Friday, November 06, 2009

La Bloga Redux

La Bloga approaches its fifth birthday this month -- we had our first baby post on November 28, 2004. For that reason, and because I've been on the road (that Pacific Coast Highway is all that it's cracked up to be), working on two books, and sometimes without Internet, this week I re-post a column from the past -- thanks for indulging me.

Here's some dark beatnik poetry that I hope is not too dated -- first posted around Thanksgiving. This poem was written during a pre-apocalyptic stage I was enduring that had been fueled by the nightmare of unending wars and Bush poliltics and other events that now, thankfully, have dissipated (not the wars, of course; sadly, we still reject history as our teacher.)

At the end is a photo of three caballeros/blogueros - Daniel, Michael and yours truly, enjoying a California lunch at Pete's Cafe in the heart of Los Angeles. That should lighten the mood. The bright California sun made me squint.


I'm as thankful as anyone. Really. I am grateful for a lot, especially family, friends, health. In terms of my writing I am indebted to several people who have been generous with their time, patient in their interactions with me, and eager to lend assistance when I needed it. To all of them, I say muchísimas gracias. I hope that I have expressed my gratitude in person and that those who should be, are aware of it. As William Faulkner is reported to have said: "Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity. It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all." (In fairness to Bill, he also had one of his most famous characters say: "Maybe the only thing worse than having to give gratitude constantly ... is having to accept it.")

Below are a few notes reflecting a state of mind in the grip of current events. These lines don't have anything to do with the holiday or the sentiments in the first paragraph of this post. An obvious question has to be: why are they here now? Can't say for sure. I do have this dark side. If you've read Moony's Road to Hell that won't surprise you.

Manuel Ramos
All rights reserved, copyright 2007

silver sheen slipped around twilight
bathing us in summer’s ache

joan baez sang it’s all over now
baby blue
she knew the story behind that song
but she was not talking
not revealing any secrets
except for what I could decipher
from her emphasized words

we drank red wine
slapped at mosquitoes
convinced ourselves age and experience
make up for enthusiasm and ambition

the time of year required an emotional response
but we staggered in our search for meaning

we drank red wine
slapped at glowing insects
filtered our thoughts

an accusatory wind washed through the urban valley
breaking an uneasy truce
redefining the moment our malaise took root
orange-tinged electric paranoia conquered gray inertia

we lapsed into the collective dream of the folding sky

death machines rolled through the desert
children with bloody stumps stared with charcoal-ringed eyes
their halos glimmered against the smoky night
as they melted into reflecting pools of ten thousand mosques

the old glorious shroud whipped the sand
until only the glassy moon grimaced
from beyond the horizon

barbed wire dripped the lava of despair
guard dogs spoke spanish
but the hunted travelers were mute
and blind
and lost

they avoided eye contact
their embarrassment knocked me to my knees

somewhere an old man gasped his final breath
an infant breathed her first and only ration of life
while pastel heirs hunted painted eggs
in texas buffalo grass littered with foil wrappers and q-tips

i wanted out of the dream but i was surrounded
by celebrity hounds licking at my rusty sandals

young women puckered elderly lips plumped with gold
their bruised necks slumped under the weight of diamond chokers
as they waded through tar-drenched muck
until they drowned in their imaginations

the thump of incoherent rhythms
bounced from a tilted alabaster condo
that stood over the rubble of
little mexico
the bottoms
paddy town
and where inuna-ina once skinned antelopes

a siren cut the night but my deafness prevented a response

the policeman reported an ignored car alarm as a useless gesture
contradicting the schizophrenic cacophony
of neighborhood watch and worldwide amnesia

he lost his job when he used his badge
as an umbrella to hold back tears
from squandered hopes and violent choices

naked grandchildren paraded through a living room
stuffed with their parent’s memories
i whispered something about the usual suspects

stainless steel jail bars clutched their errant lovers
who watched the warden hang himself
elevator music flooded the cell blocks
i hummed along because i knew all the words

i jerked away from the dream and realized
i had not been asleep
there was no wine
and I was alone




Daniel A. Olivas said...

Very powerful. Having a dark side is not necessarily a bad long as we can make art with it.

I am thankful for family and friends and also for the wonderful gente I've worked here on La Bloga. And I'm thankful that our readers continue to come by and say hola.

Anonymous said...

Like Olivas said, having a dark side is not bad. In the case of this post, it's great.

Do let us know if you decide to go all the way over to that side.


Lisa Alvarado said...

So many blessing for me, knowing all you Blogueros!

I remember reading a prior version of the poem and "loved" its stiletto sharpness, the way it danced on the edge of waking. Bravo!


msedano said...

we certainly did not do the photographer any favors, did we. black shirts. white "UC Berkeley Dad" sweat shirt. Still, Flo got the exposure just right.

and, btw, Moony's is one fine read. Dark, yes. Deservedly dark.

(and thanks for no ear wax on those Q-tips