pasado ya pasó

* Be there in the tiding, good tiding on a day of the dead -- subliminally.

Will the Real Lorna Cervantes Please . . .
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