Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reader's Note: Lost City Radio. On-Line Floricanto.

Daniel Alarcon. Lost City Radio. NY: Harper Collins, 2007.
ISBN: 0060594799 9780060594794 9780060594817 0060594810
Paper: 9781448707690 1448707692

Michael Sedano

Set in an anonymous civil war ravaged country ten years after open warfare ends. A repressive dictatorship punitively in control. Millions of displaced people have lost touch with their loved ones. Norma is the beloved voice of a radio program that reads out
lists of disappeared people then takes call-ins from listeners with similar absences in their own lives. Norma’s soothing voice will be all the consolation most of her audience gets but it’s enough. The occasional reunion invests Norma and the show with magic in the lives of listeners; everyone listens to Norma.

Norma’s persona as the reuniter, the namer of names before the audience, torments the private Norma who carries on her own secret search for her disappeared husband. Names are dangerous, in a regime that keeps enemies lists and monitors the program. Speak a forbidden name and risk arrest and torture. And Norma knows her husband’s name is on the wrong list. So as the names come in from the countryside and mountains, Norma reads them over the air, looking for word, any word, of her life’s love, her Rey.

Rey’s name arrives on a list carried by a child from a distant mountain village. Norma is stunned. She can question someone who knew Rey, who knows of Rey, who can say where Rey went off to, ten years ago when the war ended in a bloody massacre.

When Norma learns Rey is the child’s father it comes with the force of a blunt instrument. Ten years ago when Norma was longing for the absent lover, keeping the home together despite Rey’s frequent absences, he was not on botanical field trips. Instead, her husband had been living with a temporary wife and fathering the now orphaned boy.

Norma’s devotion to Rey’s memory holds Norma in powerful grip, in spite of its painful one-sidedness. Of myriad possible responses to the revelation of Rey’s betrayal, Norma does the right thing by Victor without a thought to consequences. Because the boy is Rey’s son, now Norma will be Victor’s mother.

Norma will never know what readers learn about Rey, but taking a half grown son from the mountains and raising him in the city will keep Norma looking in other directions.

If you haven't yet picked up Daniel Alarcon's Lost City Radio, you can ask Santa to put it in your stocking. There's a hot handful of issues to discuss, so give copies to friends. Is Rey unfeeling, amoral, or is his betrayal of Norma's love something worse? Why do smart, good women like Norma fall for jerks like Rey? Will Norma raise Victor right? And if you want to get "out there," maybe Victor has a brother in some other village Rey hung out in? In Search of Bernabe, anyone?

On-Line Floricanto

1. "On the Border, We Dream" (a poem for Rane Arroyo) by Hextorx Carbajal
2. "Tonight We Catch the Moon" by Hedy Trevino
3. "Ancianos" by Yasmeen Najmi
4. "You Are Never Going to Learn Nothing (Una Promesa del Second Grade) by Diana Joe
5. "Revolution Is the Solution" by David Romero

"On the Border, We Dream (a poem for Rane Arroyo)" by Hextorx Carbajal

On the Border, We Dream (a poem for Rane Arroyo)

by Hextorx Carbajal

On the border, we dream about life
Because in the waking hours, there is death
We dream of roaming the earth
And we live and then die
And then grow again
And then die again—a cycle so sweet

On the border, I see the viejitas and viejitos
Walking through the downtown bus terminal
They walk as if they have they’ve traveled
Centuries through wind, rain, and thunderstorm
And then again—more travels for the weary

On the border, I dream about desire
Brown bodies resurrected from guilt
Brown bodies resurrected from blame
Brown bodies resurrected from violence
How many of us died before?
But we live again

On the border, you live again
Because you’re story died but
Someone else continues the end
To begin again---and again
These are the things we dream about
Only disrupted by the realities of waking hours

On the border we dream the beautiful
A soul consciousness collective
Imagine: A meditation that just is
A whirlwind to transport us
Elsewhere—perhaps ambivalence

On the border, Rane, we remember you
A meditation upon who we are, who we were
What we become
And then re-shift
Over and over again--
You’ll return to us
Again and again
To remind us to start over again

© Hector Carbajal 2010

from “The Last Crossing: Poemas from La Frontera”
Hextorx Carbajal

Rane Arroyo

"Tonight We Catch The Moon" by Hedy Trevino

Tonight We Catch The Moon

by hedy trevino

The shadows cast a gruesome figure in the night
above the fog a sound

awakens all
arrived before the sun the blossom shed a thorn
a thorn of evil splendor.

A call for justice
el grito por justicia
el grito por justicia pearces the night
pierces the heart and soul of our people.

A mother in distress discards
her sorrow, her poverty, and fear
for a moment
finding comfort in the call
to reach the other side
with baby tucked under her breast.

A child ripped from its mothers arms
lies screaming in the night
lies screaming in the night.

Our people locked in cages
above the jungle of the city
the cry is lost in the night.

A butterfly strips off its wings
and flies into the fire
the color of pain and anguish
consumes the air
can you hear the thunder in the sky?

The rumble before a major storm
before it all rips lose and floods the streets
and leaves in its wake only
voices only voices in whispered tones
asking why?

And in the concentration camps
and tent cities
the people cry
can't you hear the cry?

Unmask the face of evil that promotes hate
denounce it and strip it of it facade
leave it raw in the street
for the vultures to devour
cast it like a fallen shadow into the darkness

Fill the world with love
and joy
and drain the cesspool of hatred.

They are few and we are many
we must learn to speak and rise above the fog of apathy
and shed the chains of oppression once and for all.

Can you hear the call, can you hear the call?

Shed the shackles
shed the fear
stand up proud and gather near.

Gather flowers in your dreams
respond to the urge to gather by the river of hope
tonight we catch the moon
and embrace the visions that will guide us through the storm.

"Ancianos" by Yasmeen Najmi


I ask the ancestors to help me be like
the smoke from incense that burns in their name
the silver streaked braids of our Mother Blue River
the shape of currents sifted through long, silty fingers,
rustling cottonwoods that arrested the sun
as it was swallowed by volcanos
we are these streams
traceable and fed
carving, carrying your landscapes
you sent the Great Blue Heron
flushed by my wandering
to show me
how to be supple and fluid
as the water and wind
a stormy spot that appeared
as a piece of the waning sky or the Sandias
fallen, wrapped in golden sleeves
like you, who always caught us as we fell
and raised us to the sky.

Yasmeen Najmi

"You Are Never Going to Learn Nothing! (Una Promesa del Second Grade)" by Diana Joe

(una promesa del second grade)
a second grade promise
c. 1967 deep So. Tejas

By Diana Joe

You are never going to learn nothing!
Nada burra!
Nunca jamás, burra!
Nunca jamás aprenderás nada!
Burra, burra, burra.
You are never going to learn nothing!

(una promesa del second grade)
~a promise from second grade~

A second grade type of promise.
A teacher that was very effective in her way on how
to damage my heart, and my little mind.
ah, but only for back then!

All I was guilty of was having the wrong skin color,
wrong hair texture and picking the color purple
for the clouds on school paper.
Guilty according to her expertise, of being alive in her time.

"You are never going to learn"
Get me that yardstick!
There burra-un trancazo en cada mano!
Unos saces pa' que sepas!
Cómo que purple clouds?!

Clouds are always going to be blue.
Repeat after me!
Clouds are always going to be blue!

In 1967, my head fell down forever, in second grade.
My teacher..placed me in the back of the room..where it got dark and quiet,
it got cold and alone.
In second grade I closed my hand carved double door
for a long time, I never learned nothing no more.

It was promised to me that I wouldn't learn.
so I didn't learn, I couldn't.

For many years I did not hear or see or feel.
I perfered and I liked the back of all the rooms.
Nobody wants to hear from me...was all my head would say.
My head hanging always hanging, really low,like that.
My lovely purple clouds, in the trash can forever repeating. . . burra-Tonta!

I hid my hands behind me, kept them close inside my homemade apron, underneath my lap.
Ugly hands.
Wrinkley, tiny little hands, both of them, damaged in front of everybody,
in second grade. . . by a yardstick plan.
Unworthy of being seen by anyone in daylight,I thought like that.
I colored purple clouds in private.

Purple clouds followed me.
Purple clouds, purple clouds they knew my little hands..they were my friends!
The purple clouds followed me, made me look up at them!
Looking up walking,running little brown girl, skipping second grade.
Walking alone,with only the purple clouds. . . open the windows opened the
hand carved double doors to where they lived.

Effective teacher promise in my little head,
repeating.. repeating El verso de la burra.
Tonta. . . India maría.
Tearing off my trencitas while I tried to keep up with wiping my stupid tears.
Tears that never stopped coming and falling on the dirt making puddles of hurt.

Walking alone. . . with second grade measures, second class cheers.
Another day of second grade forever.
Yard stick on the teachers desk.
She put my name on it.
In glitter so it would sparkle in the dark.
I was never going to learn.
She made sure of it.

I am glad I was promised in second grade.
A second grade promise.
That I would never learn.
That second grade teacher was right!
I would never learn nothing!

I was taken away by the purple clouds.
Those purple clouds protectors of my
little hands,protectors of creators plan.

Purple clouds protectors of my wrinkled hand.
They took me away so that I would not learn her way.
Her way of Hate.
Her way to hate.
Her way of insult and telling my classmates that I was dumb.
Her promise,took me away from her hate.
Purple clouds reversed her plan.

I'll never learn lasted a long time in my little girl mind.
That was good. . . good medicine,a good medicina all mine.
It was time.
It was indian kinda time.
Time she never knew what I was of.

Time would tell,she never studied before. . . zero Mexica time.
She turned to reduce me into zero.
Magical mystical circle. . .
Sent me away. . .
to my ancestral deliverance
Precise and divine.

A first class product of ancestral promise untouched
by the second grade promise, unmatched to this day.

It was meant that I would not learn by the way of the second grade
way of promise.
It was meant that the years would transpire and fade, a long distant memory away.
Never to hurt me.
Teacher lonely woman.
Teacher of another way.
Pobrecita mi Teacher of another time.

Teacher promised me away so long ago today
in second grade.

So that one day I could tell the difference from one teaching to the other, from one teacher
to another.
Homeland Security was her employer a foreign investor,a liar.
Born on the border wrapped by his father named Sam. . . in paper.
The dirty divider.
The trickster.
The malicious invisible plan in a yard stick measure.

To hurt me in a second grade kind of way.
Ah-ha but,I was one that got away. . .
Abducted by the keepers of the purple clouds.
The double hand carved doors an entrance to my dreams.
Purple clouds, emerald waterfalls,hot pink grasses. . . mystical escape!
Indian girl crying no more. . . clouds talking and teaching and are
showing me,letting me see a military tank colored pink, sporting training wheels!
Ha selling cotton candy to the girl and to the boy, making cartwheels.

Prepared to defend a way for the ancient peoples promise of deliverance.
An ancestral call to wake the others up, to tell them about the teachers' promise.
How would I know my people?
How will I know my people?
I would know them through the false teachers way. . . and how they are to be callled illegals, infections, invaders, intruders, criminal trespassers. . .
burros,tontos,your never going to learn!
That is how,I know my people. . .
I am here.
I escaped the rule of the malicious teacher's yardstick.
Her employer the trickster Homeland Security, her employer today, homeland security.
I will foil your plan.
I am in alliance with purple clouds and zero.
*I wrote this in solidarity for the children that dream to go to school here in the United States and they are mentally and emotionally abused by many teachers and employers of Sam-that don't have a clue what these children of immigrant ancient promises,will ever evolve into and become like me and grow older to be.

© 2010 Diana Joe

Revolution IS the Solutions
by David Romero

Some people say
They are tired
Of hearing talk of Revolution
With no solutions
They are tired
Of hearing about the problems
Of the community
Of the country
Of the world.
You know what?
Go fuck yourselves.
I am sorry
To inconvenience you
By asking you to open up your heart
For a moment
To cry
Over injustice
To cry out for justice
I am sorry
To ask you
To think of what you might do
To make a difference.
For starters...

Mass movements
You petition
Urban garden
Collect food in banks
Make art
Let's take this struggle
To Critical Mass
In spokes and words
The written word
Plant seeds
Break bars
Set caged birds free
Spray paint walls
With closed fists
And open arms
Embrace the people around you
Reclaim public space
For a better tomorrow
Burn money
It's not real
People are real
Pain is real
Joy is real
Feel joy
Build communities
Take up a noble cause
Change laws
Make laws
Fight for the well-being of all
Occupy foreclosed homes
Of families
So they can stay
Warm through the cold
Boycott what you don't believe in
Support what you do
Plant seeds in minds
Erase borders
They are make-believe
Drawn on maps
Tear down walls
Tear down walls
That would divide us
We are one people
No one is illegal
Contrary to popular belief
Factories and fields
Could produce plenty
Eliminate this false famine
And disease
There is no scarcity
It's a beautiful world
We live in a world of plenty.

Everyone has a right to be fed
Everyone has a right to be clothed
Everone has a right to be sheltered
Everyone has a right to be treated
Everyone has a right to be educated
Everyone has a right to be free
To be loved.

This is our birthright
This is your birthright
As human beings.

If you're not sure
That you are
A human being
Check your pulse
Feel it in your heart
And in your mind
Thoughts and actions
These are the contents of our Revolution.

Revolution IS the fucking solutions.
Make Revolution.

*I want to give all proper credit to the nationally-touring spoken word group, Climbing Poetree, for inspiring this piece during a workshop that they led as part of their performance. You two poets are incredible.


David A. Romero is an artist, activist and male model. Romero is the author of Diamond Bars: The Street Version, a collection of poems released by Dimlights Publishing. His work has been praised by writers and poets such as the Tony Award winner Poetri, the author of Up the Street and Around the Corner Besskepp, and the West Coast Editor of Rock & Rap Confidential Lee Ballinger. He has opened for Latin Grammy winning artists Ozomatli and has performed at numerous high schools and colleges. Romero is an artist affiliate of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign and a founding member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a double major in Film and Philosophy. Check out his blog, "The Mexi-Asian Perspective: A Mexican's Guide to All Things Latin, Asian, or Both," on ProjektNewSpeak.com. Follow him on facebook.com/davidanthonyromero

Hedy M. Trevino. Has written poetry since the age of eight. Her first poem came as a result of being punished for speaking Spanish in school. Her poetry has been published in numerous journal's and other publications. She has performed her poetry at numerous cultural events. She continues to write poetry, and inspires others to use the written word as a form of self discovery and personal healing.

Yasmeen self-published a poetry chapbook in 2004 titled Ankh, the Hindi word for "Eye," and is working on a second. Her poems appear in the Kolkata, India-based Graffiti Kolkata Broadside, La Bloga, El Tecolote’s 40th Anniversary Literary Edition, Poets for Living Waters and the poetry anthologies The Stark Electric Space and Adobe Walls. An environmental planner and public servant, her poetry often reflects her deep connection to the ecology and cultures of the Rio Grande. She can’t wait to experience the poetry of visiting her father’s homeland (India) for the first time this year!

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