Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On-line Floricanto with Jessica Ceballos

News 'n Notes December 2013
Michael Sedano

In quest of a personal goal to create a perfect photograph of a poet or novelist reading their stuff aloud, I am encouraged to come across numerous Los Angeles area literary readings. Some of the coolest gatherings of poets and writers invariably have the hand of literary artist Jessica Ceballos, who is today's On-line Floricanto poet.

Los Angeles is poesia city, in large and generous measure due to Jessica Ceballos' work and inspired determination to bring poetry into public space. From subway platforms and rolling stock, to art galleries, to public parks, Ceballos finds no site unsuited to performing poetry.

Ofttimes, Ceballos finds herself organizing poetry events, enjoying other poets reading their stuff, but infrequently finding a spot to read her own work. What an irony that, in the service of poetry, the poet doesn't get to make or do her own.

As promised in last week's La Bloga-Tuesday, today La Bloga On-line Floricanto lets Jessica Ceballos sing her own songs.
First, however, a few notes from the mailbag.

Tempe Jale 

"Did you see, ASU has a job for a creative writer?"
"Yeah, thousands of thousands are going to apply. Why bother?"
"Someone's going to get it, why not you?"

Fiction by Ear

Or maybe creative non-fiction by ear. At any rate, La Bloga friend Juan Blea advises he's put his reading of chapter 3 from his rules-bending autobiography, Journey to Aztlán, on his website. It's Blea's third book. There's no text, so click play and listen to the author recount the story.

La Bloga On-line Floricanto: Jessica Ceballos • From here to there and back again, finding place, through constant movement.

Jessica Ceballos is a writer who dabbles in music and photography. She's a volunteer, community advocate, avid traveler, and cultural wanderer. Raised in Highland Park and Eagle Rock and a third generation Southern Californian, she's been recognized by the City of Los Angeles for her work bringing literary arts to the community. As a writer, her work has appeared in Hinchas de Poesia, Haight Ashbury Journal and RA among others and she has featured throughout LA at venues such as The Last Bookstore, Beyond Baroque, Stories. She was most recently honored to join the Taco Shop Poets & Los Illegals at a standing-room only reading at Cal State San Marcos.

As a member of the Hollywood Institute of Poetics, Jessica co-founded, organizes, and hosts the Bluebird Reading Series at Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park, CA. In 2012 she took over as host of the Great Beyond open mic at Beyond Baroque in Venice. In the past, she has also co-facilitated their 20th Century Latin American Poetry Workshop.

In 2013, Jessica was invited by Avenue 50 Studio to curate the Poesia Para La Gente reading series, taking place throughout the North East LA area. Poesia Para La Gente (Poetry for the People) brings poetry to the people of the community by holding open-mic readings in site-specific, non-traditional public spaces, inviting the community to share the power of poetry.

Jessica studied English and Religion at Occidental College, and Interior Design at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in LA. She has designed furniture, fabrications and interior spaces. She's been a grant writer, a literary agent's assistant, youth development specialist, an A & R intern for a major record label, production accountant, a polar explorer's business manager, and has facilitated film production and business classes for high school students in Alaska - and she's loved every second of all of it.

She's lived all over the world, but now happily calls Los Angeles home. She's working on a couple of projects involving music-sound-science-language, a design-build project in Northern California, a novel, and a collection of poetry to be out in 2014. http://www.jessicaceballos.com/

The Day Our World Changed (part I)

The days when he would come home, I'd jump into his arms and we'd kiss our way to the room where families begin, never happened...after that day happened. That day when everything became a question. "Our love was a different kind of love," he assured me while we held each other only halfway between where we last left our hearts, on that day. We had sampled the longing and lustful kind, the sad kind, the agreeing and smiling kind, the meandering kind of love. And after living two chapters of life hoping the lasting kind would arrive, I ran to the forest where trees of an entirely different kind grow, trees with flowering blossoms of dreams that don't need to come true. Where promises don't exist. Where obstacles are God's way of bringing us closer together. Our universe may be filled with the shadows of our own abandonment but the forests are where we find rest, make believe, truth, and love.

© 2013 Jessica Ceballos


It’s that time when being mestizo makes sense. When cultures don’t collide, they dance. When I feel the winds take over to raise the sails, my body the mast. Migration patterns running through my DNA while swans dance to the sound of thunder. Dancing from my feet to my throat, and making a home in my heart. The time when all that has been comes to fruition, in the form of a test that I’ll never have the answers to, but a test that will inspire me to count on the Sun for direction. And I’ll raise my ear as close to her as possible, to listen for the map to a singular heart beat. And I know, through adventure, that what I’ll hear is the world. And I'll learn that living, is taking that long hike up the hill that only you see, in cities that don’t exist with people that don’t have names,
floating along in ships, parades of strength
on sinking sand dunes,
paddling ocean waves of stillness.
Falling in lust requires letting go of everything. A time to forget, experience awaits. The rebirth of an oscillating sun is implanting its memories under my skin. Burnt fossils fuel a certain brilliance and Kerouac could only dream of movement as existing as this, as lustful as this.

© 2013 Jessica Ceballos

Her Departing Lament

It was a struggle to be so close.
For her, not  was okay.
In my dreams the struggle
was behind us. She was wrapping
yesterday's arms around me
easing thoughts of my tomorrow.
Assuring me that tomorrow happens
to everyone.
To be ready with just-done hair,
candy apple red stilettos
and a pretty clutch in hand to match.
Preparing for cumulus clouds
that will flood our insides,
is an impossibility.
“The side you’re on now,” she says,
“is the side to prepare for.”
As she continued immersing me
in her maternal longing, I absorbed her.
Held her disappearing hands tightly
until the hands I held
became my own.
Learning that struggle was a prerequisite,
I begin to earn the soul I was gifted.
Today, I wake up in conversations;
dialogue between two who now strive
for a life that would prefer closeness.
Tonight, long before dreaming
we’ll wrap the day's arms around each other,
fear disappearing. Earning the right
to call each other
mother and daughter.

© 2013 Jessica Ceballos

El mar, la tierra, nuestros hogares,
nuestros amores…

The rocks that dance with the waves
share the imprint of memories
with the whole of the world.
With each ebb and flow,
a new rock is born to the land.
Some stay a while,
while others return from where they came.
We too learn to dance, smile and embrace
Our memories that linger,
from one place to the next.

© 2012 Jessica Ceballos, all rights reserved.
This poem first appeared in Hinchas de Poesia Issue #6.

El Reverse

Some things rise and fall

with the stillness of 
a roller coaster.
Turn it around

Break it apart

Shuffle the deck.

Arbre los ojos

to what happens

cuando el mundo

esta al reves.

Stillness isn’t a virtue.

Things don’t happen

Until we move the variables.

Hasta que encontremos ese algo especial,

that something that changes everything.

And things will rise and fall again,

And she’ll wear rainbow-filled glasses.

© 2012 Jessica Ceballos, all rights reserved.
This poem first appeared in Hinchas de Poesia Issue #6.


Last night they found me pacing
through the third street tunnel
naked, cold and begging for strength
to promise myself a heart to fill the space
usually set aside for a soul.
Y yo prometo,
that today I’ll wear the summer weather,
the sun burning on one sleeve,
leaving one dry and open for the biting air
that promises to return my soul.
Y yo prometo,
that tomorrow my everything
will dance through the Figueroa Street tunnels,
usually set aside for wandering cars.
I’ll take over, cross lanes at will,
set fire to my soul.
in your direction. Yo prometo.
Clean clothed in heart, with the sun
still smoldering upon my sleeves
from the day before.

© 2012 Jessica Ceballos

Cobwebs and Shadows

Most of us call it living,
settling in a space
with furnished memories
manufactured to place a new history
where cobwebs once created shadows.
Los Angeles dines on those cobwebs
and lives in its shadows.
It can be impossible to live in this place
without a proper road map. This place
woven together by fragments of unknown pasts
and make believe roads ahead.
Meet me at the four level interchange,
where the past catches up to the 110 and the 101,
and where dreams slow down
to talk about today. Meet me there
so we can talk about what living in Los Angeles means,
and if we remember to wear black,
we'll be able to see exactly where
the cobwebs and shadows call home.

© 2013 Jessica Ceballos, all rights reserved.

A Place To Live

It's not until you close your eyes
that you begin to see a city becoming.
A fantasy at the end of a wayward hike
up fancy hills made for suns, moons and stars.
Together wheels, metal and the softest skin,
race through alley ways, hiding from history.
Two roads born of the same arroyo
uncertainty as thick as smog.
Years of Central Avenue Sounds made perfect
replaced with a weekend celebration
to fill the holes we made. Books
plentifully bought and sold
in shiny new bookstores,
the walls still steaming
from the scent of led memories.
And if those walls could talk,
would we listen to their stories?
Because those books,
we only read while sleeping,
dreaming of magical places to live.
Dreaming, then waiting, with our neighbors
until life happens. And it happens
when the rainbow touches the edge
of the cracked concrete.
Where aging communities, warm with colors,
strength in language
provide security
for those who call this home.

© 2012 Jessica Ceballos, all rights reserved.

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