Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Night-blooming giant. Mid-June On-line Floricanto

Chicano Photography
Shooting In The Dark
Michael Sedano

click image to view in larger size
There’s a desert garden in Tucson where their abundance of night-blooming cacti allows the botanical garden to sponsor a fund-raiser when gente flock to the garden for an all-nighter to ooh and uuy over the spectacle of flowers that open only in darkness and fade in daylight. I've taken to staying up late enough to uuy and ahh over my home-grown night-bloomers in Pasadena Califas.

"Cereus" is a generalized name for any number of gorgeous cacti. "Queen of the Night," is another. They have distinct scientific names. I don't know many of those so I go by the shape or other significant denominator.

My rat-tail cereus has begun to bloom with annual reliability. Last year she was covered with a dozen buds. This year she has only a few, three will probably make it. Of all the epiphyllum in my collection, this rat-tail and a flat-penca variety are the most magnificent blossoms and the most challenging to capture on digital film. They bloom in the early morning, like 2 a.m. But lately, that's been earlier.

My practice is to photograph the blossom in situ. The plants are tough, moving a flowering specimen is not fraught with broken potential. But a large plant is heavy. And the elongated pencas of a mature specimen make moving an unwieldy process. And pencas are fragile, more so than flower buds.

So I take the portrait where I can. If I can’t get a good angle with the tripod I work handheld. Sometimes there’s no escaping lying on my back and framing up to the sky. The 100 mm Canon lens contains wondrous engineering that compensates for a bit of shakiness. At extreme close up, however, even the slightest shake fuzzes up a photograph. Plus, a tripod makes it easy to capture a sequence like the opening flower of 2018:

A remote shutter release is all I wanted for Christmas a few years ago. The remote is essential for reducing camera shake. The range of my device allows me to be inside the house and expose a frame outside on the driveway. The macro lens set at its smallest aperture, f/32, creates a sharp field of vision at the heart of the flower. Sharpness drops off acceptably into the distance, emphasizing edge folds of inner petals. The deep focus requires longer exposure time and that steady tripod.

The Canon camera executes a precise focus in good light. In the dim light I anticipate here on the driveway, the camera will fail. I focus on auto then switch the lens to Manual focus, locking in the focus point. The camera will simply click now, focused on the spot where the rat-tail cereus bud is unwrapping.

My mother had never seen this plant bloom, and there wasn’t a family memory of its flower, so she couldn’t tell me a thing about it. Most of my collection moved here when my mom moved in with us. The collection recently doubled when friends relocated to colder climes.

The first time the rat-tail opened I discovered it at 7 in the morning, after it had collapsed. The next year she did not bloom. The next two years, she’s offered her magnificence. She’s in a new location this year and doesn’t mind the dislocation to more fully open shade.

June 10th, a Sunday afternoon, the bud curled upward and began to spread the tips of her yellow calyx petals. I began intermittent exposures. Every ten or fifteen minutes, I pushed the button. Once I waited twenty minutes and discovered a spectacular beginning.

20 minutes elapsed
The rat-tailed night-blooming epiphyllum isn’t yellow, on the inside. When it first shows her heart, yellow gives way to creamy white. Supple folds ripple open to form the mouth of a deep trumpet. Inside, an array of golden filaments spills forth, foremost a sinuously elegant stigma beckons.

A bat? A moth? Will some night-flying creature heed the enchantingly sweet perfume that fills the air within a few minutes after she exposes her inner heart to the world?

She is a giant. Throughout the night she opens and stretches, pumps her nourishment filling the tissue of veins that give shape and form to her petals. With dawn’s light the forces of gravity and light and mass exceed the capacity of her veins and the flower collapses. Her ovum pollinated, she will bear fruit this year. If not, only beauty.

Floricanto de los Delfines returns next week.

Canto de los Delfines, the literary journal of California State University Channel Islands, published its fourth annual edition to culminate the academic year.

La Bloga is working with curator Oscar Castillo to share some of the journal's ekphrastic poems with Oscar's photographs.

This special On-line Floricanto resumes next week.

Part I
Part 2

Independent Press Publishes Palacio Poetry

Denver's 3: A Taos Press, an independent press with a westward purview, publishes poetry, and more. Publisher Andrea Watson teamed with poet Karen Cordova to organize last year's peripatetic Route 66 floricanto held in Rowland, California and Taos, New Mexico.

3: A Taos Press announces its publication of Bird Forgiveness by Melinda Palacio, La Bloga's Friday bloguera. Click here for 3: A Taos Press' website.

Congratulations, Melinda!

Mid June On-line Floricanto
Betty Sánchez, Arnoldo Garcia, Donny Jackson, Paul Aponte, César de León

Versos a mi madre Por Betty Sánchez
Warless Moon By Arnoldo Garcia
a national anthem By Donny Jackson
Prayer to the corn moon By César de León

Versos a mi madre
Por Betty Sánchez

Mi madre
es de piel morena,
mujer de maíz,
hija del sol y de la tierra.
Tiene oscuras las pupilas
ahí resguarda sus penas.
Su niñez fue arrebatada,
fue una madre adolescente, su suerte quedó marcada.

Graciela baúl sellado.
¿Qué misterios encierra tu corazón?
¿Jardín de rosas o cementerio?
¿Campos de girasoles
o sangrantes manantiales?
Cuando ríes,
adivino en el rumor
de tu risa
una nostalgia lejana
que te envuelve.

Y cuando la tristeza nubla
tu voz o tu mirada,
es como si llamaran
a duelo las campanas.
Una vez que llorabas
te pregunté,
¿qué tienes?
Me respondiste,
¿Nada? Es mentira.

¿y tu pecho trémulo
se estremece y suspira?
¿y venciendo
tu voluntad
estallas en estruendoso llanto?

En alguna ocasión
conforme comprendía,
intenté asomarme
en la ventana de tu vida,
pero discretamente
me aparte temerosa
de que tu corazón
fuera mi espejo;
y entonces
pudiera suceder
que yo entendiera
todo lo que no pude
o no quise conocer.
¿Verdad que tú sabes
todo esto madre mía?

de mi espíritu intuitivo
y te alejabas de mí
con paso silencioso.
Un día,
nunca sabré porque,
te fuiste de mi lado;
si hubiera sabido
que por décadas
no te tendría,
te hubiera despedido
con un beso
en la frente.

Hoy te observo
cuidando tu jardín,
jugando con tu nieto,
y no puedo encontrar
una palabra amable
que decirte;
las dos percibimos
que ha llegado la hora
de cerrar nuestro ciclo.
Adiós madre…

Warless Moon
By Arnoldo Garcia

The war will have to wait.
The war will have to wilt.
Before the moon surrenders.

The moon is the moon again
I understand
Because I am from the belly button of the moon.
Not blood moon
Not human moon
Not anything having to do with the man in the moon.

My friend Ruben would laugh and point at the crescent moon and say:
Look, my grandfather's fat toenail!

The moon is Acteal tonight, bloodied Indian moon.
The moon is a migrant camp where we cultivate utopia
The moon is
my tayacán woman,
a ripened sun,
a leavened fist,
a laugh that drives ghosts out of the living room.
The moon is Ix, the jaguar that carries the stars on her back.

Tonight I declare peace, not the white flag of the moon surrender,
the white banner of the four directions:
White is north,
North Star,
the blade that cuts open the borders so that Sojourner can free herself over and over

Moon, courage, cenote of the cosmos,
you fit in the palm of the woman who will one day slay the darkness,
no skin under her bony fingernails,
just the pockmarks of standing in the way of the blows meant for her child.
Tonight will not be like any other night,
something terrible has to end.
Someone terrible must die.
Not her
Not the bloodied moon
Not us,
who are
sisters and brothers,
sons and daughters,
music and water,
bread and revolutions,
placenta and tenderness,

Not tonight, not any night, not tomorrow or ever.

a national anthem
by Donny Jackson

when a child’s fingertips are pulled from its mother’s at the border
our bones are a struck tuning fork which vibrate until they
are white hot and brand anything soft inside
so when we hear the sound again
we’ll know it as the squeak
of the gate
into hell

By Paul Aponte

Being American sometimes tires me
Sometimes I want to be Mexican
Mexico City Mexican
Chinga tu madre Mexican
Riding los lomos de las Rancheras Mexican
Downing Tequila Mexican
Eating frijoles de la olla
con cebolla picada and oregano Mexican.

I want to wake up el Domingo
and go to la placita
y encontrarme con mi jaina
And say hello to Beto y Chole
and talk about tonight's quermés
and make plans for el Día De Los Muertos.

Sometimes I want my bud
to yell from across the street
"¡Ey, pinchi Pol! ¡A donde vas Güey!
and I want to yell back
"¡Vente pendejo, a comer pozole
en casa de mi tía ... Güey!"

Being American sometimes tires me
and sometimes I want to be Mexican
and speak in Diputado Mexican
and pretend I can sing like Pedro Infante
joke around like Tin-Tan
and dance like Cantinflas
and this makes being American hella fun.

Prayer to the corn moon
By César de León

For the milk-toothed
Summoned by a river current
Called mother

For the star children stolen
Beneath a canopy
Of chicharra lullabies

On this land of crucibles
An offering
of monarch butterfly wings

resurrection swirling
Up up up

Into the purple
ink of dawn

A remolino

Betty Sánchez, Arnoldo Garcia, Donny Jackson, Paul Aponte, César de León
Versos a mi madre Por Betty Sánchez
Warless Moon By Arnoldo Garcia
a national anthem By Donny Jackson
Prayer to the corn moon By César de León

Norma Beatriz Sánchez, poeta mexicana. Miembro activo del grupo literario Escritores del Nuevo Sol desde 2003. Finalista del concurso de poesía en español, Colectivo Verso Activo. Sus poemas se han publicado en las antologías Voces y Cuentos del Nuevo Sol, The Border Crossed Us, Poesía en Vuelo, Soñadores; Mujeres de Maíz Zine 10 y 13, y St. Sucia, VI edición, así como en La Palabra, y Poetas Respondiendo a la la Ley SB1070.

Arnoldo García is from deep south Texas and resides in Oakland, California, where he works for the public schools restorative justice initiative. He also has developed a music-poetry project called Azlant, in homage to a future non-Aztlán Aztlán, combining two guitarists, a bassist and percussion's performing blues, jazz and spoken word and vocals based in social justice and communities of color. You can build the movement against war and racism by getting a copy of Poets against War & Racism | Poetas contra la guerra y el racismo here: https://artofthecommune.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/new-chapbook-poets-against-war-racism-poetas-contra-la-guerra-y-el-racism/

Dr. Donny Jackson is a lifelong poet, clinical psychologist, and Emmy-winning producer in documentary television.

Paul Aponte is a Chicano Poet from Sacramento. He is a member of the writers groups "Círculo" and "Escritores Del Nuevo Sol" (Writers Of The New Sun). He has been published in El Tecolote Press Anthology "Poetry in flight", in the Anthology "Soñadores - We Came To Dream", and in the "Los Angeles Review Volume 20 - Fall 2016". He was also the editor's choice in the online journal "Convergence", and was published in Escritores del Nuevo Sol / Writers of the New Sun: Anthology. This new book includes an Escritores historical perspective by JoAnn Anglin, a forward by Lucha Corpi, many great writers/poets, and several poems by and also honoring one of its founders Francisco X. Alarcón.

César L. De León is a poet-organizer for Resistencia: Poets Against Walls and a member of the Chocholichex Writers Collective. His work appears in journals like Pilgrimage, The Acentos Review, La Bloga and the anthologies Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands and Texas Weather, among others.

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