Friday, September 28, 2007

Road Recap And Poem For Austin's Mex. Amer. Cultural Center, "Imagination Knows No Borders"

It's so, so difficult to recapitulate what goes on when I'm on the road, like at the conference over Labor Day in Albuquerque or the readings in Texas. (I LOVE Texas!) And I mean the biological, maybe religious, sense of the word: recapitulate. I know I evolve with every hug and handshake, with every uttered and listened to word, with every shared breath. Strangers become friends (hi, Lyle!) and friendships renewed. I learn so much, and come away inspired. It's such a blessing, what I do. And it's so hard to settle the rush of new thoughts and ideas and images. I wish I had more of a reviewer's mind, or more time to review. The conference was awesome, empowering, enlightening. New discoveries, new books (!) And, this time, even a new poem. I wrote this after being asked to "speak for the dead" in the form of 16 actors "view-pointing" 16 historical and heroic Latino and native figures for the grand opening of the new Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin: 30 years in the envisioning, 10 years in the building. The Center is absolutely incredible, breath-taking. The opening was heavily attended. I got to read/ present the poem over a mix of music while the actors/dancers did their thing. It's was a wonderful experience. I so thank the director of the center, Amparo, and others for asking me to do this. The theme for the opening was "Imagination Knows No Borders" -- a line I really liked, so I ran with it. In many ways, it was easy to write -- and I like it. I wrote an introduction to be read and it had the line: "Lorna Dee Cervantes has written poems - which have appeared in over 200 anthologies and textbooks - inspired by Austin poet, raulsalinas." And it was recieved with heavy applause and cheers. I wasn't able to make the event honoring raulsalinas the week before which was held at the new MACC, so it was my little way of acknowledging the poetic debt. And, raul was there! It was so good to see him, up and around. Just one small blessing in a field of dreams.

Here's the poem. Provecho!


for the inauguration of the Mexican American Cultural Center, Sept. 15, 2007

Imagination knows no borders,
is the gold rein on a stampeding horse,
the lasso of lips pressed to the kiss
of the past, the last lancet thrust
into the bull of an unknowable future.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's the certificate of legitimacy handed
down to the nun with an indigenous mother,
the native poems of Spirit breathed
in to us in the words of a shamanic leader,
a dream-vision of peace ending the hunger
and injustice in the fields, los campos, la selva,
buried in the soiled mines.

Imagination knows no borders,
es una princesa imperial holding the birth
of a nation in her heart and hands,
un grito de independencia declared
in the movement and moment of an endless
present -- the endless present presented
in a moment of torture and the resistance
that comes to us all at once like the passage
of wind through a tropical jungle.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's the poem inscribed on a woman's
single suffering body, the living wound
lived through, the flowers and stones
that adorn us with our heritage, the simple
paintbrush of what we love and lost, and all
the spilled ink of separate histories.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's the chase and the catch, a round locket
of unused bullets strapped to our hearts,
it's the one waiting at home, the one
who feeds, the hands that do -- and say,
and live to sing of it, the homey verses
passed down to the new generations.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's the larrieta of the last laugh,
the last looking back, past the lash,
past the class of the penniless poor;
imagination is the ability to laugh
at ourselves and revere the tears that come
when we, finally, say it right, the way
we were meant to say.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's the sentence that never ends,
when there's always a clause and a cause
to pull us through, to yank us up
and out of our muddy boots, to pull
us up from the shortened hoe, the waterless
tank in the field where we harvest the good
food of our desires and dreaming.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's the benevolent eagle's gaze below
a simple sign that reads: REFLECT,
it's the learnéd mind talking back,
it's the bent body taking back, taking
root and seeing flight -- it's the hat
that makes the man.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's 3 fifths of a person, half an age
tied to the stake, to the yoke it unravels; it's
in the voices of those who have come
before us: the tillers and toilers, the lovers
and the loners, the brothers and sisters, the soul
inaugurating a form; it's all the animals
gone extinct, but there.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's an endless translation written
by an undying translator, it's a way
to get it back, to move it forward,
to give it up and back to ourselves
via others porque los they are us.

Imagination knows no borders,
it's the gold rain and a brilliant shower
of seed, of living wage -- and waged, of honorable
ways and the machete which clears the way
for us, for you, for me; imagination is
the community cultural center;

Let them all bless this one.

Lorna Dee Cervantes


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