Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Guest Columnist: Sean Hill. On-line Floricanto for the Ninth

Editor's Note
Last week on La Bloga-Tuesday, I featured a group of poets reading their stuff on the Los Angeles subway and Hollywood sidewalk, Poesia Para La Gente: Poetry Underground. The event marked yet another success in Poesia para la gente's commitment to bringing poetry to public spaces. It's the kind of thing that adds vibrancy to a city's cultural life, and it doesn't cost the city a dime.

As with any major event, follow up from organizers and participants inevitably brings more good news. That news includes release of the video from videographer Kevin Lynn and his  KLLVideo Productions.

Puro good news is poet Sean Hill's guest columnist sharing a poet's-eye view of the event. And, in a capstone of good news, organizer Jessica Ceballos sends a note from Isabel Hirama, the beatboxer who joined Sean Hill in the MacArthur Park reading.
• Michael Sedano

So I brought bubbles.
by Sean Hill

Sean Hill at Union Station
So I brought bubbles. Lots of bubbles.

To a poetry event where I knew (1) bubbles would be allowed and (2) just in case of any trouble...I got bubbles.

Case in point: baby crying. Sitting across from me as the second round of poetry started. We're sitting on our first subway ride and this child is about to erupt bigger. This is a job for BUBBLES! Disaster immediately averted as she now laughs and screams too loudly in happiness, but the poet was on the far side of the train. I continue to blow bubbles for her happiness until my lungs begin asthmatic actions.

Yago S. Cura reads on the Red Line platform.
Next bubble incident. I decide in the next train it isn't fair if I blow bubbles only on the first train...as soon as the first bubbles land on strangers...one woman slowly ascends from the mass of strangers, floating to me, like said bubbles, and saying..."What...!!! I have bubbles too!" and immediately bubble mates exist. We begin blowing them at each other and at people around us, while exhanging conversation between the enchanting, consistently dissipating bubbles. "I went to a wedding and they had these for all the guests, it was like 3 months ago, I decided to keep them." I let her know, "Sweet, because it would be awkward if there were just other people in the world walking around with bubbles in their pocket."

It was time for me to share a poem and I do, her friends I just introduced myself to look in wonder and delight realizing they just became a part of something so alive with all these poets sharing so openly, lovingly, and sincerely with strangers...who now become friends.

Sean Hill reads underground between Union Station and Hollywood & Highland
They decide to tag along for a bit and witness Conney Williams and Billy Burgos next, she asks me if she can do something too, she beatboxes she mentions with the light of life pouring out of her eyes, happy to just be a part of this artistic adventure someway somehow.

I ask Jessica Ceballos, our Ultima Momma Bear and Adventure Guide. I met Jessica first at the Last Bookstore where she invited me to feature at The Bluebird Poetry Reading she has at Avenue 50, beautiful venue, fun people, elegant vibe. Jessica approves of Isabel, the bubble blowing lady who can beatbox, and says sure, once we get up top.

Steps and steps and more steps later, which are usually easily taken, pretty strenuous at the moment since I have a cane for the time being, torn MCL (whatever that is) in my knee from doing "the Matrix" move in a b-boy-ish battle at a fundraiser for a human right's campaign for the Filipino people. The ligament was a worthy sacrifice.

Jeffrey Alan Rocklin reads while departing passenger looks on.
We arrive at MacArthur Park and blow bubbles for 5 or so poets, each poem seemed perfect for bubbles in someway...love, self love, yearning and work towards a better society...which seemed great to me especially today. Friends and fellow artists Ryan Nance and Devereau Chumrau along with Karineh Mahdessian all not only helped with bubbles and the blowing of them into the world...but also carrying my main two bags and sign with the #'s and @'s of as many things I could fit on there to keep the world in contact with us.

I don't know what's going to happen next. That's the beauty of being human and being an artist. I tell a quick synopsis of how Isabel Hirama and I met on the train and I intro her as a beatboxing college go'er visiting LA for the first time from outta town. She is welcomed quickly...she smiles widely...I give her the "start when you're ready" look...and BAM.

Beatboxing bursts out of her body like a one woman team of acapella artists! Fluidly, crsip, and clean, I freestyle poetically something about infinity, sharing our love and craft, and something about hoping a bird doesn't poop on us. Yes, it all made sense somehow, trust me...it did.

Ryan Nance reads for the videographer, Jessica Ceballos surveys the car, Yago Cura focuses.
Applause and high fives, hugs and "where did she come from's" begin to echo as we had the first open mic'er who was not part of our original crew of craftsmen and women demonstrate their love of what they love to do.

I look at things in the big picture alot...and honestly...if everyone joined an open mic for a day out of nowhere: world peace.

I aim high. Sometimes I think I'm joking when I say things like that...sometimes I don't.
What Jessica Ceballos did was get a bunch of poets together to cannonball with love into the pool we call Los Angeles. What Isabel Hirama did was not only get soaked by the wave we made...but she smiled, wiped the water off her eyes, and dived in to make her own splash.

If everyone did what Isabel did...world peace.

Beatboxing Visitor's View - Isabel Hirama

Isabel Hirama, via Jessica Ceballos sends along this message from Taiwan.

Coming across Poesia Para la Gente on my first afternoon in LA completely made my day. As soon as I noticed the bubbles drifting through the metro car, I knew we had stumbled upon an adventure. My friends and I were mesmerized by their poetry performances and delighted by the way the group welcomed us. When I left LA I wished #pplg could travel with me and bring a little bit of magic to the sidewalks/subways/parks of cities everywhere!

the day I met you guys inspired me to write a poem as I was falling asleep that night

so thank you

First Day in LA
Isabel Hirama

Immensely tired, intensely tired
Not tried and trialed, just spent and inspired
Fell in love with this city - walk me down the aisle!
Now stretch into slumber...I sleepily smile

Poet VLM lugged his keyboard 

On-line Floricanto for the Ninth of July
Avotcja, Victor Avila, Frank De Jesus Acosta, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Raul Sanchez

“Poetic Homage to Rafael Manrique Como Un Picaflor Aromático
(For Rafael Manriquez Silva 3/27/1947-6/26/2013)” by Avotcja
“Imago” by Victor Avila
“Stanzas of Solitude” by Frank De Jesus Acosta
“Gabe’s Search” by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
“Salsa Verde” by Raul Sanchez

Poetic Homage to Rafael Manrique Como Un Picaflor Aromático
(For Rafael Manriquez Silva 3/27/1947-6/26/2013)
by Avotcja

Rafa… nuestro Picaflor
The clock has stopped,
but I still hear your voice
“Reloj no marques la hora”
Your voice
Your unmistakable voice
Un encanto andino
Like Chilean Pebre
Spicing up an otherwise spiceless world
Our Chilean Song Bird has joined the Ancestors
Y te estraño
I miss you
& the understated intense promise of justicia in your voice
Te estraño
Tu … un océano de cantos
Your world of Song & your fanatical love of Song
Poetic Songs that never seemed to stop coming
Tu … biblioteca eterna de la palabra poetica
Ay Rafa … tu voz
Como un rayo de la esperanza
Our melodic medicine in a world gone mad
Tu voz
Una estampa indestructible
Proud & unmistakable like Chilean hot sauce
Pebre vocalizado … un sabor inolvidable
A ‘one of a kind’ kind of sound
Escrito en el viento
Your voice
Una estampa sempiterna
Singing to me
Your mischievous voice
Dancing through our dreams
Spicing up our lives like Chilean hot sauce
Ay Rafa … encantador Chileno
Te escucho en cada brisa
Singing to my Soul
La belleza de tu voz
Singing … singing … singing to me
Singing to all of us
“Reloj no marques la hora”
Copyright © Avotcja

by Victor Avila

She casts her magic
over sunburnt stones.
Dry dust then rain
she chants her spell.
My heart, a desert-
a ghost of the soul-
discovers a well
with water brimmed.

She speaks a language
trees and animals know.
Her clothes, a shawl,
spun by afternoon sun.
She walks unheard
through adobe walls
to face the west
as the sun goes down.

I imagine she comes
every night while we sleep
and drinks from a well
we thought only ours.
For it's her that raises
the ladle to our lips
to quench a thrist
that by ourselves...

We can never quell.
Copyright 2013 Victor Avila. All rights reserved.

Victor Avila is an award-winning poet. He is also an illustrator whose collection Hollywood Ghost Comix will be published in September of 2013 on Ghoula Press. Victor recently completed a translation of Richard Carradine's book Park After Dark which will be available in early 2014.

Stanzas of Solitude
by Frank De Jesus Acosta

In my solitude, I discovered the healing nature of silence…In the space of silence I discovered peace with my solitude… Rather than walking blindly through my day, I will seek out the resounding beauty that waits in whisper before me.

Solitude and loneliness…The razors edge of romantic hearts…The blood of the poet’s pen…Elegies paint a veil between life & dreams, passion & pain… In tranquility and inner tempest I write… Only prayers finding the heart of God know distinction

Today I will embrace the quiet of solitude that I may hear the true sacred song of my heart. in sacred whispers before me.
Prayer by: Frank de Jesus Acosta

Frank de Jesus Acosta is a writer and the principal strategist of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consultant group that specializes in community change ventures facilitated by non-profit management, organization capacity-building, fund development, project research/planning/development, and initiative management activities targeting philanthropic, non-profit, government institutions. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Acosta’s professional experience includes serving as a Sr. Program Officer with The California Wellness Foundation, as well as executive leadership tenures with the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), National Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. In 2007, Acosta authored a book published by the Arte Publico Press Hispanic Civil Rights Series, University of Houston, “The History of Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence.”

Gabe’s Search
by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist

Gabe, raised in the bosom
of a large extended family,
A loving family, in Morenci,
visited Mamá Teresita
And Tata every Sunday,
Along with all of us, his primos.

Morenci, our home,
Our haven from the world,
Was not where our destiny lay,
Unless we worked the mine.

We all left to seek our fortune
Elsewhere—anywhere else
Just as long as it wasn’t mining
Or working for a company
That owned the town.

As a teenager,
Just out of high school,
Gabe joined the Army,
Trained as a medic/lvn,
went to Vietnam,
Experienced the horrors
Of war first hand.

He, like each of us
In our own way,
Searched for Morenci,
A town no longer there,
A family broken apart
Scattered, no longer in touch.

Gabe married, fathered a son,
But happiness eluded him.
Haunted by vivid memories
Of a war fought in vain,
Its soldiers not respected,
The marriage ended in divorce.

Gabe met and married Debbie.
He found his Morenci in San Elizario.
Debbie’s extended family
Replaced his own Díaz family.
Two towns, very different,
Yet much the same.

He made a new life for himself,
Created his own Morenci,
Raised his three girls,
Imparted the values he
Acquired in Morenci.

Gabe is gone now,
But not forgotten,
A loving husband, father,
And friend, a tribute to
Copyright 2013 Elena Díaz Bjorkquist. All rights reserved.

This poem is a eulogy for my cousin, Gabe Salas who passed away on June 3rd, 2013. Like Gabe, many of us from Morenci searched for a place that resembled our hometown, a place where we could put down our roots and call home.

I’m a writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Arizona. I write about Morenci where I was born. I’m the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon and co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems, anthologies written by my writers collective Sowing the Seeds.

As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, I’ve performed as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation and done presentations about Morenci for twelve years. In 2012 I received the Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of my work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities. I was nominated for Tucson Poet Laureate in 2012 and am one of the moderators of the Facebook page Poets Responding to SB 1070.

My website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.

Salsa Verde
by Raul Sanchez

Independence Day, a day to celebrate and share our amalgamation into the Fondue Pot. Speaking of food, for my contribution to the upcoming gathering, I decided to make Salsa Verde the way my Sweet Mother used to make it. Here is how she made it. Enjoy!

Mother roasted
tomatillos whole
serranos, onion
on comal stove top
pungent air permeated
swells of flavor

tomatillos turned yellow
with dark burnt spots
time for her hands to grind
tomatillos, chiles with mortar
salt chunks, garlic, clove
fresh cilantro, crushing, crushing

blending, turning mortar churning
delicious salsa on molcajete
grinding stone
steamy spicy smell
tickled my nose
spicy pleasure

eaten on tortillas, tostadas
my tongue on fire
oh man!
give me more.
I’ll wash it down with Tequila
gift from the gods

Mother’s salsa
made on molcajete
grinding stone.

(Poem previously published in the Raven Chronicles, Summer edition, available at Open Books on 45th Ave. in Seattle)

Raúl comes from a place south where the sun shines fiercely, where Indigenous and European cultures collided. An avid collector of poetry books proclaimed himself a “thrift store junkie” who occasionally volunteers as a DJ for KBCS 91.3 FM. He conducts workshops on The Day of the Dead. Featured in the program for the 2011 Burning Word Poetry Festival in Leavenworth WA He is also a Translator. His most recent work is the translation of John Burgess’ Punk Poems in his book Graffito and his ardent inaugural collection “All Our Brown-Skinned Angels” published by MoonPath Press out of Kingston WA is filled with poems of cultural identity, familial and personal, a civil protest, personal celebration, completely impassioned. His book has been nominated for the Washington State Book Award in Poetry for 2013.
http://beyonaztlan.com http://moonpathpress.com

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