Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: The Lieutenant of Inishmore. We have a winner. On-Line Floricanto July 20

The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center downtown Los Angeles.

Michael Sedano

If a comedic genius ever writes a black comedy about Arizona’s breathing while brown racism, I advise this genius to model the piece after Martin McDonagh‘s The Lieutenant of Inishmore, the zany ethnic comedy running at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum now through August 8.

This well-directed and acted production (other than some unintelligible dialect work) is among the rare good decisions by Artistic Director Michael Ritchie. Although this is another re-run developed elsewhere, it’s highly worthy. Sadly, the production also marks Ritchie’s almost total dismemberment of the Taper’s connection to its artistic history. Except for Lighting Designer Brian Gale and Sound Designer Cricket S. Myers, no one in cast or crew has any association with the Taper. When I read that in the playbill I had to allow myself a moment of silence to mourn the passing of an era. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but so it goes. Ave atque vale.

McDonagh’s Northern Ireland has come to accept terrorism as the natural course of inhuman events. When Davey brings a dead cat to Donny’s isolated home, Davey’s worried that Wee Thomas’ owner, Padriac, the self-appointed Lieutenant of an IRA splinter terrorist group, will return to his father Donny’s house to torture Davey and kill them both over the dead cat. They decide their best course is a series of phone calls to Padriac, spinning-out a yarn that Wee Thomas is doing poorly, hoping that by killing Wee Thomas gradually, the terrorist won’t rush home for revenge.

When we meet Padriac in the next scene, he’s in the middle of torturing James, a marijuana dealer hanging upside down, blood dripping from his feet down to his chest. Padriac offers the opinion he’s being nice, taking two toenails from the same foot so as to allow James to limp to a hospital on only one excruciatingly painful foot. James admits that’s a considerate gesture.

Padriac’s cell phone delays James’ election of a least favorite nipple to be sliced off. It’s Donny’s news that Wee Thomas is doing poorly. Padraic turns to James for consolation. James offers the likelihood the cat suffers worms, and a few pills wrapped in cheese should cure the ailing pet. Padriac frees the ungrateful James, gives him busfare, then rushes off to head home.

Matters devolve completely bizarrely out of control from these opening scenes. Three clownish assassins camp out in the rocky countryside, hatching a plot to kill Padriac. The trio are a Northern Ireland version of the stooges, lacking only Moe’s faceslap and Curley’s “yock yock yock,” except these three carry Glocks. Then there’s Davey’s 16-year old sister, Mairead, who prides herself on her accuracy with a pellet rifle. That she honed her skill by putting out eyes on the area’s cows is neither here nor there, a family in-joke. And, since Mairead’s sharpshooting will save the day, a few half-blind cows is a small price to pay.

Arizona hasn’t grown this extreme in violence—yet. No blood-soaked wretches have been discovered dismembering dead bodies with garden tools (the Taper audience gasped with mostly delighted asco). But news reports place oddball Nazis on the ready, traipsing around the border hunting down brown targets. And the impetus reaffirming their hatred comes from elected legislators. Arizona’s appointed governor proclaims her intolerance of racial profiling by law enfarcement, while simultaneously spinning a few yarns about decapitations and murder sprees by bogeyman immigrants. Poor Arizona. So close to California, so far from Decency.

Playwright Martin McDonagh‘s characters have grown so inured to torture and terrorism that conversational patter about such matters comes with the cadences of the mundane. In their world, such acts not only make sense, they are the rules of these people’s culture. It’s only a play, it’s only a pinche play, Donnie and Davey might say. These are funny characters in absurd circumstances. But monsters is what they are. That’s a sobering fact McDonagh masks with hilarity and gross special effects. The Lieutenant of Inishmore’s plot presages with bloody, stomach-turning exaggeration what could come of Arizona’s blind hatred, just as it did to Northern Ireland. Who foresaw “The Troubles” in Ulster? As another Irishman says, the center cannot hold, things fall apart, mere anarchy is loosed upon this world.

La Bloga / Hachette Book Give-Away Winner

Felicidades and congratulations, too, to Aïda Valenzuela from Lafayette Indiana. Aïda's correct answer to the question, "How many miles did Charles Bowden walk to get to Tacna?" was selected from the entries. Hachette books is mailing Aïda a free copy of Belinda Acosta's novel, Sisters, Strangers, and Starting Over. In last week's review of Tom Miller's border literature collection, Writing on the Edge, Ms. Valenzuela noted, Bowden walked a mile in a border crosser's shoes 45 times.

On-Line Floricanto. Poets Respond to Arizona Hate Laws

This weekly feature has become one of the most popular events La Bloga has sponsored. Please leave comments on poems or graphics you enjoy. Scroll to the bottom of the column and click the Comments counter. If you're a poet who'd enjoy sharing your work in La Bloga's weekly On-Line Floricanto, know that Francisco Alarcón and his colleagues at the Facebook group "Poets Responding to SB1070" select the line-up from work submitted through Facebook. Click here to visit, read, and submit.

Click here to read Francisco's explanation of the selection process for La Bloga's On-Line Floricanto.

1. “Border” by Sharon Doubiago
2. “If You Leave Your Shoes" by Joseph Ross
3. “Justicia para Nativo!!!” por Miguel Robles
4. “On My Grocery List: Virgin de Guadalupe Candles and Hope" by Rosa Valencia Sánchez
5. “Give Me a Name” by Genny Lim
6. “Let Freedom Ring!" and "Rock and Roll Raza!" by Nephtalí De Leon
7. “Transforming Volcanoes” Terri Weist

By Sharon Doubiago

our mother is looking out our picture window with her binoculars
tracking the dark men
trekking across the blue mountains, our
southern horizon. Our
million dollar Ramona view. Our

illegal workers our father has hired. This has always been
illegal, the smudge pots in the avocado and orange groves
burning cold nights throughout
the Santa Maria Valley

and the boys of my class
are sneaking the other way
across the border
to get to the girls for sale
in the Tijuana whore houses

so beside themselves, so swollen
with merciless lust, we must allow them
this relief. Girls can’t imagine
such pain though our fathers
ache in remembrance

in this end of America, cornered
all sides, the East and North our families are in exile from, the
West the unfathomable ocean, and South

the Border. South of which is
nothing Nothing
always there in our picture window, the blue
turning purple mountains a vast
unknowable inhuman Ocean

“Mexican” like the n word. The dark people
are trying to get here, we are not
trying to get there
except for the boys and the fathers
to the houses of prostitution

inside our house, inside our view, an armed border inside
the family

our mother is sneaking food and water to them hiding in the rocks
past our father, she is telling me this, as if a question, as if to answer
a question, as if she knows I’ve gone beyond
the border of her understanding

like the wives who hid the Natives
in their closets and food storages
while their husbands hunted them down
on command of the California Governor
in 1852

always adding, piercing me with her eyes
the legal ramifications
if we are caught, what would happen, but
the good we are doing by breaking the law, the bravery it takes, our
integrity and compassion, and always the savings so necessary
always the savings so admirable

and then always her indignant “but only English in the schools!”
To me getting my Masters in English.
“English: the one and only official language.”

Oh, Mama, that’s your beloved grandmother
washing your mouth out with soap

your Indian grandfathers moonshinning
to feed you

your brain of two realities, Mama
imagine the brain with no borders, every language
a different soul, imagine all the many other worlds united
as in the beginning, Mama

and your mother, Ramon, your unknown Nothing
Kumeyaay Mesa Grande
mother is disappearing
Tijuana, August, 1955, the year
you are told
who you are, ward
of the Court

your mother
walking with friends
down from San Diego
arm and arm up Revolucion

when two men grab her from behind, pull her
into the alley

men full of lust, merciless nature
perhaps too poor to buy
a body worker

the last she is ever seen, your

border your
mother your family
you will never be able to cross
“she disappeared with the Mexicans,”
you sneer and sneer, then disappear
into Vietnam

though you are “Mexican” too
though you could not know this
when California too was Nothing
and for 12000 years before that, your

ancestral graves
both sides
the International Border
through the heart
of the Kumeyaay nation

from 50 miles south down Baja
to 50 miles north up Cupa
from the Colorado to the Ocean

a whole nation

and Cupa, the international
crossroads capital, a great city
of the world

I am listening to the sprinklers going on
in my sister’s Solano Beach condominium, the illegals
beneath my guest bedroom window
gardening in the dark
so as not to be seen
whispering in Spanish, p’lapaneco

Healer, she has to charge a lot
for her body work, she is explaining again
to afford this magnificent place

and our mother with her binoculars is looking out the back window
of their RV in Oaxaca. She is telling me this again and again
as if trying to say something
about the “Indian girl with the baby on her back”
climbing the rocks. Who is turning

and looking back at her
through the tinted glass. “She knew
I was watching her. She knew
exactly where to look. She looked
directly into my eyes, though she could not
have seen me. She looked at me
with hate. That was when I knew
this was her home. And so strange, she looked like
Chelli.” My brother’s daughter, her

I finally say okay. My sister has me lie down
on the cement flower slab outside
I heard them working on last night. She is working
on me, the tightly secured border
of our family

the whispering P’lapanago
your mother so long dead, Ramon

you are Vietnamese
missing in action

and Tecate
is Ramona’s sister city now

and on Mesa Grande

your Coyote brothers
are setting off for work

“Gees!” she exclaims. “You should be dead!
I’ve never worked on anyone
who had all their points dead.”

Our family reinforcing the burning smudge pots
of my soul

What’s on the other side?

Cross it *

If You Leave Your Shoes
By Joseph Ross

If you leave your shoes
on the front porch
when you run

to the city pool
for swimming lessons,
you might end up

walking across the sand
of the desert in
scorched feet,

bare, like the prophets,
who knew what it was
to burn.

If you leave your lover
to run to the market
for bread and pears

you might return
to find your lover
gone and the bed

covered with knives,
hot and gleaming from
a morning in the sun.

If you leave your country
in the wrong hands,
you might return to

see it drowning in blood,
able to spit
but not to speak.

Justicia para Nativo!!! por Miguel Robles
English translation by Virginia Barrett


is el cenzontle singing
wisdom’s irony
a youth who lives in his heart and rebels
he has not changed
he is the youth who lives in his heart and he rebels every minute
he has learned what is necessary
but he remains the youth that sees the water outside the glass
the poem without accents periods commas
rules they invented to be broken
by poets by immigrants by activists
and he sees in the immigrant a wounded brother
and he is the doctor and the nurse
and he gets sick to experiment with new remedies on himself
vaccines pills cure-alls or whatever tonic that might grant him a breath on the verge of death
he knows himself to be chased by a shamanic scheme
we know him to be harassed by a hoard of frightened warlocks
that don’t want him to provoke a tsunami that would crush them for being brutes
we know he is persecuted and we know that we are persecuted
from Arizona to Prince Williams
from Los Angeles to the infernos of hell
by Republicans Democrats and Greens
by politicians of all colors that have failed to put aside politics
in order to pass a decent bill to legalize

Nativo has an obligation that won’t let him rest and we are his allies
immigrants in all the corners of the country
we who will not let them lock him up
if they imprison him who will open the golden cage?
so that the canary can go out and sing and fly freely as a human should
we are his life’s duty
and now he is our struggle’s commitment

If they incarcerate him we will all remain behind bars in our impotence and limitations
and the truth is this will not grant Nativo much grace
he trusted in the experience passed on these years he has faithfully dedicated to us
and if we enclose ourselves in our own laments who will liberate Nativo
el cenzontle whom we all want to be set free
whom we all respect as a radical
because if he is not a radical then he is not a teacher
because if he is not a radical then he is complacent with the system
the same system that at one time or another has screwed us
as in right now when the justice system wants to fuck him over
because it knows that by screwing him we are all fucked
in the end I think that we have not understood the teacher’s message
maybe they need to throw us all in jail
because we are all Nativos
revolutionary youth with boiling blood
old wolves that can’t be defeated
and we have not lost our dignity because Nativo will be released
he represents the pride of the oppressed
of the exploited
of the expelled
by a system that feigns to silence us
by silencing our leader
but we will not lose the dignity that he represents
because then we would all lose
we will petition
we will sue
we will demand
we will cry out
we will protest

We want justice for Nativo!!!

We are all Nativo
and Nativo has been all of us because he has worn everyone’s shoes
to march for everyone
to insist on open passage for immigrants
and we must all wear Nativo’s shoes
to march for freedom for Nativo
for all the Nativos we carry inside of us
and so we will not allow a deceitful system to take him from us
for revenge for fear for radical acts and incorruptibility
we the immigrants want:



es el canto del cenzontle
la ironía del sabio
el joven que vive en su corazón y se rebela
el no ha cambiado
el es el joven que vive en su corazón y se rebela a cada rato
ha aprendido lo suficiente
pero todavía es el joven que mira el agua sin vaso
el verso sin acentos puntos comas
las reglas se inventaron para ser quebradas
por poetas por inmigrantes por activistas
y el ve en el inmigrante a un hermano herido
y el es medico y enfermero
y se enferma para experimentar consigo mismo nuevos remedios
vacunas pócimas píldoras o cualquier jarabe que le de un respiro al moribundo
se sabe perseguido por una suerte de chamanes
lo sabemos perseguido por una horda de brujos asustados
que no quieren que provoque un tsunami que los aplaste por brutos
lo sabemos perseguido y nos sabemos perseguidos
de Arizona a Prince Williams
de Los Ángeles a los infiernos
por republicanos demócratas y verdes
por políticos de todos los colores que no han podido dejar a un lado la política
para lograr el bien común para legalizar
la necesidad
la realidad
la razón

Nativo tiene un compromiso que no lo deja descansar y somos sus aliados
los inmigrantes de todos los confines del país
quienes no permitiremos que lo encierren
si lo encierran quien abrirá la jaula de oro?
para que el canario salga y cante y vuele libre como ser humano
somos el compromiso de su vida
y ahora el es el compromiso de nuestra lucha

Si lo encierran nos quedaremos todos encerrados en nuestras impotencias y limitaciones
y la verdad es que a Nativo eso no le causaría mucha gracia
el confía en la experiencia transmitida en los años que devotamente nos ha dedicado
y si nos encerramos en nuestras pesadumbres quien va a soltar al cenzontle
al Nativo que todos queremos libre
que todos respetamos por radical
porque si no se es radical no se es buen maestro
porque si no se es radical se es complaciente con el sistema
el mismo que una y otra vez nos ha chingado
como en este momento el sistema judicial quiere chingarlo a él
porque sabe que chingándolo a el nos chinga a todos los demás
a fin de cuentas creo que no hemos entendido bien el mensaje del maestro
tal vez tienen que encerrarnos a todos
porque todos somos Nativos
jóvenes radicales con la sangre hirviendo
viejos lobos que no tienen que perder
y no hemos de perder la dignidad porque Nativo va a salir
el representa la dignidad del oprimido
del explotado
del los expulsados
por un sistema que pretende callarnos
callando a nuestro líder
pero no hemos de perder la dignidad que el representa
porque todos juntos pediremos

Queremos justicia para Nativo!!!

Todos somos Nativo
y Nativo ha sido todos porque se ha puesto en los zapatos de todos
para marchar por todos
para pedir por la libertad de transito de los inmigrantes
y nosotros hemos de ponernos en los zapatos de Nativo
para marchar por la libertad de Nativo
de todos los Nativos que llevamos dentro
y que no permitiremos que un sistema corrupto nos lo quite
por venganza por miedo por radical e incorruptible
nosotros los inmigrantes queremos:


On my Grocery List: "Virgin de Guadalupe Candles and Hope" by Rosa Valencia Sanchez

I observed them with affection at the grocery store.
Large, multi generational familias,
Dark skinned, beautiful
Spanish speaking people,
filling their grocery carts,
with the most interesting things.

Papayas, melons, and beef tongue.
Sopa, arroz, y frijoles.
Virgen De Guadalupe candles,
bottles of Fabuloso,
value packages of 48 rolls
of toilet paper.
Charcoal for barbecues.
Tres Leches birthday cakes,
seemed to be a popular item.

In the past, they were out going,
quick with a joke or a smile,
always offering me a "con permiso"
if they accidentally walked across
my pathway.

I could reach out my hand,
to softly tousle the coal black curlies,
on a baby girls ribbon festooned head,
as she sat in the front seat of the grocery cart
happily munching on pan de huevo or a "cochito"
My comment
"que bonita!"
was a conversation starter.

I have noticed.
They shop quickly,
no longer making an afternoon
out of selecting weekly groceries.

No eye contact.
No smiles.
I find this so painful,
that I have cried.

Families are left at home
"just in case"
the head of the family is detained.
Stripped of dignity.
Robbed of hope.
Thrust into the terrifying maelstrom
known as "illegal immigration."

I hope they remember my smile!
Oh please senor!
Oh please senora!
Please know me in your heart!
I am not one of the hateful!
I understand that the majority of you
come here to take up the work,
others find too distasteful to do.
I am not the hypocrite who eats the food
they picked and prepared.
I don't allow them to work in my garden,
pay them under the table,
then suggest we
turn blind eyes south and
"let them work things out on their own!"

I went to the grocery store this evening.
It was like a ghost town.
Quiet, aisles free of laughing children.
Not a sign of Comadres gossiping in the front entrance.
It may sound foolish or melodramatic,
but a tear ran down my cheek,
I couldn't buy a thing.
My guilt so deep.
My sorrow so crushing.
I am so sorry
I live on the same side of the man made border,
with people who just don't give a damn
about you.

I will pray.
I will fight.
Maybe one day,
not tomorrow,
not next week,
but one day soon,
I will see you again,
we will smile,
as our eyes meet
when we both reach for
Virgen De Guadalupe Candles
and hope.

Give Me a Name
By Genny Lim

Give me a name for my memory
the day the enemy of love comes
knocking on my door and sits among
the ruins of outcasts and exiles
Taking everything behind the window sills
even the hand-sewn curtains mother
fashioned from factory scraps

Give me the names of songs
we can now only remember bits and pieces of
because our voices are choked in tears
and silenced into smoke
Don’t let them take the hours of the day and
rip them from the sun as if light belonged to night!
As if the budding heads of crocuses were
born to be trampled underfoot!

Give me a name for daybreak!
One that bullets can’t penetrate
One that boundaries can’t blur
And wipe the swords clean of bitterness so
their heavy blades be shorn of flesh
into forgiving temples of light!
Oh, tear these sinister maps from my heart!
And give me back my memories
so that the soles of my feet find wings
in the confession of winds

By Genny Lim
May 17, 2010

Let Freedom Ring!
By Nephtalí De Leon

how many times
can we demand justice
and not get it

how many times
can millions march the streets
and not be seen

how many times can we scream
about the promised liberty
and not be heard

in how many cities
can we fill the streets
with our bodies and our screams
and not be heard or seen

how many murders
how many must drown
how many in the desert sand
how many in airless trucks
before our people cry enough

are we going to open our eyes
to the martyrs and the sacrifice
to stop living with the lies
that America is for u and me

are we ever going to stand
for the truth about this land
the genocide goes on
while the occupation sings a song
about sweet land of liberty
sends us all -- to fight its wrongs

Raza! you of a perennial race
you can trace all your bones
underneath all the stones
you do not stand alone

our ancestors wrote
with chisel upon stone
that our spirits shall rise
shake off the cudgel yoke
we´re nobody´s vassals
to be treated like tassles
to tie our dreams fast
to the grounds of our past

our mythical proportions
are the giant become real
no longer to demand a square deal
but to dispense a fair meal
and just in case our claim legít
is not accepted
clarito lo dijo el jefe
let it ring from north to south
-- to baja --
¡ la tierra es del que la trabaja!

© NephtalíRock and Roll Raza!
by Nephtalí

I celebrate Arizona
and sing
to the Nation of Aztlán

forget the tapados
and the taco-loving racists
trying so hard for our color
and part of our bilingual brain …

La Raza Cósmica is here
in its manifest destiny truth
no Hollywood re-make
of forefather lies
but native re-birth
from the ashes
of genocide war

I celebrate Dr. Cintli
Dorinda Moreno
and Tejaztlana
Dr. Rudy Acuña
and Armando Rendón
and the Facebook Poets
of Francisco Alarcón
inspired to the hilt
by criminal laws
like SB 1070
Arizona´s rope
from which
the whole nation swings

and the students
and the lawmakers
and the butchers
and the breadmakers
and the Raza, just plain
brave Raza all over Aztlán

willing to live
willing to die
willing to be behind bars
or shot in some deserted street
or killed upon some public place

in the name of our race
la Raza Cósmica de Aztlán
can anyone crush our spirit
can anyone kill our soul
tell me my friends
go tell everyone
we have already won!

© 2010 Nephtalí


Transforming Volcanoes
by Terri Weist:

If I am to survive it will be here
with pen and paper in hand
unable to reenact the way things
dribble down, not unlike the way
a trickle leads to an explosion.
If I’m to make it here, I must mutate and fight
with pen and paper, to differ with gods
pushing stones uphill of Sysiphus’ will.
Open the cloud and find a seat among
the heaven’s futile solutions.
Patience asks to wait and see.
Roses are difficult to keep
but a stately rhythm
finds a thorn and holds on.
The vitality of daily ritual.
The strength behind the truth.
Corazones sin fronteras ?
I have watched you from a distance,
on the other side and married your brothers.
A barbed wire ensnarled around your heart.
Food will keep you alive, but you won’t notice
until you go hungry and you stop counting the days.
And coyote lives up to the name of the desert’s trickster.
Food stamping in the land of Oz.
Now my child, born into this country
to a white and a brown parent, can start to resist seriously
the buy in, the sell out, the overhaul,
the process of putting borders around the heart.
One by one we are all planting seeds when to think no one is looking.
If the revolution starts with a poem, let US be.
Prepared with weapons of mass peace. Do you think it is not working?
Is speech still free? I hear 7-11 is trying to franchise it as well.

Mother always typing fast to test the ink.
I was finally old enough to read what those frantic
fingers were typing, bullets firing the keys onto the paper.
Always the same words to test the ink ribbon and see
if it was thick and black and leaving its mark.
“ Now is the time for all good men to come to the aide of
their country.”
I asked her what it was.
She replied,
“The Declaration of Independence”.
Even then I could sense something was wrong.
There was a crack in the bell of Liberty.
It was obvious.
The Native American’s weren’t free,
Our bi-racial neighbors across the street were not free, cars stopped to unload insults.
letting them know, not free.
Two black women school teachers who were mentors to me,
baked cookies with such love,
you mean to tell me now
they were not free?

1968 West Oak Lane, Philadelphia.
I was four years old at the movies
they said “Honkies, sit down.!”
I was ugly and did not know why
so the barbed wire started to grow.
She kept typing the same thing
each time her child wondering
what did it mean?

But today is the day.
A woman is denied access to a state building because of a latino last name.
Desert saguaros stand next to strip mined sites.
They are over two hundred years old.
The cactus will flower, in spite of its thorns.
The moon will illuminate the path,
forever mysterious, beckoning justice be.
A lusty lover waits to pop out of a magical box.
The sun will blind US.
Do not judge the blood born into bodies
the horn blowers the false history books,
the tea baggers giving false head to each other.
For sure.
NOW is the time for all good men
and women to come to the aide of their country.
Declare independence and take up arms,
into the clouds, the four corners, the wind in all directions.
The civil war is a heart with no borders.
The civil heart is a war with no manners.
And around her heart, she is choosing sides.
She hears them both
and bleeds them both.
What am I ? I have seen her eyes figure it out:
Not white enough,
not brown enough, but
smarter still to swallow her big heart
and play the game anyway.
The difference is cubicle, a slur
a stereotype, it wants to punish
the other half of herself.
Already the wires are trying to form
a scar from a czar around her freedom to exist.
Spirit shouts and breathes heat, flames, hurtful names.
In between the crevice of confusion
a flower refuses to be uprooted and
washes away the patriotic colors of hope.
She stands in front of the jury.
A nation of promise.
A land that lies about freedom and justice for all.

Hearts without borders is her doctrine,
on trial for the rest of her life.
Carrying documents to prove your existence is food stamped.
Rebellious mountains cheating death.
Sweet song of protest, justice and pig
roasting, just in case...si por las moscas.
Pollinate intelligence and stop hate,
what will it take?
The dark of day,
the cold bright night.
The balance of love and passion
you seek but cannot find?
Stuck in a shoe box, stuck in time.
Love is a quiet footstep into the night.
Molotov cocktails straight up Columbian,
Salvadorian, Aztecan, Mexican-American.
Can’t take off the wires without cutting flesh.
Love without borders, and cover the scars.
Coffee grinds its teeth.
I am insulted with the dream
each time I leave your bed.
Walk outside and life reminds me.
Only sweating skin will leave one to contemplate,
exhausted from the exchange of love’s taste and its fate.
Facing racism in the light of the day
and our difference is superficial,
I wear your body’s scent, the soul’s laughter
from the night before.
An unconstitutional whore, like you Arizona.
Yes Arizona, we are still with you.
The transparency of your Hallmark sunsets,
the hypocrisy in “ You’re Welcome”
the snowbird state of mind.

Go down to the wash and scrub your hands
with the blood of a boy who threw stones at your feet
from the wire around his heart to the fence around yours.
He hears shots and hides his head in the sand.
Boys throw stones in the wash, that is what little boys
are supposed to do in the desert that is owned, armed and operated by who?
And those who once picked up pens to fight, are now
picking up rifles. You can not shoot a poem,
it will not die.’ You’re Welcome’ to try.

Its blood will live to nourish the skeleton of revolutions to come.
You can shoot a child who is curious about the absurdities of
hatred formed against his right to exist.
This has the penholders willing
to take up arms and rise to cut
the barbed wires, and fire back
bullets word for word.
There is nothing civil about angry pens and jumping guns.
A heart without borders will never be killed.
The magic papers called “The Declaration of Independence”
will jump off the page and into the trenches.
Because NOW is NOT the time for all good men and women to
come to the aide of their country.
It is the other way around. Time for the country to take care of US.
Right here at home, remember ?
We? The people.

1. “Border” by Sharon Doubiago
2. “If You Leave Your Shoes by Joseph Ross
3. “Justicia para Nativo!!!” por Miguel Robles
4. “On My Grocery List: Virgin de Guadalupe Candles and Hope" by Rosa Valencia Sanchez
5. “Give Me a Name” by Genny Lim
6. “Let Freedom Ring!" and "Rock and Roll Raza!" by Nephtalí De Leon
7. “Transforming Volcanoes” Terri Weist

Sharon Doubiago

Foto: Andrena Zawinksi

Bio, 2010
Sharon Doubiago was born and raise in Southern California. She’s a graduate of Ramona High School and Palomar College (San Diego County) and of Cal State University, LA. Her memoir, My Father’s Love/Portrait of the Poet as a Young Girl, Volume One, November 2009, Wild Ocean Press, was a finalist in the Northern California Book Awards in Creative Non Fiction, 2010. Volume Two is forthcoming. Love on the Streets, Selected and New Poems, was published by the University of Pittsburgh, November 2008, and received the Glenna Luschei Distinguished Poet Award, and was a finalist in the Paterson NJ Poetry Prize, Feb 2010. She has written two dozen books of poetry and prose, most notably the epic poem Hard Country (West End Press), the booklength poem South America Mi Hija (University of Pittsburgh) which was nominated twice for the National Book Award, and the story collections, El Niño (Lost Roads Press), and The Book of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (Graywolf Press) which was selected to the Oregon Culture Heritage list: Literary Oregon, 100 Books, 1800-2000. She holds three Pushcart Prizes for poetry and fiction and the Oregon Book Award for Poetry for Psyche Drives the Coast and a California Arts Council Award. She’s an online mentor in Creative Writing for the University of Minnesota (Split Rock) and a board member of PENOakland. For two decades she has been writing Son, a memoir about the mother-son relationship, for which she has received two Oregon Institute of Literary Art Fellowships. Her new collection of memoir stories, Why She Loved Him, is circulating. She has published over a hundred essays—from the personal and creative, to the scholarly. An extensive interview of her experience re South America Mi Hija has just been published in Brújula, “Theoretical Cross- Pollination in Latin America: Mapping Transnational Exchanges,” Vol 7, Spring 2009 (Spring 2010), University of California, Davis. (brujula@ucdavis.edu)


Joe RossJoseph Ross is a poet, working in Washington, D.C. whose poems have been published in many journals and anthologies including Poetic Voices Without Borders 1 and 2, Poet Lore, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Full Moon on K Street. He co-edited Cut Loose the Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib. He has given readings in Washington, D.C.’s Miller Cabin Poetry Series and in the Library of Congress’ Poetry-at-Noon Series. He teaches in the College Writing Program at American University in Washington, D.C.

About Miguel Robles
Nació y creció en la Ciudad de México, estudio historia del arte, orfebrería y creación literaria en Morelia Michoacán. Desde muy joven trabajo en los mas variados oficios, desde vender libros de ciencias políticas y literatura, hasta trabajar en maquiladoras de la frontera México/EEUU, y despachar autobuses de transporte publico. Habiendo vivido en los ambientes y lugares mas disímiles. Artesano, poeta y activista, desde 2002, radica en San Francisco, California.

Born and raised in Mexico City, he studied art history, silversmithing, and creative writing in the city of Morelia in the state of Michoacán. Since a young age he has worked a wide range of jobs including bookseller, factory worker on the Mexican/U.S. border, and public transportation bus dispatcher. Artisan, poet, and activist, he has lived in diverse environments, residing in San Francisco since 2002.

Rosa Valencia SanchezRaconteuse,
ornamental to some,
symbolic to believers
insouciant with friends,
enigmatic to foe.

Please contact Rosa at heyroze@gmail.com if you are interested in reading more of her poetry. Rosa can also be found daily on "Poets Responding to SB1070" poetry group on Facebook. Rosa writes to express her feelings in regard to mainly social issues, children and her family.

Rosa loves words!

A. D. Winans is a native San Francisco poet and writer. His work has appeared in over a thousand literary magazines and anthologies, including City Lights Journal, Margie, Poetry Australia, the New York Quarterly and, the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. He is the author of numerous books. In 2002 a song poem of his was performed at New York’s Alice Tully Hall. In 2006 he was awarded a PEN National Josephine Miles award for excellence in literature. In 2009 he was given a PEN Oakland Lifetime Achievement Award. Cross-Cultural Communications just released his newest chapbook, Love –Zero.

Genny Lim
Genny Lim is a native San Franciscan poet. She has toured international festivals in Naples, Italy, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Caracas,Venezuela and performed with major jazz artists such as Max Roach, Jon Jang, Francis Wong and Herbie Lewis.

Her award winning play, Paper Angels, broadcast on PBS in 1985, focused on the plight of Chinese immigrants detained on Angel Island during the early 1900s. She is the author of two collections of poetry and co-author of ISLAND; Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940.

Nephtalí de Leon
Grew up as a migrant worker. Spent later years in West Texas, bordering with several middle-America states, as his early years bordered with Mexico. The artist is a self taught creator with no formal or institutional higher education. After attending several lower schools, wherever the migrant trail would take him, he made it through high school. With an authentic non-academic approach to his craft, he freely practices the visual and literary arts that have a resonance and relation to the community he comes from. His art forms and reflections have developed as a result of his multi-lingual multicultural dialogue with a great part of the immigrants and natives he has come in contact with. He is often thought of as the Gypsy vagabond poet of his community.

Terri WeistTerri Weist has lived half of her life in the Mission District. She has published stories and poems over the years. She has a nine year old Mexican American daughter. Terri is also a healer and musician. After taking a break for ten years she is writing again.


Lois Chavez Valencia said...

I really enjoyed reading these thoughts that other people have. I'm glad to know I am not alone. How can I post to your blog?

msedano said...

L, you just posted to La Bloga. Note La Bloga welcomes guest columnists. When you have a book or arts review you want to share, email msedano@readraza.com to discuss being our guest.

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