Friday, September 29, 2006

Things On A Thursday

Tomorrow (today) is my son's 12 birthday. For my 12th birthday I wanted an expensive picture book, The History of Yoga. The librarians had already laughed me out of the library for several years when I wanted to check it out of the adult section. It was a beautiful book written and compiled by someone really knowledeable, about half my size -- the book, that is. It was exercise just to pick it up and hold it. But instead of The History of Yoga I got a used copy of East of Eden with an inscription: "To my daughter on her 12th birthday, so that she will know that all is not brightness and light." It did some kind of trick. My son wants all kinds of expensive electronic gadgets. He's been working on the list since last birthday. Sheesh, they get you through your kids, don't they?

I've got to clean house for a party on saturday. Just a few kids playing the new whatever with no sé cuantos controllers extra. Some kind of kiddie icon piñata they can bash. Ice cream cake. My son's sensitive to gluten, wheat specifically, so I'll probably bake him a spelt cake. Some online shopping. Much running around. Fish tacos, a movie & shopping spree are on the agenda for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I've been in the thick of classes. And this manuscript of love poems. Deadlines looming. Suddenly I have lots of projects, maybe too many going. And these Maná translations. I'm still working on "Ojala Pudiera Borrarte" in case anyone has any suggestions. I really liked doing it. Dream job would be to do a whole songbook. I can see them sticking to Spanish. Why not? They are such masters of the language and poetic thought. But there doesn't seem to be any English translations out there that are not only singable, but true to the incredible poetic power of the lyrics in Spanish. They are poets of nuance, linguistically, musically and performatively. I think. Right now I'm listening to "En El Muelle de San Blas" and thinking of a translation.

Thinking, too, of another muelle some 13 years ago, the crystal aqua water and the graceful shadows of rays underneath. El sol y mar. The delicate trains of finger notes on a sole guitar. The moon like a painted picture book hanging unimaginably out my window, looming over la "media luna" and the subtle waves of the ebb and crash. en el muelle // sóla con el olvido Before my life changed, forever as I'll know it. And some being came to be. A light in the dawn. Le dí la luz 15 minutes before midnight. A calm and curious soul with flapped over ears like a kitten and a layer of fine fur. Birthed like a cat, my yoga stretches opening the flask to the future. My control and calm, my rational stance. The midwives all in a wonder over my lucidity. My waiting for the worst part to begin -- and it never did. Native herbs and yoga. To not control. To trust the knowledge of the body and the power of the will -- from within or without. I looked to a Huichol mask on my bedroom wall: la mariposa, el alacran, a 2-headed quetzal like a Phoenix, el caracol all within the nine layers of being, from the underworld to the rainbow overhead. That power to traverse. Something like birth. That power to go to death and come back, with something. Some pollen. Some smoke.

Greetings to you, corazón de mi vida, my son. Feliz Vida.

Sóla con su espíritu. . .

Sunday, September 24, 2006

"Unconscious Mutterings #190 On 9/24/06"

  1. Bell :: weather in the heart.

  2. Abuse :: and release are just a thump away.

  3. Relief :: of the garden variety.

  4. List :: it and it matters, a slim

  5. Concern ::, a wit of slow burn,

  6. Absolute :: and perfect as an unshed tear.

  7. Cling :: to the undersides of a dream.

  8. Dump :: the nightmare in the drink.

  9. Terminate :: and perpetuate, a slow pull, a winsome

  10. Wine ::, a wisp of white eye, a kiss.

Be there in a subliminal way. Pull your own cord at La Luna Nina's.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Book Meme

The Book Meme (One Book That Changed Your Life, etc.)

Since no one ever asks me to play, I'll tag myself on the sleeve. I'm using Lee Herrick's. Besides he says some really nice (embarrassingly so) things about my new book, DRIVE: The First Quartet. Go there if you're looking for good poetry, and good Asian American Poetry. He writes it. Here it goes:

1. One book that changed your life. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Fooled you, didn't I? Neruda's From the Heights of Machu Picchu, Howl by Ginsberg, and The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda --and poetry in general, not so much changed my life as confirmed it. But The Idiot did. I started doing my homework. I was just starting high school as a sophmore and (always the "library kid") a paperback copy was facing me in a wire rotating rack by the check out counter. I was mesmerized by the face on the cover, a mosaic. Something about the expression on that face. And the fact that it was a mask. And made of stone. But more expressive than some human ones. I stared at that cover over and over for years. I bought myself a copy just to have that face in front of me. I picked it up immediately and put in on my pile as soon as I saw it. I didn't even open it. It was like buying a candy bar at the counter at the check-out line. An impulse buy. Or, rather, like having some gadget you never use because you never think to buy batteries. Then, there they are on the counter: triple A. Just what you need. You pop 'em in and, wow, life is really different with this new thing. How did you live without it? What can I say? How can I say it? As a 15 - 16 year old dirt-poor chola india in the barrio, I identified, totally, with Mishkin. I *WAS* Prince Mishkin. See? I'm still trying to figure that one out. It launched me into a longtime love of Russian literature ("those sweaty Russians"), Dostoevsky in particular and, maybe most importantly, there was such a sense of accomplishment -- which maybe isn't the right word, a sad satisfaction at the end of the novel, and just when you finally get every one's name right it's over. I immediately hit the replay button, so to speak, I read it over. Then again. Unlike a movie which diminishes in energy every time you see it, a good book just gets richer, like redreaming. It becomes sharper, more complex and the same time it becomes simpler and facile. Yet, still holding it's shape, the content of the form. Good ones. That seamless timespace of the fictive self emerging. Being there made me want to do my homework. And I did. From then on. I'm glad I wasn't introduced to that book in some (ha! my barrio schooling?) class, that I wasn't made to read it. And told what it was about. Although, I did take a class later in Existentialism from Ms. Alyaud which allowed me to read it again, and other writers, the French in particular. Simone and Sartre. Then it was all over, in a good way. It changed my life. Without a doubt. My son gets this all the time. "Do your homework. It will change your life."

2. One book you have read more than once. Walden Pond and other journals of Henry David Thoreau. What? "One book?" Nobody ever reads a book more than once anymore? I'm beginning to believe that you never really get a poem until you read it or hear it at least five times. Five might be the magic number. It's kind of like the Top 25 on your iPod. It keeps changing with the seasons and the situations. And depending upon how long you've had it, some songs are always going to be on top because you started listening to them over and over again way early. I made it a habit, nay, a ritual, for close to a dozen years, formative ones, to read it in the spring. Typically in the arms of some tree. Now I read it online. Most times daily. And I don't care what anyone says, it's on the top of my list of constant replays. It's part of my soundtrack, my thought track. I think I'm ready to teach it.

3. One book you would want on a desert island. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. Once, when I left California in order to change my dreamscape following a difficult divorce (for all its ease and civility) I took every penny I had, literally (read my poem, "Raisins" in From the Cables of Genocide), and bought a one-way bus ticket to Denver where I didn't know a soul. I knew I was relocating. I was shooting for resettling in New Mexico but for business at Boulder and a friend there, Joy Harjo, who had just left the day before for other pastorals and kivas. I knew I was probably not coming back unless it was to pack my stuff for a final move (are they ever?) whenever I found my spot -- and I knew I could only take one book with me of my many and it was the 4th Edition of the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, the brick paperback which begins with Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" and ends with me. Well, it's ends with Cathy Song who is about 6 months younger. But, same thing. That solo trip was a lot like going away to a deserted island so I'd say I already made that choice. Now, I'd take the double volume in the paper wrapper. And, no, I won't tell you which pages of the text I'd sacrifice and which ones I'd write on. I'm teaching it now, quite unexpectedly, and loving it. Gawd, just the cummings alone. . . I'd light a fire with the wrapper.

4. One book that made you laugh. Instruction Manual by Ann Lamont. Anything by Ann Lamont. This is a hard one for me, the hardest. I'm drawn to depressing novels (that face). They cheer me up like nothing else. Same thing with depressing movies. But no mayhem. There's enough in the real world. But the most depressing books and poems can also be the funniest. I have the same taste in comedians and comics. Give me Das Maus over Mickie Mouse any day. Lamont's journal of single motherhood hit me during my own, and in wondering with this strange new critter, my son, it really was that - an Instruction Manual. (It taught me that the instructions come in the box). Not a book I would have selected for myself unless I had read a part of it somewhere. My student, Michelle Spring-Moore, an exceptionally talented poet, gifted me with it. And like any good gift, just when I needed it. It really made me laugh. I still think of those inch long nipples resulting from the pump and at the oddest moments. And it makes me laugh. Now, I read her a lot in Oprah magazine (still trying to sell my script) and she always makes me laugh. But what do I know? I don't usually read funny books. I think I'd like to read George Lopez. The writer and playwright who edits and writes a "Ask (someone)" column in Latina magazine (I'm forgetting her name, Cuban American woman in New York) is hilarious. She should write a book or collection of pieces. I think I'd also like the Scottish guy who was on Drew Carey and now has his own show (sorry, that's about the extent of my tv knowledge) -- I think his book would make me laugh out loud. Mostly, there's no time to read much -- in academia. So, I pick the tragic mask. And go for gallows humor.

5. One book that made you cry. The posthumously published poems of Ray Carver with the introduction by Tess Gallagher. Wow! man o man. easy one. hands down. I love Ray Carver, to read him on the page, that is, especially his poetry, and had met Tess and she was generous enough to go over my first book with me while I was a Fellowship fellow at Provincetown. I didn't know then that they were partners. What a pairing! I read it aloud in the car just coming over the pass from Leadville on The Great Divide. I read the first sentence and burst into serious tears. I was with my partner, a fellow poet, and I read the entire book out loud between tears and streams of sobbing. It was very cathartic. It's one of the books I don't have anymore. I keep buying it and lending it to students and never getting it back.

6. One book you wish had been written. How to Love In All Languages.

7. One book you wish had never been written. The Bible. Don't ask. Seriously. Just figure I'm a California Indian. Then do your history homework.

8. One book you are currently reading. Frozen Accident by Alfred Arteaga. This is also a hard one as I've always had a tendency to read at least seven books at the same time -- when I have time. Well, not exactly at the same time, but you know what I mean -- they all get uploaded in the same session. Today and for these weeks, I've been reading and rereading a poet high on my list of "Neglectorinos" (if I ever get a chance to write that essay - blog entry - for the Poetry Foundation, or rather, they get it to print it without "technical difficulties occurring".) I have a copy of the manuscript and it's very exciting. Exciting, too, to know that this will help establish Arteaga, a poet I've admired for nearly 30 years, as one of the early innovators and invigorators of American poetry; truly one of the first postmodern poets. But, that's Xicanismo. (see my comments on Eduardo Corral's blog, Lorca Loca) I might start posting poems on the blog as "reviews" of really outstanding poems, beginning with Alfred's. If you're in San Francisco, October 5 Alfred will be reading at The Cell in the SOMA (so. Market) district at 7 - 11 pm along with me, Naomi Quinonez, Cherrie Moraga, Jean Vengua, along with music by my brother, and special surprise guests (invitations extended to Francisco Alarcon, Javier Pacheco and Dr. Loco's Rocking Jalepeno Band. My brother, Steve Cervantes plays with both Dr. Loco and in Javier's band. So, keep tuned to this site and set aside the date.) The event is to help raise funds for Alfred's experimental stem cell infusion treatments for his heart, as an alternative to a heart transplant. So, maybe I'll see you there, in my city by the bay, and you can ask me about books. Maybe even buy mine. Half the proceeds going to Alfred's new heart. I'll also be auctioning off copies of a new book, a first draft in manuscript form of love poems, Una poca de gracia/ Bit of Grace both at the event and online. Bids start at $25. Maybe you have something to donate?More info to follow. Oct. 5, 7-11 at The Cell.

9. One book you have been meaning to read. Crush by Richard Siken. I finally bought it, after reading many of the poems in other publications and online. Stunning work. Deserving of every award it's awarded. (ha! It's the reason I delayed publication of my book! Not really. sortta.) I'm saving it to relish. But I read it every time I pick it up. I can't help but. In a way I suppose I've already read it five times over. But, it has a flow and direction of the poems in the way of any truly excellent book of poems. And that crisp burning energy is sustained all the way through. Just one? No fair! I know the one book I've meaning to read -- and BUY -- is yours.

10. Now tag five people! I'll tag the same folk I always tag, who never play, Ron Silliman, Manuel Ramos, Rosie O'Donnell, Luis Urrea and Ana Castillo. I'd just really like to know how they'd answer these questions. But, I, like you, am nosy.

* links to follow - meanwhile, check the side panel - all this talk of reading makes me hungry

"Unconscious Mutterings #189 On 9/23/06"

  1. Running :: across the fields of equinox,

  2. Alternative :: axes strike down the forests of mercy.

  3. Cope :: with it. Take off the label.

  4. Lots :: of compassion in the second person -- be that

  5. Sympathetic :: face, that perfect taking flight. A

  6. Barn :: beside the bay, some hay of high living --

  7. Totally ::. Freed. The foot from the sock, the

  8. Baby :: from the present tense. Our

  9. Undeniable :: fashion, the skin of the past, silken.

  10. Watermelon :: skies beckon over the sea. Over it, see?

* Seduce your own self -- take the long way around. Go it subconsciously. Then wake up someplace Subliminal, a Luna Niña.

Friday, September 22, 2006

"Thy To -- And Fro" (After Keats)

Thy To — And Fro

~ After Keats

Hours creep
Beauty's tangled ebb —

Hand — I,
Ungloving time's since.

Eclipse, sweet
Grief — Darling, bring

Remembering joys,
My thy unto.

Harkening devour,
Wrong ear; My

For love-sound
Sweets, my thy.

Been, was,
Long and web,

Slow years
Since I was.


"Shelling the Pecans" Read Solo by Lorna Dee Cervantes

"Shelling the Pecans" Read by Lorna Dee Cervantes Over Mana - "Bendita Tu Luz"

Excuse the pop on this - uh, I mean that popping breathy sound. I'll learn. This is my first attempt at a podcast. You can also get the site and subscribe by clicking on the button: My Odeo Podcast

powered by ODEO

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Ojala Pudiera Borrarte" - Mana Lyrics Translated By Lorna Dee Cervantes

This version is singable in English. I give it you and all Maná fans across the borders. Provecho! (And if you have corrections, please let me know. I had to change some things, slightly, to fit the verse and music. But I think it's close. And so pretty to sing!)

I'm a 2 decade Mana fan. Their songs have infiltrated my muse. Enjoy this, from "To Love Is Combat"/ Amar es Combatir - I know I loved translating it. Any corrections, just let me know. I had to change some things to fit the verse and music.



Hopefully I Can Erase You

(Maná; lyrics by Fher
Translated by Lorna Dee Cervantes)

Hopefully you can erase me from my dreams
And their power to redraw you.
Hopefully. And I could drown it in a pool
Of roses and full of love.
Hopefully. And I'll forget -- until your name
and drown it in the sea.
Hopefully, and your smile of summer
Is already erased from me.

Come back, Heart.
OooOoo, come back to my side.
Come back, Heart.
(It doesn't return and it doesn't return.)

Hopefully, you've erased me,
Like always, from my life
So you don't return to see.
Hopefully. And you've erased me
from the nights in the day
So you don't return to see.
And, hopefully, you've faded from my dreaming,
life of mine,
So you don't return to see. No.
Not in dreams.

How can I erase your kisses, Life,
When they're tattooed to my skin?
I want, once and for all, to release you
And erase you from my being.
Hopefully. And the rain will drown me between her arms
So I cannot think of you
Or what passes for a miracle,
Or something happens
That brings me back to you.

Come back, Heart.
OooOoo, come back to my side.
But no, no, no, the heart doesn't return.
(It doesn't return and it doesn't return.)

Hopefully, you've erased me,
like always, from my life,
So you don't return to see.
Hopefully. And you've erased me
from the nights in the day
So you don't return to see.
And, hopefully, you've faded from my dreaming,
Life of mine,
And can no longer rain on me.
And, hopefully, her rain can drown me
between her arms
So you don't return to see.
Not in dreams.
So that you stop the rain
Of dreams.
Oh Oh, dreams.

English translation
copyright 2006 by Lorna Dee Cervantes
for Fher

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ode to a '54 Chevy And An Enormous Army of Trained Pigs Won From the Lotto

I'm working on a poem (most of my work is in my head when it's not a "play" poem, like a 7-minute poem, an "unconscious muttering" or hay(na)ku poem or a gift from the goddesses) right now that has the word, "Chevy" in it. I think it's about a primer red '54 Chevy truck (with wood side boards and a cherry engine) but that will depend upon the musings and amusements of the Muse. But, definitely, it will have the word "Chevy" in it, especially in the title. Why? Because Billy Collins thinks that's a word which should never belong in a poem. But, hey, he's Irish, so what can I say? The man doesn't know Chevy from Shinola. (I'm smiling! I'm a mad fan of all things Irish, Scotch and Gaellic. Heck, what Lorna Doone wouldn't be?)

For the past I don't know how many decades I've been using the word, "heart" in every poem that I write. This isn't real conscious, I've just finally become fully aware of it recently, now that my good friend, poet Alfred Arteaga, is having such a problem with his real heart I've become hypersensitive to the word. But I know it delights me every time it shows up in line like an ace basketball player waiting to get picked for the team. I never fail to find some way to use her without sounding trite or cliche. (Ojala) I love to renew a word like that, like jazz, like how Cuchito Valdez just can't play a bad note badly; everything in context, a context that grows from the poem like a mollusk shell. I also try to use the words: river, crystal, moon, sky, love and water.* Why? Because once when I was still in school someone or other said one should never use those words. Like "heart" -- so I wrote a whole book to the human heart: From the Cables of Genocide: Poems On Love and Hunger. I don't know how many times the word shows up, but, strangely (to me now) it was Alfred Arteaga, wearing his good critic's beret, who pointed it out and wrote on it. I like resurrecting the word. Why not? We poets have such little power anyway. If we can polish horse chestnuts for the future picking, why not? Just to say, Look! Far-out. And it's such a simple thing, nearly unnoticed -- like Cuchito's subtle shifting in and out of the dominant cultures on a keyboard and with silence. It's interesting to me, how many times I can a use the word "heart" and have it mean differently. My last poem, "real" "poem poem" that I've written, that I feel good about, hinges on the last word, which is the word "heart" -- and I didn't even know it was going to do that. But it was right. It was the "poem" I saw/heard, that "something" in the image, in this case, the image of a hand, presumably a woman's hand, shelling pecans into a bucket in a short film by Lourdes Portillo that's now at the SF MOMA in the Chicano Expression's show (Cheech's collection, primarily). I commented on it to family when I first saw the show, that there was a poem in there, somewhere; there was something about the deftness of that aged and calloused hand, the strength and the delicacy necessary to crack a hard pecan shell and gently but firmly rub off all the hard inner shell within the "brain" of the whole pecan. The hand does the work in about a minute, and the pecan meat is left whole, the two halves still attached -- and worth big money in "the industry". t's a skill you just have to practice. You just have to do. And do. And do. And do. Like poetry. Or, loving well. And it helps, if you really really like pecans.

Well, it's like a longtime long running inside joke. These words. And having heart. Try it. You may find that you can have your heart and read it too.

Rainbow Line

What's in a word? Who knows. It's like a geode. You have to break it open, pert'near destroy it, execute it on the page before all the crystalline goodies come pouring out on the dirt. It takes a long time to recognize what one is, and only after you have found one, and gotten out the hammer, can you tell.

Rainbow Line

So, here's a piece by my own dear heart, my 11 year old son. I actually paid for this piece, I liked it so much, to use on the blog. He drives a hard bargain. Prose is so much more lucrative than poetry, que no? Okay, here's my kid:

If I won the lottery? I would use it first to buy a monkey. Then I would also use the money to buy a Ferrari car and of course it would be painted slick red. Last I would buy an enormous army of trained pigs. That would definitely be what I got if I won the lottery.

Then, he signed it with his new name, the one he invented for middle school. Why not? I always hated my name (a cholita in the barrio named after a cookie??!) so I gave him about five and assumed he'd pick his own when he was ready. I like the "slick red" with it's "of course" and of course, that "enormous army of trained pigs." Is this my kid, or not? At the back to school night, I read a poster he did on culture. He said that our family's faith was kindness and treating everyone fairly and with respect. God, I almost cried.

Rainbow Line

Here's one for the heart: I got this from one of my absolute favorite po' bloggers, Rebecca Loudon. I hope it's still up. It's a video she posted because "This makes me happy." It's like me and the word "heart" -- it's a goofy little dance I always do everywhere I go. It just makes me happy.

This makes me happy:


* What beautiful Maná song would be the same without those words?? Corazon. Cielo. Agua. Rio. Cristal. Dime Luna. "Amor. Amor. Amor. Mi amor. Amor."

Rainbow Line

And a poem for the passing:

After Heraclitus

You can step in the same river
twice. Be there in the flow
of sweet water, reason raining on
the face of it. All of it. El mismo
destino. Breaking away from it:
swirling picks of ice, sex foam,
fins. The fist of it in the pit,
a pock of light, surrendering.

Gather up the window of your mirada.
Hold it there, in the flame of cold
renewal. An arc of blessing, the stunned
fish fresh from the grab. Here
in the sudden treasure, a glimpse
of what huddles in the heart of the word,
the winding regouging, the recompense
of cliff rock, the breaking; this
breakwater of you stopping the flood,
the force of the drop that cracks the other
open. Open. All penumbra and flush.
All windswept and rush. All sweet
taste and gush. Again.

Lorna Dee Cervantes

Friday, September 15, 2006

50,000 Visitor from Albuquerque Wins A Book!

Someone on Quest from Albuquerque who visited last night around 11 pm, IPO 168 ..., gets a free copy of my new 5-volume book of poetry, DRIVE: The First Quartet. If you come back, please send me your address and I'll send it as soon as possible.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

50,000th Visitor to This Site Gets A Free Book


(me to T: "Who ARE these people?") WELCOME HOME! Bien Venidos.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"'Tis the Killing Season; Or, No Biz is Po' Biz" Another Lorna Dee Red Meat Comic

"Unconscious Mutterings #188 On 9/13/06"

  1. True love :: in the aisle of the heart.

  2. Age :: right and the sale will come.

  3. Stern :: shoppers take away the piles.

  4. Elastic :: in the retina of the monkeys,

  5. Rustic :: wizards comb the smiles,

  6. Enhance :: the redness of their cheeky lies.

  7. Jackson :: in the pocket. Diamonds in the eyes.

  8. Inherit :: the wind and your house blows down.

  9. Devious :: and subtle, the entire script unfolds.

  10. Scapegoat :: to a dream, the credits try.

Fall in love with your own turning - right the subliminal wrong unconsciously.

"Unconscious Mutterings #187 On 9/13/06"

  1. Wiggle :: out of freedom.

  2. Face :: the impossible dime.

  3. Adjustable :: in a mortgage

  4. Room :: of divide. It's so

  5. Easy :: to fall in drive.

  6. Store :: the shift in the memory of your

  7. Maid :: Be the kind divide.

  8. 9 pm :: threshold to a dream.

  9. Challenge :: the somnambulant waker.

  10. Debt :: in the eyes, a final vote for skin.

Declare your own draw at the unconscious arena -- 3 minutes to go at La Luna Niña's.

"Unconscious Mutterings #186 On 9/13/06"

  1. Visit :: the mother of your care.

  2. Cake :: and I scream.

  3. Period :: Fluff in your wake,

  4. Triumphant :: sirens playing to the coxal.

  5. Screen :: it all live, coming to your

  6. Neglect :: soon, the final divide, the hung

  7. Guitar :: player strumming in a circle.

  8. Loathe :: and a slow dissolve harness

  9. Sugar :: in the spine, a wide gas in the trunk.

  10. Montage :: of the moment: and stillborn.

Be your own driver, follow the lane of your mind at Subliminal Luna Nina's lair.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"Shelling the Pecans" On MiPo Radio

Thanks to Didi Menendez for including my new poem, "Shelling the Pecans" in this week's broadcast of MiPo Radio Goodnight Countdown, and thanks to Julie Carter for reading my poem. (I'm having technical difficulties) The poem was included in my first and only blog entry for the Poetry Foundation which has now restored the site on it's index. (YEA! More on that soon) The interesting thing is, this poem has become a performance piece in that the poem is read rhythmically over the new Maná song, "Bendita Tu Luz" so that it weaves in and out of the lyrics of the song. I'm trying to record it. Meanwhile, click on the MiPo link to hear my poem read by Julie Carter. I like it alot. Muchas gracias muchacha de gracia, Didi. You can also click on the link at MiPo to read the text posted on CafeCafe. And sure, Didi, you can have anything I post at CafeCafe. Thanks for asking. Glad you liked the poem. I hope to include it in this new book of new and collected love poems, Una poca de gracia/ Bit of Grace.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Taking A Station Indentification Break

This morning I decided to be called, "Hermiitage Ruskaya." "Hermitage Ruskaya. Hermitage Ruskaya." I like the sound of it and say it often. "Hermitage Ruskaya!" T to me: "You're sounding awfully Zippy this morning."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back - Home From Home - And Healing

This whole incident with The Poetry Foundation was just too much -- especially as I was right in the heat of it, cranking out these blog posts I've been holding off on posting to my own blog for the exposure (for others) they would get on the PF site. I was intending to send them all in before leaving for California in order to get my father's papers, his writings which I'll be editing. When the Poetry Foundation pulled the plug on my blog without as much as a sorry, and worse, shut me out of the site completely, I decided to get away & go to California after all. I needed to think about something else. This was not a good thing for a poet with an ulcer. It erupted saturday afternoon - the non-stop vomiting. I spent the whole trip sick (with the exception of a trip to Keppler's books in Palo Alto, my old old time favorite) and alone in my hotel room. Too sick to call family or friends, at the mercy of maids and room service menus. Not good. Today I feel weak and had to stop about every 5 feet walking to class. Not good.

I did have a revelation. I decided to call the book: Ganesh's Tusk: Towards A Pedagogy of Poetics. Bryce Milligan at Wings Press has already given a verbal acceptance for it's publication.

That was good.

Good too, what little time spent with an old dear friend, amistad poetica - apt to cure anything.

Here's what I bought at Kepler's: (It was HARD deciding - I was on a budget.) (And, no, they did not have my book.) (And, no, I'm not really the type of person to say anything about it.) (sigh)

Dreaming of the End of War - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

A Hunger - Lucie Brock-Broido

Ants On the Melon - Virginia Hamilton Adair (she has a poem to me!)

Crush - Richard Siken (finally!)

Lampblack & Ash - Simone Muench (YEA! My former student! Finally!)

House With the Blue Bed - Alfred Arteaga (Finally!)
The latter I hope to have signed by the author himself on Sept. 26 at a benefit to help pay for the experimental stem cell heart treatments Alfred is receiving - and which are keeping him alive. More on this benefit with Naomi Quiñonez and others in San Francisco.

Just the thought of that, makes me feel all better. Soon I'll b eatin' up tigers -- paper and otherwise. Chow.

Lorna Dee's Disappeared Poetry Foundation Blog Post 8/28

Sure enough, The Poetry Foundation wiped out this archived first blog post of mine as well. Good thing I saved it. They ran the pic of me signing books. Too bad I forgot to save the comments. I'm also not mentioned by name anywhere on the site and they just skip over my dates on the journals page. (Why are they doing this??) Gee, I'm starting to feel like, you know, a Chicana poet. LDC

Lorna Dee Cervantes
Lorna Dee Cervantes writes right in the Rockies and her mother once called her "The Writer Who Never Writes."”
Monday: 08.28.06 | Permalink | Comments (3)


On The Writer Who Never Writes; Or, When Good Things Come In the Mail (Why I Blog)

Sorry, I'’m late on the first post, (the second, for tomorrow, is about 10 pages long and ready: "Towards the Mater of Chicano Poetry - Towards What Matters"” and I thought I'd have time this morning to finish the first blog entry: "The Writer Who Never Writes; Or, When Good Things Come In the Mail" before the deadline, but I fell asleep. So, accept this poem to save the place —if that'’s alright.) It'’s the work in progress that was going to close the first entry. Since I'm not home ( but here, out and about in public, so to speak, I figured that most readers wouldn'’t know my work from Jewel. So as a sort of welcoming gift, I offer this poem in progress (love that phrase). My entry ends with a suggestion that po'’bloggers form snail mail rings as was started by Vercila (see, that'’s why I'm late, there'’s lots of links on this first post, tedious for some of us who are still typing them out) —and send a nice letter to a complete stranger, something to lift the spirits, which we can all use, no? Include a poem or postcard art, or something else you made, like my treasure: Nick Carbo sent me a hand-painted silkscreened t-shirt with the poem/letter written out in colored glitter glue - —one of a kind - —it's on a prominent place in my living room, above the tv. Thanks, Nick!). It'’s like writing a poem. Just a poem. You might get something back - something greater than the sum of its parts. Or, don'’t send one to a stranger, send one to a friend you haven'’t met yet, which is what most folk are out in Blogville (as I like to call it). For po'bloggers, it'’s the equivalent of a round-the-clock open studio for poets, where they'’re always serving. You never know what people will be talking about there, who will be reading a poem, who will be selling a book, who will drop in for a visit, who'’s getting close to fisticuffs, who'’s crying in the kitchen, who will need to be expelled for inappropriate behavior, what book or new magazine will be on the coffee table, who's in the kitchen where the heart of the party always seems to congregate, where the talk is always hot and spicy and the carcajadas, the peals of laughter provide drum roll. (My links are almost six months old now, I hope to update them by the end of the week —in case you don'’t find yourself there. They'’re coming. I read about 50 blogs a day, mostly po'’blogs. If you'’re serious, tell me about yours.) The important thing to remember about blogs is that you are in someone'’s home - —all the rules of etiquette, and more, apply. In my house, I take off my spelling shoes. I take off the cap of punctuation. Everyone's welcome. "‘Welcome Home!" Everything'’s served buffet style - —you never know what you'’ll find on the plates. Sometimes it'’s fermented duck embryos - —yum! (I once told the story about being The World'’s Worst Waitress for once serving a customer fermented pig'’s blood in the place of wine. What do I know? I don'’t drink. Usually.) Laughter is assumed. So is irony. But, as Milan Kundera defines it, it'’s the laughter of the angels - —when, as in Shakespeare'’s best, you find yourself the brunt of the joke, but it'’s okay, it'’s what pushes you off the path of the Mack truck, the tragicomic reversal: the wise man is uncovered to be the fool/ the fool is discovered to be the wise. Don'’t expect regular grammar all the time. Count on grammatology. Ease into macaronic phrases and passages. (Don'’t worry if you don'’t understand something on my home blog. I trip out. For example, just now, I longed to type: "“Ease into macaronic lanes and shift into hypertext, exit off the heterotextual dilemma and drones and visit the house of the dead, where the living and living poems meet, where there'’s always a place set for your loved ones who have passed us on the freeway."” See? Like that. But here, I'’ll try to be on my holiday best.) I never revise anything except a name or when my mother scolds me to correct my grammar: "People are going to judge you by how you speak!" And, so I do.

I write my blog for the dead. I never revise because the dead don'’t need it - they are revised, damned to a constant state of revision in the telling of them. My blog entries are like long letters to the dead: my personal dead - —my mother who always called me "“The Writer Who Never Writes"” for never sending her another letter, for my father, Luis Cervantes, a visual artist and visionary who always told me, "“Now'’s the time;"” and for my grandmother whom I taught to read and write in daily lessons from my first day in kindergarten to my senior year when we'’d sit around the table and debate the virtues of the Transcendentalists (her) over the Romantics (me) - —she always believed Emerson would make a good Indian ("On Nature"”); me, I was madly in love with Lord Byron while at the same time, I was Lord Byron, and partial to Thoreau who didn'’t write poetry: He saw it. A native Californian woman, my grandmother was sold as a child as a slave off the Montecito land her mother owned until her death - —a common fate in fin de siecle Santa Barbara. All that remains are the words spoken to me as a baby, her little "“dondee dondee." I write for the dead friends, on behalf of the dead poets you will never know like Abelardo "“Lalo"” Delgado and my old buddy, poet-artist, Jose Antonio Burciaga, and for too many others. I write for the dead of the world and for the public dead, maybe for your own son. It'’s not a maudlin practice. Poetry, on this continent, goes back to before Chaucer, back before the Song of Roland and the tattered tapestries of class, to before the invention of the word genetics which was first used to apply to the practice of wiping out Indians and the progeny of slaves in this country and beyond; poetry goes back and extends through the tradition of "“Flor y Canto" - —Flower and Song: Those sole things we, humans, leave behind us when we die: our cultivated flowers and our poems and our talkstory in all its glories, all its many patterns of practice. Let'’s celebrate the flame, the beautiful light that each of us is, those matrices of belief we weave with our love and doing, that rainbow of connections and deeds we leave behind in the wake of our loving and laughter. "“We are the poem waiting to be sung."

"“Now'’s the time. Time is Art,"” my father tells me.

And so, I write. And so, I do. For what are we, after all, but the culmination point of all who have loved us in the generations past? We might as well make it a good one.

Lorna Dee

Shelling the Pecans

I knew what a woman'’s hand could do:
shred the husk into threads, weave lips
together at the seam. Rock to hard body,
empire to thrust into knave - the native
touch tocando musica up the spine
of the violin, some song of silk and gut.
I knew race was a matter of degree,
that inch in the face, that notice
of dismissal. How to work all day
at a posture, at a stance, at attention
paying attention to none but the awl.

I put my hole into you, this notch
between the breasts, this discovery
and treason. Hembra a macho. Fixed.
O defined in the still shell of history,
a destiny written in the charts and lost. Lost
in the unnoticed memories of you, a flicker
of change, some small scrimp
of light. Tu luz. Ahí allá -- a la ala
and the scoop. Your aguila eyes sweeping
up the dawn'’s desire. This night. I remember

shelling the pecans. Nothing but a bucket.
No ride exceptional. Nothing but a dream
to entertain us. I dreamed this moment -—
all the sweet meats in a risen weight going
higher to the rim. The price and the pricing.
I could eat what I missed or messed. Outside,
the birds bending to it on a summer day.
The great age of my grandmother'’s banded
hand weighing me down. The paper
of tutelage blasting me away

at that age. Now, I still remember
how to shuck, how to fetch it, how to
step it. Stepping up to you, I ask.
The point enters the ventricle without
shattering the meat. How a woman
on a good day can rip out the heart

Lorna Dee Cervantes

Lorna Dee Cervantes: 08.28.06-09.01.06 | Permalink | Comments (3) | Back to top

Friday, September 01, 2006

FOOEY On The Poetry Foundation! Lorna Dee Unplugged!

This has been so frustrating and disappointing. (Now Blogger's blogging down so I can't even post about it. This is my third try.) It's unbelievable how they have treated me at the Poetry Foundation. Now I am completely erased from the site and it is (was) a mystery to me. If they couldn't find my emailed blog, then why cancel the entire week? Why not just post it as soon as they found it? I sent it in in plenty time as instructed. I offered to give them all the pieces at once on tuesday night so I wouldn't have to post every night. Technical difficulties? How hard is it to take text and paste it? I even commented on my own post, the one they posted and zapped on monday, and pasted the entire essay for tuesday on it. They cut off the comments, and cut me out of the commenting system. I even tried to post a comment in answer to a question about my poem. Nada. What happened? Obviously something else is going on here. They claimed they weren't receiving my emails, but they got all the ones where I mention my contract just fine. FOOEY! Foetry, indeed. I rearranged my summer for this (originally it was to run July 29, but they changed that at the last minute as well--when I keep announcing that I'm guest blogging for the Poetry Foundation, and they don't run my blogs, or even mention my name, it makes me look delusional--a professional liability.). They didn't even reschedule my blog, just "don't call us, we'll call you" and we'll be "unavailable for the rest of the week." FOOEY! And the worst part is, I do all this work for a multimillion dollar foundation, and now they won't accept it and pay a poor poet. Fooey. Can you spell X=I=C=A=N=A? "Ch-i-c-a-n-e-r-y."

Please help by reposting and circulating this essay on Chicano poetry, the one they, evidently, refuse to run. I can't sell it now, anyway. And I'm SO disappointed that these wonderful writers won't, once again, get the exposure that they deserve. For Lorna Dee Cervantes "Unplugged", check back here for the rest of the essays on, ironically, poetry and neglect. I'm outta here! Off to get my wounds licked. Ciao, baby. Hasta la victoria siempre!
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