Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Magú Memorial. On-Line Floricanto September Songs

Memorial Gathering for Magu 

For details see Magu's Magulandia home page. From that site:

Memorial services for Gilbert Sanchez Lujan aka Magu will be held on September 11th, 2011 at the East LA Civic Center, located at 3rd Street and Mednik Avenue, just south of the 60 Freeway in East Los Angeles, CA. Click the link for a map of or directions to the location:

Arrive at noon for a 1pm start time for the services.
More details will be announced soon.

QEPD, Magu.

Amelia M.L. Montes Joins La Bloga

Welcome New Bloguera Amelia M.L. Montes. Fond farewell to Olga Garcia. La Bloga looks forward to Olga's occasional return as a guest columnist. Amelia's first regular bloguera post was Sunday, September 4. 

Amelia M.L. Montes and Tatiana de la Tierra will alternate Sunday columns.

Amelia María de la Luz Montes, (Amelia M.L. Montes) Associate Professor of English and Ethnic Studies, is currently the Director of The Institute for Ethnic Studies at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Professor Montes’s most recent publication, the Penguin Classics edition of Ruiz de Burton’s novel, Who Would Have Thought It? was listed on the Latino Books Month List for May 2010 from the Association of American Publishers. She is editor of the anthology, Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton: Critical and Pedagogical Perspectives. A chapter from her creative book-in-progress, The Diabetes Chronicles was recently published in the anthology, An Angle of Vision: Women Writers on Their Poor and Working-Class Roots (University of Michigan Press).

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto September Songs as the days dwindle down...

Matt Sedillo, Margarita Hortelano, John Martinez,Carlos Parada Ayala, Sabrina Vourvoulias

A marvelous floricanto comes our way today via Francisco Alarcón and the moderators at the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070. It's touching the outpouring of sadness of Magu's death, seen today in John Martinez' eulogy. QEPD also to Saúl Solórzano, eulogized in Carlos Parada Ayala's poem. Margarita Hortelano's piece appears in smaller type to preserve its pyramidal structure. Ojalá the blogger software allows the view. (If you have a large monitor you can often magnify letters by holding down two keys, Command + on Mac, Control + on Windows.)

1. "Long Dark Night" by Matt Sedillo
2. "Descendent of Aztecs" by Margarita Hortelano
3. "Yes We Should Paint We Should Paint" by John Martinez
4. "La luz de la tormenta" (A Saúl Solórzano) por Carlos Parada Ayala
5. "Broken Ground" by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Long Dark Night
by Matt Sedillo

Long Dark Night
This country was intentional
The first of its kind
A get rich quick scheme
And for those in its path
A long dark night
Fell the trees
Fell the natives
They raise no flags
So they own no land
Kill them as you must
This country is no place
For peaceful tribes 
Show this world
These United States
They aint playin
And they are no place
For free men
Sew men to the soil
Breed them like cattle
Strip them
Of language
Promise them
A place in your Gods heaven
Should they serve you well
Through long hard days
Through blood soaked fields
This country was built by slaves
Build ports to ship out cotton
Build ports to drag men
Women and children
Off coffin ships
Through Ellis Island
Lock them into
Sweat shops
Shit and piss
Pack them in
Dust bowls
Coal mines
Triangle factories
Dynamite railroad lines
Hand them a paycheck
Wish them luck
And marvel at their
Ability to even exist
This country
Chews up and shits
The blood sweat and dreams
Of immigrants
This beast was born
Before any pilgrim
Touched shore
From the dawn of private property
To the code of Hammurabi
From the Magna Carta
To kissing the rings
Of your holy father
In that long dark night
Called human history
This country
May just yet be reborn
In a civil war
That never truly ended
That has extended
Its hostilities
To new victims
Of borders that moved across them
Victims of a nation
Made manifest
That imprisons men for working
Tears mothers from children
Destroys families
For the high crime of existing
In the permenant shadow
Of that deep dark night
That has always relied
On the blind eye
Of the house slave
The malinche
The pay raise
Of there is not enough room
On this boat
So don't rock
The status quo
Of we have it good
Dont we have it good
Doesnt that
Feel good
Rest well
In that American dream
This country
Is asleep
This country was intentional
The first of its kind
An American original
Born in a long dark night

Descendent of Aztecs
by Margarita Hortelano

People call me brown, Mexican, Latino;
there are so many definitions to describe my race.
“Yes”! Absolutely true, but people look at my skin, they do not see
     under it. I am the daughter of the sun; I incline my face in reverence to him.
The Gods of my people created the moon. I still hear the voices of Aztecs in the stone 
mountains. I am Mexica in blood and soul. I feel proud of my origins. My race is the
bronze, the dark gold. All my people have the color of the earth after the rain, sparkling
rain that Tlaloc put down in my country.
My father was born in Cuauhnahuac,
the place of eternal spring, a place where trees whisper about
their eternal youthful secrets. Cuauhnahuac means surrounded by trees.
There was the summer home of Aztec emperors, and the cradle of the most
beautiful Indian women. My father’s skin is dark brown a legacy of Moctezuma. He
represents Huitzilopochtli (The Soul of the Warrior). I learned from this warrior to love
my land, and to feel proud of the color of my skin; skin that shines at the sunset, and
disappears in the middle of the night.
My mother was born in Chihuahua,
El Estado Grande, the biggest state of Mexico,
the Heart of the Sierra Madre Occidental. She is Tarahumara,
Raramuri, cultivators of corn and beans, runners of the country. She belongs
to the copper canyons, a place where the rivers merged to form the Rio Fuerte that
streams furiously in the rain season to Sea Cortez. Her ancestors built adobe houses in
the high mountains. In those mountains mom gave birth to kids that flied like birds
leaving the nest forever;
they came across the light beyond the horizon.
Quetzalcoatl managed their flight in route to faraway lands.
Chihuahua is place of silvery curtains and green valleys
full of sun, where wildlife grows up. The trains
cross all the sierras; they are silent witnesses
of all that magnificent beauty.
It is in Chihuahua where my eyes saw for the first time the sun rays, in a remote and
silent place where people live in peace with God and nature. My siblings were born
there too. We were explorers in our own land; like our ancestors we fished,
hunted, and we slept under the stars. We followed the way of caves
and rivers where the symbols of our people are hidden from view
up in the mountains. In the nights without moon
these places are led by their spirits
who lie down among the stars.
I am a spirit of my past in renaissance.
I am a descendent of Aztecs; my blood is brown not just my skin.
You can call me Brown, Hispanic or Mexican;
I feel proud to belong to the Plumaged Serpent and to sacred lands.

by John Martinez

The sun burns round
Like a paper machete
A tortilla on fire
Pinned to a washed
Slanted baby-blue sky

And if you peer deep
If you follow its real
acid burning arm to the south down the 99
Towards Selma towards Delano
Past the torture rows of grapes past
the spiral desert earth
That is Fresno County

You’d be following
Magu’s gaze
That concentrated seer of all things
You’d be looking
In the direction
Of his home his soul dome but first
a wall must be painted

Yes, we should paint
Magu would say

Cuz the Chicano proposal
Writers needed him
To say Yes we should paint
So they could reel in the dream

And the young Indio Chicanos,
With their cuff scrubbed Dickies
And white oversized undershirts
From the Westside Projects
From the Eastside Projects
From the proud Butler Street Homes
Needed him to say Yes we should paint
So they could come out and notice
The sky tagged to their glyphs and signs

And the after school Program
For inner City Youth
Mecha Central Alfonso Hernandez
With a UFW button next to his heart
Needed him to say
Yes we should paint

So the people would have the color
They always had, but this time drying permanent
Under the sun

por Carlos Parada Ayala

(A Saúl Solórzano)

Era feroz la tormenta
en que caímos atrapados
como gaviotas extraviadas
en el mar de la historia.
¡Cómo crujían los maderos!
Y he ahí tu voz sencilla
de timonel y mástil desafiando
los golpes bajos de la oleada.
He ahí tu voz de luz brillando
en sueños de velas níveas
con viento en popa.
¡Y cómo seguiste soñando!
Mucho más allá de aquellos
navegantes que confundieron
los sueños con la muerte,
y a pesar de los mil y un naufragios,
¡cómo seguiste soñando!
Y es que siempre hay
una luz en la tormenta
que alumbra el corazón.
Tú lo supiste desde que en
los cuatro puntos cardinales
se escuchó tu voz surgiendo
en una encrucijada entre dos mares,
ahí donde se explayan para dar a luz
las piernas míticas de la madre eterna
de los navegantes que no mueren.
Ahí, en ese punto universal
donde la sangre se reúne
con la quintaesencia del futuro,
ahí surgió tu voz de vencedor
de huracanes furibundos.
Esa es la luz de la tormenta
que ilumina la ruta de los
mártires del púlpito
y los derroteros que deambulan
los poetas clandestinos.
Un navío es tu corazón
en donde se albergan
los náufragos del tiempo
en este viaje cósmico
a tu constelación por siempre
palpitante en la luz de la balanza.

Saúl Solórzano was the President of the Central American Resources Center in Washington, DC, and a champion of the rights of immigrants in the U.S., particularly the most vulnerable ones, those the press insists on calling “illegals”.  Saúl was born in El Salvador on October 14, 1961 and died August 17, 2011 of cardiac arrest.  He was 49 years old.

©Carlos Parada Ayala

Broken Ground
by Sabrina Vourvoulias

In past years
the matter was where,
not if, to prepare the ground
for roots. Close to home
or fuller to sun, either
way, we knew the offer
was bounty and we partook.
I still recall those treasures:
tiny green cabochons of tomatillo;
golden oil swimming with flecks
of herb and petal; heirlooms,
red-brown and mashed to pulp.
All in glass -- preserved
like memory.

These mornings I look
out the window, coffee in hand,
and quail at what I see growing.
Nothing nourishing.
Hard, toothy leaves. Indigestible
fruit. Poison berries that scribe
the soul with dark words and darker law.
The volunteers that once seeded
themselves -- an angel’s sowing, no
human hand involved -- are gone.
There is no space left
for them.

In my kitchen, San Judas Tadeo
and Santa Rita, purveyors
of the impossible, look on me
with the pity and exasperation
of the long sainted.
How do you intend to fill
your belly? they ask.

Hung in a place of honor
la Morenita keeps silent.
She knows all about
the meaning of land
and hopes gone to seed.

This morning, my daily cup
of desolation already served
and steaming, I try to remember
the shape of what once was.

I used to map my garden:
chiles and calabazas here; pungent
marigold between. Epazote and miltomate
or jitomate -- depending on which side
of my mother’s family named them --
anywhere. Plant and plan
for the future.

But everything has changed.
Me. This land. The country.
We’ve been reclaimed, gone feral.
Our fears are so rampant we’ve assigned
them numbers -- 1070, 56, 87, 2479.

From my kitchen window, I spy a lone fawn.
He hides in the poke and nettle
and noses around for sweet-tart apples
fallen early from centenarian trees.
Or maybe it’s the mulberries that call him
so close I can count the spots
speckling his coat.
Not far from him, a family of geese
stretch their black necks to track
the rooting. They’re curious but not unsettled.
More distant but still clear to my eyes,
turkey buzzards take the sun
and a summer-lean rabbit freezes
near a tree downed by ice --
her fur hard to pick out from bark.

It is oddly consoling, this wild
and mismatched community
I’m given to notice.

There is always something to harvest,
la Morenita seems to say
as I turn my eyes back to her abode,
my reality. Even in maleza …

I put down my cafecito, my mouth full
of bitter with sweet, and go outside
to collect what I recognize.
Some hopes. A dream. Seeds.
There may no longer be a garden
but there’s this –– us,
and the waiting ground within.


1. "Long Dark Night" by Matt Sedillo
2. "Descendent of Aztecs" by Margarita Hortelano
3. "Yes We Should Paint We Should Paint" by John Martinez
4. "La luz de la tormenta" (A Saúl Solórzano) por Carlos Parada Ayala
5. "Broken Ground" by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Matt Sedillo
Two time national slam poet, Grandslam Champion Damn Slam Los Angeles CA 2011, published author as featured on KPFK and in the Los Angeles Times. Contact at Mattsedillo1981@gmail.com

Margarita Hortelano
Margarita Hortelano or Veronica Abe the name how people know me in my country. I was born in a little town in Chihuahua, Mexico, in a place called Ejido El Largo. I immigrated to the United States in July of 2000 with my husband and kids. I felt dizzy to think about my life in this country, a place where I did not know anybody and nobody knew me. With the struggle of the language I started to learn in ESL classes, English as a Second Language, but my unsatisfied dreams made me look for something else. In 2007, I started college at San Juan College in Farmington NM. At first I started math classes thinking that there I would not have to speak. Math and English in one class was tricky for me. So I took refuge in my writing, trying to write in English and Spanish at the same time. I have been writing entire nights trying to translate my words, here is this Descendent of Aztecs-with all my heart!

John Martinez  
John Martinez studied Creative Writing at Fresno State University. He has published poetry in El Tecolote, Red Trapeze and the LA Weekly. He has performed (as a musician/political activist) with Teatro De La Tierra, Los Perros Del Pueblo and TROKA, a Poetry Ensemble. He has also toured with several Cumbia bands throughout the Central Valley and Los Angeles and is finishing (finally) his first Novel, Cumbia Days, which is expected out in 2012. He has worked for the last 17 years as an Administrator for a Los Angeles Law Firm and makes his home in Upland, California with his beautiful wife, Rosa America y Familia.

A recipient of Washington, DC’s, Commission on the Arts Larry Neal Poetry Award in 2005, Carlos Parada Ayala co-edited the anthology  Al pie de la Casa Blanca:  Poetas hispanos de Washington, DC published by the North American Academy of the Spanish Language in New York in July 2010.  Co-edited with Argentinean poet Luis Alberto Ambroggio, the US Library of Congress selected this anthology to celebrate 400 years of Hispanic poetry in the United States in September of 2010.   Parada Ayala graduated from Amherst College, Massachusetts, with a degree in Spanish, Latin American and Brazilian literature.  He is a member of the Salvadoran poetry collective Late Night Hour, and is a founding member of ParaEsoLaPalabra, a collective of writers, artists and activists whose goal was to promote the arts, music and literature in the Spanish speaking communities of the Washington, DC metropolitan area.   

Ganador del premio de poesía Larry Neal de la Comisión de las Artes de Washington, DC, Carlos Parada Ayala es co-editor de  la antología Al pie de la Casa Blanca:  Poetas hispanos de Washington, DC publicada por la Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española (Nueva York,  julio de 2010).  Esta obra, co-editada con el poeta argentino Luis Alberto Ambroggio, fue seleccionada en septiembre de 2010 por la Biblioteca del Congreso de Estados Unidos para celebrar 400 años de poesía hispana en Estados Unidos.  Parada Ayala tiene una licenciatura en literatura española, latinoamericana, y brasileña de Amherst College, Massachusetts.  Es miembro del grupo de poetas salvadoreños Alta hora de la noche y es uno de los fundadores de ParaEsoLaPalabra, un colectivo de escritores, artistas y activistas cuyo objetivo fue promover las artes, la música y la literatura en las comunidades de habla hispana de la zona metropolitana de Washington, DC.

 Sabrina Vourvoulias
Sabrina Vourvoulias is a Latina writer, blogger (www.followingthelede.blogspot.com) and newspaper editor. Read her poetry online at Scheherezade's Bequest at Cabinet des Fees, in past Floricantos here at La Bloga, and upcoming in Bull Spec; read her fiction online in Crossed Genres issue 24 and upcoming in GUD magazine. Join her in advocating against the omnibus of proposed "Illegal Alien Issues"  bills (House Bills 858, 798, 799, 439, 809, 355, 810, 738, 856, 857, 474, 801, 865, 41 and Senate Bill 9) being debated this week in the State Government Committee (chaired by Daryl D. Metcalfe)  in the Pennsylvania State Legislature.

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