Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow Update. On-Line Floricanto Aug31

floricanto graphic ©magu
Plan now to attend all three days of Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow on the USC campus September 15-17. The schedule packs each day with a constantly advancing roster of writers reading their own work.

The free, three-day literary event brings nearly fifty poets and fiction writers to Doheny Memorial Library Friends Lecture Hall. Wednesday and Thursday the first reading is at 1:00 p.m. Friday's readings start at 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday's capstone event features the father-son team of Jose Montoya and Richard Montoya. Thursday's capstone event features "Celebrando Chicana Poetry: Diana Garcia, Maria Melendez, Emmy Pérez." The reading is sponsored by University of Notre Dame's Letras Latinas in partnership with the Poetry Society of America.

Friday brings an early highlight, a special presentation at 11:45 by Juan Felipe Herrera, of the UCR Tomás Rivera Lifetime Pioneer Award to Cuca Aguirre. Friday culminates with a closing reception for the festival and opening of a photographic display featuring Michael Sedano's 1973 photographs, Sueños by the Sea: Celebrating Los Festivales de Flor y Canto.

Parking will be tight Wednesday, but this veteranas veteranos day is not to be skipped. Consider the bus.

Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow

Here is a pair of fotos illustrating two pauses. Alurista savoring the moment in 1973, Alurista savoring another moment in 2010. Still making poetry. This portrait comes from a reading at Highland Park's Avenue 50 Studio and its monthly poetry reading, Palabra. The reading is part of a commemoration observing the 40th year since the Chicano Moratorium march.

Alurista reads Wednesday, September 15 at 5:15 p.m. at Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow.

For additional fotos of Palabra's Sunday reading--there are quite a number of effective portraits--if you are a Facebook user, click here.

On-Line Floricanto. Poets Respond to Arizona Hate Laws

Francisco Alarcón, who reads at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday September 16, does La Bloga the service of sending a list of the week's outstanding submissions to the popular poetry website Poets Responding to SB1070. Francisco then recruits mugshots and biographical statements from each poet. He works with a team of moderators who nominate the line-up for La Bloga's weekly On-Line Floricanto.

1. “The B Word" by Arnoldo García
2. "A Story from Phoenix" by Lee Marie Sanchez
3. "Legally Dead" by Hilton Obenzinger
4. "Jan B" by Arlene Biala
5. “Mi Viaje a Los Estados Unidos," J.T.
6. “On God” by Stay True
7. "Immigrants" by Gail Bornfield

The B Word

by Arnoldo Garcia

Freedom does not ask for a visa.
Justice doesn't need a passport.
Human rights are our only borders, our only country, our only security, our only nationality.

Human rights is the color of our skin,
the pleasure of our bodies,
the place where class does not matter,
where class begins and begins to end,
where clean air, water and soil conspire with us,
where the natural world takes over
and we take our place in the web of life called
time, space, cosmos, universe, the Milky Way, la Vía Lactea.

In community and through communities,
can our words and actions for a different, more just, fair world not only make sense but also stand up and start walking?

Everyone is
a border brother,
a border sister;
you carry the border wherever you go.
The border follows us wherever we go:

There's the 1492 border, the mother of all borders that we know.

Racial slavery began in 1492, when a small group of white men thought they could own the world and whoever lived there by declaring it so, by declaring it theirs.

There's the landing of the Plymouth Rock border.
Malcolm X was right: "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on of us."

There's the 1776 border; the 1848 border; the 1865 border; the 1880 Chinese Exclusion border; the 1890 Wounded Knee border; the 1905 border of White Gentleman's Agreement border to keep Japanese and Asians out.

The 1905, 1910, 1917 revolutionary borders when czars everywhere were overthrown and Bolsheviks, Zapatistas and Villistas called for new human borders everywhere

The 1492 border showed up again as World War I.
The 1929 crash border that brought us World War II crushed humanity with hunger and desperation of their borders;
The 1936 Spanish Civil War border that called for internationalists to cross and double-cross all borders.
The 1939 border of running over everyone and everything with tanks, storm troopers, blitzkriegs and concentration camps for our border brothers and sisters.

The Soviet Union and the U.S.A. had their own brand of forced laborers,
braceros are braceros regardless of who's in charge of the border.

The Nazi-Fascist borders paled in comparison with the Nagasaki-Hiroshima atomic bomb borders.

Capitalism's 1492 borders made full circle when they ended World War II.

The Jim Crow borders,
the maquiladora borders,
the bracero borders,
the military-industrial complexion borders.

The military industrial complexion? Whiteness.
For those who think that race, color without class analysis is poor,
they have yet to learn that if you aren't color-conscious your class consciousness will be white, Eurocentric, ignoring more than 95% of world history and the movements for liberation, land, justice and humanity.

Because when I say border, I am saying Europe, I am uttering Christopher Colombus, I am raising fists against colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, empires, I am speaking in silenced languages, disappeared peoples, destroyed natural worlds,

Color is class
the darker colors the darker and lower you find yourself in the working classes,
the poorest are darkest,
Indigenous peoples, Africans, mestizos, Asians, Arabs, Muslims, Mexicans, Salvadorans, Mayan, Lakota, Tohono O'odham, Yaqui...

When you see us
you see the landless,
the perennially sub and unemployed,
the homeless (but not without a homeland, even if it is the perenially imaginary Aztlan),
we who have no representative in Congress, have never had one in the White House.
We who have been thrown off their lands,
treated as strangers,
as minors incapable of determining their own dreams,
experimented on with small gifts of small-pox,
poisoned with diseases,
cast off,
put in reservations,
and migrant labor camps

In Mexico, Meso-America, Canada, France, England, Spain, Nicaragua, Cuba, and elsewhere, the history of the struggles for freedom are inscribed, tattooed, branded, insinuated, instructed, breathing through our pores, in our pigmentation.

This is the pigment of our imagination.
For poor and working class whites, their whiteness is aspiration to and sentinel of power and powerlessness to keep the darker brothers and sisters down.

Every border since 1492 has been imposed to quash the natural world and our place in her.

Every border has been used to impose a redefinition, a refinement of whiteness.

Tonight I take back their words and erase their presence,
erase their violent system of conquest, occupation and spiritual deceit;

Resurrect the Tainos, the Caribes, the Haitís, the guajiros, they who welcomed lost strangers, fed them, gave them fresh water, nourished them back to health – and lost everything for it.

Tonight let our borders sleep together, gestate, dream, make love together.

My border is
my skin
my ancestral skeleton
walking across fields
and waiting on street corners for work

Let the cosmos with its biggest bang pull apart the 1492 borders,
until they burst in the sixth sun,
scattered without redemption or hope.

Leave us behind in the MesoCosmos of our borders,
our lives to till the stars
and regain our place in the natural world ...


Below is a letter written by the Reverend Lee Marie Sanchez to her congregation, the UU Church in Anaheim, about her experiences in Phoenix.

A Story from Phoenix

by Lee Marie Sanchez

August 9, 2010

Dear UUCA'ers ~

Dawn Usher and I were released from jail today after spending about 30 hours in Joe Arpaio's dungeon. . . otherwise named the Maricopa County Jail. We were arrested after taking part in a Civil Disobedience action at a huge intersection outside of Arpaio's office at Cesar Chavez Park.

This experience is beyond my words to describe it. We began the morning at 2 am to be at a prayer vigil with people who had been praying and fasting for 104 days. We marched to Trinity Episcopal Church for a huge and inspirational interfaith and bilingual worship service.

Then we walked a couple more miles where we joined with about 30 other protesters from Puente and other local organizations but of which about half were Unitarian Universalists. Dawn and I had taken hours of training the night before but nothing could prepare for what happened. We marched in a solid square of human beings into the intersection where we were met with police in riot gear. The scene was like something from a movie -- literally thousands of supporters massed down the boulevard and hundreds of Phoenix police surrounding us, asking us to move. We did not comply. The sound was really deafening as after about a half hour of our peaceful, but loud, chanting, singing and speaking, the police moved in to tell us that we would be arrested.

I have to give the Phoenix police credit as they made every effort to be polite and helpful as they unlinked our arms and handcuffed us, taking all our valuables and putting us into police vans.

We were taken to the Maricopa Sheriff Jail and, while I was given what I felt was some special attention as I was wearing my clergy shirt and collar, I am an older woman and I am white; not everyone was treated this way. Some experienced rough and rude handling.

When we arrived we were taken out of the vans, then placed back in as our UU President Peter Morales and Susan Frederick-Gray, minister of the UU Church of Phoenix, along with Puente people and other UU ministers, moved in to block the jail entrance. We watched in horror as the sheriffs inside the belly of the beast prepared in riot gear, shields at the ready, and tear gas canisters in hand, scrambled to counter. Everything broke loose, it was angry, crazy, chaos, controlled by the overwhelming police force. Drums were beating, people yelling...like a movie scene.

I will tell you more about the actual jail experience later. For now, let me say it was horrendous. We occupied several cells, mostly UUs by this time, men in some and women in about three. We had the lights on for 24 hours, were watched by men and women guards constantly, no clocks, not enough of the cinder block seating for all of us. When we tried to sleep it was without blankets or pillows right down on the hard, cold floor! Yes, on the floor, but not everyone could even lay down, some stood.

We were joined by several women from the general jail population, as well as Puente women. We sang, chanted, tried to share the cramped space, used an open-to-view toilet and were constantly moved from cell to cell to disorient us. Our only food was peanut butter, oranges, packaged cookies and a little bottle of sugary drink.. NO cups for the water in the sink. The 2 phones usually did not work and we had no idea what time it was or what was happening. We were "awoken" (the few who slept) at approx 2 am for our cells to be cleaned & we moved again.

That night the UUs and Puente and others held a prayer vigil outside the jail and we could hear the drum beats outside the thick walls. The next day after hours more of "processing" we were released.

I hope never to experience such an inhumane and humiliating experience again. Dawn and I now have a police record, we have pleaded not guilty and have an August court date to return to AZ. More later...

Tomorrow we need to keep collecting our gear which was all over as we were not allowed to have ANYTHING in the jail. There are more actions planned. Right now as I type this Dawn & I are completely exhausted after 2 days with no sleep and a terrible jail experience, but our feelings of deep commitment along with the friends we made with women of many colors & faiths has left us with a feeling that nothing will ever again...

~ Standing on the Side of Love,
feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude, & with more stories to tell about our shared experiences,
with love & !Si se puede!
Lee Marie

More Reflections on Phoenix

The San José Mercury News has reported on the protest in Phoenix in opposition to Arizona's SB 1070, mentioning the Reverend Greg Ward (from Monterey) and the Reverend Pallas Stanford (Santa Cruz), and quoting the Board President of the Santa Cruz Fellowship. Greg and Pallas were both arrested at the demonstration, along with the PCD's APF Chair, Rita Butterfield, from our Santa Rosa congregation.

Reverend Greg observed, "I no longer think I'm different from other people. I was surprised by how quickly one's humanity can be diminished when wearing prison stripes and the pink socks and pink underwear they make you wear. And how that humanity is restored when you find out that people are waiting for you when you come out."

Anyone surprised to hear that UUs are not of one mind on this issue? One example is the UU blogger who called for a clear articulation of the reason for our faith taking this stand. Another saw the protest as a show, and suggested that those arrested might have shown more solidarity with those oppressed by the system if they had refused bail.

This, too, is a kind of diversity, one for which that we can be deeply appreciative. Such thoughtful disagreement is one of our strengths we can be proud of, as it serves to expand our common understanding of the issues and raise the quality of our decisions concerning how to move forward.

Contact Information
Cilla Raughley, District Executive
PCD | 4100 Redwood Road #344 | Oakland | CA | 94619


Legally Dead

by Hilton Obenzinger

I crossed dark waters and crawled through dust and climbed over gray barriers.

On the other side I saw a silent world, bare ground, nothing growing, only grim spikes, and murky crowds of people playing checkers or just staring into the dimness and scratching their heads.

Suddenly I was stopped by a man in a uniform, and he said:“Welcome to the Land of the Dead. Where are your papers?”

“What do you mean? What papers?”

“You need papers,” he explained. His eyes turned to ash and he put out his hand, wiggling his thin fingers for the documents.

“What kind of papers? You need papers to be dead?”

“You need a Death Certificate. Show me your Death Certificate.”

“But I don’t have one,” I replied.

“Nobody allowed without papers,” the official snapped.

“But my ashes went up the concentration camp smokestack,” I explained. “They hacked me to bits and threw me into the river, wild animals tore me to pieces and gobbled me up, no one ever identified my body, the explosion vaporized me, I sank to the bottom of the sea, I . . .”

“So where is your Death Certificate?”

“How can I have a Death Certificate if I’m a Nobody? How can I, if I’ve just been massacred by the Nazis and the Gangsters and the Sheriff’s Department and the Remote Control Predator Drones, if I’ve been swallowed up by a Black Hole?”

“You must have a Death Certificate to stay in the Land of the Dead,” he insisted.

“Otherwise you are one of the Illegal Dead. And we do not accept Illegals. And you must go!”

“But what do I do? How do I get this Death Certificate?”

“You must go back to the Land of the Living. You must wait on line and get your papers
like everyone else. And if you don’t, you can never come here. Go to the Land of Shit, for all we care, but don’t come back. We only take the dead who have been authorized and certified by all the right agencies.”

“But where do I go to get this damn Death Certificate? I mean, I may be Illegal but I’m not alive, I can’t go back to the Land of the Living. Where do I go?”

He put his ashy hand on my shoulder, and said, “If you can’t go to the Land of the Living, go at least to a place that will notarize that you are indeed Legally Dead.”

He looked into my eyes and said, with compassion, “Go to Arizona, my friend. The White State of Arizona will gladly kill you and stamp all the papers to make you Legally Dead, even if you aren’t Mexican.”

Then I woke up in a sweat. What kind of screwball dream is this? I have to get papers to make me Legally Dead? Arizona? Of all places, I have to go to the White State of Arizona to get my papers for death? What a terrible dream!

I vowed that morning that I would change the way I lived. I would do everything in my power to get rid of papers or certificates for anything and everything, to make sure that our bodies would be enough, that the air would not have a flag, the ocean would not have gates, and the soil would not have National Guards. Screw the borders! Screw all the papers! Screw the White State of Arizona!

And when the grim time comes, I will crawl across the dark river and climb over the dim fences to sneak into the Land of the Dead. I will be dead without Documents, Illegal for all Eternity. Let them try to catch me!



by Arlene Biala

we are watching you
with steadfast eyes
when you lie down
on your chaise lounge
hoping to get brown
we are watching you
when you plug your ears
with headphones
and listen to santana
when you toss that shot
of tequila, ahhh
the delicious burn
we are watching you
when you stand in front
of your floor length mirror
mimicking merengue,
attempting to conjure up
the carmelized arms
of your lover, who lifts
you up like a feather
and sways you down,
down, down
to a forbidden country
where you wail or whimper
in terror and love it,
losing yourself
for just one second

and at that second
oh, creator of blacklists
we will slit your eyes open
and show you how our lives
have been clipped:
razored birds forced into flight
without pattern or reason
we will caress the blade
against your eyelids
unless you wake up.


Mi Viaje a Los Estados Unidos

J.T., México, 17

Buen mi viaje fue muy
difícil porque caminamos una semana cuando
crucé el río empezamos a caminar pero al llegar a un puente
emigración nos quiso agarrar pero corrimos pero a la hora de correr
nos desapartamos todos pero yo mi vine con el coyote
porque yo corrí con el coyote y entonces empezamos a caminar
pero ya nada más. Éramos yo y el coyote pero caminamos
una semana hasta El Salvador cuando ya íbamos llegando
pero cuando llegamos a donde nos iban A levantar
nos subimos a la troca pero caminamos en la troca
como una hora pero en eso nos paró la migración y nos arrestó

y me tuvieron una semana en el bote pero a la semana
me echaron para México pero yo quería conocer
Estados unidos y así fue que a la semana me vine otra vez
pero el segundo viaje no fue difícil para mí porque no caminé
mucho nada más caminé una noche y a las cinco de la
semana nos levantó una troca y así fue como llegué a Austin
donde trabajé semana tras semana pero fue la mala suerte
que un día me agarró la policía y por no tener papeles
me arrestaron por 3 mese y por eso ss que estoy aquí



by Stay True

God is brown. That is if it is true
that we are made in His image,
or is it Her image? Since I see her
face as I awake every morning
cooking, praying, struggling
and loving. But are we
the only ones who love? So is
God also gay, since
God is love
and God is Mother and
and Son and Daughter, and

whoever does not fit this
knows what Love is
God is Love,
but does he only
love those fals
prophets who
love profits, more
than they love
people, as if salvation
was bought
and sold to those who can
afford it.God laughs, and

she loves and he loves him and she loves her and
for salvation under hot
summer skies and lies on scorching
concrete, anrises every day against
all odds, against the will of those
who claim to know “him” best.

By: Jesus Cortez,

P.S.: If I am to go to hell for this poem, I am sure I've done worst things to condemn me.



by Gail Bornfield

We witness the migrant trails
See discarded bottles, shoes, backpacks
No longer needed? Too heavy to carry?
One wonders…..

We bear witness to the deaths
Nearly every day during summer
The stories of sacrifice retold
The loss of loved ones mourned

Desperate – the immigrants
Climb the border fence
Brave the summer heat
Risk shackles and prison

The children, the pregnant
The weak, the hurt, and injured
Left to die In the heat of the desert
Increased numbers of dead

The cry goes out “No more deaths!”
But, the deaths continue
The immigrants come
Face the hate with hope
With prayers, and a dream
Reaching for a better life



1. “The B Word" by Arnoldo García
2. "A Story from Phoenix" by Lee Marie Sanchez
3. "Legally Dead" by Hilton Obenzinger
4. "Jan B" by Arlene Biala
5. “Mi Viaje a Los Estados Unidos," J.T.
6. “On God” by Stay True
7. "Immigrants" by Gail Bornfield


arnoldo garcía is a human rights community organizer poet and musician born in the mouth of the Río Bravo. He works for the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, based in Oakland, California, and heads up NNIRR's HURRICANE initiative, which focuses on collecting the stories of resistance against abuses and rights violations committed against members of our communities. Last thing he published was the book "XicKorea: poems, rants, words together" in collaboration with Miriam Ching Louie and Beth Ching. Match Book Story just published "Day Laborer Love," un cuentecito de Arnoldo. Available here:
For more poems and essays, check out his blog http://lacarpadelfeo.blogspot.com or follow him on Twitter @arnoldogarcia


Lee Marie Sanchez was born and raised in Long Beach, California, and also resided in the state of Washington for 27 years, now home in CA again. She is the granddaughter of immigrants to the U.S. from Spain, Italy & Lithuania.

Lee Marie served two congregations over a span of twelve years as a Unitarian Universalist Religious Educator for Children and Youth. She completed her ministerial Internship with a one year Hospital/Hospice Residency in WA state and has now served the Unitarian Universalist Church in Anaheim as their half-time parish minister in her role there as Consulting Minister. She is a graduate of Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach, where she majored in History and Spanish, and currently is a Candidate for Ministry
studying at Meadville/Lombard Theological School in ther Modified Residency Program. She is often a guest preacher and involved in multicultural work.


Hilton Obenzinger writes poetry, fiction, criticism and history. His most recent book is the autobiographical novel Busy Dying. Other books include a*hole: a novel; Running Through Fire: How I Survived the Holocaust by Zosia Goldberg as told to Hilton Obenzinger; American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania; Cannibal Eliot and the Lost Histories of San Francisco; New York on Fire; and This Passover Or The Next I Will Never Be in Jerusalem, which received the American Book Award.

Born in 1947 in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and graduating Columbia University in 1969, he has taught on the Yurok Indian Reservation, operated a community printing press in San Francisco's Mission District, co-edited a publication devoted to Middle East peace, and worked as a commercial writer and instructional designer. He teaches writing and American literature at Stanford University.


Arlene Biala is a Filipina poet and performance artist, born in San Francisco, CA. She is the author of bone, her first chapbook of poetry published in 1993, and continental drift, published by West End Press in 1999. She received her MFA in Poetics & Writing from New College of CA, and was the recipient of an artist residency at Montalvo. Arlene has taught and performed as guest artist in the Manikrudo poetry and performance workshops led by Juan Felipe Herrera of the CSU Summer Arts Programs in Long Beach and Humbolt, CA. Performances include APAture at Intersection for the Arts, Writers’ Week at UC Riverside, DiVERSEcity in NYC, University of Texas at El Paso, San Francisco Asian American Jazz Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, La Pena Cultural Center, Santa Clara University, and SOMArts Center in San Francisco. She has also performed for and taught creative writing workshops with elementary and high school youth. She lives in Sunnyvale, CA with husband Carl, (blue) Queensland Heeler Pepper, and their three children: Kai, (aries) 10; Josh (scorpio)7; and Kiana (scorpio, again)


5. “Mi Viaje a Los Estados Unidos."

The poem is by J.T., who wants to remain anonymous.


Jesus Cortez is a 30 year-old poet from West Anaheim, California. His inspiration comes from his immigrant background, the street life, the pain of his people and the pain of all people. He knows that poems are like bullets against oppression, but that more action is needed if changes are to come.

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