Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On-line Floricanto January 25

Francisco Alarcón and his moderator colleagues at the popular Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 submit six poems for your consideration this week.

Important: Please click the Comments counter at the bottom of the floricanto and leave your comments or observations on any of the work you read this week.

Special Announcement
La Bloga-Tuesday (Michael Sedano) appreciates issue poetry and battle protreptics as much as the next person, but St. Valentine's Day approaches so Sedano asked Francisco to put together a Call for Submissions for a Love Poetry floricanto. Here's Francisco's announcement:

Poets Responding to SB 1070 is selecting Love poems for a special Valentine's Day edition of La Bloga, to be published Tuesday, Feb. 8. In this time of darkness and pain for so many, show us that love does conquer all by submitting your love poem.

For details on submissions click here.

On-Line Floricanto

1. "I Will Be Silent No More" by S. M. T. Hedger

2. "A Poem Dedicated To Little Christina Green" by Hedy Treviño

3. "This Is Not My Empire", Devreaux Baker

4. "That Indian Man You See on the Hospital Bed" by Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

5.” Distress Signal" by Valente Valenzuela

6. "Indian Song / Canción Indígena" by Jorge Tetl Argueta

I will be silent no more
by S. M. T. Hedger

I heard the lies growing up,

The ones that are whispered in white folks’ homes.

The jokes that aren’t funny

But program you with a smile on your face.

The jokes about shooting “cans.”

The jokes about them, the others, the not us.

The illegals, the wetbacks, the aliens.

All those over there,

In front of the Home Depot

(When they were still allowed to stand there

And beg for honest work, for labor).

And they would run up to the sides of white trucks

Driven by white men.

And I would wonder with my child mind,

Why do they run?

As a farmer’s daughter we ran our horses

When we wanted to sell them

To white men in white trucks,

In order to show off their value.

Now, as an adult, I see the two displays as the same.

As I have grown so has our hate toward them—

The others, those over there, the not us.

When I enrolled in college I was so happy.

Happy to be a woman,

Happy to be the first in my family,

Happy to be in higher education.

2 years in, Proposition 300 was passed.

Many people have forgotten it now.

It was the first step of control,

Of open racism, of open hate,

Of closed thinking.

And it passed in my birth land.

It was so that they, the others, the not us,

Could not get, and would not get, a foot up.

It was a ban on educating them.

If you could not prove your citizenship

Then you—a not us—must pay out of state tuition

For the entire duration.

This inflated tuition was 3 times my fare.

And in that moment, it happened.

I found I have a ball in my throat,

A round and heavy sphere.

If I swallow it, it shall consume me.

So I keep it there, lodged.

It is the blackness that shuts out truths,

And it will silence you.

And so it went on,

With the minute men,

And with the people who tipped over

And destroyed water stations,

Pouring water, Arizona’s blood

Onto the dusty desert floor.

Knowing that they caused certain doom

For them, those others, the not us.

And then, SB 1070 so we could once and for all

Be done with them—the alien, the illegal, the wetback.

They are not even worth reading about

Or teaching about.

She said we have to keep it from our children

As if it is something catchy.

HB 2281

Don’t speak of them, those others, the not us.

And when Tucson schools refused,

And funding was threatened, they swallowed hard

The sphere of lies and silence.

Now it rests in their belly and they fight no more.

Justice forever gone, scattered in the Sonoran wind,

And still it was not enough.

Now they—the others, the not us, those over there—

Must carry papers,

Just as the Jews were forced to in Nazi Germany.

And all of this has defined us

More than it has them.

We who whisper behind closed doors

And in voting booths.

We who sit on the sidelines and cheer for no one.

We who let them—the dictators—tell us what to believe.

We who evict the indigenous.

And as I write this,

I feel the ball in my throat contract and tighten.

Perhaps you can feel it too?

It is awkward and discomforting,

And as it tries to silence me I cry out.

I will not let this hate define me

Nor my generation

Nor my people.

And I will yell

And I will tell all who will listen.

I will be silent no more.

A Poem Dedicated to Christina Green

by Hedy Garcia Treviño


When the scent of the Lotus Flower floats on the surface
and dances in celebration upon the waters of hope
I will think of little Christina Green

Like the Lotus Flower you sank below the swamp of humanity in the darkness

And like the Lotus Flower your death will raise the consciousness of a nation at dawn

Amidst the noise the rhetoric and the clamor the Lotus Flower took shelter

Torn from the swamp
before your beauty
could fully emerge
to welcome the sun

Before you could blossom and celebrate
the coming of the rains

Lotus Flower When the sun calls forward the glory of Springtime
hummingbirds will know your name
and butterflies will rejoice

Gentle winds will release your scent Lotus Flower
great trees will offer you shade
and the rain will dance in your honor

Lotus Flowers will fill the swamps and rise out of the mud to greet the light
and the scent of Christina the Lotus Flower now freed by the wind

will sing in the sun.

This Is Not My Empire

For Gabrielle Giffords

by Devreaux Baker

This is the night
that only ends when one person says Enough
and passes on the words that sing solidarity
from heart to hand to mouth
so an unbreakable bond is formed
a chain is forged
an empire is dismantled
so a new land grows up
out of the shadow world into the light
where even the voices of those whose language
we do not speak is understood
is cradled between our hands
like a new beginning
is offered up to wood, water, air and fire
like a prayer
This morning I walk through a dream
of desperate men and gaunt women
lining up to knock on my doors
or calling out to me from
their beds of slippery dark
I woke up to the words this is not
my empire…I did not release the orders to kill
children in countries I will never see
I did not permit people to use the crosshairs
of guns to hunt down innocent men, women and
children. I was born in a time of war
to an empire that I never claimed as mine.
I move through the morning
like a sleep walker
in a dream of terrible consequence.
This is not my empire


by Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

That Indian man you see on the hospital bed
he is 87 years old
He affectionately is known as Miracle Man
That Indian man
on the hospital bed
has lived 25 years beyond the time
he was administered his last rites.
That brown man
has but a third grade education.
I have a PhD
Yet he knows much more than me…
And all that I know,
he taught me.
That man is my father.
Some say he rambles on incoherently
but they seem not to know his memories.
He speaks of migrations
ancient migrations
from north to south.
“From somewhere here from
the United States.”
And ones to El Norte,
from south to north.
He speaks of his own migrations
From Tenochtitlan
from Mexico City
to Aguascalientes to Chicago
to Los Angeles, California.
And our migrations
from Aguascalientes to Tijuana
to Los Angeles.

Chicago is where he would have settled
Where we would have been raised,
If not for his compadre
who took a train to Los Angeles.
His mind, he goes back to the days
before his migrations.
When he worked at the railroad,
with his brother
in Aguascalientes
Whose elders told him that when
he decided to move to El Norte,
to show them that
“Mexicans know how to work.”
He goes further back,
revealing the source of his learning
from his father
who taught him
the way he taught me.
That man on the hospital bed
is a carpenter,
a master carpenter.
He is a worker
Worked all his life.
Never less than two jobs
at a time,
often three.

Worked all his life with his hands
and his keen mathematical mind.
See that man on the hospital bed?
He also was a dancer…
“floors cleared when he danced,”
my mom always said.
And true enough…
even on their 60th anniversary,
the floor cleared when he danced,
when they danced
as if it were the ‘40s.
That man on the hospital bed,
He can barely move now,
He can barely breathe.
Yet I can still see him dance.
My mind drifts to a time before my time.
I can see him in his Tacuche
In his Zoot Suit, along with his brother.
And I can see the floors clear as he danced
Boogie woogie and swing.
This from a photo in his sister’s house
in Aguascalientes
Never seen in Los Angeles.
That man in the hospital bed
He still recognizes me
He looks dazed,
But he still recognizes those he has known all his life
When I look at him
Its as if I’m looking at a mirror
But a mirror not of reality,
but of time
When I see my own reflection on windows
I see that Indian man
The same one on that hospital bed.

He is me
Or I am he
The same dna.
When I sit next to him
I hold his hand
I reassure him that I love him
That we all love him.
He understands me,
He is conscious.
He looks at me.
His eyes tell me,
he comprehends
the significance of this moment.
This has never happened before
in my 56 years.
I tell him that we all owe him,
that we all owe everything to him,
to him and my mother,
who both raised us, first in Aguascalientes,
then in Tijuana,
where I still remember his visits from Los Angeles,
then East L.A., then later Whittier, California,
where he finally bought a 3-bedroom home
with avocados,
this after 13 years of eight of us,
then nine of us,
living in a two-room shack,
in an alley in East LA.
That man on the hospital bed
is having trouble breathing.
having trouble swallowing his food.
He chokes,
can barely breathe.
But he lives,
he survives
His will to live is unfathomable
It is deep and profound.
He fights like he has fought his whole life.
He has instructed us not to pull the plug,
he wants to be resuscitated.
At night, he sleeps
He slips in and out of consciousness
His body twitches
He looks at me
I hold his hand
“I love you,”
I tell mi papa
I can say this now.
Could not say this 25 years ago.
I could never say this before,

Two days ago
He was once again administered his last rites.
Drove all night to see him once again.
Drove all night
From Tucson to Brownfield Texas,
where the letters KKK
are chiseled into the building
next to City Hall.
Drove all night, to see him once again,
Slept on the side of the road,
three times
pitch black sky.
Had to get there safely.
Should be driving to LA,
to Whittier,
but they’re no longer there.
Drove all night in the opposite direction
Had to face my mortality.
Was I driving to see him,
or to see myself?
To face myself?
For him,
or for myself?
To show him my love
my appreciation,
or to clear my conscience?
Things cannot be undone.
I still have memories of a brutal childhood
Yet now,
my memories of a guiding father,
of a story-telling father
are stronger,
are more important.
That Indian on the hospital bed
transmitted knowledge and
passed on to me his memories.

Long ago
and minutes ago.
Passed on the stories of those ancient migrations
when I was a child,
and when I was doing my PhD.
I created a diploma
for my father and for my mother
and for all the elders that contributed
their knowledge for my PhD.
He passed on to me his memories
The memories that go back
thousands of years
It is what I came to call
Ceremonial Discourse.
From parent to child.
He learned from his father
As he learned from his.
He taught me
He passed down his memories
His knowledge
From father to son,
Ancestral knowledge
and reminded me that I did not grow up
knowing the maiz or the frijol…
the precise topic of my dissertation.
That was part of the story of the migrations
So that we not know the backbreaking work
of the campo,
of the fields,
the backbreaking work in our memory.
And yet, it is he who relayed the stories
relayed the memories,
of being of this land.
Not from across the oceans
“We didn’t swim across the ocean to get to El Norte,”
he instructed me as a child.
He also taught me
instructed me never to stop eating chile,
lest I lose my tongue.
There’s something about the chile
Maíz without the chile is like…
Life is unimaginable without it.
That man on the hospitable bed,
he has lived with Alzheimer’s and dementia
for 25 years. More severe, the past several years.
But he is not incoherent
More than ever,
he makes total sense
More than ever, he is completely coherent.
His life has meaning.
Its all around him
His children
Those close to him
His grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He is not alone
nor abandoned
His life has meaning
It is said he was an orphan
But how could that be so
if his life has meaning?
That Indian man
who taught me to defend myself (my culture)
who taught me who I am
will live forever.

I drove all night
So I could tell him once again
To tell him
To hold his hand for the first time,
To tell him, and let him know that I love him
That I follow his footsteps
That I continue the migrations
That I honor
That I carry within me
His memories
His fathers memories
The ancient memories
My memories
His spirit
my spirit
Somos Uno
San Ce Tojuan
We are One
In Lak Ech
Tú eres mi otro yo
soy túRicardo and Juanita Rodriguez

Ricardo Rodriguez
April 3, 1923-January 10, 2011
Mexico City-Whittier

Distress Signal

by Valente Valenzuela

Houston: We have a problem do you copy?

This is Houston, read you loud and clear Homeland.

What is the problem?

Houston, our gyroscope is malfunctioning,

We lost our heading, and we're picking up the wrong aliens.

Copy that, Homeland. Close all doors, escape hatches,

push the release button on all commodes,

and press the self-destruct button,

because we are tired of all your shit coming

from your direction.

It's creating an eclipse here on Earth, do you copy?


This is Homeland. Roger?

In commemoration of the massacre of more than 30,000 indigenous people of El Salvador on January 22, 1932, I proudly present my grandmother María Luisa Pérez, from Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Sonsonate, El Salvador. Mamita "Wicha" Naja ne mitz negui ne nunan!


by Jorge Tetl Argueta

My name is Jorge
But you can call me Tetl
My grandmother
María Luisa Pérez
Pipil Nahua healer
Gave me that name
Perhaps the old lady
Knew what was coming to me
That’s why she named me Rock
In our language Nahuatl

I came to the United States
In 1981
I was lost in the desert
I was persecuted
I was jailed
I was humiliated
I returned
In all four directions
And I am home here now

I’ve been all over the Unites States
Including Arizona
Where I had met
Navajo Indians
Who look like me
Mexican Indians
Who look like me
Apache Indians
Who look like me

Everywhere I go
In this country I’ve met
North Americans
And African Americans
And Chinese
And people from other cultures
Who don’t look at all like me

I am a Native American Indian
From El Salvador

My name is Tetl
I am not like you
I don’t look like you
But I am your brother
Your uncle
Your father
And your grandfather

I am like you
With amazing feet
And legs
Long hair
And brown skin

I look like you
But I am not like you

In Texas I read
A sign that says
“Don’t fuck with Texas”
And a man told me
“We skin your kind around here”

In Arizona a young man killed
A girl as beautiful as the sunrise
Injured others
Is jailed
And the people of the United States cry and mourn
And remain still
As the first day of snow or rain

In the midst of all this pain
Anger and confusion
I say let’s honor our Mother Earth
And her wonderful belly
Let’ s pour water
For the spirits before us
Let’s pour water
For all the stolen dreams
For the dreamers
And for all our dreams
Let’s pour water
So we can all heal
And keep on dreaming
Long live those
Resisting to give up
Their dream

I say let us not forget our history
Let’s us never forget who we are
And where we come from
Let us move on healing our wounds
From anger
And selfishness
Let us be brothers and sisters
I say let us pour water
And as warriors hear
The gentle beat
Of our mother earth
Calling us to make peace

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
En memoria de los mas de 30,000 masacrados en El Salvador, enero 22, 1932. Con mucho orgullo les presento a mi abuela Maria Luisa Perez, de Santo Domingo de Guzman, Sonsonate, El Salvador. Mamita Wicha. Naja ne mitz negui ne nunan.


por Jorge Tetl Argueta

Mi nombre es Jorge Argueta
Pero me pueden llamar Tetl
Es el nombre que me dio mi abuela
María Luisa Pérez
Curandera Pipil Nahua
Quizás la viejita
Sabía lo que me esperaba
Por eso me nombro Piedra
En nuestra lengua Náhuatl

Vine a los Estados Unidos en 1981
Estuve perdido en el desierto
Me persiguió la migra
Me metieron preso
Me humillaron
Me deportaron
Regresé como los Indios
En cuatro direcciones
A esta tierra que siempre fue mi casa

He viajado por todos los Estados Unidos
En Arizona
Conocí Indios Navajos
Que se parecen a mí
Indios mexicanos
Que se parecen a mí
Indios Apaches
Que se parecen a mí

Por todas partes
De este país
He conocido Norte Americanos
Afro Americanos
Y de otras razas
Que no se parecen a mí

Yo soy Indio Americano
De El Salvador

Me llamo Tetl
Es cierto
No me parezco a ti
No soy como tú
Pero soy tu hermano
Tu tío
Tu papá
Tu abuelo

Somos iguales
Pero no me parezco a ti

En Texas
Un letrero
Dice “no jodas con Texas”
Y un hombre me dijo
“A los tuyos aquí los despellejamos”

En Arizona un joven mata
A una niña hermosa como el amanecer
Hiere a otros
Lo encarcelan
Y todos en los Estados Unidos
Se llenan de luto y se quedan quietos
Como el primer día de lluvia
Como la primer nevada

En medio de tanta confusión
De cólera y dolor
Honremos a Nuestra Madre Tierra
Pongamos agua
En su dulce entraña
Pongamos agua
Para los viejos espíritus
Pongamos agua
Por todos los sueños robados
Por todos los soñadores
Y por todos nuestros sueños
Pongamos agua
Para que todos podamos sanar
Y podamos seguir soñando
Que vivan todos los que se niegan
A dejarse robar sus sueños

No olvidemos nunca la historia
No olvidemos quiénes somos
Ni de dónde venimos
Sigamos sanando las heridas
Que nos ha causado
El dolor
El Racismo
Y el egoísmo
Seamos hermanos y hermanas
Pongamos agua
Y como los guerreros
Escuchemos el tambor
De nuestra Madre Tierra
Que nos llama a vivir en pazLes presento a mi mamita "Wicha"


1. "I Will Be Silent No More" by S. M. T. Hedger
2. "A Poem Dedicated To Little Christina Green" by Hedy Treviño
3. "This Is Not My Empire", Devreaux Baker
4. "That Indian Man You See on the Hospital Bed" by Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
5.” Distress Signal" by Valente Valenzuela
6. "Indian Song / Canción Indígena" by Jorge Tetl Argueta

S. M. T. Hedger Sara was born and raised in the Arizona desert among the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. It was a beautiful childhood full of vibrant sunsets and cactus bones. She became aware of social issues and inequalities at a very young age, and has always used poetry to mend. She was first published in a school newspaper in 2nd grade with a poem questioning Desert Storm. Since then she has written thousands of poems and is working on her first book. Now she writes from Syracuse, NY as a student, wife and mother.

Hedy TreviñoHedy M. Garcia Treviño. 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.

Devreaux BakerDevreaux Baker's new book of poetry is Red Willow People, Wild Ocean Press, San Francisco.
Her work has been published in many journals and anthologies. She was an editor of Wood, Water, Air and Fire: The Anthology of Mendocino Women Poets and produced The Voyagers Radio Program:Original Student Writing for Public Radio. She is the Director of the Mendocino Coast Poets Reading Series. New work is in ZYZZYVA, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, New Millenium, The Delinquent, Rufous City Review and forthcoming in The Albatross.

Roberto Dr. Cintli RodriguezRodriguez, raised in Eadt Los Angeles, he is a life-long journalist/columnist and now teaches at the University of Arizona. He can be reached at: Xcolumn@gmail.com. His work can be read at: http://drcintli.blogspot.com/

Valente Valenzuela

Jorge Tetl ArguetaJorge Tetl Argueta, is a native Salvadoran and Pipil Nahua Indian who spent much of his childhood in rural El Salvador. His bilingual children's books have received numerous awards. His poetry and short stories have appeared in acclaimed literary text books. Jorge Tetl's latest book for children's, Arroz con Leche/Un Poema Para Cocinar, Rice Pudding/A Cooking Poem, was selected one of 2010' s Best Children's Book by Kirkus Review. Jorge Tetl is currently the director of Talleres de Poesia, a literary organization that promotes children's literature in the United States and El Salvador.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful! Beautiful poetry for a beautiful cause. SMT Hedger's poem brought me to tears. I was struck by the raw imagery and emotion contained in it. I hope to see more work by these poets, especially SMT Hedger! Where can I find out more about her poetry?