Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Floricanto

Saying Love Out Loud

Michael Sedano
St. Valentine’s Day is perfect for poetry, music, flowers, and sweets-for-the-sweet. Here's a bouquet of early-blooming sweet peas, imagine the gorgeous perfume as you listen to a medley of love songs and enjoy reading--to yourself or aloud to a favorite valentine--a trio of powerful love poems. 
Happy St. Valentine's Day.
Michael Sedano 

One of the best love poems I know yearns in the voice of a regretful lover who hid his passion while other suitors showered her beauty with praise. Of all those importunate swains he alone loved her for her spirit. So she will grow to be an old woman, sitting alone next to dying embers.

That’s When You Are Old, by William Butler Yeats, published in 1893. Eleven years later, 1904, a chastened Yeats offers one of my second-favorite love poems, Sweetheart, do not love too long. Is the speaker one of those glad grace Sanchos who thought he’d scored? Could it be she got around to the quiet guy in the corner, they sang in the sunshine, then she moved on, even though he wasn’t done loving her, and still isn't?

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep, 

And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace, 

And loved your beauty with love false or true, 

But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, 

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars, 

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled 

And paced upon the mountains overhead 

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
      --William Butler Yeats, 1893

SWEETHEART, do not love too long, 

I loved long and long, 

And grew to be out of fashion 

Like an old song. 

All through the years of our youth 

Neither could have known 

Their own thought from the other's, 

We were so much at one. 

But O, in a minute she changed- 

O do not love too long, 

Or you will grow out of fashion 

Like an old song.
--William Butler Yeats, 1904

Another of my second-favorite love poems comes with a multicultural sizzle, Ina Cumpiano’s Metonymies. Readers don’t discover this as a love poem until those intense final lines. Each stanza offers up a piece of fractured love: letting go; intimations of unfilled space; abrupt finality; regaining control. It's a poem that fits perfectly into anyone's literature curriculum, except that line about saving birth certificates will probably get Metonymies banned in Arizona.

LAST JULY, they loosened their grip, let go--
plum, sweet plum--until the grass
was bloody with the warm flesh. Months later
the finches, purple fruit, hide in what's left of leaves
so that only when they fly off,
when the branches bounce back to true
is their presence known. They will not outstay
the leaves, the thin white light disclosing
those empty hands, the tree, against the sky.

This trip south, the egret questions the lagoon:
the white curl of its own back is the answer.
No matter how many times I return, this shallow inlet
to the sea will be here; and the egret, long gone,
will grace it with presence.
In "The Blind Samurai" the camera zooms
to the old man's clever ear: a double metonymy
that links our deafness to his danger. By the time
we catch on--snap, snap, footsteps
in the underbrush--
he has done battle and
bandits litter the forest like cordwood.

The camellia loses its head
all at once; it does not diminish
petal by petal
so for weeks the severed blossom lingers
as moist as pain, at the foot of the bush.

If the police ordered me to evacuate,
what would I take with me?
Baby pictures, computer disks, the silver,
proofs of birth? The sun
would hang like old fruit until the smoke
gathered it in. Then: night in day, sirens,
and knowing that whatever I took
would hold in its small cup
everything I had ever lost.
So if the police ordered me to evacuate during a firestorm,
I would write your name on a slip of paper,
light it, and--
in those few hurried moments allowed me--
watch it burn, brush the ashes into an envelope
which I would seal and keep with me, always.
The Floating Borderlands, Twenty-five Years of U.S. Hispanic Literature.
Ed. Lauro Flores. Seattle: UofW Press, 1998, pp. 390-391
Valentine On-Line Floricanto
Luis Alberto Urrea,  Claudia D. Hernández, Andrea Holm Hernández,  Joe Navarro, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Nancy Aide Gonzalez, José Hernández Díaz, Francisco x. Alarcón, Andrea Mauk, John Martinez.

Special thanks to Elena Díaz Bjorkquist for coordinating this special St. Valentine's Day edition of La Bloga On-Line Floricanto.
Introduction by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist

The Moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070 asked our poets to submit love poems for today's special Valentine’s Day La Bloga On-Line Floricanto. The outpouring of love poems overwhelmed us.  The poems of love represented romantic love and also love of friends and parents. How were we to select what we thought were the 10 best poems out of 37 wonderful poems? 

We scored the thirty-seven and used cumulative totals to reach consensus and designate finalists. Not satisfied that the love poems were adequately showcased on our Facebook page, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist started a blog to hold all the love poems submitted. There you can read all 37 poems and see for yourself how difficult it is that the moderators choose these ten:

“Love” by Luis Alberto Urrea
“Extracto de esencia / Extraction of Essence” by Claudia D. Hernández
“Blessed” by Andrea Holm Hernández
“Thirty Six Valentines” by Joe Navarro
“Growing My Love” by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
“Flower Sun” by Nancy Aide Gonzalez
“Violet Dreams / Sueños violetas” by José Hernández Díaz
“Love Prayer / Plegaria de amor” by Francisco x. Alarcón
“Love and the Fisherman of Patzcuaro” by Andrea Mauk
“If I Thought My Heart Was Nothing” by John Martinez

by Luis Alberto Urrea

Love the awkward.
Love the marginalized.
Love the lonely.
Love the ugly.
Love the forgotten.
Love the wounded.
Love the weary.
Sing for the silenced,
for our journey takes us all
to the same dawning.
Let’s not go alone.

Extracto de esencia / The Extraction of Essence”
by Claudia D. Hernández

Extracto de esencia 

De tu cuerpo
El alma
Tu corazón
A manotazos;

Besar y
Tus pensamientos—
Para así
En tu tristeza.
Solo así sabré
Que para siempre
Serás mío:
Mío, solo mío.
Dulce animal
Que me carcome
Mis entrañas,

The extraction of essence

I want to
You from
Your body,
Your entire
Eat your
Heart out
by handfuls;
Kiss and
Your thoughts—
So that I may
Drown in your
Only in
This manner
Will I know
That you
Will always
Be mine:
Only mine.
Sweet animal
Who eats
Away at
My insides,

English translation by José Hernández Díaz


My small hand fits right inside my dad’s hand.
I listen as he tells me, pointing to the sky
About the rabbit in the moon.
The rabbit in the moon
Watches over us always. All the time,
For a long, long time. He tells me.
And I remember this much later.
When we dance below the moon
On our wedding night.
On your wedding night
The ancestors will come out
In droves. He tells me.
The ancestors will dance
All together in the night sky.
In celebration of your love.
And I remember this
Every time the moon waxes.
Every time you hold me close.
Every time, all the time, always
Ours is a love to celebrate.

(For Lucía)
by Joe Navarro

When I hold you now
(Which I have for 36 years),
And look into your eyes, and
When I taste the scent of your kiss,
I feel the sensation as when I first
Caught sight of that young fine
Chicana, that beautiful jarocha
Who (unknowingly) took my
Heart and my breath.
You, that young scholar, who
Challenged the injustices of the
World. A super-Chicana. You, the
Femenista, a threat to testosterone
Measured ideas. You caught my
Imagination along with my heart.
You, my novia, my esposa,
And my vieja…and I mean that
With cariño, you know…my lifelong
Best friend and partner. You know,
We agreed to grow old together. You
Know I’m talking about you, Lucía.
My best friend, to hold and love,
And my partner…y a veces
My sparring partner, as we’ve wrestled
Over roles and attitudes in this lifelong
Friendship. Love, cariño, compromise,
Empathy, caring, compromise, devotion,
Compassion, compromise, patience, passion
and more compromise…those are the
ingredients to a lifelong love life. And
That’s why we are celebrating
St. Valentine’s Day for the thirty-sixth
Time together. Te quiero mucho.

Growing My Love
by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2011

I feel my heart opening today
Showing my love to others
Feeling closer by expressing
Deep, sincere affection
Telling each how much I care
Strengthening our connection
Making our relationship
Much more precious
A shimmering golden light
Emanates from my heart
Growing with each breath
Encompassing all of me
Opening my heart
Allowing me to give, receive
Boundless love, bathing me
In stronger, loving relationships
I am receptive to the warmth
That surrounds me
Open to the energy
That helps me give of myself
I give and receive love equally
Making my love for others true
Letting unconditional love grow
From the center of my heart today

Flower Sun
By Nancy Aidé González

The sun rises
rays of light
Round celestial
ball of fire
dissipative light
banishing darkness.
We are flowers
with long tangled roots
burrowed deep into the
lush dark
fertile soil.
Our white petals
burst from
fragile beauty
self awareness,
our spirits
under the
Our flowering
souls transforming
through love
harmony .
We are flowers
our faces
our petaled arms
our green
stems erect,
supple veined
out stretched,
our hearts
filled with
hopes and
finding redemption
in ancient
ways ,
creating new
new sun,

Violet Dreams / Sueños Violetas”
by José Hernández Díaz

Every morning,
When I wake-up
Pressed against
Your warm chest—
Intertwined with
Your leaf-like limbs—
I kiss your
Freckled cheeks,
So that you may
Remain in violet dreams;
I consider it a blessing.
Every afternoon,
When you call
Me during your
Lunch hour
To recite you
A poem,
I climb each
Wave-like syllable
Landing upon
The shores of
Your lilac heart;
I consider it a blessing.
Every night,
When we share
A cigarette
On the porch
With the moon,
You hide your
Pale palms
Inside the depths
Of my pockets;
I consider it a blessing.

Sueños Violetas  

Todas las mañanas,
cuando me despierto
presionado contra
tu pecho tibio—
entrelazado con tus
alas de hojas—
te beso las
mejillas pecosas,
para que permanezcas
en sueños violetas;
Lo considero una bendición.
Todas las tardes,
cuando me llamas
durante tu hora
de almuerzo
para que te recite
un poema,
subo cada sílaba
como ola y desciendo
en la marea
de tu corazón
de lilas;
Lo considero una bendición.
Todas las noches,
cuando compartimos
un cigarrillo
en el porche
bajo la luna,
escondes tus
pálidas palmas
dentro de lo profundo
de mis bolsillos;
Lo considero una bendición.

Spanish translation by Claudia D. Hernández 

by Francisco X. Alarcón

may love
may love
may love
surprise us
came to us
move us
as sweet air
to love others

speedily like
as we love
a shooting star
our beloved’s
ourselves and
in the night sky
silky hair
those who love us

reminding us
taking actions
we are never
the embers
for the poorest
ever alone
of a long fire
the neediest

even when
filling life
rewarding us
we are alone
with warmth
with even more
feeling lonesome
joy and light
overflowing love

por Francisco X. Alarcón

que el amor
que el amor
que el amor
nos sorprenda
venga a nosotros
nos mueva a amar
sin previo aviso
como dulce aire
a otros asíu

veloz como
como nos amamos
estrella fugaz
el cabello sedoso
a nosotros mismos
en la oscuridad
de nuestro amor
y a los que nos aman

tomando acciones
que nunca jamás
las brasas de
por los más pobres
estamos solos
su viejo fulgor
los más necesitados

aun cuando
estamos solos
la vida con luz
aún más amor
sintiéndonos solos
calor y alegría

© Francisco X. Alarcón
5 de febrero de 2012

Love and the Fisherman of Patzcuaro
by Andrea Mauk

I had never been swaddled in the sweet comfort
of love,
spent most of my life hoping un dia my name
would wind up scrawled on its list in lavender
or rose red, that it had been enscribed
in the ancient palabras adentro de Tzintzuntzan,
but more often
my heart wound up the toppled coconut,
blown from the tree,
jagged cracked shell
bleeding the milk of hope
onto the thirsty ground.
And then I met you.
I dreamed that love was softer than down,
buoyant upon Patzcuaro
waiting to be caught in the net
of the storied fisherman,
sweeter than nana’s pan dulce
formed in her warm and crinkly hands,
and able to make each minute stretch gracefully into the
perfection of memory,
that even with subtitulos,
there were no words that could quite describe
the language it speaks.
And then I saw your lips quiver when you looked at me.
I somehow understood that even when it
seemed that life had turned its back,
left me standing solita in
the whipping wind,
that the susurros I heard in its errant voz
were the antepasados who still threw
stardust and petals
onto the path I was meant to follow.
So I learned to listen,
to never lose hope,
to believe through my tears…
And then I looked into your eyes
and I knew.

A Valentine for my Rosa America
by John Martinez

If I thought

My heart was nothing

But a woven

Basket of arteries,



I'd let it sleep
By itself in the rain,
I'd stand before
An animal
And watch its nose
Flare. The smell
Of my heart
Is only a meal,
If I thought
My heart was nothing.
If I thought
My heart was nothing
But a measure
Of my organs,
How they will
Weigh them,
Each one
Placed apart,
Like a butcher
His product,
Like a Doctor
Calculates time
By touch,
I'd render myself
Walk a field
Like a corpse
Wound up to move
A distance
I'd love no one.
But blood travels
The distance,
So that I could
Touch you,
Elevates my skin
So that your
Dreams with mine,
Sends God
To my head,
Where we ponder
Our own existence,
Until I see
No, my heart is
Something, a whirlwind
Of ghosts, perhaps,
A tangling
Of galaxies,
A message to all,
But most of all,
My heart belongs
To you
© John Martinez 2012
 “Love” by Luis Alberto Urrea
“Extracto de esencia / Extraction of Essence” by Claudia D. Hernández
“Blessed” by Andrea Holm Hernández
“Thirty Six Valentines” by Joe Navarro
“Growing My Love” by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
“Flower Sun” by Nancy Aide Gonzalez
“Violet Dreams / Sueños violetas” by José Hernández Díaz
“Love Prayer / Plegaria de amor” by Francisco x. Alarcón
“Love and the Fisherman of Patzcuaro” by Andrea Mauk
“If I Thought My Heart Was Nothing” by John Martinez

Claudia D. Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She writes, illustrates, and manually binds children’s books. Her photography, poetry, and short stories have been published in The Indigenous Sovereignty Issue of The Peak, Hinchas de Poesía, Poets Responding to SB1070, La Bloga’s on-line Floricanto, and in the first anthology of Poetica del Colectivo Verso Activo for Poesía Latinoamericana en Español.  Claudia enjoys collaborating with José Hernández Díaz in the English/Spanish translation of their poetry.
Andrea Hernandez Holm is a poet in Tucson, Arizona. Her works have appeared in the anthologies Our Spirits, Our Realities and Wisdom of Our Mothers; as well as on La Bloga, in Blue Guitar Magazine, and in La Sagrada. Visit Andrea at www.andreahernandezholm.webs.com

Joe Navarro is a Literary Vato Loco, poet, creative writer, community activist, husband, father and grandfather who currently lives in Hollister, CA.
Elena Díaz Björkquist, a writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon and is nearing completion of another collection of Morenci stories entitled Albóndiga Soup. Elena has been on the Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Speakers Bureau for ten years performing as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation, and doing presentations about Morenci, Arizona and also the 1880’s Schoolhouse in Tubac. AHC recently selected her to do a presentation on El Día de los Muertos.

Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos, an anthology written by her writers group. The project was funded by AHC. She co-edited a new anthology entitled Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems that was in November 2011.

A SIROW Scholar at the University of Arizona, Elena conducted an oral history project funded by AHC; “In the Shadow of the Smokestack.” A website she created contains the oral history interviews and photographs of Chicano elders living in Morenci during the Depression and World War II. Another project funded by AHC and the Stocker Foundation is “Tubac 1880’s Schoolhouse Living History Program.” Her website is www.elenadiazbjorkquist.net/.

Elena is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070.
She recently received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing.
Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet, writer, and educator.  She currently lives and works in Lodi, California. Nancy graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in May of 2000.  She holds a Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in School Administration from California State University, Stanislaus. She has contributed many poems to Poets Responding to SB 1070. Several of her poems have been published on La Bloga.  Miss González is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a writing group which honors the literary traditions of the Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples.
She teaches first-generation, Mexican –American migrant elementary students. She enjoys teaching her students and giving back to her community.  Nancy Aidé González is involved in Chicano Organizing & Research in Education (C.O.R.E.) a non-partisan, research and advocacy organization that aims to improve the educational environment of all Chicano/Latino students. She has participated in several poetry events in Northern California  including Facundo Cabral: A Día de los Muertos Poetry Event, Poesía Revuelta/ Mixed Poetry Series, Despierta Sacramuerto, Sexto Sol: The New Era, and Amor Panamericano Love Poetry.
José Hernández Díaz is a first-generation, Chicano poet with a BA in English Literature from UC Berkeley. José has been published in The Best American Nonrequired Reading Anthology 2011, La Gente Newsmagazine of UCLA, Bombay Gin Literary Journal, Contratiempo, Hinchas de Poesia, In Xochitl In Kuikatl Literary Journal, Indigenous Writers and Artists Collective, The Packinghouse Review, among others. José has had poetry readings at The Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco, at The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, and at El Centro Cultural de Tijuana. José is currently fulfilling an internship with Floricanto Press as a Poetry Editor. In addition, he is an active moderator of the online group, ‘Poets Responding to SB1070,’ where he has contributed more than 30 of his own poems. José enjoys collaborating with Claudia D. Hernández in the English/Spanish translation of their poetry.
Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, is author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992)  His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His book of bilingual poetry for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008), was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award. He has been a finalist nominated for Poet Laureate of California in two occasions.  He teaches at the University of California, Davis.
Francisco recently participated in the First Children’s Poetry Festival in El Salvador (Nov. 8-10, 2010) and was able to visit Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero’s tomb beneath the metropolitan cathedral of San Salvador. Monseñor Romero was killed saying mass in 1980 marking one of the most violent periods of the civil war in El Salvador.
He created a new Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 that is getting lots of poetry submissions and comments. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poets-Responding-to-SB-1070/117494558268757?ref=ts
Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She currently calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction,
poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won
awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality. She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has written
online extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry.
John Martinez studied Creative Writing at Fresno State University. He has published poetry in El Tecolote, Red Trapeze and the LA Weekly. He has performed (as a musician/political activist, poet) with Teatro De La Tierra, Los Perros Del Pueblo and TROKA, a Poetry Ensemble. He has also toured with several Cumbia bands throughout the Central Valley and Los Angeles and worked for the last 17 years as an Administrator for a Los Angeles Law Firm. He makeshome in Upland, California with his beautiful wife, Rosa America y Familia.

No comments: