Thursday, October 20, 2005

BACK! "Welcome Home!" Lorna Dee Cervantes Back From DRIVE Debut

*listening to the creak in the opening of Bonnie Raitt's "I Will Not Be Broken" - "What is living/ If I can't live free?/ What is freedom/ If I can't be me?" "But I know/ where I will not be going."

. . . which used to be the Rainbow Gathering saying y biénvenidos: WELCOME HOME! (Sister! Brother! Tía! Tío! Grandma! Abuelo! Cousin! Little Sister! Little Brother!) Still works for me. Can you say Uncle? Home, to the Homeless, is what you create. Who you feed. And who feeds you. A true tribe. And forget the whom, Hume.

TRiBE. The Tribune of the day, I guess. What can I say? A fantastic fantasmagorical first whirlwind premier debut of DRIVE. The First Quartet. The first 25 years of my adult life -- all assembled en masse and fact y símbolo, all together altogether too much sharing the same hall in San Antó, por ejemplo. It's one thing to recognize, as La Bernice so aptly put it years ago: "You insult me/ when you call me schizophrenic./ My divisions/ are infinite." It's another noun to see it all assembled in the finite flesh.

Yup. Maybe waxing poetic here, too, thinking of SMiLEy's smiley face looking like it looked all fresh-faced mugging on the stage which was sometimes nothing more than the pave or a driveway or in the cleared rubble of some parking lot those 25-30 odd years ago -- always some mural being painted on a reclaimed wall, a Centro de la Gente to carve out of air, always a heart with a cord to strum. Teatro Campesino in our blood and saving. The ones who looked around. And could SMiLE. Wouldn't it be nice?

What would the New World Order be if not for Chicana/Chicano Deadheads in the cultural trenches? Fíjate, we created that, carved out a space that resembled more a grinning Juán-o-Lantern. And, we set our own candle in the hollow. And we blew our own hollow reed and túmba. Snuffed out the candle of another realtime war. How would 1968 have played without our agency, our interpretation, our hand in the tongue translation? Who would have danced without our street-poet invitations? Huh? Like hummingbirds, we were a bridge to the Dead. Our dead were slain. Some of theirs were glorified. There was a theirs and nothing much was ours. We played out and played it out.

Bettina Martínez attended the presentation debut. Híjole! Whatever I could say I tried to say in signing the books. Bryce had them laid out on the Trinity apartment table, looking like a clerk scene from Kafka, the piled stacks of black & white in order of those who might be closest. $100+ donors first. Some surprises in the bunch. "O, that's sweet!" says Bryce. "Sterling! I know who he is and I'm honored." Then on to the stack on my right. The first one brings out the request for tissues. I cry tears like stitches. The widow of Irving Norman, the cover artist. This is where I got on this bus. Bound for Poetry. Or bust.

"Sheesh, Bryce! What are you trying to do to me!" "I told you these were people you would know." raúlsalinas was next. something about the FreeWay and the Other side. Carmen Tafolla "for first teaching me how to get my tortillas together." (the well begins again) Joy -- for Joy, "for those two shy girls and the butterflies they've become." Angela & Moises, those hands and heart, her wit and mind and strength, the path they constructed with the patterns of our in-pressed hands, constructing a path by walking. Laughing, Bryce brings me handfulls of tissues. The box. Reads books: "O, that's nice. That's sweet!" over and over. "That's true." I repeat. "I always cry in the face of the Truth. It has nothing to do with sadness. I'm happy!"

Thank you to all who attended all places, in fact or Spirit. Thank you Norma Cantú, Sister, and Sister Spirit Juanita Luna Lawhn with whom I am always at home. Anne and her class at UT Austin, sister Word Womyn at Word Women peddling all of my spiritual advisors and potential judges. Carnalita Sandra, "bién mona" in sharp shoes, bién bagged "just for the occasion" leading the yuks in the kitchen. Antonia Castaneda, my ever-guiding light through the shoals of a literary and academic life lived obstinately well. My Bless Me, Antonia, since 8th grade in San José. Sonia Sánchez, fellow word-warrior. Graciela. Others who resist the othering. The young girl, 8-11 who shook my hand afterwards. There was a special light in her face. "You write poetry?" No, she answers and so I wait. "Well. . ., sometimes." "Ah! Maybe you'll go home and write a poem." "Maybe. Yes, I think so." I was thankful for meeting her/ (you?) You brought a light. Thank you to Juán Rodríguez, for the many times those first fistful of 25 years I asked myself, "Is this tough enough for Juán?" And thank you, ever so much, to Arturo Madrid at Trinity University for making Texas possible. Thanks to the students, Anne Martínez's US border history class at UT-Austin, Arturo's and, especially to Norma Cantú's exceptional graduate literature seminar students for a stimulating and too short discussion. I am still talking with all of you in my head. May those 30 minutes span out into sometime soon. Thank you to Norma Alarcón who was there as she is always right there giving us some knowledge in which to aspire. In spire. And not the gyre.

And, Reyes Cardenas, whom I met for the first time although we are old friends of the same tribe for more than 25 years. Gazed upon from afar, listened to, heeded from the Other side of that designated FreeWay exchange of language and geography, but same tribe, same pot of frijoles, same olla, same onda. We are class mates. It was an honor to finally be the coco in front of one of the trees.

And really nice to make new friends in Texas and Washington. I really enjoyed meeting "blog buddy" Ernesto Priego, Chilango heavy, ese hombre tiene mente increíble. No, hombre, this guy's the real thing. He was delivering his paper for the International Comics and Graphic Novelists Congreso, or some titled conference at the Library of Congress. (Read his blog, for an account of his distraction by the Capitol skyline outside his 4th floor window while delivering his paper and thinking of the niño within hording comic books and poetry from the dangers of the streets outside his room. He brought his copy of Emplumada for me to sign at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. And, get this: I just get home and find that he has spot-translated 2 of my poems from the book STUNNINGLY! As only a fine poet with a fine mind could. I am particularly moved and (I'll say it!) grateful as my poetry is the least translated of all the, what I call, Chicanao or "Latina & Latino" writers. I refuse to murder our indigenous souls of ancestors again by referring to myself as an "His panic". (Oops, that must be some flaw in the spell-check. I'll go back and correct it at a later date., maybe never.) But I know the work would be, as my granma would put it, "pert near impossible," but as she also said everyday, "There's no such word as can't." And, not all languages die out.

Thank you to Carmen (!!) from DC Poets Against the War and her compañero -- who knows why we form the connections we do in the places they form -- this afternoon when my beloved Isla is getting slammed at this moment by yet another hurricane. I HATE HURRICANES!! I will be spending the rest of my time glued to the noaa-hc site, humming the moog break from Good Vibrations and dreaming of dissipating energies, a harmony of oppossing forces in the spontaneous dance of form and function, of Wilma in the calm dawn and trembling dusk subsiding, not exactly praying: giving love and thanks to water.

Gracias a Bettina Martínez, La Híjole!

And thanks to Tony Burciaga, for being there, as he always is, now that his Spirit is no longer bound to the strictures of word and form; He's helping me. And, laughing about it constantly.

Love and thanks to you, Dear Reader, with me in the wail. For as any True Tribe member knows, the Dead are always one long jam. Feel free to join in at any time, or just spin. See you on the Day of the Dead. All three of them. Gracias a la vida. Yours. Take an invitation to join me in the next quartet.

* B. Raitt now signing off with "I could be recognized/ (or I could just stay in bed) Here's to her Sweet and Truth-Welfare.

~ La Bird desde el monte <-- seeing you soon on your blog


Blogger Eduardo C. Corral said...

Ay Lorna! Qué emoción!

I'm so happy things went so well for the debut of your book(s).


20/10/05 18:58  
Blogger Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Gracias Eduardo. I was just talking of you and endless cornfields in the middle of the night. You know how hard it is to explain to someone what it is that we devote our impoverished lives to: poetry. Especially if that someone is a much longed for potential significant other. My Intimate Other, then a Training Manager for a major financial firm, after having witnessed his first LD performance, was told: "Now you know what it is I do for a living: I'm a professional emoter."

Show me yours, I'll give you mine.

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

20/10/05 23:34  
Blogger Muse said...


Thank you so much for coming to San Antonio. I was the woman at the end from Professor Rodriguez's class. I ask you about the poem "Summer Ends Too Soon". Thank you for taking the time to tell me about the poem. You are an inspiration. I have never been move as much as I was listening to you read. Good Luck and be well!

21/10/05 11:53  

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