Wednesday, March 23, 2005

On Judgement, Submission & Discovery, For Eduardo Asleep Inside An Old Guitar

I just posted this to Eduardo's Blog, Asleep Inside an Old Guitar (sorry, I'm still getting the hang of drivin this thang, you'll have to corner him in La Cocina until I learn a quicker way of linking). I got a little carried away in my response to his question: Which 1st book competition is the most prestigious? And, which 3, if it had to be 3, would you choose? He has also just discovered that he has been "Discovered." (hey, ese, hasn't that been done? man, that's SO Old World) ;-) *Lynx promises emoticons to come*

I'll be leaving for SF tomorrow morning and there for the week, returning to CO on the 29th for a Celebration of Women Poets in Pueblo, then back to SF with a reading for PEN then at Cody's (premiere of the new books!) 4/16-17. I was hoping to post my schedule (BIG debut performance/reading from the hardbound DRIVE: The First Quartet: 5 books in 1, like a lit-pentych in a semi-permanent gallery showing, at The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Wash., DC this Oct; Dia de la Raza, forthcoming publication date!) to this site but I still haven't figured out how to post the block of text to this template. And now, with my father's illness, I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do on the blog. So, at some point, I'll probably just post my schedule as a blog entry & deal with it later. I'm in the middle of designing my new website & homepage. TechnoMensa Question #1: Anybody know how to bend a double-rainbow for a page? I'll also be updating my links, all by hand at the moment...but that's the way I like it. Uh-huh! Uh-huh! I like it.

Peace on. Poetry on. All.


& ps: Now that I'm on leave & on sabbatical next fall, now that my stomach is healing & my son is ten, I'll be traveling again & accepting reading offers. I'll also be touring & recording with my brother—maybe a band called Cervantes? Just so's I can call the first cd "Rozinante". Have Poems! Will Travel! (is that a registered trademark?) Love on~L
Lorna Dee Cervantes said... (Lorna Dice...)

Hey Eduardo, Congrats again! You will love being a poet in New York. If it's the same one I'm thinking of, watch the polished incline going through the door into the 2nd floor lounge (best feature!). I once sprained my ankle really badly one morning, not noticing that it was there, & lost a whole day of museum & gallery hopping.

Why three? Why not submit to all (hey, there are times it works in life—if not, love). And, speaking of love, perhaps you are asking the wrong question? Kinda like asking "Which one should I marry?" insteada "Who do I love?" Some deadlines are staggered, for just that purpose, that is, avoiding simultaneous submissions while poets wait for the "better deal" to happen, highly unethical IMO. But, now that I know your work, I predict you will be faced with the delicious dilemma of multiple wins, in which case the matter would be contractual, i.e., they'll tell you what to do. Such a problem one shoud have.

But perhaps the concern is financial--it gets dang expensive paying copying, mailing & fee costs per competition (ain't that also for horses?). In many ways, "First thought, best thought," go with your original 3. I, also, agree with C. Dale's suggestions. He's right: "it all depends on the press." Which press publishes the poets you love? Are those editors still there? Pit is a plum (yes, my bias) because they love the poets they publish and, most importantly, will keep them in print. Besides, there was Ed Ochester, responsible for planting the tree. But that wasn't the sole (soul) reason I sent my first manuscript there, and only there, it was the quality of the poets in the series, Greg Pape, in particular. I felt an *affinity* with the press & poetic. And, consider the judges, if they have been announced. Ask, "What poets & publishers do I feel an affinity with?" as in Goethe's Elective Affinities. Not, who do I lust for? (there's a time & place for everything!) I'd also consider NPS, but that's another bias as a poet/publsher who remembers the day. I like to support the idea of it, and I, for one, always pay close attention to who's winning & who's judging since thay always tend to be excellent books which go on to win other awards. But, it depends on the press, which like any living entity has ups & downs, fluctuations, divorces & marriages, and deaths.

About judges & judging & comps in general: I have a post I've been writing in my head: "Silliman & Sukenik; Or, On Jockeys From the Mule's Mouth." I'm in the middle of judging something right now (a small local contest, so nobody freak out) and right after I got through saying that I didn't believe in competitions for poetry, especially at the school level, I opened all the envelopes, read all the submissions, and, just as my grandma always told me: The proof is in the pudding. Great poems, great books, blow the top of your head off, as Emily noted (who was always good for an orgasmic metaphor.) I ended up reading aloud the winning poems in each category to my partner at the breakfast table just for the delight in tasting their sounds in my mouth. I'll go back & read the stacks through a couple of more times but I know that I have already picked the winners in all 4 levels, I went through about half a ream of paper in less than an hour.

Consider the judge (not, who you know! which can sometimes work against you) I don't know how other people judge, but I take it very, very seriously: The best, just the best, and nothing but the best—so help me, Prejudice. And, the best pops out at you with more pizzazz than Hunter's mushroom double-thumbed cannon, even after reading 300+ manuscripts. And, even if the press ignores you, in the case of NPS, a good judge will not, and you can bet she'll be singing your praises to any and all, long after that book & your subsequent books are published. I haven't judged any 1st book competitions, but I have judged enough "Best books" & sat on enough grant panels, and one thing that always stands out are the poets you discover, poets who feed your own Muse. I'm thinking of Cyrus Cassells, in particular, a poet I didn't know from Batman. His book was one of the last I read from I-never-like-to-count -so-I-don't-want-to-know -how-many-hundreds of books I had to read for that one (the Williams). And, I confess, since it wasn't a blind competition, I made piles of the books based on which poets I wanted to read first & figured would be in the top five; eg., "Oh boy! Here's Ignatow's collected poems!" Cyrus's title seemed a bit much (Soul Make a Path Through Shouting) so it was in the last pile. Man, soon I as I read the first line, first poem—Ah, here She is, Poetry! Quarter of the way through I knew I had the winning book. And, point is (sorry for the length! I'm still new to the conditions of this Blogosphere), that was years ago, and I've never met him but he will, forevermore, be an important poet in my life & work, and I go on like this about his poetry—and that *book*— whenever I get the chance, and certainly, whenever it matter$.

For, prestige, what is prestige? Aw, but a book....

write it. And know. Sometimes the right opportunity occurs at the right time because certain books & certain poems just have to be. But that's just another one of my corny theories. And, as Levine says & I like to phrase it: Failure, in poetry, is integral to the process.

But, uh, just try to explain that one to your abuelita when she asks how much money you made off of poetry this year. ;-)

Disfrútale! You deserve it. (and, take deep breaths)

Lorna Dee

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

March 21, 2005

Talked to my brother last night. Talked to my father. I just learned that my father has advanced stomach cancer which has spread to his liver.

I will be flying home soon.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Dead Redux—Or Re-Membering ronnie burk

"The reading goes on a long time. I'm remembering Ronnie, again, the way I am always remembering Ronnie. Remembering him waiting to read at the Floricanto in 'Burque ('76?), holding his hand & willing my strength into his body that is so much like a mirror of my own. Remembering Ronnie reading real poetry. Remembering Ronnie Burk singing Billie into the icy night to calm him down after being locked out on the balcony all night in his underwear by the FFCL (Founding Fathers of Chicano Literature) for being joto. Remembering Ronnie, the only person I ever sang in front of, singing every Billie Holliday song we knew, which was in the fifties, just to calm him down, just to pass her strength. Just for the word. To be.", March 15, 2005

Worst reading I ever gave, besides one of the first (74?) with Jose Montoya & Lalo, and Tony, formerly known to me as Thee José Antonio Burciaga, was a few years back at the Taos Poetry Circus. Yowza. Don't buy that tape. Too bad Glennis Redmond Sherer had to share in that. Bad night. Bad year. Bad life. Bad drive there in the car with a love who was with a love who wasn't there. Nothing but me & the dead & Dougie ("You singing land...") all the way there, bagpipes & didgeridoos & bad vibes unaired all the way to D.H. Lawrence's grave mount, which we didn't stop at. No time to rest before the reading. No time to shower, eat, which I can't do before a reading anyway. I was prepared to honor the dead, beginning with the poem to Ed (that strange, all-night talkfest, the talking we never did in real life) and ending with "Coffee" with its list of the dead droning through the mass—the list I lifted from the action email after hearing Tony Burciaga's voice, clear as day: "LOOORRRN-NAH DEEEEE!" long, drawn out in his BEST TEXAN accent, and I did, and knew. He was there. Right there at the desk. How clearly I could see his smiling cara in my mind's heart, Tony, dressed in his poet-priest outfit like he had the day we recorded the Seis Poetas video chanting "ruega por nosotros...". And I cried. I cut & pasted & read & cried because I knew then I could finish the poem, that Tony would help me finish the poem. And he did. And, who could I ever tell this to?

I wanted to honor the dead. I wanted this blog to have none of me & all of the Dead (Jerry Garcia notwithstanding). I wanted it to begin at the beginning, so to speak, with the Beuys poem, a real love sonnet, 1st & only. 1st real flesh crush (Lord George as Childe Harold notwithstanding) when I read about the Crazy Coyote locked up with All the News That's Fit to Print in a NY gallery, some homage to the extinguished Red Man, some art that wasn't protest for the end of the Viet Nam War, some breaking silence: Beuys wrapped up in news like a drunk Indian in the Tenderloin, some coyote pissing on the artifact. I got it. Besides, he was cute. And gave free classes. And he knew how to honor the dead, understood/understands how love leaves a trace more traceable than our beliefs and their trampas sin salidas (allusion to Luis Valdez, no relation to Juan). First thought, best thought, I was taught to say. I blame JR for talking me out of reading Coffee ("Too heavy") & reading from one the new books, PLAY, but it's not true. I blame me. For what I didn't say. What I wouldn't say. For not trusting the Dead enough to stay in the moment of life. For thinking. For not being *there* — there was something i was supposed to do and I didn't do it. As Peter Coyote put it, I "blew it." Amen.

It strikes me, the week I begin this blog, how few scholars cite revenge as being a major motivator of the Muse. ¿Qué no?

ronnie burk poem from his first chapbook, En el jardín de nopales, published by Mango Publications in '79:

i'm the barnacle
on your conch shell

i scream, i hate you.
c 1979 MANGO

The last word. How much of his last work was the work of the barnacle on our perfect, mythological concha, slow for its relevance to take. How much of his last work, his Act Up! work was ronnie at his best, was ronnie AppelSemilla. How much of a barnacle he and his loves were to FFCL and the crits who came out of the would-work to stuff the remains after checking to see that we were anatomically correct with our papers de México & our stinkin' badges of merit in the academium. He didn't fit the pose. Didn't fit the fur. Didn't fit the glass eyes of his last name. Didn't fit in the Fit-In suburbia of mediocrity. He was proof of the truth, least of all, the truth that Mexicans could be gay too, the greater truth, that those FFCL were gay, too. Or, some kind of stop-off at ye ole taco shop, and they breathe sighs of relief in their graves & in their beds & beads that this host-tess is not into outing. re-membering ronnie, all the huevos estrellados in his too-short life. Por vida. No masculate to de-mask. ronnie was real. ronnie was a real poet. How I knew it then, must have been, I figured, Who but a poet could sing every song Billie ever recorded all the way through? A good poet.

I'd been feeling that hand clasp for months now, some knocking on the mind, some buzzard cutting through the jazz in the bathtub. ronnie, holding my hand, passing my strength (heck, I had some to spare, "All I ever had was strength...") and ronnie, later, saying I saved his life, I kept him in his body he so wanted to leave that weekend of flower and song (the only things we humans pass) and solidarity. La Canción y Grito de Mi Liberación. I remember Joy in the same breath, same frame, a shy girl, excruciatingly so, you'd never know it. Like me. Then. "Buddy, you'd never know it/ But I'm kind of a poet/ And I gotta lotta things/ To say...".) Joy, singing (there's no other word to say this) "She Had Some Horses," maybe for the first time. Native solidarity. Life changing moments of song. It made the readings longer. And longer. Everyone taking their time. Ricardo bullying the mike but always reading last. It was about 1:30 in the morning by the time ronnie went on. He was supposed to read earlier, but kept getting bumped down the program. ("Ronnie Burk? What kind of Chicano name is that?") ronnie dressed in a white shirt with poofy, Lord Byron, sleeves reading real poetry, while the Bards of Barter banter it up at the bar. Was anyone listening? The poets were.

ronnie published poems in Caracól, Cecilio, too real not to see & hear. The others? They couldn't help but to follow suit.

i may not be Cantinflas tellin a joke with his face
or Charlie Chaplin pantomiming the death of a dictator
but i can whisper in your ear

........................................razor blades

....................................................silver daggers

.........................................& crystal beads

i can spit out a plague of lizards

.............................(army i utilize

..............................when the moon


.............................. to pull my hair out)

wait a minute officers
and let me tell you
about the things
that nest
in my pockets

and then you can load your pistols

~ronnie burk
from En el jardín de nopales
1979 MANGO

ronnie's poem doesn't obey the margins in this form
only way to express this is the empty dotted line
an unsigned (unsent) contract

And ronnie gets the last word: his poems, his collages (his best work), his incredible letters are all collected in the boxes of our deaths: I first notice him in Allen's papers at Stanford where he has his own acid-proof box & an index number. Now, in Maddox Ford, Burroughs, even Ricardo Sanchez's box. And, we don't claim him. ronnie would be pleased to read his obituary: Ronnie Burk, *surrealist poet* and activist. He's in the collections of the living, as well: DiPrima (La 'Prema) y Baraka. I would love to edit a collection of his letters. I would love for ronnie's letters to live on.

I loved ronnie. Not just because I loved his poetry. I loved the way he first brought me to In lak Ek, or, as the poet Rumi wrote it translated through the wonderful poet, Coleman Barks: "I see my beauty in you." "You are my other I."

To be. Or, not to be. It was never our question. But the answer was always thrust upon us, thrust us, we, wild injuns, that is. The ones with the wrong hair & hefty vocabularies. The fines we paid through the mouth for the right of telling the truth. A truth that was bent on being shamed out of us. The real we were denied the knowledge of, but knew, we, heroes of the New World & veterans of the war on culture—our own—in all its prismata and, subsequent, Culture Wars. ronnie, wrapped in the scofflaws of Taurus rule, could reference with the best while discussing Brecht's poetry versus his Theater of the Real & Artaud's Theater of the Absurd in relation to Teatro Campesino's El Mundo Sin Fin with its underlying Cantinflajadas and all the while expounding on the virtues of the right way to put on a pot of frijoles in order to make the best chalupas (ronnie, like most real poets, was a great cook) after he told you the entire history, virtual & etymological, of chalupas including the finer points such as at which point is a chalupa a haurache? And, he could pronounce the French and had his own mantra in Maya he used to get through the Day of the Dead. This last part I make up because it's closer to the truth than what I dis-remember about this major, influential, Chicano poet.

ronnie would know the label is ironic, as all labels are rendered, eventually, with the embossed stamp of our graves. Another thing I loved about ronnie. He spoke Irony. Celan—'All poets are Jewish"—unless they're gay, and speak Spanish or some other sintax (sic).

This blog gets blogged down in the Derridadaing stammer. I notice that Alivianate el Coco has put ronnie in The Hall of Fame. Ronnie? Dead? I remember him so often its as if he's here, and it hasn't been so many years since I was last *home* & last sleeping on his couch in some decaying Victorian flat. I don't know that he has died, but I know, too, that he was living with a "terminal illness" which I thought of, re-membering, every time our potential (I type "poetential") MFA gets discussed and I think of the term, "terminal degree" as in, what if ronnie had had a terminal degree? Would he look good in tweed?

I had been writing an entry in my head, refining it, the first prose that was to appear was to be a post, "remembering ronnie," which began, bogged down, with a remark about not misunderstanding the title, I don't think ronnie has died. But he did. The day, 2 years earlier, I am to write his entry, March 12, after the post about my mother's murder written on her birthday. March 12, Xochipilli's Feast. The orginal chalupa.

There are so many belated elegies to write...

*"Eeez not impossible.../ Eeez not impossible.../ Eeez not impossible..."

*take a slideshow interlude:
  • "The Dead"
  • or
  • "How Much is that Rainbow in the Window?"
  • Sunday, March 20, 2005

    "Sangre: petrol negro de la raza 'humado—una decima por la paz"

    Sangre: petról negro de la raza ’humado
    – una décima por la paz

    por E.V.

    Lo que pasó en el Templo
    Del Petról pasa por todo
    Todos encantados, todos
    Borachos del Otro – todo

    Para nada, para nadie.
    Por la paz el otro lado,
    Camino del Oro: todo
    para todo. Nada para

    Uno, lo poco con montón
    De todo: la sangre, aves
    Muertos de la pobreza, la
    Sombra del alma, la raza,

    Hueso quebrado, el hueso
    Desnudo del deseo, el
    Hueso seco del testigo –
    Mano al aire vacio

    Y lleno de saludos por
    Vida. Mira. Todo que es!
    Todo que está quemando!
    Y quebrando como tantos

    Corazones. Oyé! Tú
    Con la mano de carne y
    Carnalismo: Ábralo, ya
    Tocas en la guitarra de
    Resisténcia, el poder
    De todo. Poder de nada.
    Poder de zéro. Poder del
    Agua gota a gota y

    Lado a lado, mano a
    ‘’Mano, ‘’Mano. Aman los que
    No aman nada. Cómprala
    Nada hecho por nada mas

    Que el hambre y los golpes
    De la desperación o
    Las gotitas de cerebros
    Lluviando por las calles y

    Ventanas negras, espejos
    Pequeños de los niños del
    Calle como uranium
    “Depleted.” Deleted in this

    Final chapter called Hope—woven
    Basket de la Esperanza,
    Tejido de Amor, Contra-
    Comprador, de raíz y ¡No!

    c Lorna Dee Cervantes
    desde How Far's the War?
    Book 1—Drive: The First Quartet

    "Blood: Black Burned Oil of the Race" (a decima for peace)

    Blood: Black Burned Oil of the Race
    – a “décima” for peace

    for E.V.

    That which happened in the Temple
    Of Oil happens everywhere.
    All enchanted. All drunk from the
    Other – all for nothing, for
    No one. For peace – the other side,
    Way of Gold: all for all. Nothing
    For one, the few with mountains of
    Everything: the blood; birds, dead from
    The poverty; the shadow of
    Soul; the race, a burned bone, the bone

    Stripped of desire, the bone dry
    From witness; hand in the empty
    Air and full of salutations
    For life. Look. All that is! All that is
    Burning! And breaking like so many
    Hearts. Listen! You with the fist of
    Flesh and Brotherhood. Open it,
    Already you play the guitar of
    Resistence, the power of all.
    Power of nothing. Power of zero.

    Power of the water drop by
    Drop and side by side, hand to fist
    To Sister, Brother. They love those
    That love nothing. Buy it! Nothing
    Made from nothing more than hunger
    And the blows of desperation
    Or the wee drops of brains raining
    On the streets and black windows,
    Small mirrors from the street children
    like depleted uranium

    Deleted in this final Book
    Of Hope – basket of hope, woven
    Weaving of love, Contra-Buyer,
    Of root and “NO!”

    c Lorna Dee Cervantes
    from How Far's the War
    Book I in Drive: The First Quartet

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Some Titles for Future Blogs (in order of appearance)

    re-membering ronnie

    The Death Angel Resides

    Is It Work, Or Is It Memorex? Or, If Proust Were On Disability Would There Be Any Remembrance of Things Past?

    Beneath the Shadow of the Adaptation

    Beneath the Shadow of Interpretation; Or, 'Linger Thus, Forevermore"

    Blog for the Young White Man Who Wants to Ask Me How I, An Intelligent, Well-read Person, Could Believe In the Love Between Peoples (But Never Knew How to Ask)

    You Are What You Speak; Or, Punctuate This!

    "Chicano Power!" Translates As "The Creative Class;" Or, Los Us Are Them

    A Quick Wok Around the Blog

    Silliman & Sukenik; Or, On Jockeys From the Mule's Mouth

    My Search for Sandra

    Current Favorite Poem As Soundtrack: Orlando Ramirez—"Being a Chicano bores me..."

    I Was Crazy Before I Was Chicano

    Being a Chicano bores me
    It's like getting stuck in the outfield
    for five straight innings
    without a beer.

    Like I said, I was crazy
    before I was Chicano.
    Now I know nothing has changed.

    My friend says that
    pretty soon they're going to outlaw
    What am I going to do?
    Chicanos have already made an outlaw
    out of me.

    Having always been
    at the free-throw-line of life,
    the pressures are just the same
    when it's your raza
    who are shouting at you to miss.

    c Orlando Ramírez
    Mango, Vol. 1, Num. 1, 1976

    Gaughan—"World Turned Upside Down" for St. Paddy's Day

    I used to own a button I bought at a small press bookfair back in the day when we weren't ashamed to call ourselves such. "Blues European" it read. It was a foto of the Queen of England printed in green on a background of green bubbles, a collage out of old mags or something. I loved it. And, it was the only green I owned. It was a button I had to explain. "Uh, Blues know, colonizers of the Celtic Isles...". Its green was fading to ripe lime, then blue for real. I've lost it in the moves. And green is not a color that goes good with my skin.

    Here's a link to my favorite song from my favorite troubador, Dick Gaughan, that you can download.
  • Gaughan songs @Amazon
  • It's also called The Diggers Song because it was a letter to the "Editor" written centuries ago and set to music, I think, by Leon Rosselson: The World Turned Upside Down. Since I can't find a link to hear it, here's a link to the story, the words, and chords:
  • The World Turned Upside Down: The Diggers

  • And, here's a link to Dick Gaughan's site:
  • Dick Gaughan's old site

  • Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's to driving out the Snakes.

    "This earth was made a common treasury for all."


    A Dance In The Surf—Gilberto Gil, "I Don't Want to Wait In Vain" from Mangos&Mandolins

    It's impossible to teach a cat to say "Fetch!" But, if she loves you, she can learn to "Dance!"


    Here's a Romantics interlude I found on Blogspot just now:
  • Waiting In Vain

  • from
  • Mangos & Mandolins
  • (Quicktime MP3)

    "Don't talk to me
    Like you think I'm dumb."

    "In life, I know,
    There is lots of grief.
    But your love
    Is my relief.

    Tears in my eyes burn.
    Tears in my eyes burn
    While I'm waiting for my turn.

    I don't want to wait in vain...".

    ~Bob Marley

    Antanagoge, Dirimens Copulatio, and Catachretic Irony

    Subject: Re: rhetoric question
    Date: March 8, 2005 2:29:48 PM MST

    Lorna, Brilliant, and this comes from someone who has actually read--if "read" is what one does here--Quintilian's Institutes, but who could not have answered M's question. Cheers, P

    On Mar 4, 2005, at 9:20 PM, MW wrote:

    Dear Colleagues:
    I received the following question from a student the answer to which, I'm embarrassed to say, I don't know. Does anyone know what this rhetorical figure is called? If not, I'll just make something up.

    Hi, M
    here is the question:

    What is it called when, in a poem or essay, the author includes a dramatic
    switch form funny to depressing, or something of that sort? This rhetorical
    device is used often in performance poetry or essay's.

    so it's like this:


    What is that switch called? What this device does is create a dichotomy
    allowing for the latter of the emotional sections to be dramatically emphasized
    due its juxtaposition with the prior.

    Subject: Re: rhetoric question

    Antanagoge. Or Dirimens Copulatio. Or a combination of both spoken in irony (yes, a foreign language--I love that) and tripled for effect.

    Closest to what your student might be getting at can be found in the lyrics of Billie Holliday:

    "Oh my man, I love him so!
    He'll never know.
    All my life is just despair
    But I don't care."
    --Billie's Blues

    Used a lot in the playing of the "dozens."

    Does that help? Just off the top of my head.

    Poetics 101

    Lorna Dee

    Yeah. Too bad I'm not allowed to teach it. Too bad my Poetics course was cut from the books. Too bad this wasn't circulated to the faculty list from whence it originated. Too bad I don't answer as such. Too bad I don't get to talk Aristotle with the football team (catachretic irony & an inside joke). Too bad I'm not allowed to run grad poetry workshops with the students who come here to work with me. Too bad the only real intellectual stimulation I get is reading these blogs. Too bad collegial conversation is limited to my "colorful!" clothing & enchiladas. I tell T that first day On the Blog when he asks, gently, if I've been working on the books (deadline: April Fools!), "I read real poetry today! I feel like I was walking around (allusion to Neruda) & someone's kitchen door was open & I couldn't help but hear the music and catch the conversation, I just couldn't help but walk right in." Later, I tell him I had just read the most amazing poem my first time out blog-rolling when I clicked on a link on Eduardo's blog, "Avoiding the Muse." "How could I resist that name?" I tell him, "How can I resist avoiding the muse? Some people wash dishes. But it's ironic. There the muse resides." I tell him about C. Dale Young's poem, "Torn." "It's like I open a door & walk in & here She is! Poetry! She's back!" And he knows what I mean, that door that's hard to open because you know you won't want to leave the party and your son is begging to eat. There's fish to fry. It's hard to enter into that seamless timespace of poetry, that long journey out the other side of creating a *Book*—much less five.

    "How come I don't get this at school?"

    Too bad I finally get lobbed a ball I can actually hit. An easy one. I know it off the bat. It's got something to do with consciousness. And, getting -ucked.

    Catachretic irony. It doesn't seem to be the books. Not an Aristotlian concept. Not to be found in the Organum. Think about it. The best example yet. Are we laughing yet? I am. When a word means it's opposite & posited as "Truth." More than the Fool revealed to be the Wise. Like being asked (for the 3rd time in my case) to sign a loyalty oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Duh. I'm a public educator. And an Injun. (I'm dedicating my life to educating for Democracy when I could get rid of the carriage returns and write novels, that is, *real* "literature" for real money instead of teaching "rich white kids" for a third of Ward's salary.) Ever hear of the Iroquois Confederacy? Our "Founding Fathers" cut their political teeth on treaty negotiations with the Elders. Treaties that were never honored. The word "freedom" appears for the first time in the "History of the World" after an indigenous peoples' gathering in Paris before the Revolution. (Read The Federalist Papers) Freedom. A Native concept. Or, as a lover who lived as the Peoples lived 200 years ago said, "Freedom is standing right here, with nobody telling you, 'You can't stand here!'" Works for me. Catachretic irony: forcing my son to Pledge Allegiance to the *Flag* rather than the law of the land or The Bill of Rights. Catachretic irony: "One nation, under God" and we are the remnants of those wiped out for standing in the place of Not-God. "I Pledge Allegiance to the Cross & The Book." Or, suffer. Or, when Bacon praises the progress of Man as the "Rape of Nature" and Man rapes us, instead, the Native who stands, gonging forever on the reverberation of endless metonymic substitution: Nature=Beast=Savage ("salvages")=Indian=slave=Colored=Mexican=Arab..., et al. And woman is not Man, and Native Woman not "Mom" and apple pie. Native Woman=Not. Memetic, that is.

    Litost. As well. (Read Book of Laughter, Book of Forgetting by Milan Kundera.) There's the Laughter of the Angels. And there's the Devil's caCKLE.

    Rhetoric, the Signifying Monkey. The Poetry & Pedagogy of the Oppressed. A ferreting out The Rhetoric of the Signified.

    Ah! Mend!

    Ah, mend.

    A Men. (duh)


    "On Speaking to the Dead"

    On Speaking to the Dead

    Did you love them enough?
    Did you see the limned quartz
    of their eyes? Are they in
    their heavy beds? Is the sleeping
    beast you call your heart
    alive? They will eat
    the night. They will burrow
    out with spittle and tell tales
    in twitching sockets. It will last
    as long as paper or the cum
    cry of our living. Guilt.
    It's like this: an oratory
    of ants begins on the crested
    graves. The dutiful
    survive with grace, holding
    granite in their weighty
    mandibles. Lined like ants,
    the red and black surmise,
    orderly, filed, and eat
    the heart that ails them.

    c 1991 Lorna Dee Cervantes

  • From the Cables of Genocide: Poems On Love and Hunger

  • Arte Publico Press

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Raza Womyn, Lorna From the Blog, Can You Spell...?


    On the day I enter Blogville everyone's down with the flu. I fought the worst of it off with this homeopathic flu medicine I've been using, but am still sick for almost 2 weeks. Neither me or my son have it as bad a T who misses a week of work, a first for him. I should have force fed him the oscillo at the first sneeze. My first husband's mother died of the flu & I had an instant family at age 19 when I raised his little sister. I had a reading at CU, March 3, for "Semana de La Xicana," a yearly event I've missed out on for the past few years. My department or the program hasn't asked me to read in 15 years. My work with the students goes unnoticed. Unverified. I've never been one to self-promote. But now it's time for promotion, especially with these new books (finally!) in production, and I find myself being demoted—for lack of documentation & a proper filing system. (Isn't that how we lost California? My all-time favorite line is my brother's on the day we were learning the word "equity" in order to deal with my mother's insurance company: "We're the kind of people who lost California.") And we're still losing. For lack of documentation. Losing more than our equity. Our writers are passing with "1,000 masterpieces hanging only from" the mouse-shreds in the garage. Our dissertations Piled Higher & Deeper esconced in cartón. Old fotos shuffled from box to box. Audio tapes decomposing in the basement. The theater where I read in is haunted by a young girl who was brutally raped and murdered in the belfry, a cellist who was there for the acoustics, a student, alone & practicing her art. At least, that's what the papers said. All I know is that the students used to love reading there, a good place for poetry, filled with listening spirits. And P. told them, after taking over the series, "You don't deserve Old Main." Pity. We could all use more pity. And poetry. Open Mikes like the one the Raza Womyn host. (archangels?)

    A woman from the audience shouts out, "Maybe you ought to tell us about 'Semana de La Xicana.' What is it? How did it start?" I realize that all are at a loss for words, for local history, for the real Chisme. For the Comadres. For Truth. "Well," says the student organizer, "Gloria Anzaldúa was here." "¡Y presente!" I want to shout out. Maybe I do. But it's enough. "She was here." End of hisstory. Beginning of Borderlands. Her Story. I remember when I first got to this place beneath the shadow of the Flatirons, I found an announcement for the WAC that past spring that Sir Steven Spender was reading. I heard him later, while I was visiting scholar in Houston, an odd swipe around the spiral, a wonderful reading, a refueling of those childhood chants; I was enchanted, down to my grey mater, even with the Sir. It all spelled out, every syllable. Later, after he passed, they had a panel, one of the few featuring poets before Joe Ritchie got involved, entitled simply "He Was Here" and was mostly people assembled remembering or not remembering that "He Was Here." Like that.

    I was not there when Gloria Was Here, I was in Houston, being a Colored Girl.

    And there, that night, I was refueled. Glad to have my voice back. Glad with that snatched-back-from-grave kinda wellness. Glad with Comadres glad. "I'm So Glad/ I Don't Know What to Do" Memphis Minnie glad. Glad to "Set right here with my ole time pals/ And swap a few words" glad. Memphis Minnie glad listening to poetry. The reading goes on a long time. I'm remembering Ronnie, again, the way I am always remembering Ronnie. Remembering him waiting to read at the Floricanto in 'Burque ('76?), holding his hand & willing my strength into his body that is so much like a mirror of my own. Remembering Ronnie reading real poetry. Remembering Ronnie Burk singing Billie into the icy night to calm him down after being locked out on the balcony all night in his underwear by the FFCL (Founding Fathers of Chicano Literature) for being joto. Remembering Ronnie, the only person I ever sang in front of, singing every Billie Holliday song we knew, which was in the fifties, just to calm him down, just to pass her strength. Just for the word. To be.

    Been living by the calendar these days. Been sick. I think of that cartoon character, who was it? says, "Ugh, I bin sick." Bin Sic. Bin Spik. Ad metonomy. Ad nauseum. (note to HotLynx: insert vomiting smiley-face emoticon here) Been living off my Franklin Planner. Reconstructing my days on the move in 2003, 4 moves in one year, four separate home offices (where I work, besides when I'm under the trees or before the bounty of the sea) not counting my Office that was moved that summer unbeknownst to me. Jeez. All the unopened boxes. All the silly stones & shells & what-nots dusted & redusted. I have to get organized. I have to document my "activities" for a year I wish would die a natural death. That fall, Bin Spik is down to 82 lbs. I have small, undernourished bones. More like a foto of someone from the Camp than Twiggy. People look away. It's scary. That spring I imagine seeing Ronnie again in SF after José Montoya's Floricanto. I'm too sick to do anything but kneel at the foot of the White Goddess (which in my house is an early 70s 'Sun Harvest' yellow, an appropriate color), too sick for the phone, too sick to cancel, not wanting to cancel, wanting to show up after all and read "Puerto Rican Obituary" for Pedro who had died, for me. Too sick to cancel class, figuring all would read about it in the obituary. Too sick to want to risk flying alone after spending a night in ER in NYC while doing the Online Poetry Classroom. Not good. But getting released next morning in time to hear Eleni. Very good. Getting healed by a poem. Oughta be in the phonebook, between 'plumbing' and 'poultry.' In the belfry? Beats being beaten in a belfry, though. Every time.

    Everytime I open my Franklin planner (note to Lynx: insert F-C link) the Goddesses speak: "We see things as we are not as they are." ~Jennifer Stone. Thus spake VeriTrustUs, Poetry, on March 9 when I open it to scribble my vital links design for my new website. And this blog. My copy of this year's filler is missing the meditations, that is, the guiding principles, the Monthly Focus, so I write them down in my hand every month. January begins with "Roles-Your key relationships & responsibilities are where you spend your time, energy & resources." I make a note in my planner to reconnect. I've been repelled & recoiled, reserved & withdrawn ever since that fall of '82. Time to stop procrastinating. Time to answer mail. Time to tell stories that need to be told before they die a natural death, or not. Time to talk. Time to set down with my ole time pals & swap a few words. Magically people call. K. R. calls. I open a new email account. Get a new computer. Something besides a 14.4 mule of a modem. Get on the freeway with Freeway (which is a registered trademark except that this tech(no-mensa) doesn't know how to find the character) (Lynx?) February's focus is on relationships, just in time for Saint Amor's Day. Talked to my brother. Did puzzles with T. Answered the phone. And March is the month to choose, "Choices-The power to choose always gives you the final say." I have to finish my fac report from '03, do '04. It's all less tedious now on the new burro, I just look me up on the net, copyright 2003 for a list of pubs: Po'Biz...after a long time, I click on my website. Y nada. Poof! Not even a pixel. I knew it was coming. But, sheesh! Not even in cache (!?) I choose. This month I decide to launch the website. And, not a moment too soon. I do a search on just me. What comes up under "bio & criticism" was written by a 15 year old "at risk" student from North High, a trace (documentation) from a visit for OPC. It bothers me that the words "hate," "violence" and "anger" punctuate that and all the resulting rewrites of this official looking bio & crit. It bothers me a lot. But not enough, evidently, to do something about it. This explains why so many students have been writing to my old addy asking for information, so many of the previous sites have vanished into virtual extinction. I see a site that calls us the "Floricanto Generation." At least they get that right.

    "A man who onced loved me told me..." "You're a genius (unpunctuated pause) at whatever you're interested in. And, everything else? You're just a big flake!" Only one you love knows the truth. Interest? Naw. Love. I'd dare call it love. "Love the words" as Dylan said. Loving what you do for others.

    Some stories need to be told. Some poems need to be heard, breathed into seed, into water which is sometimes, not always, healing tears. Some tears are tears of glad-to-be.

    I decide. Yup. When I get home tonight, I'm gonna start my site.

    And, I do.

    Remembering Ronnie. A poet.

    For love. Because it *matters* A mater. A mend.

    Saturday, March 12, 2005

    "If I Can't Laugh, It's Not My (R)evolution" ~LDC

    Current Favorite Motto

    "Out-wit 'em, out-run 'em, out-live 'em & out-love 'em."

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    The Cave - A Surf City Interlude

    stream from No Dogs or Philosophers Allowed

  • The Cave



    (because I can)

    Frame 1-9: Original version of "Shake Your Money Maker" all the way through

    Sound-track to The Dead

    Until this technomensa learns how to do it ("We learn by doing/ And take our learning slow," with all due respect to Dee) you'll have to imagine the soundtrack (Are you ever a word without the hyphen?) to Lorna Dee Cervantes's first "movie," the slidehow, "How Much is That Rainbow In the Window?" (links yet to be linked by Lynx)

    Frame 1- loop of running cheetah (has anyone ever heard or seen Jaguar run?)

    Frame 2- soundclip from one of those early 70s "nature" shows, of a deer getting run down by The Lion

    Frame 3- timed loop: "Eeez NOT impossible! Eeez NOT impossible! Eeez NOT impossible!..."... ad nauseum, timed for "Eeez" to begin everytime the left knee hits its height; probably my voice in a high-pitched, exagerated "Jose Jime-"-Xican accent

    Frame 4- loop from original Man of La Mancha soundtrack (too tedious typing the hypen): "This is my Quest!/ To follow that Star.../ This is my Quest! To follow that Star.../ This is my Quest!/ To follow that Star..." ... until you change

    Frame 5- timed loop: first bar of Judy Garland's Carnegie Hall performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Somewhere..., Somewhere..., Somewhere..., Somewhere...," ...

    Frame 6- timed loop (in French): "Merci beau coup! Merci beau coup! Merci beau coup! ...," timed to begin at the depth of the bow

    Frame 7- loop of Ruben Blades singing "Todas las estrellas son de cartón./ No hay poesia,/ Ni alegría/ Cuando no estás." (Salsa!) ("All stars are made out of cardboard./ There's no poetry/ nor happiness/ when you're not here.")

    Frame 8- loop of children singing Let There Be Peace On Earth! timed to begin with the culminating verse: "To LIVE each moment/ And LOVE each moment/ In PEACE eternalLY/ Let there be peace on earth/ And let it begin with ME." Then, it would begin at the beginning and go for as long as you will

    Frame 9- Little Joe Y La Familia's original version of "Las Nubes": "Las nubes se van pasando..." Official English Forthcoming.

    Alt readings/the subtext

    Frame 4- original version of "Good Morning, Little School Girl!" (for those pre-conference/post-party/(p)reparations)

    Frame 4- The Quixotic - Original version of "Baby, Please Don't Go!" beginning with the line "Before I'll be your dog/ I'll take you way down there/ Make you walk that log/ Baby, Please Don't Go/ Down to New Orleans/ You know I love you so!/ Baby, Please don't go!"

    Frame 4- for those who choose to go on: "Don't Mistreat Me," original version only

    I play all four & finish with

    Frame 9- "El Rey": "Yo soy El Rey..." It's got that oom PAH, oom POW Austro-Beat

    SECOND CHOICE- as in life: Listen to Judy Garland for as long as ya wannna

    Who owns the copyright to Imagination?


    Or, "Was That Just My I-Magi-Nation?"
    Brought to you by Rasquache Productions
    c 2005 ~ Lorna Dee Cervantes
    (This site protected by PETA*-Poets for the Ethical Treatment of Artists.)

    March 11, 2005

    My mother was killed in what the media described as "the most brutal murder in the city's history." She was raped, beaten, mortally wounded in the attack by a stranger who followed her home, and she died in the arson fire, 11/6/82, in the house referred to in the poem (how much that sounds like "home"), "Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway" — "Come in the house, Mama!"

    Today is my mother's birthday.

    Welcome to my house. ¡Welcome home!

    "What's Death/Got to do/Got to do/With it?"

    What's Death/ But a circular/ Commotion?

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    "Socorro—For Jim Sagel


    for Jim (1948 – 4/6/98)

    Death is a noun, the rain murmurs,
    but to love is forever a verb.
    ~Jim Sagel

    I envied you,
    that sapling fence,
    how you stripped
    and heaved each young
    green shoot of its
    treasure of golden
    telling tongues.
    How you rerooted
    the sturdy stakes, plunged
    each bone leg (ivory
    as your hands) into the good
    rusting Española earth
    you loved—and rerouted
    a singular Colorado boyhood
    on the wheated plain.

    there was the dusted
    chafing of aging
    sandstone, the watered down
    mud of your self-made
    house, the adobe walls
    aged into rock. But it
    wasn’t the sanctuary
    of stone that you listened
    to nightly that impressed
    me, it was how you made
    the displaced sheaves
    of tree skin sing, how
    you fingered the graphite
    sticks between an outstretched
    thumb and an index
    and blackened in
    the eyes and mouths
    of a people. I loved
    how the wind whistled
    through the gaps
    in the lines, how many
    voices gathered there
    in your tender gathering.
    All the shunned leaves
    whispering like the ghosts
    of those gone, all
    the passed on poets
    who never wrote
    a word: articulate
    and present in a thirst-
    struck land. At your hand—
    the Seven Caves of Cíbola,
    inconsequential as gold.

    Now, the swords of yucca
    are conquered with a fine white
    dye, and the ancianos o piñones
    of “St. Lawrence” are awe struck
    and cold, and the bitter
    herbs of Passover stun
    the tongue with the taste
    for sanctuary or socorro.
    I look for you in all
    the left behind aspens,
    or in a slender collection
    you signed one winter:
    Amiga y compañera
    en esta ‘movida’
    de la vida. All the fine
    limned pain belongs
    to another, all the stories
    you heard and plucked
    and pressed into unfading color
    among the pages. Only one poem
    sings a song of yourself:
    a poem for your father’s
    "hands of so large and silent
    a love . . . hands so scarred by
    water and earth" and your "father’s
    mother who lost all the songs
    of her mother" and "now a hand
    that has held nothing but pencil
    . . . so smooth and unmarked a hand
    that has never held love but as a book
    at a readable

    In the distance, a parched
    wilderness for the lonely hunter
    leaving behind him a memory
    of the fallen families shivering
    under coin and the golden blood
    of dusk. Under the warming
    sky, in the cruelest month,
    a living sap still touches
    the lips, and feels
    an old surge through
    the withering veins at the roots.
    And the leaves of your books
    are left here for the younger
    saplings, those born or grafted
    onto the largest family on the planet—
    for poetry, like an aspen, is the hugest
    being on earth. Even though you
    left us, alone, with a note and a lack,
    mouthing in the radioactive wind
    of an untranslatable
    word: Socorro.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005


  • Coffee

  • link to definitive text until I get poem back up

  • Cafe_fragmento

  • fragmento del poema "Cafe" en Español desde Carmen Esconde

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    "On Columbus Day"


    for Russell Means

    I would teach this day,
    bind them to a presence
    and death. Talk about what it means
    to make sense, to catch
    one's breath and lasso
    da Vinci's star to your chest—
    "He turns not back
    who is bound to a star."

    I heard this today
    in the killer magpies,
    a fray of desire
    for meat, for prey.

    Talk about a Nation
    of Four Corners, summit
    of the heart, the stone
    pulling through, a concentric
    concentration, a talking
    to Infinity: The Constitution
    of a Star of Unity
    in the Iroquois

    Talk about what we need
    more of—some dangling
    change, some synergy;
    more love, more time to do it,
    more Justice, more Virtue,
    Fortitude, Prudence,
    and Temperance—the Cardinal

    I heard it say,
    "We are our children's past,
    and our heart's can affect
    infinity...a responsibility."
    Our hearts can beat
    for eternity.

    c Lorna Dee Cervantes

    *Leonardo DaVinci
    *Russell Means - from a speech at the All Nations March, Denver, 10/03

    "For My Ancestors Adobed In the Walls of the Santa Barbara Mission (after Phil Goldvarg)"


    after Phil Goldvarg

    The bones that hold the holy.
    Bones, grafted from bailing
    and tar. The feathers
    of a sleeker bird
    resting in the nest.
    The wry sense of autumn
    calling like a winning smile.

    The rapid fire. The wind
    laid rest. The certainty
    of servitude. The last ash
    for the piki. Petals of a lost
    desire. A woman's breast
    releasing a flower of milk
    on her dress. Buckskin bark
    carpets the forests. Manzanita
    swirls its own polish, her old bone
    gleam. Her steady burn. The burl.

    Bones weighed in at market.
    The single bones, the married
    bones with bands on bones.
    Bones of a bonzai rectitude,
    a fortitude of factories
    on the horizon. Bones to raise
    a Nation. An axe. An awl.
    Bones stripped of their acorns.
    Bones nipped from the grave.
    Baskets of mourning
    foreign to the settlers.
    Baskets of bones
    with rattlers inside.
    Baskets of bones
    with the teeth in hide.
    Bounties of bones
    with the people inside.

    For every sale
    there is a bone.
    For every bone
    there is a home
    and a prayer
    calling out the human heart,
    chants on a drum
    of human hide
    with the bill of sale
    still inside. And a brand
    name still entails
    a tag on the toe, a museum
    label, a designer death
    for you who were buried
    with the names inside.

    I say this peace, purple dove
    of passion for you
    who were robbed as bones.
    For you who were stripped
    of your meat. For you who were
    worked to death grinding corn
    at the metate you toted
    for their feed, the sweet
    smoke of age barely at your tail
    when they packed you up
    for the reinforcement.

    Oh, Savior of the Mission of Bones,
    Oh, Designer Death for the Architect,
    Pope of the Bones
    and the sainted orders--
    the sainted terrorists.

    Bones that hold,
    the Holy.


    c Lorna Dee Cervantes
    first published in Divide, CU Boulder

    (written for Transform Columbus Day Benefit,
    Oct. 3, '03. Aztlan Theater, Denver)
    Transform Columbus Day, Aztlan, 10/11/03

    Sunday, March 06, 2005

    The Dead

  • How Much is that Rainbow in the Window?

  • Lorna Dee's 1st slide show

    ~Lorna Dee Cervantes~

    Saturday, March 05, 2005

    "After the Wake: For Ed Dorn"

    After the Wake

    (for Ed Dorn)

    Some things I don't confess
    to know. How a dead man
    gets up out of bed, the Blue Bonnets
    of Texas all over his gown, how stark
    the room he wakes from, and summons you
    to talk. I forgot what he said.
    He did look dead, though later
    said he was just resting. The rest
    was trees, some kind of Ash; I aspire
    to know them, what landscape was this,
    like a neutron explosion--nothing left but the leaves,
    nothing standing, no stone that wasn't formed
    by the sea. No corners. Smashed.

    c Lorna Dee Cervantes

    Originally published in Square One

    Friday, March 04, 2005

    "How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare: A Love Sonnet to Joseph Beuys"

    How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare
    (a love sonnet to Joseph Beuys)

    Take a bit of copper between your teeth.
    Bite down hard while pressing the first two
    Fingertips of each hand firmly into wood.
    A writing desk is good. Your kitchen table, better.

    Visualize the Cross and the Crucifixion.
    Notice color. Don't think of mass graves.
    Relax. Let go the metal. Discard.
    In the case of a penny, spend.

    Pour a glass of orange juice.*
    Hold the cold mouthful. Rinse the first
    Taste of fresh blood from the tongue.
    Spit. Drink the rest of the glass.

    Bring it to the gaslight.
    Imagine your reflection in the bristling fat.

    *(bear the fruit/ of unpoisoned trees/ & bless the bees)

    c Lorna Dee Cervantes
    first published in Square One

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