Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Snowy ride up the mountain. Breaking News. On-Line Floricanto.

500 words is best friend to a prolix writer. And, as Manuel Ramos observes, this is fun, the 500-word thing.

Confessions of a Draftee: Snowy Ride Up the Mountain

Michael Sedano

foto:msedano © 2011

Costillas found his grip on the truck’s canopy, and with his left boot on the rear bumper swung himself up into the deuce and a half.

“Anahash,” he greeted the two Korean KPs hauling chow up the mountain. “Ne,” one said. The other looked away from the snowy landscape and pointing to the bench across from him, said something. “Mu-la me,” Costillas answered palms up, “No ara, mee un hum,” he apologized.

Specialist Fourth Class Miguel de las Costillas shivered in the penetrating cold despite his long johns, wool OGs, and fur-lined parka. He walked to the plywood box bolted to the floor against the cab. The foam rubber cushion would absorb a little of the violent jostling that punished his kidneys and ass during the rough bounce up the mountain. No luck. Next to the chow cans, the cushion held a circuit board, and there was nothing he could do. Missile repair parts had priority on any truck going up the mountain.

He snuggled into the corner where the canvas curved against the back of the cab, catching an imagined hint of warmth off the exhaust pipe. “Yoboseyo,” the older KP called. “Yoboseyo, Joe. Yogi, you yogi.” He pointed again to the empty bench where Costillas had leaped into the truck.

“Ne ne,” Costillas denied, “kamsamnida chingo, I stay here.” He didn’t intend to sit near the open end where the cold wind and blowing snow sucked into the truck. Worse, if that were possible, when the deuce and a half bounced against the primitive roadbed the shocks were greatest there at the far end and Costillas’ back was already killing him. Ski gunned it and the truck sped out of the Admin Area toward the Tac Site that occupied the mile high mountaintop at the end of the seven mile track.

Wham! The truck bounced Costillas into momentary free flight that ended when his back crashed against the steel side of the lurching truck. He bounced off sideways but managed to keep himself on the bench as gravity and inertia heaped punishment and pain on him.

They were in the storm now. The two Koreans were sharp silhouettes against the blinding whiteness. Ski gunned the motor at the third switchback. Something felt wrong. The truck slid weirdly sideways. To the furious spinning of wheels and grinding gears the truck slid backward. The two Koreans coiled their bodies in readiness to leap out. Costillas’ eyes bulged in sheer bloodcurdling terror. “Oh fuck, I’m not gonna make it. Damn it, menso. Damn it damnit.”

He should have been with his wife back in warm California, going about his quotidian duties of taking roll, ogling hippie chicks…not plunging off a mountain in a picturesque arc in the middle-of-nowhere.

Wham! The truck crashed into the side of the mountain and stopped. The tires found traction, the chow truck lurched forward, back on track. The three men exploded in wild, genuinely happy laughter. They had beaten the mountain. They were invincible.

©2011, michael v sedano

Breaking News I:
Put a Cork In It, O'Bigots

This just in from Alma Lopez and Alicia Gaspar de Alba:
Hello Friends,

Alicia and I will be presenting on our work at the Chicana Chicano conference at University College Cork in Ireland on June 23 - 25, 2011. As part of the conference, I will be exhibiting Our Lady and other work. We will also be screening I Love Lupe and a European presentation of our book, Our Lady of Controversy: Alma Lopez's Irreverent Apparition published by University Texas Press.

Protests have been generated by the America Needs Fatima group against the conference at the University College Cork in Ireland. Last week, ten thousand emails clogged their online system, last friday there was a radio show discussion calling Our Lady blasphemous, and today, police asked to see the image to see if I was breaking their blasphemy laws. I know it sounds crazy. We know Our Lady is not blasphemous, but we fear censorship.

Please write a letter of support to the address below and cc me. Attached are Alicia's notes on the Irish blasphemy laws.

Thank you!!!

Nuala Finnegan
Head of the Hispanic Studies Department
University College Cork, Ireland

Breaking News II:
La Palabra Poetry & Fundraiser Sunday June 26, 2011 at Avenue 50 Studio

Hosted by luminary poet and wit, Luivette Resto.

Poet/writer Fernando Castro will be the featured poet at the upcoming La Palabra. His support for literary programming is remarkable. After Fernando’s reading, poetry lovers who also love tacos will feast on Taquizas catered by Chef Daniel Chiu.

La Palabra is a regular poetry-centric event hosted by Northeast LA's cultural gem, Avenue 50 Studio.

Sunday's La Palabra is hosted as a mini fundraiser in celebration of La Palabra’s support for professional and emerging poets -- all proceeds will benefit La Palabra. I hope to see you there for wonderful poetry and (I hope gluten-free) gastronomical delights in honor of La Palabra.

Avenue 50 Studio, Inc.
a 501(c)(3) non-profit art gallery
131 North Avenue 50
Highland Park, CA 90042

Breaking News III
Mariposa Poetry Retreat Scheduled for October

The first annual Mariposa Poetry Retreat provides Washington, DC area poets and writers the

time and space to focus on their work in a serene and beautiful setting away from the pressures

and distractions of daily life.

The Retreat promotes a safe and instructive environment that identifies and addresses the

creative challenges faced by area poets. The weekend Retreat will take place from Friday

evening to Sunday afternoon. (The Mariposa Poetry Retreat is open to writers 18 years of age

and older.)

The Retreat features:

* Workshop leaders who are actively engaged in the writing life

* Stimulating activities leading to the creation of new work

* Opportunities to read new work

* Consultations with faculty

* Panel discussions

* Support and encouragement

* Informal social gatherings.

Poetry Workshop

A renowned DC/MD/VA area poet will facilitate each workshop. Workshops will consist of

writing exercises and group discussions on participants' work. At each workshop, participants are

encouraged to write and workshop their poems. Participants will have the opportunity to take a

workshop with each Faculty member. Workshops will not exceed 15 participants.


The Mariposa Poetry Retreat is held on the 260 acre Capital Retreat Center located in the

Catoctin Mountains in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, just 90 minutes north of Washington, DC.

This setting lends itself to serene contemplation of nature and nurturing of your creative spirit.

On-Line Floricanto Penultimate Tuesday in June 2011

Festive Summer Solstice Day! Fernando Alarcón and his co-moderators of Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070, present five poems of distinction to launch your summer's pleasures.

1. “Brown Angel" by Hector Carbajal

2. "Outlaw Zone" by Melinda Palacio

3. "NYC Community College Approves Curriculum Change While Arizona Burns" by Marguerite Maria Rivas

4. “Dove of the Desert /Paloma del desierto” by Francisco X. Alarcón

5. "Flower and Song" by Manuel Lozano

Brown Angel

by Hector Carbajal

Mataron a Junior.
Echaron su body en una bolsa.
I had to pay $8,000 for them
to bring his body back
across the border.

Me lo trajeron
ya pudriendo. The night before
he came to me to tell me
something habia pasado.

"Mom, open the door! I need to tell you something!"

"Junior, it's late. I told you not to come after you've been staying up late!"

"Mom, open the door! I have to tell you something!"

"No! Go away! It's late! Go to sleep!"

"Mom, something's happened to me. Get the black box from my truck! It has all my important things in there!"

"Junior, go to sleep!"

You know, I went to sleep and I really thought Junior had knocked on my door.
I didn't think anything of it. Then he was missing for three weeks.
I didn't know that they were going to steal his trocka.

They stole the black box with his ID and social security.
They cut up his social security card into pieces and then taped it back up.
Later I found out that they had sold his name and number.

When they called me, I remember I let out a scream.
But there was no sound that came out of my mouth at first.
Me tragué el sonido por un minuto. Then el grito came.
Yo sabía even before the lady on the phone said:
"Algo le ha pasado a su hijo, Señora."

I knew
Junior had come to me
and knocked that night.
No me lo vas a creer.

He came to warn me and then
I saw him in a pool of blood. I woke up.
Después no contestaba his cell. Until that phone call:
"Algo le ha pasado a su hijo, Señora."

He really did come to me in that dream te digo.
He came to warn me. He came to tell me something.
I still hear his voice.

from "The Final Crossing: Poems from La Frontera" by Hector Carbajal
© Carbajal 2011

Outlaw Zone

by Melinda Palacio

lull me back
to sun rays on mountains,
full moon hikes and coyote cries,
heat from windless days, where
people dared build
cities in a desert.

Don’t piss me off, Arizona,
Don’t go back to those ugly years
of no Dr. King days with your
sweeps and roundups,
sounds like a rodeo, ¿que no?
Don’t prey on your people, gente
browner than an Arizona sunset.

Shoes, you say.
You can tell by their shoes.
Shoes say it all:
inmigrante, illegal.

Don’t tell me where you came from
or how the West was won
or why you think Arizona,
land of little water, chollas,
bottlebrush sage, ocotillos, saguaros
is only for those whose skin burns pink.

Add air to your name,
Air-uh-zone-uh. Air-a-
zone for legals,

Don’t forget which country you come from.

Previously Published in San Diego Poetry Annual 2011

NYC Community College Approves Curriculum Change While Arizona Burns

by Marguerite Maria Rivas

for Sisters Umpierre, Cervantes, Alvarez, and Cisneros

Luzma, Lorna, Julia, and Sandra,
I walk around this cold apartment, drawing my hoodie closer
and imagine that my phone rings. You are all on a party line.
You invite me to a conga line, to drink some wine, or tequila, or tea,
and tell me, “Hermana, this guerra de independencia that Sister Gloria
said was constant, she wasn’t kidding, man, so power down your computer,
put your words away. You’ve waved the red flag enough today;
come, sit, party, we have your back tonight and there is always mañana.”

Luzma, Lorna, Julia, and Sandra,
I thought you won that war for our daughters
for women college students here in the East, there in the West,
who right now may be reading Borderlands/La Frontera
with the Spanish words defaced by bracketed translation,
or in course packets here prepared by young Anglo men, erased
or worse still, not at all.
I wait by the phone, sisters, and imagine your call breaking the silence of my despair.

Luzma, Lorna, Julia, and Sandra,
did you hear your names whispered in the night in a northerly or westward wind,
as if invoked in prayer by me here in this cold city of pugnacious young men
who fear the loss of their authority before their brown students
who fear the loss of their manhood before women with radical mouths
who bray in anonymity on academic discussion boards about English for English classes
who bulldoze, with the stroke of the computer key or the pen,
the feminist architecture of our sister?

Luzma, Lorna, Julia, and Sandra,
can you hear me calling you from this state of astonishment
as you sit at your kitchen table stirring café con leche
as you greet your lover with a warm meal and warmer heart
as you stoke your fireplace in the land of frost
as you lie upon your rooftop and watch the Texas moon rise?

Maybe the phone will ring with a conjunto ringtone
and you will all be laughing on the party line and bid me lay down my arms.
Maybe I will stop shaking with the white lighting of anger long enough to rest
my hands upon your shoulders which bore the weight of so much history,
and you will boost me up with wildness, laughter, and the music of your words.

Published in The Más Tequila Review Winter 2011 Issue 2
and for the Facebook Group Poets Responding to Arizona SB 1070

Dove of the Desert

by Franciscco X. Alarcón

San Xavier del Bac
dove of the desert
with open white wings

you take flight
soaring in the blue sky
toward the Sun

prayer made into
adobes, bricks, limestone
celestial murals

spiritual mission
colonial fortress
sorrowful cross

forced labor
whip, sweat, weeping
tomb of dreams

house, refuge
concentration camp
mystic madness

castle, church
synagogue, mosque
royal sanctuary

with two minarets
tall ivory towers
one unfinished

in recalling
homage to Babel
and its fate

black ropes
replaced one day
by gray friars

by royal decree
“a secret in the heart
of his majesty”

San Xavier del Bac
white cactus flower
from the distance

the sweetest of prickly pears
and at once the bitterest
historic fruit

floral crown
of mesquites in love
with springtime

ay, blessing making
all Toroho O’odham
both laugh and cry

ay, patron saint
with whom I share
my baptismal name

ay, miracle of
the imperial outskirts
unique Weeping Woman

ay, global mother
of indigenous people
without documents

mayas, huastecs
mixtecs, zapotecs,
nahuas and yaquis

mestizos and anglos
seeking their past
present and future

great festive cake
ark of the alliance of
the body and the soul

Moon of the countryside
announcing the new Sun–
the flower of redemption

© 2011 Francisco X. Alarcón

Paloma del Desierto

por Franciscco X. Alarcón

San Xavier del Bac
paloma del desierto
con alas blancas

emprendes vuelo
zurcando el cielo azul
hacia el Sol

plegaria hecha
adobe, ladrillo, cal
muro celestial

misión espiritual
fortaleza colonial
cruz dolorosa

labor forzada
látigo, sudor, llanto
tumba de sueños

casa, refugio
campo de concentración
locura mística

castillo, iglesia
sinagoga, mesquita
santuario real

con dos minaretes
altas torres de marfil
una sin concluir

en homenaje
postrero a Babel
y su moraleja

hábitos negros
reemplazados sin más
por frailes grises

por decreto real
“secreto del corazón
de su majestad”

San Xavier del Bac
blanca flor de nopal
en la lejanía

dulcísima tuna
y a la vez amarguísimo
fruto histórico

corona floral
de mesquites en amor

ay, bendición que hace
a todos los Toroho O’odham
por igual reír y llorar

ay, santo patrón
con quien comparto nombre
de mi bautismo

ay, milagro del
arrabal imperial
Llorona sin par

ay, madre global
de los indígenas sin

mayas, huastecos
mixtecos, zapotecos,
nahuas y yaquis

mestizos y anglos
buscando su pasado
presente y futuro

gran pastel festivo
arca de la alianza
del cuerpo y el alma

Luna del campo
anunciando el nuevo Sol–
la flor de redención

Click an image below to view the poem in large view:
© 2011 Francisco X. Alarcón

Flower and Song...for my Sisters and Brothers who always rise up for a just cause. Forever writing/Forever fighting. Time is Art.

by Manuel Lozano

The sinister mister walks crooked lines
That look straight and pretty while moving along,
Like a number five twister conditioning minds
With a bag full of pity he whistles his song.
The path of destruction is right at his heels,
From dead on it all looks quite ordinary,
In his cage of corruption and no court of appeals
The song has been long gone from that yellow canary.

The shady lady builds up her ivory empire
With tentacles outstretched in every direction,
At the ripe age of eighty she spreads her fire
With the cruelty etched on a new generation.
While grinning she polishes her jewel encrustations
Where angles reflect the plight of the people,
With a pen she demolishes third world nations
Where foaming monsters erect an old broken steeple.

The trickster hipster offers a quick taste
To calm the nerves and ease the cruel pain,
A handler and tipster with no time to waste,
He says one deserves to numb up the brain.
Prescribing the madness is one form of control,
It alters the senses and veils the true source,
With a case of the sadness they infect the soul
And blame consequence on life’s natural course.

The lender pretender offers assistance
While betting there’s no chance for them to collect,
Like a repeat offender showing no resistance,
He takes a bad circumstance and puts it deeper in debt.
Then foreign investors leach on with their bundles,
While the dreamers awaken to take a turn for the worse,
Just like their ancestors in the deserts and jungles
They are visibly shaken by the repeating curse.

The abductor instructor belts out the guidelines
That sway the masses to bow down to false idols,
A false conductor within solid gold shrines
He says all trespasses are pardoned thanks his titles.
This substitute teacher organizes book burnings
As he says that a vision said they needed updating,
A sabotage preacher taking a part of your earnings
He says his one mission is protection from what is invading.

The loud crowd drowns out all other suggestions
That seem beneficial only in their legal dialect,
Toward dark cloud surroundings it asks no more questions
When the answer that is official only has a lie to protect.
Bright beams pierce through the madness that hovers,
They shed light on the fact that the peasants stand strong,
There’s nothing new in the true story one uncovers,
The people react with their ancient flower and song.

© Manuel Lozano 2011


1. “Brown Angel" by Hector Carbajal

2. "Outlaw Zone" by Melinda Palacio

3. "NYC Community College Approves Curriculum Change While Arizona Burns" by Marguerite Maria Rivas

4. “Dove of the Desert /Paloma del desierto” by Francisco X. Alarcón

5. "Flower and Song" by Manuel Lozano

Hector CarbajalHector Carbajal, PhD, is a writer and scholar who is interested in exploring the relationship between rhetoric, memory, and writing. His writing has been featured in "This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation," edited by Gloria E. Anzaldua and AnaLouise Keating.

Melinda PalacioMelinda Palacio's award-winning Folsom Lockdown is published by Kulupi Press. Her novel, Ocotillo Dreams will be published by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe in July 2011. Visit Melinda's website for details of the Ocotillo Dreams release tour.

Marguerite María RivasMarguerite María Rivas teaches English, including creative writing and Latina Latino literature, at the City University of New York. Her work has been published in The Americas Review, Earth’s Daughters, Multicultural Review, Waterways, Changing English and The Mas Tequila Review. She has received numerous grants and awards, including the Marg Chandler Memorial Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation. Her book of poems, Laughter, Hope & a Sock in the Eye is forthcoming from Villa Florentine Press in the fall of 2011.

Francisco X. AlarcónFrancisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, is author of twelve volumes of poetry. His latest books are Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010) and for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He teaches at the University of California, Davis.

Manuel LozanoManuel Lozano, self-taught writer and artist, lives in El Paso, “El Chuco,” Texas, cradle of the pachuco. Manuel writes traditional verse “to the rhythm of the Matachines.” His work has appeared in Xican@ Poetry Daily and La Bloga. To purchase Seeds of Rebellion, visit his blog, Manuel Lozano: Xicano Writing.


Manuel Ramos said...

Great edition of La Bloga, Michael. News and news and more news. Do you think Our Lady is the most condemned piece of Chicana art? And a memoir in less than 500 words! Nice.Plus some more beautiful poetry smashing SB1070. It has it all.

msedano said...

i'm unable to remember another work of chicana art getting even one condemnation, much less the thousands Lopez' work stimulated. There was the tagger who defaced 5 or 6 La Virgen images on public spaces a few years ago. I suspect that was not condemnation but possession of a spray can stupidity. how sad that c/s lost its magic powers.