Thursday, November 27, 2008

Grace / Gracias

GRACE by Rafael Jesus Gonzalez

Thanks & blessing be
to the Sun & the Earth
for this bread & this wine,
----this fruit, this meat, this salt,
---------------this food;
thanks be & blessing to them
who prepare it, who serve it;
thanks & blessing to them
who share it
-----(& also the absent & the dead.)
Thanks & blessing to them who bring it
--------(may they not want),
to them who plant & tend it,
harvest & gather it
--------(may they not want);
thanks & blessing to them who work
--------& blessing to them who cannot;
may they not want — for their hunger
------sours the wine
----------& robs the salt of its taste.
Thanks be for the sustenance & strength
for our dance & the work of justice, of peace.


Gracias y benditos sean
el Sol y la Tierra
por este pan y este vino,
-----esta fruta, esta carne, esta sal,
----------------este alimento;
gracias y bendiciones
a quienes lo preparan, lo sirven;
gracias y bendiciones
a quienes lo comparten
(y también a los ausentes y a los difuntos.)
Gracias y bendiciones a quienes lo traen
--------(que no les falte),
a quienes lo siembran y cultivan,
lo cosechan y lo recogen
-------(que no les falte);
gracias y bendiciones a los que trabajan
-------y bendiciones a los que no puedan;
que no les falte — su hambre
-----hace agrio el vino
-----------y le roba el gusto a la sal.
Gracias por el sustento y la fuerza
para nuestro bailar y nuestra labor
--------por la justicia y la paz.

---------------© Rafael Jesús González 2008

(The Montserrat Review, no. 6, primavera 2003
[nombrado para el Premio de la Poesía por la Paz Hobblestock;
derechos reservados del autor.)

Rafael Jesús González, born in the bicultural/bilingual setting of El Paso, Texas/Juárez, Chihuahua, attended the University of Texas El Paso, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, & the University of Oregon. Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & Literature, taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seeking talent for Poetry Jam 09

from Alex Traube at NM Culture Net

Dear Friends & Colleagues-

New Mexico CultureNet will be presenting a cross section of New Mexico's diverse literary talent at Poetry Jam 09, an performance that will take place at Santa Fe's Lensic Performing Arts Center, 7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 16, 2009. Poets, student poets, musicians, dancers, multimedia artists and other creative artists will take the stage to entertain, enchant and inspire.

We are planning Poetry Jam 09 now, and I wanted to see if there are individuals or organizations who would be interested in participating in this event. If so, please tell me what you have in mind. Note that all performers at Poetry Jam 09 must directly or indirectly relate to the literary arts. A few examples: songs of poems set to music; a collaboration of a dancer and a poet/rapper, individuals reading poems, group poems, or songs that are so compelling in their lyrics as to be "literary" (think James Taylor, Terry Allen, Joni Mitchell).

New Mexico CultureNet is a nonprofit organization founded in 1997. We maintain two large web portals, but our primary focus is to foster literacy through active student participation in poetic expression, provide mentoring for young writers, support classroom teachers, contribute to K-16 educational continuity, and encourage tolerance of others. Poetry Jam 09 will provide a showcase for the creative talent, young and not-so-young, in our community and region. We hope that you will join us, either as a participant or audience member, on Thursday, April 16, at 7:00 p.m. at the Lensic.

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving. I hope to hear from some of you.

Alex Traube, Executive Director, New Mexico CultureNet, Founded in 1997
505-474-8500 (Voice/Fax)
505-660-2026 (Cellular)
913 Placita Chaco, Santa Fe 87505-6253

CultureNet promotes the understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures of New Mexico by connecting people, ideas and resources

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WWI Poetry, Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), from An Introduction to WWI Poetry


He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day, (5)
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim, –
In the old times, before he threw away his knees. (10)
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year. (15)
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He's lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh. (20)

One time he liked a blood- smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
He thought he'd better join. – He wonders why.
Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts, (25)
That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.

Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt, (30)
And Austria's, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits. (35)
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then enquired about his soul.

Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes, (40)
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come (45)
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?

CPF, Vol. I, pp. 175-6

Mental Cases

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?
Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,
Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,
Baring teeth that leer like skulls' teeth wicked?
Stroke on stroke of pain, - but what slow panic, (5)
Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?
Ever from their hair and through their hands' palms
Misery swelters. Surely we have perished
Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

– These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished. (10)
Memory fingers in their hair of murders,
Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.
Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander,
Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.
Always they must see these things and hear them, (15)
Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles,
Carnage incomparable, and human squander
Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.

Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented
Back into their brains, because on their sense (20)
Sunlight seems a blood-smear; night comes blood-black;
Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh.
– Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous,
Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses.
– Thus their hands are plucking at each other; (25)
Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging;
Snatching after us who smote them, brother,
Pawing us who dealt them war and madness

CPF, Vol. I, p. 169

The Paths of Glory

For Veterans' Day, what better choice than Paths of Glory (1957)? This moive was the first of Kubrick's anti-war trilogy completed by Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Love the Bomb (1964) and Full Metal Jacket (1987).

Rent it in tandem with All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Kubrick's early but yet to be improved on movie came from a book and then play (both far and away eclipsed by the movie) the title of which comes from the ninth stanza of Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard."

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Deferrals do come due

Yes, of course we all know this one - but doesn't it seem especially apropos today? Its affect (yes dammit, affect) is universal. We all dream. One of the most powerful reactions I've ever seen was teaching English intro to lit in south Louisiana. I assigned a few poems for that most despised of units, but told my class to pick their own. An out of work oilfield worker whose family responsibilities had kept him out of college twenty five years earlier picked "A Dream Deferred." His voice cracked reading the poem and again explaining why it touched him so deeply.

Two from Langston Hughes

Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November and December Poetry Events

Saturday, November 8th
Madi Sato, 5:30 PM Potluck, outdoor fire weather permitting, open mic.

Presenting local award-winning singer, songwriter, poet and sound healer Madi Sato. She will be sharing her poetry, as well as, the ancient poetry of Japan. For the past 5 years Madi went from being a touring musician sharing her poetry through her music, live and recorded to going back to her roots of Japan studying and performing ancient and traditional music of Japan. This journey has lead her to the practice of incorporating sound healing into her music and writing. Spend an intimate evening with Madi Sato as she takes you from her personal experiences to the transpersonal expressions of the poetry within ancient Japanese chanting, known as Shigin, as well as, chants from around the world.

NM Youth Unite: Poetry Showcase 2008, featuring youth poets from Santa Fe Indian School, Hands Across Cultures, Warehouse 21 and others.

At Warehouse 21, 1614 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe NM. Friday, November 7th at 7PM. Free admission. Contact: Chris Jonas,, 505-670-4364.
Warehouse 21, Ironweed Productions, and SFIS Spoken Word (Santa Fe Indian School Spoken Word) present a powerful night of live performance featuring top youth poets from across northern New Mexico on Friday, November 7 at W21, 7pm. Poets from Santa Fe , Espanola, Taos and Albuquerque will participate in this two hour event which promises to unify the New Mexico youth community through the electrifying art of performance poetry. Performers interested in participating in the showcase should contact Tim McLaughlin at or Nolan Eskeets at
Images available upon request.


December 6th

Poet Gary Brower, flamenco guitarist El Niño David & flamenco dancer Susana Calzada Garrett will perform at Poetry at Paul's on Dec. 6, in an integrated performance of poetry, music and dance, which will focus on Spanish poets Federico Garcia Lorca, Miguel Hernandez, Antonio Machado and Angel Gonzalez.

Gary Brower, who has taught at various universities including UNM, is a director of the Duende Poetry Series of Placitas, NM, where he lives. He has issued books of poetry the last two years, and a CD this year. He has also published his poetry in many literary publications.

David, Susana and Gary have performed together on the CD "A Tribute to Federico Garcia Lorca" (Vox Audio, 2007), and at venues such as the Duende Poetry Series in Placitas, the Church of Beethoven and the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.
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