Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Poems Under the Dome Tonight - Where In The World Is Lorna?

I'll be doing my civic duty, reading a poem under the dome at City Hall this evening. Come join me. Sign up to read your own or your favorite. I won the raffle at the Lunada reading last week at the Galeria de la Raza, so I'm on in just a couple of hours, 5:30-9 pm. Selected as one of San Francisco's "fun and cheap" things to do in The City, come and hear the universe and chance's choice of local poets - maybe become one yourself. Impress a date. Express yourself. Meet my friend, Diamond Dave, a trip in and of itself, at the world's biggest open mic without a mic. Poetry On!

And, May 3 at the International Workers Day celebration at Cafe Boheme, my favorite hangout, at 6 pm, featuring the poet laureate of The Mission, Alfonso Texidor.

May 6 I'll be reading at Gavilan College in Gilroy.

May 14 I may be on the air on KKUP's poetry show, 8-9pm.

May 15th I'll be in Fresno - YAY!

More info to follow. Book me now! Now, I'm bookin'. Ciao!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Home Again, Hanging In There, Good Arroz Con Pollo, A New Mailing Address, and "Highway of Tears"

Home again after Chicago where I had a great time under extraordinary weather and in the midst of even more extraordinary company. The students at DePaul University were all the bomb. It was so good to see good people again: Francisco Aragón and my old friend, poet and fellow bookslinger, Carlos Cumpian—a rare treat. And what can I say about Rigoberto Gonzalez? He is so good he sends shivers up and down your spine. He was reading new work and in good form. It was all good. 'Though I spent most of the time in my hotel room (single mothers with 13 year old boys will understand that one) and too shy or something to try and seek out Oprah or "her people" to discuss the option on my screenplay. Someday. Meanwhile, I worked on it, breathing in Kid's streets and feeling the air of lake kiss my neck as I walked along her banks—all the while thinking about the repressively hot summer days when, if you were black or colored, you couldn't even dip a hand in to cool you off. And, the riots one hot August day. She must have been there. I felt her there, with me. I swear, she was humming in my ear while the movie rolled through my mind. Some day.

Coming home, I missed my good friend, Francisco Alarcón read at La Peña. I just couldn't get there in time, having just arrived that afternoon. I actually put in my BART ticket but just missed the BART train to Berkeley, and realized I would never make it in time, so came back home. Which was okay. I needed to spend the time with my son.

I had discovered this tiny Colombian restaurant with "pollos ricos" written on the door frame across from the 24th Street BART station next to the McDonald's with my step-mother's (Precita Eyes) mural painted by local kids. I was in a hurry, didn't have much cash despite the book sales (thank you!) and wanted something quick and substantial. I ordered arroz con pollo and the last arrete of the day. The owner cooked it right in front of me. I was kind of surprised, watching her saute onions and bell pepper. I was in a hurry, but it got to me quick, along with fried platanos and a salad. The arrete was a new one for me. It was delicious. Slightly sweet and creamy in the center, like a fat little tortilla. Then, since I was hungry, I opened the to-go package there in the tiny restaurant to sample the arroz con pollo. I almost got tears in my eyes thinking of my grandmother's food. Especially after having watched that woman's quick hands prepare it in front of me. It was SO GOOD!! I scarfed it up and practically licked the container. I walked out, after giving her a hefty tip and an exclamation of "bien rico!", and waited for the bus across the street. Then thought of the rest of that arroz con pollo in the pan. She was closing and putting everything away, but I went back and ordered another to-go for my son. We ate well on that for two days. I made a rice omelet (my mother's favorite breakfast) the next morning with the left-overs. Good arroz con pollo. I can't wait to go back and see what else she's got cooking. And the next afternoon, I got to hear Francisco read and talk on KPFA. It was so good to hear his voice, my dear old former housemate.

Sunday, I went to the Lunada at the Galeria de la Raza to hear my other good friend, Naomi Quiñonez read. But, sadly, her father had just passed and she was still in LA. My sincerist condolances to her. My son went, and that was good he got to hear. There were a lot of people for the open mic, and it was all good and invigorating. Marc Pinate sang a few songs. Goddesses, is that boy a fine lyricist! I told him, when I had my turn at the mic, that he has to burn me a cd of his songs, and I'm sure I'd crank out the rest of my novel just listening to them. Very inspiring. Look for it.

I decided to read this new poem I just finished between dancing all night, for hours, to reggae music at the Embarcadero for a 420 celebration. I love writing to music. It felt good to feel it out, in that audience of brown and smiling faces, with new and old friends there. Even my son thought it was "not bad" — high praise from a 13 year old. Here it is, although maybe not for long.

I hope you are walking in sunshine, smiling with new and old friends, eating something so good it brings good memories and tears to your eyes and productively dancing through your life.

Me? I'm hanging in there. Barely making rent, and it's late, what with waiting on the checks to dribble in here and there from past readings. I'll be reading at the Cafe Boheme for International Workers Day on May 3rd at 6 - 9 pm. And, I'll be at Gavilan College in Gilroy on May 6th. Otherwise, my Cinco de Mayo's free and clear. Good time to ask me. Have Poems. Will Travel!

I have a new mailing adress, too. Send me your book orders (DRIVE - $25, BIRD AVE y New Mission Poems - $10), inquiries, your manuscripts for consultation, your books, your best wishes.

Lorna Dee Cervantes
3181 Mission Street, # 16
San Francisco, CA 94110

Highway of Tears

You signed the wind
with your blood. What
is the color of violence?
Is it the same as the color
of justice? This solstice,
this soul state is full of you and
your absence, here in an unmarked
grave of tomorrow. We are soldiering
on, a new way through yesterday's
underbush. Do you see? Is
there an end to this war with the other?
Let us fight for the truce
of one to the other, to hold hate
in the palm of love. The tendered bullets
spell their names in shattered splats
of light. The miserable trade
freedom for exploding faces, imploded
skulls, history slipping down the losing
slope. What can we salvage of a bleeding
heart, a child's oozing finger, a grandmother's
eyes searing into some new space,
some new traveling show of macabre
art? Come and heal the wounded
geography of hunger, settle the stunned
birds, the fearful flight into the rest
of our lives. Handle with care, these piled
on corpses, these shredded flags of bones
laid on the Constitution's levee like sandbags.
Become the other, heartened, though swollen
with the polluted waters of corporate greed.
Something enforces when the heart
becomes the border's pass, when the hand
becomes an opening fist, when the stroke
becomes a way to get across. All
the wet backs and the muddy footprints
become a fairy tale of the way
things were—once divided, now
a unity in multiplicity; the complicity,
yesterday's myth, a hard luck story
told to children, another broken line, another
missing in the chain link fence that once kept
us out and Liberty's aguila locked in.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lorna Dee Cervantes in Chicago, DePaul U. & Guild 4/15-16: Where In The World Is Lorna?

I'm in wonderful Chicago, Memphis Minnie land. I'll be at DePaul University tonight, April 15 at 7 pm, which is located in the heart of Lincoln Park, in Chicago, on Halsted and Fullerton Aves. The presentation will be in a building called the Schmidt Academic Center, at 2320 Kenmore St. in Room 254. Get your taxes in and come on down!

Tomorrow I'll be performing with Rigoberto Gonzalez at the Guild Complex:

Lorna Dee Cervantes and Rigoberto Gonzalez

Wednesday, APRIL 16 -- PALABRA PURA
Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Reading begins at 7:00 p.m.
Free admission. Books for sale. Authors will be available for signing.

In honor of National Poetry Month, two internationally renowned poets -- Lorna Dee Cervantes and Rigoberto González -- will read for Palabra Para at the Center on Halsted.

A fifth-generation Californian of Mexican and Native American (Chumash) heritage, Lorna Dee Cervantes has been a pivotal figure throughout the Chicano literary movement. Her poetry has appeared in nearly 200 anthologies and textbooks, and she has been the recipient of many honors, including an NEA fellowship, a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Award and a Pulitzer nomination for her book DRIVE: The First Quartet. She lives and teaches in San Francisco, California.

Rigoberto González is the author of seven books, most recently of the memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. A story collection, Men without Bliss, is forthcoming. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and of various international artist residencies, he writes a book column for the El Paso Times of Texas. He lives in New York City and is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University/Newark.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Home Haiku

So hot today. Sun
like the sun of my hot youth.
I am home again.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Michael Rossman At the Birth of the Free Speech Movement: Archives, Poetry, Essays, Manuscripts, Translations, Learning-Games, Science Pedagogy

Michael Rossman, photo by Marc Franklin

I wrote the following poem for Free Speech activist, poet, writer, scientist, thinker, teacher, archivist, musician, father, rock hound, human being extraordinaire, Michael Rossman who is in the hospital undergoing treatment and transfusions for a rare form of leukemia which was diagnosed this past July. Many people know of and know Michael as he has many friends and admirers strung across the globe. I know him as a much admired poet and friend, activist and thinker. I wanted to share this poem, inspired by accounts of a series of dreams he had while in the hospital which were posted on his leukemia blog. Michael Rossman's official website is a new site where he has been busy posting his books, poetry, essays, a science teaching manual, translations, Berkeley Free Speech Movement history, political poster archives and other material in their entireity: a virtual wealth of information and materials which deserve to reach a wider audience. I am hoping to help publicize the website, so if you can, please link to his sites and help to get them into circulation and visible on the search engines. This material is a great gift.

Michael Rossman was one of the founding organizers of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and was there at the wheels of the patrol car holding Mario Savio at Sproul Plaza on October 2, 1964 along with 1,200 others--soon to swell to 10,000 plus others. He, along with many others, stood up on the top of the patrol car that day and began to speak truth to power. He is still speaking, and writing, with his shoulder always to the wheel. Please help to keep this history alive as Michael struggles to maintain his own life. His spirit, as always, is strong--and we are the richer for it.

I am a child of the Free Speech Movement which was a movement for Civil Rights for all, and I know I owe my being here to it's legacy. What stopped the war started my life. And I am not alone.

You can read a short account published in California Magazine forty years after the event here at this link.

Watch a video of Michael Rossman speaking about Berkeley in the Summer of Love here.

Michael Rossman's Official Website

Michael Rossman's blog where people can visit and leave comments and keep up to date on his conditions and learn about ways to help.

Or visit Michael Rossman's Leukemia Blog where you can just read the individual entries.

Here's my poem, with much love and all best wishes for Michael:


The Recovering Rockhound Dreams Remission

He dreams of crystals as big as his chest,
a super-mall of captive light working
a rare and lightening magic: amethysts
as large as bottled ships, slabs of serpentine
flaking into scales as big as floor tiles,
aquamarine seas of watery mirrors and rainbow
cavalcades of tourmaline headdresses.

What would it take to enter there, to buy
all the stock in hand? What would I do with all the hematite
I could carry but could not lift? Where would I put these sterile
globes of rose quartz, these ancient spears of fission ash?

All around him is a light-show, kaleidoscope of fun
perspective, minute facets of knowing, experiments
in receptivity, dual points of view for the asking, hard
products of the quest, the desert's canyon horde.
Every probe, an opening. Every opening, a dripping
stalactite mound. Where would I put the feet
to hold this massive rock, these jagged ridges
in the clusters' sway? Serious enough to crush
a man. More precious than money's worth, a man
who sparks when the lights go out, who refuses
to go - that one vein yet uncovered, that extends
into the family of man, a geodesic harmony
of connections, fugue into living. At dusk

the exploration begins, a dusting, a delicate
operation that could last a lifetime
save one.

Lorna Dee Cervantes

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"Poem For the Holtville Burial Grounds, For the Undocumented Dead"

Poem For the Holtville Burial Grounds,
For the Undocumented Dead

(after a photo by Francisco J. Dominguez)

All of you is a cross to bear,
single and quantum, solo and
quota. The erasures, barely a scratch
on the earth, a heart's indentation,
a lateral fall under the desert sun.

Take this son, these mother's hands,
these blistered lips and withered
femurs. Make a claim for what
was written there: a crumbling treaty,
a signed agreement, a spit
on the street and a ticket
to the last act they will ever perform.

Play this lottery and bust
the house: the lives, the lives, the lives,
until you get it right and she
gets away with her life. He
gets away with murder. They
get away with an entire country.
And they are left here — a remembrance,
a resistance, a solid will.

Read it in the absent eyes,
the listless stance, the all
about tomorrow — now. We walk
among the living in the dead. We dream
about precision. And a watch
beeps, unaware, and a justice
is determined. Don't separate yourself
from them. A glass of water's
all it takes. A word. An act of God.

Lorna Dee Cervantes

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Where In The World Is Lorna? Spring Readings Calendar

April 4, I'll be reading/performing today at San Francisco State University in Humanities Bldg room 587 at 3:00 pm for the conference, Murder in the Margins: Global Systems of Exploitation
April 8, I'll be reading/performing at Yuba City Community College.
Wednesday, April 9th I'll be performing with Q.R. Hand at City College of San Francisco, Phelan & Ocean, in Conlon Hall, 101, 7-9 pm. Free. Open Mic!
April 15, I'll be reading/performing at DeKalb University, Ill.
April 16th I'll be performing with Rigoberto Gonzalez at The Guild Complex for the Pura Palabra Series sponsored by Poets and Writers in Chicago, Ill.
Time: Doors open at 6:00 PM, Reading begins at 7:00 PM
Cost: Free admission.
Location: Center on Halsted, Chicago's LGBT Community Center, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago
May 3, I'll be reading/performing at The Cafe Boheme on 24th and Mission (my father's special hang-out) at 6:30 for May Day with Alfonso Texidor and others.
May 6, I'll be performing at Gavilan College in Gilroy.
May 15, I'll be performing in Fresno, CA.
May 21, I'll be reading/performing at Stanford University.
May 22, I'll be reading for the American Literature Association Conference in San Francisco. Followed by a panel on my work, featuring a new book of criticism on Lorna Dee Cervantes published by Wings Press.
??? Your venue or event? Book me now! Have Poems. Will Travel.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Will I See You In Silence Soon? 4-1-08

Keeping Quiet

by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

San Francisco, Inside the Ferry Building market plaza, April 1 at 9 AM.
Ferry Building Market Place, One Ferry Building San Francisco California at Embarcadero and Market Street

Though out the world people will gather in squares, stations, in organizations or wherever they are and stop their motion for 5 minutes.

Pause for thought. Pause for human kind. Pause for our planet.

Be in the main hall inside the Ferry Building Marketplace on April 1 at 9AM and freeze your position. Have your mobile phone alarm set for 9:05AM so that you know when to start moving again.

Let your friends know so they can join you! Or encourage them to make an event where they are!

So far we have simultaneous April 1 events in:
London Paddington, 5 pm.
Malmö Gustav Adolfs Torg, 6 pm.
NYC, Grand Central Station, noon.
San Francisco, Ferry Building, 9 am.
Copenhagen, Central Station, 6 pm.
Florence, Piazza Duomo, 6 pm.
Brussels, Grand Place, 17.30pm
Milan, Galleria Vitt. Emanuelle II, 6 pm.
Portland Oregon, to be announced.
English farmer freeze, to be announced.

This event is inspired by the ImprovEverywhere freezing in place performance in Grand Central Station. Check out the video here:

Come out and be part of the spectacle!

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