Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Absences and Poetic States

Five days after getting back from Mexico, I came down with a mean infection. I took me down for nine days - hard. Nearly better, but still a bit weak, so I will leave this week with a couple of new Poetic States:

Poetic States XVIII – Rhode Island

How in the World Did…
a state molded in miniature -
small enough to fit into Manhattan’s palm,
mostly water although not an island -
become one of these United States?

Granted she was the first
to declare independence from their King George
although she was the last to join the nation,
what does she offer us
that Iowa or Wyoming do not?

Back in Barnum’s day,
maybe even as late as fall, 2001,
she would have been the major set piece
in a flea circus along with a grain of rice
carved with most of the Bill of Rights.

Poetic States XIX - California

All the Gold in California

is really not in a bank vault
in Beverly Hills,
La Jolla, or Susanville

The vital color brightens
beaches along the Pacific,
oaks in hills above the Central Valley,

well-mined gravel beds
of the American River,
nuggets washed from hidden veins,

reflected towers of its cities,
waterfalls in the Sierra Nevada
a bridge across the Golden Gate

But most of all, in small town farms
raising oranges and grapefruit,
wheat, almonds and weed

to feed the nation
and keep it diverted

and so until next week when things will be better...



Thursday, November 16, 2006

Back from Mexico with Suns and Silvia

Hi, back Monday after 15 days in Puerto Vallarta – missing the last political ads, most of the talking heads dissecting the election, and a pineapple express. So relaxed, I needed a Jello mold to get me to the airport. I caught up on my mail, checked the property for downed trees and leaks, finding none, did some driveway and porch cleaning (which I will need to do again).

There is considerable contrast between the way they live in the Vallarta resort town, where ninety percent of employment is tourist related and here in the states. I wonder if we do not need a resort for them here with Anglos as the servants.

And there Election Day and pleasantly surprised at the results in Congress. We could get no Washington State news, so we had to wait until we got home. The Dems in Washington continued their wins in our state house and in Kitsap County and ballot measures aimed at maker the wealthy wealthier were defeated, leaving me pleased that common sense sometimes win.

Next, out with W. Out of Iraq.


Before we get to our content, a couple of short brags.

Issue 29 of the Tanka Journal for the Japan Tanka Poets Society contains a review of The River Wang by David Anthony (the book available from Lulu for a few coins.

And I’m in A Chaos of Angels. Chaos is concerned about “a world addicted to chemically driven happiness. In a culture where biochemistry has become its own religion, spirituality is being replaced by serotonin manipulation and mood enhancers.”

The week’s article comes from Silvia Brandon-Perez, and deals with the troubles in Oaxaca state and the death of Brad Will. She writes in both English and Spanish:

Brad Will was a young IndyMedia reporter documenting the violence in Oaxaca; he was shot to death by government killers... I just translated one of his last journal entries... he could almost have written it for himself.

Que alguien me explique el porqué de esta muerte...
que alguien, aquél que se atreva,
me explique el porqué de esta muerte
y de aquel Alejandro, padre, esposo,
y los otros, cualquiera, les pido me expliquen
el porqué de estas muertes...
las balas que vuelan a acortar tantas vidas
las balas que tiran los matones vestidos
con la ropa del pueblo
que alguien me explique, exijo ahora mismo
que alguien me explique el porqué de estas muertes...

un chico valiente, un brad florecido
que alguien me explique
que lo explique alguien ahora y mañana
hedor de los cuerpos mal depositados
hedor de las carnes, los ojos, las moscas
¡qué alguien lo explique!

Let someone explain the wherefore of this dying...
let someone, let anyone who dares,
explain the why of this death
and of Alejandro, a father and husband,
and others, oh anyone, please, explain
why all these must die...
the bullets that fly out to strike down so many
from killers who dress
in the clothes of the people
let someone explain it, right now, I demand it
let someone explain just the why of these deaths...

a valiant young man, a flowering brad
let someone explain it
explain it now someone right now and tomorrow
the stench of the bodies reposing in morgues
the stench of the flesh, of the eyes, and the flies


Death in Oaxaca by Brad Will early dawn, oct16

yesterday i went for a walk with the good people of oaxaca -- was walking all day really -- in the afternoon they showed me where the bullets hit the wall -- they numbered the ones they could reach -- it reminded me of the doorway of amadou diallos home -- but here the grafitti was there before the shooting began -- one bullet they didnt number was still in his head -- he was 41 years old -- alejandro garcia hernandez -- at the neighborhood barricade every night -- that night he came out to join his wife and sons to let an ambulance through -- then a pickup tried to follow -- he took their bullet when he told them they could not pass -- they never did -- these military men in civilian dress shot their way out of there

a young man who wanted to only be called marco was with them when the shooting happened -- a bullet passed through his shoulder -- he was clearly in shock when we met -- 19 years old -- said he hadnt told his parents yet -- said he had been at the barricade every night -- said he was going back as soon as the wound closed – absolutely

just days before there was a delegation of senators visiting to determine the ungovernability of the state -- they got a taste -- the call went out to shut down the rest of the government -- dozens went walking out of the zocalo city center with big sticks and a box full of spray paint -- they took control of 3 city buses and went around the city all morning visiting local government buildings and informing them that that they were closed -- and we appreciate your voluntary cooperation -- and they filed out preturbed but still getting paid -- shut -- as they pulled away from the last stop 3 gunmen came out and started shooting -- 2 buses had already pulled away -- mayhem -- 10 minute battle with stones and slingshots and screaming -- one headwound -- another through the leg -- made their way to the hospital while the fighting continued -- shout out on the radio and people came from all parts -- the gunmen were around the side of the building -- they got away -- they were inside -- no one sure -- watchful -- undercover police were reported lurking around the hospital and folks went running to stand watch over the wounded
what can you say about this movement -- this revolutionary moment -- you know it is building, growing, shaping -- you can feel it -- trying desperately for a direct democracy -- in november appo will have a state wide conference for the formation of a state wide assemblea estatal del pueblo de oaxaca (aepo) -- now there are 11 of 33 states in mexico that have declared formation of assemblea populares like appo -- and on la otra lado in the usa a few -- the marines have returned to sea even though the federal police who ravaged atenco remain close by -- the new encampment in mexico has begun a hunger strike -- the senate can expell URO -- whats next nobodies sure -- it is a point of light pressed through glass -- ready to burn or show the way -- it is clear that this is more than a strike, more than expulsion of a governor, more than a blockade, more than a coalition of fragments -- it is a genuine peoples revolt -- and after decades of pri rule by bribe, fraud, and bullet the people are tired -- they call him the tyrant -- they talk of destroying this authoritarianism -- you cannot mistake the whisper of the lancandon jungle in the streets -- in every street corner deciding together to hold -- you see it their faces -- indigenous, women, children -- so brave -- watchful at night -- proud and resolute

went walking back from alejandros barricade with a group of supporters who came from an outlying district a half hour away -- went walking with angry folk on their way to the morgue -- went inside and saw him -- havent seen too many bodies in my life -- eats you up -- a stack of nameless corpes in the corner -- about the number who had died -- no refrigeration -- the smell -- they had to open his skull to pull the bullet out -- walked back with him and his people
and now alejandro waits in the zocalo -- like the others at their plantones -- hes waiting for an impasse, a change, an exit, a way forward, a way out, a solution -- waiting for the earth to shift and open -- waiting for november when he can sit with his loved ones on the day of the dead and share food and drink and a song -- waiting for the plaza to turn itself over to him and burst -- he will only wait until morning but tonight he is waiting for the governor and his lot to never come back -- one more death -- one more martyr in a dirty war -- one more time to cry and hurt -- one more time to know power and its ugly head -- one more bullet cracks the night -- one more night at the barricades -- some keep the fires -- others curl up and sleep -- but all of them are with him as he rests one last night at his watch

uro= Ulises Ruiz Ortiz "governor" of the state of oaxaca planton= sit in, vigil, encampment zocalo= central plaza


Muerte en Oaxaca por Brad Will temprano en la madrugada, oct16
ayer salí a caminar con la buena gente de oaxaca -- en realidad estuve caminando el día entero --por la tarde me enseñaron el lugar donde las balas le habían dado a la pared -- contaban las que podían alcanzar -- me recordó la puerta de la casa de amadou diallo -- pero aquí el grafiti ya estaba antes de que empezara el tiroteo -- una bala que no contaron fue la que estaba en su cabeza todavía -- tenía 41 años -- alejandro garcía hernández -- en las barricadas del barrio todas las noches -- esa noche vino a unirse a su mujer y sus hijos para dejar que pasara una ambulancia -- luego un camión pickup trató de seguirla -- él tomó la bala de ellos cuando les dijo que no podían pasar -- nunca lo hicieron -- estos militares en ropa de civil formaron una balacera para poder salir de allí

un joven que solamente quería que lo conocieran como marco estaba con ellos cuando empezaron los tiros -- le metieron un tiro por el hombro -- claramente estaba en estado de choque cuando nos conocimos -- 19 años -- me dijo que todavía no le había dicho nada a sus padres -- que había estado en las barricadas todas las noches -- que regresaría en cuanto se le cerrara la herida – absolutamente

días antes una delegación de senadores había estado de visita para determinar el grado de no-gobernabilidad del estado -- se dieron un gustito -- dijeron que había que cerrar el resto del gobierno -- docenas de personas saliendo del centro municipal del zócalo con palos enormes y una caja llena de pintura en aerosol -- se apoderaron de 3 ómnibus de la ciudad y estuvieron recorriendo la ciudad toda la mañana visitando edificios de gobierno locales e informándoles que estaban cerrados -- y que apreciamos su cooperación voluntaria -- y la gente salió, preocupada pero por lo menos les seguirían pagando -- cerrado -- mientras salían de la última parada 3 pistoleros vinieron y empezaron a disparar -- 2 ómnibus ya habían salido -- tumulto -- una batalla que duró 10 minutos con piedras y tirapiedras y gritos -- una herida en la cabeza -- otra a través de la pierna -- de algún modo llegaron al hospital mientras la pelea continuaba -- gritaban en el radio y la gente saliendo de todas partes -- los pistoleros estaban por el lado del edificio -- pudieron escaparse -- estaban adentro -- nadie está seguro -- vigilando -- reportajes de policía disfrazada merodeando el hospital y la gente corriendo para poder cuidar a los heridos -- qué se puede decir acerca del movimiento -- este momento revolucionario -- está creciendo, claramente, formándose, construyéndose -- se puede sentir -- intentando desesperadamente lograr una democracia directa -- en noviembre appo celebrará una conferencia a nivel estatal para la formación de una asamblea estatal del pueblo de oaxaca (aepo) -- ahora hay 11 de 33 estados en méxico que han declarado la formación de asambleas populares como appo -- y por el otro lado en los eeuu unos cuantos -- los marinos han vuelto al mar aunque la policía federal que hizo estragos en atenco anda cerca -- el nuevo campamento en méxico ha empezado una huelga de hambre -- el senado puede botar a URO -- nadie sabe qué vendrá luego -- es un punto de luz que se oprime a través de un cristal -- listo a saltar en llamas o a mostrar el camino -- es muy claro que esto es algo más que una huelga, más que la expulsión de un gobernador, más que un bloqueo, más que una coalición de fragmentos -- es una revolución del pueblo genuina -- y después de décadas de gobierno privado por medio de sobornos, fraude, y balas la gente está harta -- lo llaman el tirano -- hablan de acabar con este regimen autoritario -- no se puede equivocar el suspiro de la jungla lancandon en las calles -- en cada esquina decidiendo seguir juntos -- se les ve en las caras -- indígenas, mujeres, niños -- tan valientes -- vigilantes por la noche -- orgullosos y decididos
regresé caminando de la barricada de alejandro con un grupo de partidarios que vinieron de un distrito en las afueras a media hora - salí a caminar con gente enojada camino al depósito de cadáveres -- entré y lo vi -- no he visto muchos cadáveres en mi vida -- lo destruye a uno -- una pila de cadáveres sin nombre en una esquina -- sobre la cantidad de muertos -- no había refrigeración -- el olor -- tuvieron que abrirle el cráneo para poder sacarle la bala -- regresé a pie con él y su gente

y ahora alejandro espera en el zócalo -- como los otros en sus plantones -- está esperando un punto muerto, un cambio, una salida, alguna manera de ir hacia adelante, o de salir de este lío, una solución -- esperando que la tierra se mueva y se abra -- esperando el mes de noviembre cuando pueda sentarse con sus seres amados el día de los muertos y compartir comida y bebida y una canción -- esperando que la plaza se le entregue y explote -- solamente esperará hasta la mañan pero esta noche espera que el gobernador y su lote nunca regrese -- una muerte más -- un mártir más en una guerra cochina -- una vez más para llorar y sentir el dolor -- una vez más para conocer al poder y su horrible cabeza -- una bala más que raja la noche -- una noche más en las barricadas -- algunos mantienen los fuegos encendidos -- otros se enroscan y duermen --pero todos están con él mientras descansa una última noche en su puesto de vigilancia

uro= Ulises Ruiz Ortiz "governor" of the state of oaxaca planton= sit in, vigil, encampment zocalo= central plaza


A personal note: Will in Vallarta, a tour guide dismissed the troubles In Oaxaca as minor, of no importance. A week later, another, a local from one of the Jalisco tribes, was honest about the reasons for it, importance, and details about why they were in the University.

News get managed everywhere, albeit some more than others.


Suns from Vallarta:

Grandson, Absence

Laughter of the brown boy in a shallow pool,
smile of the pale girl at play on a beach –
a relaxed grandfather wishes to hear,
“Papa, play with me, read me a story.”

Sunwear, Two Piece

Where pelicans struggle against a wind
carelessly drifting from the open sea,
I lean against the pool wall, watch new guests
unsure they should expose too much pale skin.

There might be more next week.

Until then, peace.