Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

take a break, sing a song



take a break, sing a song... fun, fun, fun... i love the birds midway thru.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Silly Clown, July 1996 - Nov. 3, 2007



My baby Silly Clown passed away today. She was born in summer 1996 -- we adopted her from the New Rochelle humane society. She's lived with us in NY, in Navajo country in New Mexico, in El Paso, in South Texas... in six homes and she went on vacation with us across country. She was our dear companion, family member, and friend. She brought so much happiness to our lives. We will miss her everyday.

I post her picture here to remember her and honor all the beautiful animals who are part of our lives.

(please no comments)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lomas del Poleo article - connects to what I wrote below about the binational development plans. More here.

Luis Urrea Video - Teresita Urrea's Home in Segundo Barrio Demolition Zone



Luis Urrea, author of many acclaimed books including The Hummingbird's Daughter, a novel about his great-aunt Teresita Urrea, visits Teresita's home in Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas. Teresita's home is in the downtown plan's demolition zone. In this video, Luis stands beside the home and says, "this is a very special place for me--I think it's a special place for other people--if you look down here at the ground people are lighting candles to Teresita, even in this barrio building that nobody respects anymore. It's facing being torn down, possibly becoming a parking lot. Some people don't want to see that happen--you notice the historical plaque here about her, and this is her doing a healing here in El Paso..."

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The downtown plan's extension into segundo barrio will displace many people, it will destroy a vibrant, historic neighborhood on the border to make way for a culture called the almighty dollar, which in the U.S. all too often means: make way for more corporate shopping experiences, make way for emptiness, make way for the mass media sources to ignore abuse and be its spinning cheerleaders, make way for those in power to wield it.

Teresita Urrea's place should be valued and treasured by the City of El Paso. The acres upon acres of Segundo Barrio that are in the demolition plan should be equally treasured by the city for the living history of the people, of the area. This area should be revitalized in consultation with the residents instead of demolished. Unfortunately, the big picture for many in power is destroy and create a new "culture," a culture of money-making, but that new culture does not heal the root causes of poverty. And so it goes for many communities of color that have been taken over and demolished in this country and throughout the Americas in the name of the residents' own "betterment." This is not resignation, but my sadness, that these abuses and issues are not acknowledged more or adequately by the mass media, in the school curriculums, in everyday discussions. Don't trust the newspapers or the news stations to report all that's really going on.

a different though related issue [In South Texas, private property, historic neighborhoods, falling prey to eminent domain abuse to make way for the fed. government's border wall. Folks whose families have lived along the river for a very long time are having to fight for their land. The anti-immigration sentiment in this country is another impetus for large-scale destruction on the border (cultural, environmental, and so much more, unfortunately). Gloria Anzaldúa called the border "una herida abierta" over 20 years ago in Borderlands/La Frontera. This open wound grows instead of diminishes as the years progress. This place that many of us love is also the location of the wounded state of affairs that ripples forth from this place. Reading Américo Paredes today does not seem like reading something written over 50 years ago in many respects. Reading Aristeo Brito's El Diablo en Texas is as apt today as any year].

For more information on "redevelopment" plans on the border, eminent domain abuse, and how the binational so-called "revitalization" plan affects residents on the other side of the border (violence and human rights violations), see the Paso del Sur website. I have not even begun to describe what's going on for residents in the colonias. Read on at the website and watch the documentary linked on the website.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Some Clarifications


I'm thrilled that my copy of Javier O. Huerta's new poetry collection Some Clarifications arrived today!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

this morning, i was in the mood for a sappho fragment and was pleased indeed:



]
]
]
]thought
]barefoot
]
]
]
]




#12 from If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (translator, Anne Carson)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

ROCÍO DÚRCAL (for the poetas in ept who often requested to hear this song in class while they wrote their poems):


R.D.'s "nadie es como tú" (#4) is one of those songs that takes me right back to childhood as soon as i hear it

Friday, September 14, 2007

Christine Granados Reading tomorrow

TEXAS LATINO VOICES

The Brownsville Heritage Complex in historic downtown Brownsville invites the public to attend a special literary event, Texas Latino Voices. This program is held in conjunction with the Dallas Center for the Book, Humanities Texas, and the Brownsville Public Library. Texas Latino author, Christine Granados, will present an overview of the Latino literary scene in Texas, followed by readings from her work, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 15, 2007.

This presentation is one in a series in the Texas Latino Voices programs to be presented by the Texas Center for the Book and the Denton and Abilene Public Libraries and the Brownsville Historical Association with the Brownsville Public Library. This program is made possible in part by a donation from Humanities Texas, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This presentation is sponsored locally by Whataburger.

The Brownsville Heritage Complex is located at 1325 E. Washington St. in historic downtown Brownsville, and is managed by the Brownsville Historical Association.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

[el camino de mi alma] by roberto harrison


"i go back
i go forth
i am home

i am crustaceous
in the land of canals
in the knot of 3 rivers

i am the moon
in the shine
of a Quetzal

i am the Choco,
the Cuna,
and the colorless loss
of each Mola--
each wood..."


Excerpt from Counter Daemons by Roberto Harrison. To read more of [el camino...] and an interview with Roberto Harrison, visit here.


I recently picked up this book and I am thoroughly energized by what I have read so far. Here is another excerpt from Counter Daemons that i admire (it's from the section "[Face Time]"):

"i snake up the panther with claws

i bear the arrival of horses

i eagle the loss for the clouds

i deer all the skinny coyotes

i sink in the ground with the animals hidden--

i am a kernel of entry"...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Teeth by Aracelis Girmay

I remember reading Rigoberto González's book review of Teeth by Aracelis Girmay and wanting to buy her book. I ordered it last week and it arrived today. I'm looking forward to reading this book in its entirety soon. But on my quick glance through it so far, I love how there is a poem about Santa Ana -- "Santa Ana of Grocery Carts." Here is an excerpt:

"... Santa Ana of cross-guards, tomato pickers,
bakeries of bread in pinks & yellows, sugars.
Santa Ana of Cambodia, Viet Nam, Aztlán..."

Oh, I loved, loved reading this poem about my hometown in Cali.

Here's a link to another poem from the collection called "Arroz Poetica," and on this page there is a link to a video of Girmay reading from her work.

24 Foot Ladder / Border Wall

"Flores said he had a 24-foot ladder and would likely bring it with him Friday to highlight the absurdity of building a border wall...'I do have a 24-foot ladder and I may bring it along. The new economy of the Valley will be 24-feet ladders if they build the wall...'" from the Rio Grande Guardian.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

intro to xicanisma



"As a product of U.S. society, nevertheless with strong ties to my ethnic and mestiza identity, and as a woman of conscientización, I believe our views must expand to make world connections from which we will see that our particular culture has infinite affinities with other women, especially women who like ourselves, have for so long been denied a voice within our own societies." - from the book Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma by Ana Castillo.

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Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, one of my favorite books, comes to mind too.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

THE OUTER BANDS


"I'm telling you a story of brick and bone,
of merciless rain subduing cars in their tracks.

I'm handling their images in my hand
a series of retablos, haloed faces in vapored windows..."


Check out The Outer Bands, a poetry collection by Gabriel Gomez, published by University of Notre Dame Press and winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize.

“Gabriel Gomez is an accomplished poet, one who honors the resonance of language as well as reverberations of form. And, like a retablo, each poem shimmers with reverence, if not for saints and Biblical figures, but for the beauty and poignancy of complex, contemporary life.” —Valerie Martinez, from the introduction

Some sample poems.

from the U of ND press website: "The Outer Bands is a first collection of poems from Andrés Montoya prize-winner Gabriel Gomez. The book is an expansive examination of language and landscape, voice and memory, where the balance between experimentation and tradition coexist. The poems realize a reconciliation between the writer’s voice and the voice of witness, wonder, and tragedy; a dialogue between two worlds that employ an equally paradoxical imagery of the American Southwest and the marshes of Southern Louisiana. The book concludes with its namesake poem, “The Outer Bands,” a twenty-eight-day chronicle of the days between Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which together decimated the Gulf Coast region in 2005. The sequence poem, a pastiche and re-contextualization of images, news blurbs, and political rhetoric, travels and responds in a spare subjectivity to the storm. Gabriel Gomez completed it during a two-month emergency residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute after his home in New Orleans was destroyed."

GABRIEL GOMEZ is a poet, playwright, and music journalist born and raised in El Paso, TX. He received a B.A. in Creative Writing from the College of Santa Fe and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from St. Mary's College of California. He has taught English at The University of New Orleans, Tulane University, The College of Santa Fe, and The Institute of American Indian Arts. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife Julie. The Outer Bands is his first book.

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For Latina/o poets with a first book manuscript (no entrance fee!) Andres Montoya Poetry Prize (judge Martín Espada) Deadline Jan. 15, 2008.

-Inaugural prize winner: Pity the Drowned Horses by Sheryl Luna

-Prize named after, in honor of: Andres Montoya, author of The Iceworker Sings & Other Poems

for more information about the upcoming book prize, check out the GUIDELINES and/or contact Francisco Aragón, prize coordinator.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

from j.p:

"This news from Lalo Alcaraz, of pocho cartooning fame... The Houston Chronicle just removed his cartoon and put in some cartoon from New Zealand about penguins. Qué buena decisión puesto que tenemos tantos inmigrantes de esa parte del mundo en Houston. Not. Este es el aviso de Lalo":

The Houston Chronicle has dropped the ONLY COMIC STRIP IN THE UNITED STATES that regularly supports Latino immigrant rights and explores Chicano/Latino/Mexicano political and social issues- "la cucaracha," by me, Lalo Alcaraz, and has replaced it with a PENGUIN-themed comic strip by a New Zealand cartoonist!

You can help me get "la cucaracha" back in to the paper. It can happen, as in March I was dropped WITHOUT NOTICE by the LA Times and reader response was so OVERWHELMING they brought La Cucaracha back in 36 hours!

Gracias Lalo Alcaraz, Creator of "La Cucaracha" Cucarachalaloalcaraz@yahoo.com
http://www.myspace.com/laloalcaraz

Please email and call the Houston Chron if you have ever enjoyed reading comics about Latinos and immigrants more than reading about penguins from New Zealand!

To comment on Arctic Circle or any other comics in the Chronicle:
E-mail comics@chron.com Call 713-362-3222.
Chicano Moratorium, Aug. 29, 1970, East L.A.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eagle Poem

"Eagle Poem" by Joy Harjo (from her book In Mad Love and War) is one of my all-time favorite poems that I return to whenever I feel the need to reconnect with what I believe is most essential. The secret to all of human existence and peace is in these lines for me: "We pray that it will be done / In beauty. / In beauty."

The Navajo prayer of "walking in beauty" is also along these lines.

Voices Behind Walls

A big shout out to poet Lee Rhyanes, an incredibly gifted teacher who donates so much of his time to Voices Behind Walls in Las Cruces, NM. I was fortunate to work with him in an El Paso detention center for young adults last year for the Spoken Word Project. The project has evolved into Voices Behind Walls, a name that the students came up with themselves, and their collaborative poem below describes their workshop. He has aired some of his Las Cruces students' poem recordings on his radio show (he's a dj too AND an MFA student). I can't speak highly enough of his dedication and effectiveness working with young adults. He is one of the very modest and the very best.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"Art of Dakar"

"art of dakar (or, tourist trap)" is a poem that i keep thinking about and greatly admire by evie shockley from her book a half-red sea. the whole poem resonates and resonates for me, especially the opening lines (below). i keep coming back to this poem, days and weeks after first reading it this summer.


the poem has an epigraph from the nation, from a 2003 article about how trees in senegal "some more than a century old, had been cut down everywhere the [u.s.] president was scheduled to pass."


the poem begins with these lines:


"poems are bullshit unless they are trees a century old, sentries lining the streets of senegal. in dakar, the darker brother keeps his peace, while a bush burns in effigy. a poem should show, not tell, so hold up your arms as if they were trees: if you have enough digits to make a fist, you are now a double amputee..."



from a half-red sea, carolina wren press

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

Attempted intimidation and generosity are cousins. Look one in the breathing face, behind language, and see hair growing on the tongue. As if dead, and the nails still growing. As if Nosferatu. As if falling off the roof and rising from the red dust to slink in the cracks of an adobe wall where spiders plump as wild persimmons fall from the branches.

The clay earth beneath feet cracking but so soft—it gives just so when walking after yesterday’s dried up rain. And all the pieces of glass uncovered, halved marbles, even when you dig to plant carrizo extracted from the canal banks. Keep expecting small bones to surface, but only smashed caguama bottles.

And generosity is the out of state cousin who feels like home years after your one chance meeting. A frog the size of a desert grape emerging from the rain puddles. (S)he has always been here. And here and here and here. And in the patches of desert that exist along freeways in the urban city. A bunch of white jimsonweed like calla lilies. An owl too thin guarding home from runaway dogs--the burrow lined with dung to distract them from the scent of chicks. A neighbor’s dogs broke through another neighbor’s chicken coops and killed three gallinas last night. And it is all genuine and generous, the way neighbors speak kindly to each other and offer to help mend the fences.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thoughts on Sexist Chicanos

In the past year or so, I’ve experienced and witnessed sexist behavior by a handful of Chicano men, a couple of them writers (non-bloggers), who in public express support for Chicana writers, their community activism, and their shared interest in social justice issues. I find it interesting that as long as Chicanas call other people and entities out on their oppressive actions, these Chicanos appear to support Chicanas. In fact, they appear to be thrilled about Chicana activism and when that activism is expressed in their writing because they recognize that our struggles are similar, that we are all hoping to live in socially-just communities and a peaceful world. They appear to be some of our biggest supporters and are sometimes generous about telling us so.

However, when Chicanas stand up for themselves when they believe these same Chicanos are acting in an oppressive manner towards them, these men cannot believe what is happening. In my recent experience, these handful of Chicanos unhappy with Chicanas standing their ground have responded with threats, power-trips, and general ugly behavior toward the women they hardly know (not that if they knew them well it would be acceptable, but that it is amazing how cruel they can be at the drop of a pin). It is even more shameful when this behavior occurs in public settings because it shows the importance of “audience” to witness the power play. It is a kind of violence, to humiliate people either publicly or privately. It appears that these “progressive” Chicano “allies” cannot believe what is happening so they respond like a sexist partner might when a woman says she wants to go back to school and not only be a housewife anymore. Lots of angry, loud, abusive threats. The attitude I’ve witnessed and experienced is along the lines of how dare these Chicanas act this way toward me? Do they know whom they are speaking to? Do they know how I can ruin them just like that because I am so powerful?

In one case (this did not happen to me but I will never forget it), there was some physical contact, some shoving on the part of the Chicano, along with his rude comments.

And even after the dust has settled, these same Chicanos have not at all attempted to communicate with the Chicanas about what happened. Instead of opening the lines of communication after the fact to seek out resolutions, their response in the ensuing weeks, months has been silence. But not silence in public. No, some of these men have decided to talk about the Chicanas to other people, spreading gossip and negative remarks about the women, sometimes while the women are in the same room, and never once admitting to their behavior. No, these women have suddenly and simply become “unreasonable putas" who they believe must be defamed in their communities so that they, these men, can continue running from themselves, running from their actions, running from the fear that they might have been wrong.

Dear Chicanas, you likely know this already, unfortunately, but old-school machismo is alive and well among even the most seemingly “progressive.” I know that “machismo” is a complex term and I do not at all want to suggest that sexism is a given in our culture. I also do not want to suggest that higher education reverses sexist behavior. This is specifically about Chicanos who actively seek out Chicana allies, yet still expect to maintain a comfortable, patriarchal position in their “support"--and use divide and conquer tactics when they feel Chicanas have "dishonored them" by "daring" to question their behavior.

I would like to publicly urge all Chicanos who have treated a sister poorly because she was critical of your sexist behavior to stop the cycle of abuse. Stop trying to ruin reputations (as if you could) because of your pride and your inability to discuss these issues openly. Stop regressing and please start treating your Chicana sisters with respect and care. Please read or re-read Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa. Here is some of what she says: “From the men of our race, we demand the admission/acknowledgment/
disclosure/testimony that they wound us, violate us, are afraid of us and of our power. We need them to say they will begin to eliminate their hurtful, put-down ways. But more than words, we demand acts. We say to them: We will develop equal power with you and those who have shamed us.”

I never thought that these words would also include Chicanos like you who have showed your support of Chicanas and continue to show support of other Chicanas you have not put-down. I hope you know that one act of support to a Chicana does not erase negative behavior to another. When will you really step up to the plate and address your recent actions? We will not let your threats and your scare tactics weigh on us. We will write about how we feel to reduce the weight of your oppressive behavior and to educate others. It is a shame that you too are a negative part of our struggle. I want to say what a shame it is that we trusted you (and in some cases, promoted your work because we believed in it), but it is not our fault that we trusted you. We will continue to trust our Chicano friends, allies, children, relatives... It is not our fault that you are unable to communicate in a reasonable way and that you resort to public humiliations, scare tactics, gossip and the like. We will not blame ourselves for your behavior, though we are concerned, as a result of your behavior towards us, about how you treat other women. We will no longer remain silent in an effort to protect the public image of all Chicana/os. You should not find us “easy targets” any longer. That is a figment of your imagination, that our kindness and our openness are weaknesses. Your behavior is a reflection of you, not us. We are concerned that you must have a lot of unresolved anger toward women, unless you are also prone to treating men the same way as well. Then we are doubly concerned. May you some day recognize that Chicanas and women are not your oppressors. May you some day find peace in yourself and the world around you.

It is unlikely that those who ought to read this letter ever will, but I am putting it out in the world with the hope that others will stumble upon it--Chicanas, Chicanos, Chicana/os, Chican@s [it's unfortunate that I've had to use so many gender-specific labels in this post--I know that the labels get troublesome--but this discussion, unfortunately, calls for gender-specificity] and anyone interested--and find a positive use for reading these words so that we can seek peace and try to prevent further and future humiliations.

I would like to thank all of the wonderful Chican@ allies, writers, and activists who recognize and address sexist behavior in our community. Wonderful, wonderful gente who are communicative, generous, and amazing friends and acquaintances. Thank you, as well, to all of the Chicanas who did the hard work of years past. Already in my lifetime I have seen change. Thank you to Gloria Anzaldúa, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Norma Cantú, and many many more whose words have helped and continue to help us see the light in the struggle.

Peace.

Mujerfest


Mujerfest is taking place this Saturday in McAllen, Texas. There is a full day of activities, talks, and poetry readings. Noemi and Lina of Café Revolución are great community organizers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hateful Vandalism


I contemplated whether or not I ought to post this photograph I took in El Paso on the U.S.-Mexico border a few days ago. This sign is posted on the El Paso side and warns folks not to enter the river due to dangerous currents (these signs are posted all along the border fence in El Paso). The "no aliens" sticker someone placed on this otherwise common sign is an expression, in my opinion, of outright hate. Interestingly, it is directed at a U.S. audience since it faces the U.S., not anyone on the Ciudad Juárez side presumably attempting to cross into the U.S. In my opinion, it makes fun of those who do cross over and risk their lives doing so. It is hateful on so many levels, from making fun of people in legitimate danger (due to the elements, yes, but I also think of coyotes and the militarized border), it uses the rhetoric of calling people "aliens," and it attempts to assert a casual superiority in the attempted humor that is not at all humorous. Maybe it was some young adult with nothing better to do, maybe it was the minutemen, maybe this person was Mexican American, but one thing is for sure... this is hateful vandalism that does not reflect what many people who live on the border would find humorous, in my opinion.

Now, we could turn it around and say maybe this person is very cleverly using satire, making fun of U.S. citizens entering Juárez, calling them aliens, even though everyone knows that U.S. citizens easily cross into Mexican border towns legally without showing i.d. or without explanation or permission... it's only a few coins to cross. The long crossing lines are on the Mexican side entering the U.S., not the other way around. So is this vandalism poking fun at U.S. citizens, turning the tables on the rhetoric?

I don't think so. I trust my gut reaction. The original sign is a warning for safety and I read the vandalized sign above as a warning as well, albeit a cowardly one, and not for the safety of anyone. I decided to post the picture of the vandalized sign because it is an unpleasant reality that I do not want to ignore.

This is what these signs usually look like along the border fencing and barbed wire that have been here for years.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cultural Autobiography Workshop

Please pass the word to young adults in NYC area

Cultural Autobiography Workshop

"As part of its Education Outreach Program, the Center for Book Arts offers a tuition-free, daytime intensive workshop in hand bookbinding and artist's books, especially for high school students. Participants will explore their individual cultural background through the process of making books. Basic structures will be taught to create one-of-a-kind artist's books that depict the student's relationship with family, community and culture of origin. This workshop is open to all artistic levels, although it is open only to students in the 8th through 12th grade in June 2007. Students must possess an interest in the project and see it to completion over the course of the week. The workshop is tuition free for those accepted. The workshop will be held August 6-10, 2007." details and application (PDF file)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


lots of dentistas in mexican cities/towns close to the u.s. border. even with u.s. dental insurance, the costs in the u.s. are often quite $$$$.

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while not a perfect film, Sicko calls much-needed attention to the u.s. healthcare system. i hope a lot of people see the film, recognize its flaws, and become interested in finding out more about our healthcare fiasco.

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comfort is an illusion for most middle class folks living in the u.s.

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last time i was in big bend national park, maybe it was summer 2001, i crossed the shallow river in a small boat to boquillas, mexico. could have waded across, but it was only a few dollars, quick, and dry. the bean and cabbage tacos in boquillas were delicious, i must say. i was at big bend last week and a park ranger said how after 9/11, the border crossings closed down in the big bend area. you can go across the river, he said, but you can't come back unless you go to the international bridges that are quite far away (i think he said the closest ones are in cuidad acuña/del rio and ojinaga/presidio)... (this is now preventing the residents on the mexican side of this border area from buying groceries or anything in the big bend area because you now have to cross at those far away border patrol checkpoints. their livelihood was tourism and their location remote from supply areas in mexico.)

(the implication was that now, if you, as a tourist, go over the 50% "line" in the river, even if you don't step foot onto dry mexican land, you'd have to return via those far way checkpoints).

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the people in boquillas must be hurting financially from this... they were still trying to sell things (walking sticks, hand-sized scorpion and dragonfly sculptures made from wire, and the like for under five dollars) from their side of the river. was told it was illegal to buy anything from them because we'd be encouraging illegal crossings with all the consequences.

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terrorism as reason for this sudden panic to "secure" the u.s-mexican border?

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in talking to someone i know from upstate new york recently, i found it interesting how he seems suddenly so concerned about the "immigration problem" and brought it up as a conversation piece in the context of my living near the u.s.-mexican border. i find it interesting how he was not at all concerned or aware that i might perceive his all-too common arguments as anti-mexican or anti-latin@. that is how accepted the talk has become---many have convinced themselves that it's a straightforward issue that is only about tax dollars and "national security." and if i as a chicana (or a 'hispanic') think there is more to this talk than those two issues, then i am reading too much into it, according to people like him who so easily fall in step with the rhetoric.

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i think that the terms "liberal" and "conservative" are outdated. it's "liberal," "radical" to go to war. war and violence are radical forms of solving problems or perceived problems. similarly, it's "radical" to support a wall on the u.s. border. we live in radical times under the "guise" of conservative leadership throwing around the rhetoric of scare tactics. because these scare tactics work. the upstate new yorker i mention above is a proud 'conservative' who supports both the war and the border wall.

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ginsberg's "america"

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the price of lettuce, the price of gasoline, the price of medication, the price of lobbyists.

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the price of education. of getting it done, rather than getting it.

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the problem with the word "getting"

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art at the getty

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the 'gettin' place'

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is "getting" passive and/or active? implies a material possession attained passively. someone says, "i got this four hundred dollar cell phone," like he got a cold sleeping in air conditioning all night.

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i am trying to understand the relationship between power, corruption, ethnocentrism, and the almighty $$$$$$$.

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a poet-friend recently asked me if i was going to be through with the u.s.-mexican border at some point so that my poetry would become more "universal." although she truly believes she meant no harm by that question/comment, it makes me chuckle, her belief in the harmlessness of her "concern." perhaps she thought i'd find her comment helpful, a comment that comes with the assumption that someone who writes about border issues (revised: u.s.-mexico border issues) is automatically not going to be a universal writer. these types of comments are dangerous to young, impressionable writers and i can imagine they are made every day in classrooms everywhere. it's been a long time since i was one of those writers just starting out, but i can imagine that many young writers have been told to "get over it" and start writing about "important" subjects like forsythia.

i don't think i've ever seen forsythia beyond pictures before, at least to my knowledge (i'm no expert), and i couldn't pronounce it until i looked it up just now, but i recognize that it is still a plant/word/subject "worthy" of poetry, worthy of universality. okay, so this is not about the worth of forsythia, but it is about assumptions, my own included. let's write a collaborative poem to kiss and make up. feel free to add more to the title in the spirit of collaboration, but my half's working title is called "bougainvillea and forsythia get arrested returning to the u.s. after eating bean and cabbage tacos in boquillas." kiss, kiss.

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Photomontage of ginsberg's "america" with music by tom waits

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Surdna Foundation's Arts program, which funds organizations that provide intensive art-making experiences for teens, is launching a new initiative in support of young creative writers. The foundation is seeking proposals from writers'/artists' colonies--artists' communities that serve creative writers--that have experience with or an interest in working with young people to develop a summer creative writing retreat program for teens. Visit the Surdna Web site for further information.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


one of many h.s. graduation celebrations in l.a. county last month.

* * *

common sense that fire/ works on the 4th and any other day permissible. the quick buzz of the spinning hot flower. neon pink, neon green, big-ass lollipop you wouldn't lick or keep still on a turntable. strike, light, snuff. snake trails on the sidewalk a forbidden color chalk like leather chola bracelets. little girls don't wear black, she said. evidence suggests that turkey day declarations/decorations sit in an old suitcase of photos, postcards, and handwritten report cards with big S's and O's. evidence suggests that we were satisfactory and outstanding citizens. birthday wicks and not-for-profit fuses. close eyes and blow out like bowling for wishes or keep your eyes open wide igniting dynamite.

* * *

very interesting documentary.

Monday, July 02, 2007



out the plane window, texas, mid-june

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Public Forum On Border Wall
Doors Open at 7 PM
Free - open to the public
Thursday - June 28, 2007

Cine El Rey
311 South 17th St.
Downtown McAllen, TX 78501

Monday, June 18, 2007

i heard the green parakeets today! didn't see them, but heard them. missed them these past few months.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Creature, Creature


Check out Creature, Creature by Rebecca Aronson. Beautiful writing throughout. Congrats, Rebecca!

From Amazon: About Rebecca Aronson's debut collection of poetry, Linda Bierds writes, "Who are the creatures echoing forth from this book's title? The square-bodied spider, black against glass? The clicking crickets and their human counterparts, kicking free of a warm night's blanket? The hollow-horned sea goats of the imagination? Yes. And more. And more. 'Every body is a den of dens,' Aronson writes. 'Each thin wall contains its own warren..' And so, in this remarkable debut collection, 'we cluster and recur... an echo's echo.' But it is the eye, finally, that, open or shut, navigates these chambers of self and other--and Aronson's is superb." Selected by acclaimed author Claire Davis as the first recipient of the Main-Traveled Roads Poetry prize, Aronson's book is remarkable and promising of a bright poetic career.

Friday, June 08, 2007


stop sign. left turn.
three grapefruits moving from their branches in hot wind, must've been loosening, molecule by molecule, molecule model, atom cluster, corn tassels, a slender cow, a slim road called sugar, didn't see the goats cause i forgot. stopped paying attention after termite business sign.

miss the green parakeets squawking near the house we used to rent. they like palm trees. so do cucarachas.

wings grown back, gun clip, a few pink orchids after recent rain. neon green lizard, red ants emerging and diving in earth, a white egret chilling in a tree above the canal across from the muffler shop. past then present. but still across the street. still behind glass or in car or in shoes. still on concrete, asphalt, still in hot skin. the child happy the fish in the river right beneath him, visible as it nears the bank, near his feet, but the egret or turtle head up like submarine scopes not a wonder cuz further away. what we can touch, and what we want to touch. the frogs secrete their small poisons when some lift them, mammals seeking mammalian affection from amphibians. i've read that their presence, frogs, not humans, can tell us if the environment is somewhat healthy. live parakeets, finches, parrots at the pulga like wild flowers and carnations stuffed in cages. easter eggs with feathers. and nest droppings. scorpians, roosters, goats for sale. pulgas on my cats. casual, slight pulgas, disinterested almost. but the bloodwanting the same. a lucha libre tease so you buy a ticket. can't see beyond the bleacher seats from the entrance. no free views. the paparrazi loves celebrities with five thousand dollar dresses and without calzones. the remote control controlled by the viewer. passive and active.

i always forget the word epazote and would like to grow it and eat it. a word is weaker than touch or taste. how to make words touch and taste. implies control, force. how to make them... or how to make them, a recipe. both require measurements, one the threat of a parent or so-called lover. i could chain drink topo chicos. chain drink, chain think, chain, chain, chain. obsession implies both freedom and control. epazote comes from epazotl, nahuatl. learn a lesson from spelling bee kids. "epazotl : epatl, skunk + tzotl, filth (from its smell)"--american heritage dictionary. nahuatl is an american language of the americas, not american as in too-common synonym for united states citizen. it's the common assumption, american, the naming, that's bothersome. maybe 'the americas' an equally problematic label. land named after a man (americas - feminine, the way adam's rib makes feminine). implies the land and people existed, spanked into life, because stumbled upon five hundred years ago. land mass "unattached" to europe, therefore single. you are so selfish that you like to spend time alone. oceans the length of danger and desire. how romantic. the americas become ('the americas' singular or plural? for subject/verb agreement. 'explorers' wanting two continents in one handy grab bag and me hoping all regions one for strength against them, a romantic notion in and of itself, so i'll say singular) the conquistadors' lover. it depends who is labeling the relationship. lover, concubine, girlfriend for the cat (conquistador, explorer, equestrian, settler) whose mate an ocean away. a heterosexual relationship -- feminine land mass named after a man. the word 'relationship' problematic - like the words virgin and whore, conquistador and equestrian. whore or virgin. tony manero in saturday night fever asking annette to make her decision, in advance, before action. before she becomes virgin-whore. nothing new here. every (k)new thought leads to more traps. need a new language, new words for "the americas" and "american." as if words themselves could heal us. how to ever trust the words we read, hear, write. the can of worms reproduces and reproduces. half the can by each worm itself, hermaphroditic, and writer/speaker as accomplice. But accomplice sounds like side-kick, not like the one, the crime's mastermind, putting words into motion. silko's ceremony comes to mind...

revised: can of worms as accomplice.
how to de-criminalize language? how not to ignore the rhetoric in everyday speech, in deliberate speech. i.e. the immigration debate is bringing out the worst in pro-border fence politicians because they know that bringing out the worst in their constituents will bring the best results for them.

***

cabrito in the restaurant window, beautiful. usually i'd say pobrecitos chivitos. aesthetic beauty, but still i won't eat it. i'll admire it from the window, not judge the customers who lick meat off the bones (trying to repress self-righteousness through rationalization or do i really mean it? i don't know yet).

***

p.s.

the pledge we were expected to recite daily after the pledge in middle school, with hands over our precious (yes precious) hearts: i will never forget that i am an american citizen, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles that made my country free. i will trust in god, and the united states of america. there is a seductive beauty in the rhetoric, even in the rote recitation, but this is not "beauty for beauty's sake."

i cannot recall a single moment in my education when i was encouraged to think beyond patriotic assumptions. i'm sure i could have listened more closely to certain teachers (i admit, i wasn't always the most attentive) and maybe there were subtle moments, but i can't recall any... although there was one in college... i remember one anthropology t.a. writing so many questions in the columns of my papers. she was challenging my assumptions and i admit, i didn't trust her because i felt she was not qualified to judge my cultural background (one project in particular was somewhat like a family ethnography, i recall). plus, i was so used to getting negative comments about my mistakes that it was kind of a shock to get feedback mostly about my ideas, or should i say comforts, and this paper was more personal than my papers for other classes. i rationalized that she seemed just too comfortable and high and mighty to be conversing with me about my background, which differed from hers, and for this reason, i resented her comments (i still think she came across as too comfortable with her authority). in retrospect, i think she might have been one of the only teachers who cared to challenge my assumptions. maybe "care" is too generous--who cared to pose questions for the sake of digging deeper, getting somewhere beyond the surface, maybe for her own curiosity, which i interpreted as arrogance because it wasn't like we'd talk about my responses to her questions after my paper was handed back, so i just shut down and stuffed the paper somewhere. my assumptions back then, i can imagine, likely showed my extreme naivete about history. i am at once ashamed of my naivete and resentful that some basic facts were not part of my vocabulary or consciousness (learning was often a shameful process--of trying to avoid the next dreadful comment by an educator). i take responsibility for what i should have been better prepared for and i also lament how the education system did not always serve my needs. but i can only see my needs from today's perspective--back then i might not have felt they were needs (though if i had, they likely would not have been addressed in the curriculum). it is more than the education system and the self. it is the whole of experience. and yet i still feel i am being too generous because i do not want to imply victimization. so this is the part where i shut down to avoid whining and write this isn't supposed to be about my past--it's supposed to be about today and what i see repeating, the true-to-life cliche of how history repeats itself (and my present-day naivete that it is at all surprising that history repeats as many exert only the slightest rigor when thinking beyond surface assumptions. as if my few decades in all of human existence are the ONES. hah!).

in some ways, what's most frightening is how some of the most informed are also some of the most active in feeding the power structure which is ultimately bound to economic interests and/or maintaining/gaining power. the manipulation of "social/moral" issues to falsely engage the public is most bothersome to me at this particular moment. it brings out some of the worst in the public without providing an outlet for communication, understanding, or healing.

i suppose this suggests that i believe in the basic "goodness" of all/most people, but how can we define goodness? the big no-no's we can pretty much agree upon, but maybe rhetoric comes in to cloud the gray areas. but this line of thinking still operates under the assumption that one can determine if the gray areas are black or white, and besides, using black or white to define good or bad is outdated and simply unecessary. nothing said, nothing changes. dog chasing tail.

more satisfaction in poetry, sometimes.

and i have much to learn, to consider.

***

(sin fin)