Tuesday, November 04, 2014

On-line Floricanto for DDLM

Memorial Poetry Reading for James Foley

Among LA's hardest-working poets, Luivette Resto, Iris de Anda, Gloria Enedina Alvarez

La Bloga friend and fútbol poetry contributor, Yago S. Cura, sends news that will have gente circling their calendars to remind of a spectacular reading of Los Angeles poets. Here's Yago's email:


On Sunday, November 23, from 2-4 PM the La Palabra reading series will host a reading for American Journalist, James Foley, at Avenue 50 Studios (131 N Avenue 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042 / (323) 258-1435) in Highland Park.

The reading hopes to celebrate Foley's work as a combat journalist, fiction writer, and English teacher. The event will also serve as an opportunity for people to donate to the James Foley Legacy fund and the James Foley Scholarship  at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Please come celebrate his legacy with some of L.A.'s hardest-working poets: Dennis Cruz, S.A. Griffin, Billy Burgos, Annette Cruz, Millicent Accardi, Matt Sedillo, Luivette Resto, Angel Garcia, Ashake M. Jackson, oConney Williams, Ryan Nance, Rebecca Gonzalez, Gloria E Alvarez, Daniel Sosa, Iris De Anda, Karineh Mahdessian, and William Gonzalez

On-line Floricanto for Día de los Muertos

"If I Could Weigh My Memory" by John Martinez
"Baile" By Jose Faus
"Two Dia De Los Muertos Tales" By Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"Ancestor Dreaming" by Christine Costello
"A beautiful day in the neighborhood" by Sharon Elliott
"Holyhand" By Jolaoso Pretty Thunder
“My Own Louie” By Paul Aponte
"Tinta roja"/"Red Ink" Por Sonia Gutiérrez
"Altar en el desierto / Altar in the Desert" by Francisco X. Alarcón

If I Could Weigh My Memory
by John Martinez

If I could weigh my memory
Like a sack of something,
It would have the weight
Of my loving dead

My Uncle in an empty church,
Red carpet beneath
Pressed soles

My mother holding her arm
Like a wounded baby

My brother, opening
Another door to a lesson,
Still seated in the center
Of his room
Where loss and imagination
Are riddled about
And the exhale of the dying,
Is distant and furling
Through trees

If I could weigh my memory,
On the scale,
Like a gunny sack of chilis
And beer hands reaching,
And burning sun
Scorching our skin
Browner than brown,
I would weigh it with a smile

Because the weight
Of my  memory,
Summons a sum paid

And so I walk away
With the grin of a child,
Walk into a perfect landscape,
With my reward secure
In my dusty pockets

(c) John Martinez 2014
All Rights Reserved

john Martinez has published poetry in several journals, including, LA WEEKLY, EL TECOLOTE, Red Trapeze and this will be his 17th poem published in LA BLOGA. Martinez studied creative writing in the early 80's at Fresno State University under, the now, U.S., Poet Laureate, Phillip Levine and has attended seminars with several established American poets. For the last 30 years he has worked as an Administrator for a Los Angeles Law Firm and has recently complete his long awaited Manuscript of 60 poems entitled PLACES, which will be published by IZOTE Press.

by Jose Faus

She came to my door last night
like so many times before
At first I do not see her
hiding in the bushes
Turning back into the living room
her bony legs trip me
and I land on the floor

I love it when that happens
She laughs and heads for the altar
helping herself
to the ofrendas on the shelf
Hey what gives señorita
You know these are for the souls
that will come tomorrow night
Do you really think I am a señorita
She smiles coyly
the blush coloring her bleached bones
Of course my lovely

And for the umpteenth time
since we first met
I lead her to the table
and serve her tamals
baked in banana leaves
a tall glass of avena
with a hint of cinnamon
On the stove
arroz con pollo
spiced with cloves and
littered with green olives

I pour her a cup of vino de casa
and in the dim light we reminisce
Tio Jaime and tu primo Sancho
send their regrets
Emerita tu abuelita
cries over her Cuco
Give me a picture to take to her
Then she takes her finger
and slowly strokes my beard
and with the hollow of her eyes
looks deep into my heart

You know someday
I will come for you

Don’t think of work tonight my dear
I reach behind her on the table
and grab the long stem rose
She puts it in her mouth
and stands apace
I push the player to shuffle
and in a tight embrace we sway
to boleros and tangos
the rattle of her bones
an eerie metronome
I ply her with vino
until she is tipsy in my arms
Any moment she will fall asleep
and then suddenly she glides
awkwardly across the floor
stops and holds the rose
on the tips of her weary bones

These advances are so nice
to feel and be what I was once
but it is futile to resist
someday I will come for you
and what will have been
the point of this

Nada chica nada
But you can’t blame me for trying
Besides how many can claim
to have danced
with such a lovely death
cheek to cheek
in a tight embrace
Alma de mi vida
you can really shake and bake

José Faus is a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective and Writers Place board president. He is a 2012 Rocket Grant recipient for the community project VOX NARRO. His writing appears in the anthologies; Primera Pagina: Poetry From the Latino Heartland, Cuentos del Centro: Stories From the Latino Heartland, Raritan, Whirlybird Anthology, Luces y Sombras and I-70 Review. He is the 2011 winner of Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange award.

Two Dia De Los Muertos Tales
by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

La Calaca's
bones rattle
make sounds
como when los músicos
play la marimba
Calaca dances
down the hall
looking for people
to mesmerize
with its fancy jiggly steps
it dances street and wise
La Calaca wants to steal
anyone’s last sweet breath
and twirl them dazed
into its bony arms
of death

ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ ஜ

La Llorona they say
drowned her children
because their father left her and
she lost the love of her life
but others say it was because
she could no longer provide
on a single mother campesina’s wages

didn’t know how to care for them on so little
that was not the life she had envisioned
she despaired for her children’s future and
went crazy from so much worry
about how to pay for care for them
while she was at work   or sometimes even
where their next meal would come from

one night after crying and crying and
ravaged with so much guilt and fear
she decided it was better
to return them to the water
so they’d swim happily back
to that calm calm place
where all life begins

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, eco-poet, writer, editor, and activist, is the author of four volumes of poetry, her latest, Red Earth Calling: ~cantos for the 21st Century~. She’s worked as an editor for Matrix Women's News Magazine, Community Mural's Magazine, and most recently at Tricontinental Magazine in Havana, Cuba. She facilitates creative writing workshops nationally and is a moderator of Poets Responding to SB 1070, and Love and Prayers for Fukushima, both Facebook pages dedicated to bringing attention to social justice issues that affect the lives and wellbeing of many people. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, and literary journals on and offline.

Ancestor Dreaming
by Christine Costello

(Idle meandering thoughts of an insomniac)

Eyelids flutter as my curtains blow to the same beat
Flutter whoosh whoosh
Window open like a restless mind
The wind seeks sleep
perhaps a dream
Flutter snap wind
A dream awaits
A shadow passes by in the hall
A spirit conjured by the wind paces back and forth
Waiting for the sound of tires on a wet street
dripping with a hope of rain.

Insomnia holds me captive
under the weight of a dream
waiting to be released to a sleeping mind
Ancestor I hear your whispers
Ancestor I feel your strength
sleep doesn't live here anymore
Only a deep flutter of a restless night

Sweet slumber
I beg you to quick grab the key
The key
It opens to the dream
Please open
Wrong key
Missing is the slumber
the evasive sleep I crave
Is there a key
I can't remember

Born and raised in San Francisco Christine Costello is a 6th generation San Franciscan who grew up in the Mission District. She was the recipient of the Benny Bufano Art Scholarship and attended the San Francisco Art Academy majoring in Fine Art. She has been keeping illustrated journals for 40 years. Christine still resides in the City's Duboce Triangle neighborhood. Christine was a union labor activist for many years, working for various unions after being inspired by the farm workers movement, For the last 14 years she served as Business Agent for Theatrical Stage Employees Union Local B18, Christine volunteered her services for many years as the event planner for Instituto Laboral de la Raza’s annual fund raiser.  An early retirement  due to a disability has once again spurred her writing, journaling and illustration. She is a priest of Yemaya practicing the Lucumi traditions as well as an espiritista.

A beautiful day in the neighborhood
by Sharon Elliott

copper calavera
above blue seas
grey sand

a white flower
coffee cup
at the inlet

drives a car
strewn with branches

leaves are
woven into noise
grate against
too full of sound

of unknown origin
calls to children
playing in the street
they shout at each other
without answering her

wings gifted to
the calavera
stop her tortuous flight
allow her
to settle on a skylight
blocks away
knock three times
dissolve through it
fluff her bony
over a purple pillow
drink a lighted candle
blow wax through her ears
smile toothily
at humans
choosing to ignore her

she decides to stay

Copyright © 2014 Sharon Elliott. All Rights Reserved.

Sharon Elliott was born and raised in Seattle and lives in Oakland. Four years in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Ecuador laid the foundation for her activism in multicultural women’s issues. Her book, Jaguar Unfinished was published in 2012. She was an awardee of the Best Poem of 2012, The Day of Little Comfort, by La Bloga On-Line Floricanto; and has been featured in poetry readings in the Bay Area. She is an initiated Lukumi priest of Scot/Sámi/African Carribbean ancestry; ally to people of color and to the earth.

By Jolaoso Pretty Thunder

I am saying datura grows in colonies
on abandoned roads on the hips of the interstate
I do don't remember what she says
lost several hours, days even
ghost rattle
I am saying the dumb sky above looked down
on my galvanized roof, my castle
and two bucks locked antlers
In front of the house
03:00 am
dragging each other 150 feet
I call the dream helper by name
It's that time again
mist captured
The women of my clan tossed the family name into the pit
I too burn the bridges
My vision can change with the invisible borders that
I see, then cross
Yet further
I push it, reach the edges, some kind of darkness that brightens
Don’t look in the skeleton closet
you will find me there
The town dump, ocean, ravine, last stand of redwoods
I am the rubbish of the compound
Being eaten by the village chickens
I shapeshift into the sailor, a crossroads
Then the common wife, the storm flower, perfect whore, your queen
I am on the porch tethered to a cinderblock that lays in the crabgrass
This is exile self chosen
I nap in the sun
Drawing it out with a stick in the dirt
I am the green hoop around the sun
on far away days
I see you in your manner
I speak in your Way
Dressing the house in tea and cakes
Spirit plates left for the dead
I know the songs for war, love, invisibility and undoing the sorcery
I tie knots in the rhythm
I say outright you have abandoned your own self
I say to you, those matching dishes and pillows are your spirit, malnourished
That formal garden, the same
I speak that I fear my own black magic and what I can do
what I have already done
I say I know these trees and which way to glance to accomplish it all
Blood in the hollow
This is what I am saying
This is the language I speak

Jolaoso Pretty Thunder is an initiated Apetebi and Orisa priestess of Oya in the Lukumi tradition. She lives in the woods of Northern California with her two dogs Rosie Farstar and Ilumina Holydog. She is a certified practitioner and student of herbal medicine (Western, Vedic, TMC and Lukumi) and  is an ordained minister of First Nations Church. She is a well traveled poet and  loves southern rock, porch swings, pickup trucks, cooking, camp fires, lightning, steak, long drives, hot cups of coffee, gathering and making medicine and singing with her  friends and family.

My Own Louie
by Paul Aponte

Andábamos en su ranfla
down Capitol Avenue.
You know, Capitol Avenue en SanJo.

Way Before some güey
decided to express it
by demolishing cantones
and turning it all
into a cesspool
of boiling concrete & cars.

Andábamos en su ranfla
down Capitol Avenue.
El Louie was driving Dad's
46 Plymouth Coupe
From Story Rd
down Capitol Avenue
approaching el Payless.
with the huge drive-in type parking lot
where jainas and vatos hung out at night,
listened to "Angel Baby" and "Hanky Panky".
but right now it was daytime,
and two of his buddies
con su ranfla chingona
came up right next to his window.
With lip-bobbing cigarette he said:
"Ey, Louie you got a match!"
"Órale.  Hold on.
Poly, drive the car.
Just grab the steering wheel!
El Louie sat on the window sil
paper matches in hand
lit up three together to make sure,
lit the vatos trola,
and sat down
before the carrucha
about the 8 year old steering it.
He gave me a couple of looks
and on the 2nd gave me his signature laugh:
He drove me to Mark's Hot Dogs,
the place with the juiciest,
crispiest and most delicious dogs,
making me feel welcome again.
My summer vacation from el Defe,
starting off pretty well.
He'd been there, himself.
Got a tough guy reputation
in a place filled with the toughest.
Constantly came back to our Tlatelolco apartment
beat up for taking on too many at once.
I imagine they called him el Tlate-loco.
So the uncles had to send him back to SanJo.

I never saw any meanness.
I only saw crazy funny,
or quiet, wistful, pensive Louie.
Though, most times he was out and about.
Even so, I do have some memories.
Like that hot summer night
when he was stuck at home for some reason.
He gave me a note, and instructions:
"All you have to do is knock on the window.
When Sylvia opens it, tell her Louie sends this.
Now, go!"
I knock, and Sylvia opens the window
immediately grabs the note without asking
and tells me to wait.
She comes back out with her thick eye-liner,
and puffy hair with the flipped out ends
and straight cut bangs barely above her brows.
she gives me another note to give to Louie.
Then I become a ping-pong ball on the
table of grounded teenagers.
I know at some point it stopped,
but I actually don't remember that moment.
I think the ghost of me or parallel universe me
is still out there doing it.

He was definitely the ladies man,
and even though he was tall & studly,
with light skin & light blue eyes,
he liked them gorditas, prietitas y bien Chicanas.
Le gustaba la guitarra just like Dad,
and he impressed the ladies just like Dad.
The summer was over.
Back en el Defe things began boiling.
Just like everywhere around the world and the U.S.
1968 came around - a horrific year.
The beginning of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.
Labor strikes and riots in Poland, France & Italy.
Race riots throughout the U.S.
President Johnson refused to run for re-election.
Martin Luther King - assassinated.
Bobby Kennedy - assassinated.
Student riots in Mexico City.
Estudiantes contra granaderos.
In Tlatelolco where I lived -- many students were murdered.
and in 1968 ...
Mi carnal Louie died.  He was 18.
He died March 30th, 1968.
The newspaper said he drowned in Coyote lake.
Maybe he drowned in sorrow
after his good friend
committed suicide.
Maybe he abused his body
and just couldn't come back out.
Maybe, as they say, he was involved with gangs
and was killed when he chose to lead a different gang,
beaten up and thrown in the water
at a supposed "going away" party.
Don't want to know.
Years after:
My sister's daughter was born ... on March 30th.
My son was born ... on March 30th.
There is a supernatural feeling about that.
I think it was 1970
cuando me retaché a mi dulce hogar
for the summer.
I remember getting a high fever, almost delirious.
In the depths of my illness
I actually felt myself feeling like I might die.
Casi estiraba el teni.
Then I had a dream.
I was in the middle of the main road
in a typical western town of the old wild west
a strange town, unknown to me
deserted dirt streets
rolling tumbleweeds.
I realized I was going to be in a gun fight.
The other guy showed up at a long distance
on this main town road
in a hero's style cowboy outfit
with a red scarf blowing in the wind
I knew it wasn't my town
I knew this man meant business
and I had no business being there.
His arms slightly out, hands wide open by the holsters.
Then I saw it was Louie.
His message was “this town, his town, ain't big enough for the both of us”.
After I recuperated from my fever,
and was playing outside on a windy day,
I thought I heard in the wind, his signature laugh.

Paul Aponte is a Chicano poet born in San Jose, California USA, and now a proud citizen of Sacramento.   Paul, was a member of the performance poetry group "Poetas Of The Obsidian Tongue" in the 90's, and now is a member of "Escritores del Nuevo Sol". He is the author of the book of poetry "Expression Obsession" published in 1999, and has been published in "La Bloga" and in the book "Un Canto De Amor A Gabriel Garcia Márquez" which was put together by Alfred Asis from the country of Chile to honor Gabriel Garcia Márquez with poems from around the world with 31 countries represented. Through his many poems in English, Spanish, and Spanglish he conveys a connection to his culture that transcends the material.  He does this while retaining a voice that is very clearly his own, one which he commands with sincerity and a truthful, even wise sense of humor, and of self. Facebook website.

por Betty Sánchez

Se ha esparcido la noticia
Usted no lo va a creer
Graciela Brauer Ramírez
Ya ha dejado de ser

Con el Creador hizo un trato
De llegar a los sesenta
Pero al llegar a esa edad
Se fue a comprar indulgencias
Y rebasó los ochenta

Se murió placidamente
Esbozando una sonrisa
Logró lo que tenia en mente
Cruzó esta vida sin prisa

En vida fue muy activa
Practicaba el Tai Chi
Tenia otras perspectivas
Eso apenas descubrí

Tres maestrías completó
Se la pasaba leyendo
Sus memorias registró
Como le hizo no lo entiendo

La muerte llegó en carreta
A recoger sus huesitos
Vio dormida a la poeta
Y se robó sus escritos

El sol de los escritores
Se ha eclipsado de momento
Muy tristes le llevan flores
Perderla es el peor tormento

Los ángeles y el chamuco
Por su alma se pelean
Han armado un emboruco
Uno y otro forcejean

Ni pa’ ti ni para mi
Dijo el demonio enfadado
Esto ya lo decidí
Echémonos un volado

La parca que no es paciente
Les arrebató a su cliente
Se fue directo a los cielos
Para evitar mas recelos

En la puerta la esperaban
Con maracas y tambores
José Montoya y Phil Goldvarg
Para hacerle los honores

Tremenda pachanga armaron
Que les costó el paraíso
Al infierno los mandaron
Para volverlos sumisos

En la tierra los mortales
Añoran a su poetisa
De vez en cuando hay señales
Que nos visita la occisa

En México se aparece
Por la calle Bucareli
Ahí transcurrió su infancia
Sus recuerdos no perecen

Alguien asegura verla
En las aulas de Sac State
Acaso eso nos sorprende
Si por veinticinco años
Su enseñanza aun trasciende

El averno esta de gala
Se organiza un floricanto
La calaca se acicala
Luciendo su mejor manto
Graciela es la invitada
Que a todos deleitará
Con su épica chicana

Si una grulla ven volando
No es una pájaro cualquiera
Es ella que esta extrañando
Sus hijos nietos y amigos
Los árboles y los ríos
de ésta su amada ciudad
Que aun sigue visitando

Adiós viejecita linda
En mi corazón te llevo
Con respeto se te brinda
Ésta plegaria que elevo.

Con todo mi cariño y admiración para mi querida Graciela B. Ramírez
28 de Septiembre de 2014

foto:Andres Alvarez
Betty Sánchez, miembro activo del grupo literario, Escritores del Nuevo Sol desde  Marzo del 2003.

He colaborado en eventos poéticos tales como el Festival Flor y Canto, Colectivo Verso Activo, Noche de Voces Xicanas, Honrando a Facundo Cabral, y Poesía Revuelta.

Ha sido un privilegio contribuir en la página Poetas Respondiendo al SB 1070, Zine 10 Mujeres de Maíz y en La Bloga.

Tinta roja
por Sonia Gutiérrez

“Si tú mueres primero, yo te prometo . . .”
—Julio Jaramillo, “Nuestro juramento”

Hace unos minutos
vino mi Lola.
Estuvo aquí.
Sentí su presencia
como un zarape
cálido sobre mi cuerpo,
y sus colores
como rayos de luz
llenaron mi corazón.

En el cuarto junto
a mi alcoba,
donde nuestros cuerpos
florecían y perfumaban
las noches, ella misma
encendió la música
con su llanto.

Me visitó mi Lola
para que juntos
la guitarra,
las palabras,
y los gemidos
de nuestra canción.
Y entonces las paredes
y los santos recordaron
nuestros besos, nuestras caricias.

Estoy contento.
Estuvo aquí mi Lola;
cumplimos nuestra promesa,
y Ay como le agradezco
su visita para que ella vea
que tomé la pluma roja
y recordé
nuestro juramento.

Red Ink
by Sonia Gutiérrez

“Si tú mueres primero, yo te prometo . . .”
—Julio Jaramillo, “Nuestro juramento”

A few minutes ago,
my Lola came.
She was here.
I felt her presence
like a warm
zarape over my body,
and its colors
likes rays of light
filled my heart.

In the room next
to my bedroom,
where our bodies
flowered and perfumed
the nights, she herself
turned on the music
with her cry.

My Lola visited me,
so together
we could listen
to the guitar,
the words,
and the moaning
of our song.
And then the walls
and the saints remembered
our kisses, our caresses.

I am happy.
My Lola was here;
we kept our promise,
and Oh how much I appreciate
her visit, so she could see
that I took the red pen,
and remembered
our oath.

Translation by Sonia Gutiérrez

Sonia Gutiérrez is a poet professor, who promotes social justice and human dignity. She teaches English Composition and Critical Thinking and Writing at Palomar College. La Bloga is home to her Poets Responding SB 1070 poems, including “Best Poems 2011” and “Best Poems 2012.” Sonia recently joined the moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070.

Her vignettes have appeared in AlternaCtive PublicaCtions, Storyacious, and Huizache. Her bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman/La Mujer Araña, is her debut publication. Kissing Dreams from a Distance, a manuscript written in the Tomás Rivera and Sandra Cisneros literary tradition, is under editorial review. “Tinta roja” first appeared in Tijuana poética #7 / octubre 2014.

Altar en el desierto / Altar In the Desert
by Francisco X. Alarcón

foto:Javier Pinzón

foto:Javier Pinzón

Francisco X. Alarcón, award-winning Chicano poet and educator, was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, and now lives in Davis, where he teaches at the University of California. He is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry, including Borderless Butterflies / Mariposas sin fronteras (Poetic Matrix Press 2014), Ce • Uno • One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press, 2010), From the Other Side of Night / Del otro lado de la noche: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2002), Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes (Creative Arts Book Company, 2001), Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books, 1992), Of Dark Love (Moving Parts Press, 2001). He is the author of six acclaimed books of bilingual poems for children on the seasons of the year originally published by Children’s Book Press, now an imprint of Lee & Low Books. He has received numerous literary awards and prizes for his works, like including the American Book Award, the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award, the PEN Oakland – Josephine Miles Award, the Chicano Literary Prize, the Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award, the Jane Adams Honor Book Award, and several Pura Belpré Honor Book Awards by the American Library Association. He is the creator of the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB 1070.”


Odilia Galvan Rodriguez said...

A wonderful La Bloga! I'm always grateful to be included in the On-Line Floricanto. Gracias a ti Em for all the work you do and for making Tuesday's a little better with this beauty you bring into the world.

Saludos y abrazos! Odilia

Francisco Alarcon said...

Great issue! I love all the poem of this special Floricanto dedicated to the Day of the Dead. Gracias Em Sedano of your dedication and Sharon Elliot for facilitating the selection of the poems on behalf of the moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070, ¡Viva la vida!--Francisco X. Alarcón