Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On-Line Floricanto Wrapping March

Librotraficante Phase II – the FU

Michael Sedano

“Something is wrong in this country,” the waiter said, then the headlines screamed Trayvon Martin was gunned down then someone died to give Dick Cheney a heart and gente like that waiter stopped thinking about the banned books that remain banned.

So it goes. Book banning enters the churn.

Now los Librotraficantes and those likewise outraged by Tucson AZ racists banning books face the key stage in any endeavor: FU.

Either Follow Up or Foul Up. Follow Up and keep alive the message. Foul up and become flavor-of-the-month, last month’s causa.

“When Arizona decided to erase our history,” Tony Diaz says, “we decided to make more history.”

Beneath the insouciance glares a serious mission, to make history. Of course, one cannot not make history. The wetbooks imperative holds there be one continuous voice out of the future through the present and into the past to time immemorial. It’s why the current literary movimiento should have staying power.

Moral imperative alone isn't enough. Staying power means a message finds its audience. The audience forms an attitude. For Tony Diaz and the Librotraficante busriders, the opportunity opens to stoke intensity among like-minded listeners.

Los Librotraficantes continue a P.R. program, announcing Phase II of their plan on their website. Houston is home base for los wetbooks right now, with media hubs coming out of Alburquerque and Los Angeles, helping find audiences.

Independently, two video sources enrich the outlook for ongoing expressions from the caravan, the host of the Alburquerque fundraiser, the Alburquerque Cultural Conference, and Latinopia.

Latinopia is the video host of both the ACC-produced fundraiser video and an upcoming series of Latinopia-produced videos covering the caravan and floricantos enroute.

Updated Sundays, Latinopia this week features its first Librotraficante Caravan documentary.

I accompanied Latinopia videographer Jesus Treviño on the caravan so there’s special pleasure for me to get to view the full poetry performances I evoke photographically in a few momentary expressions. I'm listening with my eyes and finger when I'm taking fotos. Video lets a reader sit with the text--if available--and listen as a consummate performer like Mary Oishi embodies her expressions.

Read-Aloud Bless Me, Ultima

The good gente of the University of New Mexico Department of English and the Zimmerman Library announce a brilliant idea replicable in every library in the country except Tucson schools, where Bless Me, Ultima is banned.

A public read-a-thon, cover-to-cover, of Bless Me, Ultima celebrating the 40th anniversary of the novel's publication.
The event begins Monday April 23 at 8 a.m. when a selected academic community reader starts on page one. Sometime that afternoon—organizers estimate 5 p.m., Don Rudy will be at the lectern to read the last page. I hope there're funds to videotape that reading.

An “A” list appetizers reception follows. The Gluten-Free Chicano wonders if the host serves gluten-free snacks? Ni modo if the wine is good.

The opportunity to ascend the podium is a fund-raising element so locals wishing to read from the stage need to contact the English Depto for details. blessmeultimareading@gmail.com.  Other inquiries can go via correo electronico to cgonzal@unm.edu

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto • March Times Out

For the final Tuesday of March, Francisco Alarcón and the moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 recommend five poets for the month's final on-line floricanto, including
Deborah Miranda, Ramón Piñero, Marion Gomez, Edward Vidaurre, Odilia Galván Rodríguez

"Alphabet" by Deborah Miranda
"They Have Names" by Ramón Piñero
"Movements" by Marion Gomez
"Lorca in the Barrio (Ode to Fable And Round Of The Three Friends)" by Edward Vidaurre
"Dance of the Feathered Serpent Rising" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

- or the Librotraficantes y todas todos indias indios;
Nimasianexelpasaleki to Leslie Marmon Silko

By Deborah Miranda

Literacy starts with flesh
ripped from the backs of my ancestors,
inscriptions by whips of soldiers,
a priest who doesn’t care to delegate;
scars scrawled at Indian Boarding Schools,
whips and clubs across knuckles, buttocks, shoulders, knees:
learn this holy language, it will make you

Scars written in wide lines laid out by leather straps.
Scars sketched thin but deep,
cowhide tipped with sharp iron barbs.
Scars, thick as rope, fattened on infection and fever:
alphabet of blood and bruises.

A, broken pieces of our lives they call artifacts. B, iron bound around our wrists. C, the cupped hand that takes. D, demonic grin at our cries of pain. E, the rake to excise weeds from the earth; F, the key to padlocked fences. G, the open maw of genocide. H, the locked gate of our hearts; I, government-issued identification required. J, the shovel that jabs at our graves; K, a boot kicking us into the next relocation; L, the club that lashes us into submission. M, the path of our migration off your maps; N, for nits (they make lice). O: we have no word for ownership. P, a salute between soldiers at the prison; Q, the quick breath of hope slipping out. R, the rifle to hold back the ravenous savages; S, slick blood sliding down a cheek. T, the oak tree where they hang us. U, go back where you came from, only it’s not there anymore; V, the plow that validates the land, vindicates murder. W, barbed wire winning the west, or white fangs of a witch. X for the crucifix that could not save us from itself; Y, yes from a forked tongue. Z, the place they aim to drive us: Zero.

Spain and Mexico, France, England. The many-headed Roman alphabets of syphilis: miscarriage, sterility, madness. Alphabets of terror, of adobe, our own prison made from the mud of our own land, mixed with our own feet. The alphabets of walls: this alphabet we never asked for. They ‘gave’ it like a parasite in our guts, shackles around our wrists, gags in our mouths. This alphabet a tattoo or a cattle brand: ownership, possession. This alphabet never meant to let us speak! Meant to strangle us like the umbilical cord of a mother who hates her bastard child.

Uppercase, lowercase, block letter, cursive, all clattering chattering like teeth, nipping at our flesh, tasting us, gnawing at us with scythed edges and wide grinding surfaces. They strip us of our names, one tiny peck at a time. Eat through skin, muscle, fat, bone; head for the marrow, spreads through our skeleton. Poison that erases memory, replaces it with obedience.

This alphabet that some of us endure. Learn to bear. Our skin grows more callused. Our scars become our art. This alphabet we chew on as starving children chew on grass or suck on pebbles to push back hunger. This alphabet of conquest that was never meant to serve us, speak for us, fight for us. This alphabet of razor wire we take into our hands, twist to our own bloody testimonies. This alphabet that gnawed its way inside of us, and with which we now carve our way back out from silence.

You ripped out our tongues:
language, prayer, song, medicine, history,
teachings, connection, home.
You shoved this alphabet down our throats
so we could write the names you gave us
on treaties, add the names of our children
and our dead to the back of a Bible,
keep track of our numbers, remember our place.
A special kind of literacy that grants us the right
to read your grocery lists, sweat in your factories,
drive your trucks, pay taxes, but never
tell our own stories.

You never thought we could learn
to wield these letters for ourselves,
write our humanity, make new songs,
become poets or lawyers – redefine words
like warrior or strategy.

This alphabet. This charm.
This code of conquest made into codex
of creation. You never thought
we could appropriate your weapon,
re-shape it into a tool with our torn hands, carry it
on our scarred backs all this distance,
all these years.

You never imagined this:
your alphabet betraying its duty,
defecting to our cause, going Native,
becoming indigenous to this land because
we give birth to it with our blood. No wonder
our books are banned, our children told
don’t read that, don’t write that. Don’t read,
don’t write. Don’t. No wonder you want us
illiterate again. We’ve learned too much.

You want your alphabet back;
all 26 letters, unharmed, unchanged,
well-behaved letters that don’t curse
or tell ugly truths.

Our Storyteller, she tried to warn you.
Like rape, like small pox,
like massacre: that alphabet
is already turned loose.
It’s already coming.

And we won’t give it back.

They Have Names
By Ramón Piñero

“No one asked
their names!”
So screams
the headlines
throughout the
Arab world,
We know just
that nineteen
were killed
this time;

We did
not count the
last time;
the last
we said this
would be the
last time

No one asked their names;
they almost never do
they are expendable
fodder for the cannons

One side
point’s fingers
we excuse it
‘cause after all
it had to
be rough
going back
one time
two times
three times
who could have?
would have thought
that war and violence
has no reset button

when you’re dead
you stay dead
no health bars
no extra lives,
in this video
game version
of mans’ oldest
folly; yes
the oldest
on steroids

No one asked
their names!
so screams
the headlines
through the
Arab world
as it should
scream out
this world.

The dead were:
Mohamed Daewood
Nazar Mohamed

the other dead

Yesenia Briseño
Trayvon Martin

all children
or women
all inocentes

The dead were:

the other dead

those travelers
on the
Trail of Tears
those in the
cargo holds
of slave ships
thrown overboard
worked to death
without a name
to their name.

The dead were:

The dead also
those babies
in Appalachia
the Sonoran desert
those killed
by the Zeta and
Sinaloa Cartels.

The dead were:
Essa Mohamed
Aktar Mohamed

in this
make believe
war where only
the other

where only we
and all
else is
“unfortunate and

how many times
can you
ask a
man to kill
without killing
the man in him

no one asked
their names,
forgotten into
a dustbin
forgotten massacres
My Lai
footnotes in

and the
all names
etched forever
in my memory
etched forever
in my heart.

© Ramón Piñero

By Marion Gomez

I hear my father’s Spanish
as the Dunkin Donuts' cashier calls
back my order to the kitchen staff—
her skin the color of the fried cake donuts on display,
her hair and eyes the chocolate glaze.
Having my mother’s complexion
lets me go unrecognized.
How can I prove to this woman
that I am a sister, a Latina?
I could speak Spanish,
but like her English,
it is broken.
And really, what is sisterhood
when ice to me are cold cubes
I put in my coffee on hot days,
not men with guns
pounding on the door…

that is my father’s anxiety.
In the twenty six years before
Reagan granted him amnesty for the crime
of wanting to be in the U.S.,
his prior attempt at citizenship denied,
he held on to his green card
for dear life.
Can I blame him then for marrying a white woman,
not passing on Spanish
in the hopes I would flourish,
speak the language,
be accepted? But I did.
In college I learned about el vendido,
the sellout, an anglo-fied Latino,
saw my father as a traitor,
not realizing I myself have moved towards whiteness
by trying to pass as middle class,
refusing to date the trailer park boys
I grew up with:
they would only keep me
where I didn’t want to be.

My father speaks so rarely of Colombia.
A witness to war, he has seen the unspeakable,
but like a repressed tree, its seedling lodged in the lung,
light calls everything to the surface:
once he told me of the only protest
he attended. He was seventeen
and a friend invited him to a march
in downtown Barranquilla
to support the work of Fidel y Che.
The year was 1958.
My father confessed he went
because he thought it would be cool
to walk down the middle of a street
usually filled with buses and cars.
Suddenly, soldiers jumped down from their convoys
and started firing on the crowd.
His friend, walking beside him,
fell to the ground
and died in that street

Lorca in the Barrio (Ode to Fable And Round Of The Three Friends)
By Edward Vidaurre


the three of them frozen:
Travieso by the world of bullets;
Chepe by the world of syringes and acid trips;
Lalo by the marching of monks through his barrio.


the three of them burned:
Travieso by the world of pigeon shit and chalk outlines;
Chepe by the world of drive by shootings and rucas with feathered hair;
Lalo by the world of banned literature and dead lecturers.


the three of them buried:
Travieso in Lupitas tattoo;
Chepe in the carga going through his bloodstream:
Lalo in the roosters crow, the dog's howl, and the glossy eyes
of his tecato father.


the three in my hands were
three Zoot Suit scholars,
three crooked cops,
three birds of different races and a Autumn spirits
that flew around landing in blood stained sidewalks being outlined by death.


y uno
y uno,
los tres enterrados,
con la ternura del Invierno,
con la tinta negra de palabras escritas antes del suicido de la Primavera,
con las lagrimas de Sofia que espera ser realidad en el útero del Verano,
por la miel que llora la Luna hace el triste
mar en Otoño.


y dos
y uno,
I saw them run, hide and die
on the streets of Los Angeles
into a dark alley,
into the night of anxiety filled smog,
into the voiceless screams and anguish of their mother's
open mouths.
into my sadness of domestic abuse and alcoholism,
into the bar with the velvet curtain,
into my own death unannounced last year.

I killed the last of the Chicano writers
and a few people in Arizona held their champagne flutes in the air.
While Menchita tucked in their little wonderful children to the tune of
La llorona, breathing over them.

Chicanas are hard,
but sometimes if you lay your head,
between their soft breasts you can hear the cries of a new generation
of raza with the knowledge and power to make a man shit in fear,
y eso me conforma

Cuando ya no pude ver las luzes de la ambulancia
pasando la loma sobre la calle Cesar Chavez
entendi que me asesinaron tambien a mi.
Esa noche en el barrio destaparon todas las sabanas blancas
buscandome entre las caras fallecidas, en las iglesias, los panteones,
callejones, y las aguas del rio frio.
Still they couldn't find me.
No pudieron?
No they couldn't.

Sin balas en mi cuete,
pero con un libro y lapiz en mi mano,
empeze a escribir poemas...

Dance of the Feathered Serpent Rising

for the Spring solstice, World Poetry Day and
the coming of the new sun

By Odilia Galván Rodríguez

. . . .

She sashays the steps
Her emerald feathered dress ~

The singing stairs, sound ~
Lord of the Cloud Forest
Returned in light / shadow

"Tak-teek, tak-teek"
El quetzal leaping to flight ~
Tail feathers streaming

Spring's viridescence
Wraps in jade-green the kingdom ~
O mouth of the well

Chi'ch'èen Ìitsha'
El encanto del agua ~
Water comes to light

Eagles and Jaguars
Guards of the ball court ~
Perdiendo se gana


"Alphabet" by Deborah Miranda
"They Have Names" by Ramón Piñero
"Movements" by Marion Gomez
"Lorca in the Barrio (Ode to Fable And Round Of The Three Friends)" by Edward Vidaurre
"Dance of the Feathered Serpent Rising" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

Deborah A. Miranda is the author of two poetry collections, Indian Cartography [Greenfield Review Press, 1999] which won the Diane Decorah Award for First Book from the Native Writer's Circle of the Americas, and The Zen of La Llorona, nominated for the Lambda Literary Award [Salt Publishing, 2004].  Miranda is an enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of California, and is of Chumash and Jewish ancestry as well.  Her mixed-genre manuscript Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir, will be published by HeyDay Press in 2013, and her collection of essays, The Hidden Stories of Isabel Meadows and Other California Indian Lacunae is under contract with U of Nebraska Press.  Linda Hogan writes that Bad Indians, “moves from the ancient to the familial. This book from one of our most significant writers and thinkers has an importance that cannot be overstated.  From the voice of the silenced, the written about and not written ‘by,’ this is a ground-breaking book in the field of literature.”  Miranda’s poetry manuscript, Raised By Humans, is under submission.   As Associate Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, Deborah teaches Creative Writing (poetry and memoir), composition, and literature.

"Ex Bay Area poet living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, aka Florida. Where good little boys and girls grow up to be republicans who vote against their own interest. Father of three and Grandfather to five of the coolest kids ever., soon to be six,
Niuff said...

Marion Gomez is a poet and native Minnesotan along with her mother, whose heritage hails from Scandinavia. Her father is an immigrant from Colombia and came to the U.S. in 1960. She currently lives in Minneapolis, MN.

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