Saturday, July 28, 2007

Intensive Poetry Workshops With Lorna Dee Cervantes This Weekend and Next - July 21, 22, 28, 29


Today's workshop, Saturday, July 28th, starts at 12 noon and runs until 6 pm with lunch.
Sunday's workshop will begin at 11 am and run until 5 pm with lunch.
Please email me and confirm attendancve and to get address and phone number. Poetry On!

Join me, Lorna Dee Cervantes, at my place in Berkeley this weekend and next for a day-long intensive poetry workshop July 21, 22, 28, 29. This workshop is designed to be open to all levels, from no experience to very experienced poets. Workshop begins at 10 am and runs until 4 pm with a vegetarian lunch and conversation served at 1 pm. [Saturday, July 28, workshop starts at 12 noon until 6 pm. Sunday, July 29, workshop starts at 11 am and runs until 5 pm.] Price reduced! $85 for two days, $50 for one. Sliding scale considered. Writers of all genres and persuasions are invited to attend as what we will cover may apply to all types of writing. Learn how to go from no poems to a full-length manuscript in one day. Bilingual (Spanish) writers welcome. Email me with a sample of your writing if you have it at PoetDee at mac dot com for address, phone number and directions. Discounts for advance payment: check, cash, paypal or my Amazon pay system account at the bottom of the blog page. So far, I have some great Chicana/Latina poets interested in attending, but this workshop is open to all. Please bring copies of one poem for workshopping with the group along with whatever we generate in class. Besides workshopping we may even find time to do a bit of works hopping.

I will also be available for private poetry manuscript consultation by phone or in person at $1 a page (for a limited time only). Send hardcopy of manuscript. I'm also available for editing or private consultation of fiction or literary nonfiction manuscripts - rate negotiable.

Not in Berkeley? Southwest and Frontier are offering some great rates on flights to Oakland. Me? I take the train.

Here's more about the workshops, a mini mini version of my grad and undergrad workshops at CU Boulder:


There are about as many ways to write a poem as there are people on the planet. In poetry, as in love, there are no absolutes, and that's the only absolute. So, how does one make sense of the plethora? How, when faced with the whole enchilada, does one go about the process? For poetry is a process, above all else. As Coleridge once wrote, "Poetry is the pleasurable activity of the journey itself."

In this workshop we will map out the journey by dividing the poetic universe (multiverse) into four distinct phases of the creative/critical process: GENERATION, SELECTION, Re-VISION, and CRITICAL EVALUATION - much the way we splay out the patterns on a globe into east, south, west and north in order to get anywhere. No individual phase is more important than another and each has its own distinct character and unique phenomena. We will participate in exercises designed to match each phase of the process - rather than focus undue or premature attention upon poetry as product. We will discuss and consider many roads leading us there, to the finished poem ("finished" in the orgasmic sense rather than as executioner or, worse, as taxidermist.) We should, by the end of the day, come away with at least 5 new poems and a sense of our own patterns and patterning (for better or worse) and a new toolbox of techniques and methods, a new confidence and playfulness, a new sense of our own strengths and weaknesses as writers, and maybe even become acquainted with our own inner critic as well as become accustomed to the sound of our voice as well as our own individual "Voice" as a poet. We'll also cover the nuts and bolts of what I like to cal Po'Biz: How to prepare and edit a manuscript for submission. How to find publishers. How to maintain the inspiration (breath) for sustaining a work or book over time. How to perform our work in "Real Time". How and when to detach ourselves from our work and voice. How to criticize another poet's work. How to discover and foster a community of writers. Maybe even how to start and develop our own publishing resources and performance venues.

Each workshop will be unique to its participants and so may be repeated more than once. (Kind of like love-making.) This workshop respects all and expects such from participants. Expect diversity. Expect to learn how to pleasure yourself - so to speak.

UPDATE: Depending upon participants, the workshops on July 28 and July 29th may be postponed to accomodate attendance at the SF Poetry Festival. Also, participants will be invited to attend the La Bomba Reading Benefit for La Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco on Saturday night, July 21.
UPDATE: Menu for this weekend's workshops:

Guacamole & Blue corn chips

sweet corn, tomatillo, lime "dip" with sliced jicama "chips"

Lorna Dee's "Medicine" Soup: minced spinach, asparagus, broccoli, leek, onion, tempeh in No-Chicken broth

Cabbage, Carrot & Corn slaw w/cilantro & orange dressing

Creamy red potato salad w/ fresh dill

Edamane raviolli w/ shitake mushroom sauce

Layered Spanish "Tortilla" with green beans, tomatoes, red potatoes and Swiss cheese sauce

Whole wheat & multigrain garlic bread

(possible deserts)

Lorna Dee's "Hobo" Apple Blueberry Pie

Red Plum & blueberry Ice Cream cake

(I'm hoping people will start coming for the food)

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Monday, July 23, 2007

"Late Summer Love" poem

Late Summer Love

Things never change
at the corner of Love
and Haight. Only the sky
changes, and why I love
you. When. Not this tree
with its sap full of promise,
not this wire connected to
your future, not these leaves
and leavings. Nothing ever
changes on the corner of Love
and Haight, despite the puzzled
dogs panting at the leash,
conforming to a language
of bread and howl, the enormous
flesh of the overeaters, the snapping
jaws of Kodak, the instant mail,
the buy and sell of the soul, The Fool
in the park, the Hierophant on his cell.
Leftover hippies lean on the trash
in Berkeley, the Barb locked deep
in the skull, and bones set into some
kind of craw. Over and over the muttering
goes, the light going out, the babble-
on kingdom come. But on the corner
of Love and Haight, the braided love
flows down the backs of the beautiful
boys now gone to men, the straight
backs and the missing teeth, a thing
of our passing. A moment's inability,
the still wait of the mockingbird's
thrill. And I'll see him there, one
unchangeability on the corner of Love
and Haight, and the messages will flower,
rose petals at the end of this season's
finale. Because nothing ever changes
on the corner of Love and Hate.
The rainbow stays the same no matter
what arc you ride on, and a dream
is fair trade on the corner of Haight,
and I'll find you, a tie-dyed vision
advancing, chance dancing in Love

Lorna Dee Cervantes
(Blue Front Cafe)


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lorna Dee's Workshop

There's still room and time to sign up for next weekend's intensive poetry workshops at my place here in Berkeley. Also, if anyone would like to come during the week instead, especially so as not to conflict with the SF International Poetry Festival happening at different venues, days and times next weekend, just shoot me an email - backtrack me, as they say.

This weekend's workshop was really good - very productive. I was hoping participants would walk away from the day with at least 5 new workable poems, and I think we accomplished that. We had some great participants. Thanks to you (them) and your (their) voices, I also came away with 5 workable poems, maybe even finished. I like them so much I put them together (I think they work that way) and am holding them to send out for publication. I wrote five more today that I'll post here. In the future, I think I'll offer the workshop as a two-day intensive - as we only really covered half of what I wanted to do. But all, especially me, felt really exhausted after. Yes, it was definitely an INTENSE intensive. Thanks to such a high level of the participants, it was all very inspiring. Scroll down to the next post for more information about next weekend's workshops. And if you'd rather meet another day, just suggest it. Now, here's today's poems - 7-minute poems with given titles:

Afraid of His Shadow

Hitler was afraid of his shadow,
the dark mass extending to Versailles,
the stacked wagon loads of bier and stag,
the crossed bundles of sticks: fasces.
It was the phantom of his opera
he heard, the after hour image that appears
on the wall, the thing that attaches
to you, more sure than legacy, that following
of what you do, and what you do not.
Half of Europe wouldn't do, the other half
closed the door or lingered, smelling
the result. Hitler was afraid of his shadow.
It hung on the other side of him like
the testicle that would not drop, pointing
a perpetual finger, dimming the lights
in the hiding. The shadow that was never
there in the dream, some vision of a brave
new world. Some, hanging.


Stare into the ice chest of autumn, past
the lake and out into the river of years. Believe
the self reflected there, the shadow.
Put your hand into its mouth, and pull,
the doppleganger of all you left
behind returns. That man buying a newspaper,
the deaths folded into a fan of stain, the pages
that become you in the end. The woman
buying chicken, the flower of her blossoming
into another. The child with his wooden
ball. The girl with her strident monkey.
Mirrors surround us, unseen or not.
Ready or not, they are meeting in the subway.
They are locating the lost relatives.
They are you. Or not.

Stress and Distress

It was just the stress, he tells me.
All that he didn't do, the demands on his
time, the unfinished rhyme of his love.
It was the distress of a broken hip,
the bone that pierces down to home.
The window to a dream painted shut,
the 24/7 of making a killing. It was just
the timing, the hour, the play it again waiting.
It was illness in the packing, a tremor
in the hacking. It was a loaded down van,
a timer going off, a disconnected phone.
It was everything, the bull and the whip.
It was everyone registered in this
passive army against him. It was me,
pulling my weight. It was me, distracting.

The 4-Barrel Carburetor On a '72 Chevy Camaro

He could make love like a 4-barrel
carburetor on a '72 Chevy
Camaro. Man, he could go. Pumping up
the pistons, discharging with a growl.
He wasn't all that to look at, mostly gleaming
chrome and wire. Slick in the upholstery
and revved. He was a 2-bucket seat
palace, a chariot of wiles. He was
coming back. He was a place off the map.
He was coming home and he was moving.
He was a reserved parking space, a handicapped
spot on the heart. He was a ticket
waiting to be written, a stop-on-
a-dime promise of forgiveness. He could
pick up in the alley, carry away on the charm
of his engine. All the draft on a knife
point of design and desire, his get up
and go: his knack.

Up Here With the Ground Below

I am sleepy. I'm the narcoleptic lover
snoring into your shoulder. I'm what's coming
back, what welcomes sorrow, the locked gate
that keeps you from running away. The petals
catch the light like metal. All that is
reflected there smiling in the sun,
this taking off, this breath I'm catching.
Up here with the ground below I am dreaming.
I am warming to the touch. I am left behind,
sealed in all my wings. The great flapper
in the sky rattles her beads and winds the
phonograph of her shame and naming.
You are Persephone returned. You are
to lead me out of the cave. All the coming back
and the weight of conviction, an underground forest.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rockin' 'n Rollin' In Berkeley

This morning, into my second month in Berkeley, I wake to a JOLT. I wake up like I woke to a dream a few days ago, a nightmare of a grizzly bear attacking a woman then following me and my son into a house with flimsy windows: I am tying up the splintery wooden frames and screen doors with whatever I can find, long scraps torn from my red dress. They don't hold and the house (not my own) is open to the bear. I wake with the words (loud) "Oh my god! Oh my god! OH MY GOD!" I am not a (traditionally) religious person. I wake this morning with the same words (loud), maybe with an extra repetition of the sentence, and realize that I am in an earthquake. By that time it is over. And quiet. My son comes running out of his bedroom - "What the hell was that?" and I grab a shirt and meet him in the hall. He asks a lot of questions, mostly, "Is this bad?" Yes, and no, I tell him. "Can people die?" Yes, I tell him, a lot of people died in '89. It depends upon where you are when it happens. And, no, it's not bad. "That was just a jolt," I say. "A 'jolt?'" It's a new word for his already extensive vocabulary. We are standing in the doorframes of our adjacent rooms in the center of the apartment next to the hall closets. "This is the best place to be," I tell him, away from windows, surrounded by these bearing walls. "You want to be away from any windows, away from any high shelves. You don't want to turn on any lights or gas or light any matches, in case there's a gas leak...". I go on with what I had already told him when I left him for a few hours to go to the store or my new volunteer job. "Why are you telling me all this? You're scaring me," he said. "We live in earthquake country," I say, "You need to know." It's rare, I say, but it happens. I repeat and ad to the long list of dos and don'ts. He's excited, the whole city is awake and excited. We are full of adrenaline and I'm wide awake despite having only gone to bed two hours before. He starts laughing, noticing that I am naked and clutching my shirt against me, when I say when and if to run outside, away from our second floor apartment. "You'll be naked in the street!" he says. I know, I say, but it won't matter, "I won't be the only one, naked and talking in the street."

Earthquake Talk, I call it. I missed it in '89. It was the year, a few months after I left (for good, I thought) telling friends and family, "It's your last chance to get out now. The Big One's coming and I'm headed for solid granite in the middle of the country," (and felt bad for it) when I stopped being a California Girl despite my long ancestral lineage. I was no longer a Californian, no longer bound to the shaking tribe. The power of the earth is immense. The Great Turtle rises from its slumber and shakes us off its back. It happens. We go back to bed and I pick up my red dress and place it by the bed - just in case. I note the time: approximately 4:42 am we had a quake.

A couple of hours later I rise. I can't sleep. I think I should have let him talk some more, my newly christened California Boy. I think to myself, I am a good mother to have in case of earthquake. I have "flat worm knowledge," like in biology class when we studied how flatworms could learn to negotiate a maze, then were slaughtered and ground up and their bodies force fed to other flatworms who somehow "inherit" the knowledge to traverse the same mazes. It happens. 3.9 - 4.2, probably 4.2, I say to myself. And it was here, under our sleeping bodies. The Hayward fault, no doubt. Epicenter no more than 2 miles away. It is. I remember the photos my grandmother had, the ones that disappeared or were burned in the fire, of her and her mother's tent camp on the street in Santa Barbara along with hundreds of others. Her stories of watching the earth buckle and fold, great one to two foot fissures opened their mouths, then, most scary of all, closed them again, seamlessly. The great burning in the cities: San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Watsonville, Mexico City; the countries rocking: Afghanistan, Iran, Japan....

I hear the Grey Ghost blaring it's whistle. Loud. The long train that runs from Canada to Mexico is 3 hours late. The earth, my God, "El Mundo," has stopped the train while they check the track. I think of Japan and the broken reactor and meditate on healing. I think of walls falling on my child in his slumber, and it is not funny anymore. I think of an absent partner, and how this is anyone's best argument for living together - one of my greatest fears as a child was being separated from my family during and after The Big One. What would happen if there were no roads, no landmarks, nothing but a long walk - to where? No phones. How will I know if he is safe? How will I know if I should go there or he should come here? How will we find each other?

I get up and turn on my computer - the only damage in the house is my left over tea from a few hours ago has spilled from its cup near my laptop. I look up "earthquake Oakland San Francisco 2007" and there it is, a story from San Francisco:

Earthquake Rocks East Bay; Blackout In Oakland

POSTED: 5:23 am PDT July 20, 2007
UPDATED: 7:05 am PDT July 20, 2007
OAKLAND -- A moderate 4.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the East Bay early Friday, breaking windows in Berkeley and triggering a power blackout in Oakland’s Jack London Square area.
The quake rocked thousands of residents awake at about 4:42 a.m. with a epicenter about 2 miles north-northeast of Oakland near the Hayward fault. The tremblor was felt on both sides of the San Francisco Bay and was reported as lasting up to 10 seconds. more from KTVU

The nearby donut shop where I had just promised my son I would take him this morning has had it's plate glass window shattered. No donuts today. I think to go buy flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, water, a transistor radio, food and a can opener and place it in a sack in the closet.

Flatworm knowledge. Earthquake Talk. Today I become a Californian again, in the Great Bear State, Turtle Island. Today there will be talking and laughing in the streets across the classes standing in lines, rich and poorer, the better and the worst: Where were you? What did you do? What happened? Today, the day something stops this train.

Urgent Call For Support Against Violent Repression In Oaxaca

Photos, Call to Action from OAXACA

Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 07:30 AM PDT

Below is an URGENT call for international solidarity from the APPO here in Oaxaca. Please forward this call everywhere. Also below are links to just a few of the photos that I took of the Battle for Oaxaca and the intense repression we saw here on July 16, 2007.

The following is a repost from an anarchist comrade currently in Oaxaca.


Below is an URGENT call for international solidarity from the APPO here in Oaxaca. Please forward this call everywhere. Also below are links to just a few of the photos that I took of the Battle for Oaxaca and the intense repression we saw here on July 16, 2007.

It´s up to independent media to expose the truth about what has happened here in Oaxaca, against the lies of the corporate media. The images below chronicle the arc of the day´s unfolding - beginning with the dances and songs of the People´s Guelaguetza, through the the peaceful march, the police attack, and the battles in the streets.

Tonight we will be documenting the International Day Against Repression, remembering those imprisoned, disappeared, injured, and dead. Following, we will be posting a full report on all events that have transpired here in Oaxaca.

Images from the Frontlines of the Battle for Oaxaca:

Oaxaca, July 16, 2007



This past Monday, July 16, at approximately 11:30 a.m., elements of the Municipal Police, Preventive Police, and Industrial and Banking Police, attacked with tear gas and rocks, marchers of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) and teachers of the National Teachers Workers Union, Section 22, who were trying to join the local festivities Fiesta Popular Oaxaqueña, in Guelaguetza Auditorium, Cerro del Fortín de la Ciudad de Oaxaca.

During this attack, several police brigades brutally beat the teachers and peaceful marchers, throwing tear gas against local commercial offices, private homes, and public buildings. Moreover, the violent escalation ended up in several wounded, included journalists from the Reforma, Noticias, Marca, and Tiempo newspapers, who were covering the brutal beatings imparted by the police. Although not yet officially confirmed, we would like to report 50 wounded, 45 people detained, and at least one dead.

These violent acts are marked by the State Government actions during Guelaguetza 2007, where areas of Cerro del Fortín were sealed off in which members of the Mexican Military Elite, the Preventative Federal Police, and the Federal Agency of Investigation participated. This operation was coordinated by the Secretaría de Protección Ciudadana, whose objective was to prevent the celebration organized by APPO and Section 22. Nevertheless, the Administration had declared days earlier their absolute respect for such peaceful celebration.

We consider that this incident is one of many provocations implemented by the state government against the APPO and is an irrefutable sign, moreover, of a government that is unable to dialogue, opting instead for the irrational use of police force against civilians. These actions are clear evidence of a recurring violation of human rights in the Oaxaca region, illegal under international treaties signed by Mexico.

Therefore, we make the following immediate demands:

• For an end to police represion, harrasment, and intimidation of the social and popular movements in Oaxaca
• We condenm governmental actions and indiscriminate use of force by the State and Federal police
• We demand the release of all political prisioners, making Federal and State officials responsible in the case of arbitrary detentions and disappearances of civilians.

Send your petitions to with copies to human rights entities:

Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, México DF
Tel: +52 (55) 27891100
Fax: +52 (55) 52772376

Licenciado Francisco Javier Ramírez Acuña,
Secretario de Gobernación,
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso, Col. Juárez,
Delegación Cuauhtémoc, México D.F., C.P. 06600, México,
Fax: +52 (55) 5093 3414

Copies to:

Louise Arbour, Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos
Humanos, (High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights Commission),

Sr. Santiago Cantón
Secretario Ejecutivo
Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, (Executive Secretary of the
Interamerican Human Rights Commission)

Dr. José Luis Soberanes Fernández
Presidente de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Periférico Sur 3469, Col.
San Jerónimo Lídice,
10200, México, D.F.
Tel: 631 00 40, 6 81 81 25
Fax: 56 81 84 90
Lada sin costo: 01 800 00 869

(scroll down for another article in English)

Oaxaca de Juárez, 16 de Julio de 2007



Este lunes 16 de julio, aproximadamente a las 11:30 a.m., elementos de la
Policía Municipal, Policía Preventiva y Policía Bancaria e Industrial
enfrentaron, con bombas de gas lacrimógeno y piedras, a manifestantes de la
Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca y maestros de las Sección XXII del
Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación que intentaron subir al
Auditorio Guelaguetza, localizado en el Cerro del Fortín de la Ciudad de
Oaxaca, como parte de los festejos de la Fiesta Popular de los oaxaqueños.

En este enfrentamiento, los diversos cuerpos policíacos golpearon
brutalmente a maestros y manifestantes, además lanzaron bombas de gas
lacrimógeno en contra de establecimientos comerciales, casas particulares y
edificios públicos. Así mismo, en la escalada violenta resultaron lesionados
reporteros gráficos de los periódicos Reforma, Noticias, Marca y Tiempo,
quienes daban cobertura a la feroz golpiza de la policía a los
manifestantes. Extraoficialmente se menciona la detención de 45 personas, 50
heridos y por lo menos un muerto.

Estos hechos violentos se enmarcan en el dispositivo implementado por el
Gobierno Estatal denominado "Guelaguetza 2007", mediante el cual se acordonó
el Cerro del Fortín y en el cual participan elementos de Elite del Ejército
Mexicano, Policía Federal Preventiva, Agencia Federal de Investigaciones,
Policía Preventiva y Policía Municipal de Oaxaca. Este operativo coordinado
por la Secretaría de Protección Ciudadana tenía el objetivo de impedir la
celebración de la Guelaguetza Popular por parte de la APPO y la Sección XXII
en dicho inmueble, no obstante que el Gobierno del Estado declaró días antes
su respeto absoluto a esta celebración.

Consideramos que este hecho se suma a las provocaciones implementadas por el
Gobierno Estatal en contra de la Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca y
además es un signo ominoso de un Gobierno que ante la incapacidad del
diálogo recurre una vez más al uso irracional de la Fuerza Pública. Estas
acciones son envidencia de la recurrented violación de derechos humanos en
Oaxaca, ilegales bajo tratados internacionales firmados por el Estado de

Por todo lo anterior solicitamos se pronuncien por lo siguiente:

• Por el cese a la represión policíaca y hostigamiento al Movimiento
Social y Popular de Oaxaca.
• Reprobamos la acción gubernamental en cuanto al uso indiscriminado de
la Fuerza Pública Estatal y Federal.
• Demandamos la libertad de todo prisionero político, responsabilizando
al Gobierno Estatal y Federal en caso de llegarse a registrar detenciones
arbitrarias o desapariciones en contra de los manifestantes.

Mandar comunicaciones a:

Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, México DF
Tel: +52 (55) 27891100
Fax: +52 (55) 52772376

Licenciado Francisco Javier Ramírez Acuña,
Secretario de Gobernación,
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso, Col. Juárez,
Delegación Cuauhtémoc, México D.F., C.P. 06600, México,
Fax: +52 (55) 5093 3414

Copias a:

Louise Arbour, Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos
Humanos, (High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights Commission),

Sr. Santiago Cantón
Secretario Ejecutivo
Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, (Executive Secretary of the
Interamerican Human Rights Commission)

Dr. José Luis Soberanes Fernández
Presidente de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Periférico Sur 3469, Col.
San Jerónimo Lídice,
10200, México, D.F.
Tel: 631 00 40, 6 81 81 25
Fax: 56 81 84 90
Lada sin costo: 01 800 00 869
[PUBLISHER'S NOTICE: Normally, we ask our Subscribers not to violate our "copyright". In this case, we are specifically giving our permission to anyone who wishes to do so, to forward this article to anyone, or to post it on the Internet.]

From Stan Gotlieb - Oaxaca Study Group

Guelaguetza 2007

Monday, July 16, dawned overcast but dry and we headed for the Zócalo at about 9 a.m., to attend "The People's Guelaguetza", a free alternative to the commercial (400 pesos' admission) event that is scheduled for the following two Mondays. A large crowd had already started to form. There were at least six dance troupes forming up along with thousands of marchers, waiting for the signal to begin. Some of the dancers were taking the opportunity to warm up. The feeling was festive, peaceful, neighborly.

The signal was given. The march began. We were standing near the front of the parade, and heard one of the leaders shout "We are going to the hill" (the Guelaguetza amphitheater up on the Fortín hill). This was news to us, and presumably to many of the folks who were there, but nobody seemed confused or upset.

Originally, the "leadership" of the popular resistance had let it be known that, because of the heavy police / paramilitary / military presence on the Hill, the performances would take place at the much smaller Plaza de la Danza, downtown. According to other observers, that place was already quite full even as we were leaving the Zócalo, and dancing at the Plaza began while we were still walking up Garcia Vigíl.

My reading of the announcements put out before the 16th was that there would be a full-blown march up to the amphitheater; that if the march encountered official roadblocks there would be a peaceful demonstration; that the march would then resume, ending at the Plaza de la Danza. As far as I could tell, the marchers were following the script.

Diana and I walked along with the marchers. There was very little political chanting, virtually no signs or banners, and no graffiti painters that we saw – and we walked slowly enough so that by the time we were a little more than half way to Niños Heroes (the "International Highway" that marks the northern border of the "historical center"), the whole parade had passed us by.

We decided to cut over toward the amphitheater, and climbed the "escalera" (stairway) to the top, where we found the entrance to the tunnel that goes under the highway and ends at the amphitheater plaza was blocked by heavily armored state police. Like most of the people around us, we looked for an alternative entrance. Winding our way through an adjacent neighborhood, we noticed a lot of folks out on the streets. We stopped and asked what was going on. "Don't go to the Center", we were told, "they are tear-gassing the Zócalo."

We had been in the Zócalo earlier, and saw no police presence, no menacing situation, nor anything else that made any sense of what we had just heard. We continued downhill, coming out on Crespo, the easternmost of the north south streets that connect the center of town with Niños Heroes. Crespo was being blockaded by dissidents who warned us not to go uphill (toward where the marchers had gone), because there was a lot of tear gas. This was our first indication that something had gone wrong. We began to encounter small groups of folks who had either escaped the action or had arrived too late to be trapped by it. Mostly they were saying "let's go to the Plaza de la Danza", which I assume they did.

We made our way to the nearby house of some friends, to use the bathroom, have a glass of water, and exchange information. We got an eye-witness confirmation that the police and some young folks (but not all of them were young, we were admonished: several of the citizens were much older) were exchanging rocks and pieces of paving stones; that at least one bus was on fire; that there were many injuries on both sides; that the tear gas had driven staff and guests out of the Fortin Plaza and Victoria hotels.

Diana and I decided to walk back downtown, and see what was going on at the Plaza de la Danza. When we got back to Crespo, the barricade had moved down the hill a few blocks (as had the fighting). We kept going downhill toward the dancing.

When we arrived at the Plaza de la Danza, it was mobbed. We were barely able to maneuver, and getting close enough to actually see the dancers was too hard on our aging bodies, although because of my height I was able to catch a glimpse now and then. Everyone was in a very festive mood.

Caught in the crush around the Plaza, we ended up making our way slowly down the stairs, past the Nieverias (flavored ice stands) and Soledad church, exiting on Independencia. By the time we reached the Zócalo, we were ready to sit down and rest our weary feet, and have a look-see. Apparently, the rumors of police attack had reached the dozens of sidewalk vendors that we had seen there earlier, because just about all of them were gone. There were no police in sight.

The cops had continued to chase the demonstrators down the hill, all the way to the corner of Morelos and Tinoco y Palacios (the next street west of Crespo), where a good friend who happened to be going by got a snootfull of teargas. Whether or not the police would have continued to the performances, two blocks away, is not known, because - according to a very reliable witness - hundreds of citizens decided to sit down on Morelos and block any further police progress. I've no doubt that this action prevented scores of casualties that would have occurred had the police began lobbing tear gas into the densely packed crowd. The cops turned around, and the performances went off without a hitch. By this time, we were home.

As the day went on, we gathered more information from friends and the internet, and by Tuesday morning, a few things had become clear.

*The cops started it. Before the marchers were within shouting distance, tear gas canisters were flying through the air. There was no attempt whatsoever to defuse the situation. It is reasonable to infer that the police were acting to break up a legal demonstration and to frighten and harm as many dissidents as possible; that for the police it was a welcome chance to demonstrate their power and let off some steam.

*The crowd did not come prepared to fight. There were no Molotov cocktails, no rocket grenades; the rocks that were thrown came from the nearby sidewalks.

*The police were especially brutal, aiming for the head with their batons, kicking fallen marchers in the spine repeatedly, and sexually mauling female prisoners.

*Reporters and photographers were specially targeted. In one case, a high-ranking police official is said to have pointed out a particular cameraman and told his squad to "get him".

*People known to be leaders in civil society, who had not even been in the march, were rounded up as much as a mile away from the scene.

*Dozens of protesters "disappeared". Although relatives and friends and colleagues wrote down their names and the time of their detention, their names did not appear on any official lists. Most of the minors have been released. Reports persist of systematic torture and multiple rape, of all women and some men.

Monday night, we attended the premier showing of Jill Friedberg's latest film, "A Little Bit of So Much Truth", a chronology and analysis of the months of resistance and repression in 2006. It was shown on the plaza of the Cathedral. There was a pretty good crowd, in spite of the fact that it was drizzling. At one point, about four large open trucks full of "law enforcement" officers, fully outfitted to do battle, pulled up on Independencia, about a block away, for a couple of minutes. Several people got up and left, and while the troops were there I doubt that many in the crowd were watching the film. Nobody knows whether they might be next: snatched off the street while walking home from work or the grocery store without reason or warrant.

The level of tension, of anger, of division and rancor has risen. Positions are hardening. The APPO and the Teachers are determined to do what they can to scuttle the "official" celebration, and the governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO) is determined that they will not do so. Last year, as a ploy to show how mean those dissidents are, URO cancelled the Guelaguetza (as if he had a choice: the APPO controlled the streets, and had already said "no way"; they held their own (at no charge) and drew over 20,000 people). This year, since hardly anybody is coming anyway (cancellations are said to have exceeded 50% since Monday's fiasco; and they were being put at a hopeful 50% of capacity before that - although the organization that supplied the figures is not necessarily reliable), URO would like to take the opportunity to ratchet up the anti-insurgency action, and the dissidents are just angry enough to challenge him.

For the battered tourist industry, there is little hope of good news any time soon. The head of the Hotel and Restaurant Association called the Monday fracas a "coup de gras" for tourism. Of course, there's no rule that a visit to Oaxaca during this period has to include attendance at the amphitheater. There are many Guelaguetzas being performed in outlying villages. They will be free and in some ways more authentic; and they are likely to be overseen by friendly and generous local folks committed to the comfort and enjoyment of visitors.

Things could get pretty ugly in the next couple of weeks. Some gringos are already talking about leaving town for a while. We just got back a few weeks ago, and we're not going anywhere. We still believe that Oaxaca is safe, although more caution must be exercised.

We will continue to monitor the situation as best we can without getting tear-gassed or beaten. We are not heroes, nor are we looking to be martyrs, so we will be careful.

Care, however, is the watchword. At the moment, Oaxaca is in the midst of another in what may prove to be a long series of convulsions. There will be periods of relative calm, interspersed with violence, as the armed elements of state repression battle desperately to hang on to the status quo in the face of massive civic unrest.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Hate Comcast

If you get the triple whammy, you'll get triple whammied when they all go out at once: no phone, no internet - day after day (!) Grrrrrr....

More Sad News: Sekou Sundiata Has Passed


Dear Fam,

We regret to inform that our dear Sekou has passed. Today, there are no words. It is a devastating loss for us and the poetry community but even more so for his family. Please keep them in your prayers.

An official statement from the family:

At 5:47 AM on Wednesday, July 18, 2007, my beloved Sekou Sundiata passed away.

On behalf of Sekou and his family, thank you all for your expressions of love and support and for your prayers. Cards can be sent to 296 Stuyvesant Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11221

Details regarding funeral arrangements and donations will be forthcoming.

Maurine (Kazi) Knighton

Be thankful that we knew him. He blessed us with his voice, his words told our stories, and his energy lit a room the moment he stepped into it. Be grateful. Celebrate his life and expect that we will see him again, one day.


Mildred, Steven, Gamal, Ninja

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Oaxaca Today 7/16/07: "Look at the blood in the street. Look!" (Neruda)

Date: Jul 17, 2007 1:42 PM


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Date: Jul 17, 2007 2:06 PM

Police Attack Oaxaca’s Alternative Guelaguetza

One Person Confirmed Dead, 62 Detained, Disappearances

On July 16th in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, a confrontation between the APPO (Popular Assembly of The Peoples of Oaxaca) and security forces of the State of Oaxaca as well as Federal Preventive Police has left at least one movement participant dead as a result of police violence, at least 62 detained, and an unknown number of people disappeared.

According to an APPO press statement released the same day, the police launched “a broad offense” against the people of Oaxaca who were celebrating an alternative Guelaguetza. The APPO announced two days previous that it would hold an alternative cultural festival in the main Guelaguetza auditorium, located in the Fortin Mountain outside of the city.

Federal Preventive Police and State police surrounded the perimeter of the Guelaguetza auditorium in order to prevent people from entering the festival. A caravan heading to the festival, tailed by 10,000 people, arrived to the auditorium, and in that moment the police attacked the crowd with tear gas, rocks, sticks, and explosive projectiles. People retreated, and the police advanced, beating and arresting people. Three photographers were reported to have been beaten. Countless others were tossed into the back of police pick up trucks with serious injuries.

Dennis Flores
Date: Jul 17, 2007 9:11 AM


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iiYa Basta!!

Tuesday, July 17 2007 @ 06:35 AM PDT
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July 16th, 2007 - Barucha Calamity Peller writes: Today in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, a confrontation between the APPO (Popular Assembly of The Peoples of Oaxaca) and security forces of the State of Oaxaca as well as Federal Preventive Police has left at least one movement participant dead as a result of police violence, at least 62 detained, and an unknown number of people disappeared.

One Person Confirmed Dead, 62 Detained, Disappearances

El Enemigo Común

July 16th, 2007 - Barucha Calamity Peller writes: Today in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, a confrontation between the APPO (Popular Assembly of The Peoples of Oaxaca) and security forces of the State of Oaxaca as well as Federal Preventive Police has left at least one movement participant dead as a result of police violence, at least 62 detained, and an unknown number of people disappeared.

According to an APPO press statement released today, the police launched “a broad offense” against the people of Oaxaca who were celebrating their alternative and popular Guelaguetza (an annual Oaxacan cultural festival) in the Guelaguetza auditorium. The APPO announced two days previous that it would hold an alternative cultural festival in the main Guelaguetza auditorium, located in the Fortin Mountain outside of the city.

Federal Preventive Police and State police surrounded the perimeter of the Guelaguetza auditorium in order to prevent people from entering the festival. A caravan heading to the festival, tailed by 10,000 people, arrived to the auditorium, and in that moment the police attacked the crowd with tear gas, rocks, sticks, whatever they had in their hands, as well as with unidentified explosive projectiles. People retreated, and the police advanced, beating and arresting people. Three photographers were reported to have been beaten. Countless others were tossed into the back of police pick up trucks with serious injuries.

For the moment the state and the municipal police continue a citywide operation in the streets of Oaxaca City, detaining people in the open. The military are reported to have surrounded the city on the highways.

Several people are reported to be in grave conditions, and police apparently apprehended injured festival participants and APPO supporters while they were transported by the red cross to receive medical attention.

There are reports that the detained are suffering torture and constant beatings at the hands of the state and federal police.

Emeterio Merino Cruz Vazquez, the one confirmed fatality from police violence, was killed from impact from a unidentified explosive projectile fired by police, which split his intestines open.

The alternative Guelaguetza was planned by the APPO in response to the government co-optation of the cultural festival that reflects indigenous tradition through dance. The movement charges that the festival has been made into a spectacle for tourists for years, and that the “official” Guelaguetza is an economic excursion on the part of multinational corporations and Ulises Ruiz, the state Governor targeted by the Oaxaca popular uprising. Last year, in actions against the official Guelaguetza, members of the APPO uprising burned the Guelaguetza stage.

From: Guerrilla Filmmaker
Date: Jul 17, 2007 12:36 AM

The revolutionary citizens of Oaxaca once again have risen in arms, this time against the corporate commercializing of a local cultural festival. Indigenous people are angered at their culture being sacked and sold by the oppressive, illegal Mexican government of Felipe Calderon and murderous governor Ulises Ruiz. And of courst the government responded with complete brutality.






The Associated Press
Updated: 7:37 p.m. PT July 16, 2007
OAXACA, Mexico - Police fired tear gas Monday to prevent hundreds of leftist protesters from reaching the venue of an international folk festival in Oaxaca, in the worst outbreak of violence in the troubled Mexican city since November.

Protesters hurled rocks and burned vehicles as they sought to march to a stadium where the renowned Guelaguetza festival is scheduled to start July 23. Police responded with tear gas and rocks.

Some protesters said they only wanted access to the stadium to hold an “alternative,” non-commercialized version of the festival, while others vowed to block the event entirely.

The picturesque colonial city was paralyzed by political upheaval for five months in 2006, when demonstrators essentially seized control of the downtown and prevented the Guelaguetza festival from being held.

Accusations of brutality
The state government has vowed to defend the stadium and put on this year’s Guelaguetza, an annual weeklong celebration of Indian music, artisan crafts and cuisine that dates back to the 1700s and draws tens of thousands of tourists from around the world.

“About 200 people wearing masks and carrying sticks, stones and bottle rockets began to provoke the police,” the Oaxaca state government said in a statement. “The police repelled the attack using tear gas.”

The Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights, which has sided with Oaxaca protesters in the past, accused police of “brutally beating” the demonstrators and roughing up several reporters.

The league said about seven people were detained, and eyewitnesses said several were hit by flying rocks and tear gas canisters.

City marred by conflicts
State public safety secretary Sergio Segreste said 30 people were arrested and 15 policemen injured, but offered no information on injuries to protesters.

The unrest began as a teachers’ strike in May 2006, but quickly evolved into a broader protest as a coalition of leftist groups demanded the ouster of Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz. Ruiz denies allegations of rigging his 2004 election and sending armed thugs to attack his enemies.

Twelve people were killed, mostly protesters shot by gunmen, before federal police retook the city center in October.

There was a resurgence in protests on Nov. 2, when holdouts manning barricades around a local university tossed gasoline bombs at police, and dozens were injured.

Sad News: RCAF Chicano Artist, Teacher, Activist, Ricardo Favela

We'll miss you. ~ LDC

"Dear friends,

I write this letter with great sadness to inform you that our beloved teacher Ricardo Favela died on Sunday, July 15, 2007 in Dinuba, California of a heart attack. Favela was a great person, a great father and a great teacher and friend. Favela was a humble man that fought for civil rights with his artwork and community activism. Ricardo Favela was a founder of the Rebel Chicano Art Front aka the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF). The RCAF is a Chicano artist collective founded in Sacramento, California in 1969. Favela and the RCAF Supported the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) during the Civil Rights Movement. Ricardo was a faculty member at the California State University, Sacramento's Art Department were he taught printmaking and Barrio Art for over 10 years. Favela's students will miss him dearly and through the use of serigraphy, they will keep his vision of community empowerment alive.

His memory and legacy will live through his wife Clara Cid and their children Margarita, Florentina, Manuel and Rosita.

Here are the details of his funeral:

Wednesday at 6pm
Dopkins Funeral Chapel, 189 South J Street, Dinuba, CA 93618

Thursday at 10am
Dopkins Funeral Chapel, 189 South J Street, Dinuba, CA 93618

Internment will follow at the Smith Mountain Cementary

A Memorial in Sacramento is currently being plan. Details to come soon


Estimados amigos/as,

Escribo esta carta con una gran tristeza para informarles que nuestro querido maestro Ricardo Favela falleció el domingo, 15 de Julio del 2007 en Dinuba, California de un paro cardiaco. Favela fue una gran persona, un gran padre de familia y un gran maestro y amigo. Favela siempre fue una persona humilde que luchó por los derechos de La Raza a través de su arte y de su activismo comunitario. Ricardo Favela fue fundador del Frente Rebelde de Arte Chicano también conocido como la Real Fuerza Area Chicana (RCAF). El RCAF es una colectiva de artistas chicanos fundado en Sacramento, California en 1969. Junto con miembros del RCAF, Favela apoyó a la Unión de Campesinos (UFW) durante El Movimiento. Ricardo formó parte de la Facultad de Artes Plásticas de la Universidad Estatal de California en Sacramento, donde enseñó serigrafía y Barrio Art por más de 10 años. Sus estudiantes lo extrañarán y por medio de la serigrafía continuarán los ideales de Favela.

Su memoria y legacía vivirán para siempre en su esposa Clara Cid y sus hijos Margarita, Florentina, Manuel, y Rosita Favela.

Aquí están los detalles del velorio:

Miércoles a las 6pm
Dopkins Funeral Chapel, 189 South J Street, Dinuba, CA 93618

Jueves a las 10am
Dopkins Funeral Chapel, 189 South J Street, Dinuba, CA 93618

El entierro sera después de misa en Panteón Smith Mountain.

En estos momentos se está planeando un Memorial en Sacramento. Los detalles seran mandados pronto."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

California Dreamin' Redux: Of House and Home

My first month in Berkeley I awaken to the dream, out of the dream, still in the dream; my dream horizon is as defined and hazy as the Bay fog that hugs the rich hills in its dissipation. I awaken to disappointment, my dream mouth hung open, una boca full of dried flies and drool. I wake to a letter that reads real, a composite of past read letters, the penciled draft lines as real as the real I read in that afterlife. "Our entire life together is a lie." I awaken still reading, still wanting to read, and not, so I waken. I can't tell which letter I am reading, and all are not to me. I am reading over the shoulder of betrayal - a strong word, but it fits. I am reading over the turned back of the one who loves another. Bummer.

My dream life in California is rich and willing to tell me lies inside the half-truths. All of my dreams seem prophetic as much as all of them seem some passed or missed rehearsal for reality. I dream a hand coming out of the cab and inside to grab me by the throat. I scream, loud. I wake the household I am visiting and I laugh, loud, to tell the others, it is only a dream. But so real, the thick hairs and defined muscles in that grasping fist turned towards me. There is nothing to do with that fear and adrenaline but laugh. Loud. The fear dissipates like morning fog, but not; clouds of it still cling to the foreign eucalyptus trees that have replaced the native oaks upon the mount. I dream most in my native land - the reason I left it behind some two decades ago. I needed to change my dreamscape, escape to a place where I don't know the names of things: the skinny winter trees, the desert flowers, the murdering birds, away from the divorcing lines over and over again. I dream long involved plots. I dream a young adult novel. I dream something that is and some things that are not. I kiss often and passionately, the drool I wake to on my pink cotton pillow is the color of blood.

I once dreamed my mother's death. I woke to the position she was in when they found her, her mouth pressed to the broken glass, the fractured pane of the television set, her life companion, the fire. I dreamed her voice at that instant, calling my name, her screaming. I knew she was dead before I called "home" and found out. I don't sit on a certain side of the train or bus or BART, I tell my son. It brings back the dream. He's quiet, for once, and maybe old enough to know. This was yesterday. I was wearing a shirt I've had since I was almost his age. The shirt I wore at 15 still fits me. The San Francisco Mime Troupe shirt I wore when I first dreamed me, dead in a clothes box stuffed in the hole with the heater - the dream I dreamed over and over and woke to with the words: He killed my sister, now he's going to kill me. "It's me," my mother said. "I can feel it. It's me. We are like sisters."

My dreamlife takes an unexpected detour, something fitting of Billie Holiday. The yellow barriers go up suddenly and from out of the dense fog. I don't often have nightmares. Is this what that was? Not really. Almost a minor irritation, a letter in my ex's hand, a draft of a letter not written to me, but my name is there, in pencil, all angular and looped. I read it out loud, so he'll hear what I hear in my afterdreaming, this half-life afterlife. I hear the sound of the Grey Ghost, a train that runs fast through the Bay on its way down to Mexico. the hoboes know how to catch it. They taught it to me. It doesn't stop. It runs straight through. Or, so they say. The train you catch at Wolf's Hour, that break between worlds when most who die in their sleep die. That's when I wake. The whistle blares over and over, a soothing sound to me. It sounds like "home."

I want a home I don't have to put quotation marks around. Have I ever had it, really? This is no lust for a house, but a flesh and blood dream of dwelling, like dwelling inside the language of a poem. A singular and sunstruck peace, a long train that doesn't stop. To get on you have to time it right, match your speed to its as it slows at the deadly trestle before it speeds up again and takes you all the way to the homeland. I want a house by the track so I can remember that sound, the long hemline stitching after the chorus of crickets in the geranium fences have sewn their fabric into night. I want the scent of geraniums, like the ones I had, the cuttings I snip daily from the front gardens of someone else's home. The pots crowd my kitchen sink before the window in this near empty sublet. The scuffed white walls thin as lake ice.

The other day I skimmed an article on training the mind to forget its trauma to the body, the bone house for the Spirit who dwells within. How the mind empties its glass each night so the morning comes without the skinny phrases that haunt you: My mother was murdered. She was raped and her body was burned in the house I grew up in. Those flat line lines that mark the daily deaths of the multiple soul, as the Yucatec Maya believe. How fear and trauma steals your souls, steals your face, as the Deadheads sing. Only love and smoke from the ancestors to the ancestors can save it, bring some back to you. That, and the red sunsets and dawns, the ones that warn the sailors of storm. Susto. And the soul sustanance releasing into air, and beyond. Mas alla. I wonder how this is news, that the mind can forget what was done to the body and its singular cells, including the singular cell of loneliness - that awareness of having no one to answer: I love you, too when you pass. I think that's the hardest thing, the hardest awareness, the cruelest awakening. That singular silence. The long night. The too early awakening into the disappointment of the dream.

The train goes on. The longest train I know. The tweeting birds waken into song. Traffic begins on the streets and all is as it was before, only different. I have practiced this, the long art of forgetting. It's old hat longing for a head. A long letter already written or read. What was it, anyway? Something something something ... whether you do love me as you say you do ... something something something ... that you have exchanged your June for intimacy ... something something something ... has gotten me over Lorna. This is what wakes me, disappoints me. The phrase repeats over and over again, ad nauseum, ad nocturno, an echo in the halls of my souls. Like before, with J, the letter was given to me to prove something to me (something something something) but it isn't written to me. It's to another younger love. Not me. And it only proves I may never hear those words again. As the train goes on, a half-hour long, over a hundred cars of stuff. It used to be sugar beets in my youth. Sometimes it is coal. Sometimes it is tons of rusted metal. Sometimes it is full of apartments of candy colored cars, their gleaming new fenders catching the fire of the sunrise as the windows gray into day, another day of forgetting. A Scarlet O'Hara day without Tara, that "fiddle dee dee," Dee, "tomorrow's another day" I learned so well I could conduct a workshop on it.

And, I laugh.

Friday, July 06, 2007

H.I.J.O.S. de Guatemala

Happy Independence to the Peoples of Guatemala

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day; You Have No Government

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