Thursday, September 27, 2012

Surviving Progress

I saw this film Surviving Progress. It reminds me of why I write. Why I write poetry, which has no real monetary value. Which will not earn me money, will not keep me or others dry from the rain. Will not make me or others eat better. Will not save me or others from progress.


Why do I write? Why do I fling myself against progress?


 In high school my English teacher played a documentary for us titled Berkeley in the 60s. I remember Mario Savio:

There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all. 

I imagined Mario Savio placing his little bones between the teeth of the gears of the great machine.


I imagined Mario cut to pieces, those violent pieces are like walls where the graffiti of love and tenderness endures.


I am laying down my poems in the teeth of the great machine of progress.


Sometimes poems have to be like Mario. Mario stuck his hands in the teeth of the great machine.


Sometimes hands get amputated, bitten off by the teeth of the great machine.


The hands died and their finger nails still grew.


"The arms they manufacture shall be turned against them
Their political systems shall be erased from the earth
and their political parties
shall exist no longer
The plans of their technicians shall serve for nothing
The great powers
                          are as the flowers of the field

                  are as smoke

All day long they spy upon us
Already they have the sentences prepared
yet will the Lord not deliver us to their police
he will not allow us to be condemned at the Judgement
I saw the dictator's picture everywhere
                                   --it spread itself like a green
                                          bay tree--
and I turned to pass again
                                      and it was no longer
I searched for it and found it not
I searched for it and now there was not any picture
and his name could not be spoken"

Ernesto Cardenal


Lord the gilded boars are sodomizing me. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Undocumented Poem # 9

We cannot depend on any political party, for both the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence. We all recognize the fact that if any radical social, political and economic changes are to take place in our society, the people, the masses, must bring them about.— Representative John Lewis, 1963
I say again, I'm not anti-Democrat, I'm not anti-Republican, I'm not anti-anything. I'm just questioning their sincerity, and some of the strategy that they've been using on our people by promising them promises that they don't intend to keep. When you keep the Democrats in power, you're keeping the Dixiecrats in power. I doubt that my good Brother Lomax will deny that. A vote for a Democrat is a vote for a Dixiecrat. That's why, in 1964, it's time now for you and me to become more politically mature and realize what the ballot is for; what we're supposed to get when we cast a ballot; and that if we don't cast a ballot, it's going to end up in a situation where we're going to have to cast a bullet. It's either a ballot or a bullet.—Malcolm X
no se necesitan balas para probar un punto
es logico no se puede hablar con un difunto
el dialogo destruye cualkier situacion macabra
antes de usar balas disparo con palabras—Calle 13
This year will mark the second time in my life that I am old enough to vote in a presidential election. The first time was 2008. I did not vote. This year, I will not vote. Not being a U.S. citizen I am not eligible to engage in this symbolic act of democracy.

I am a poet. I am not an activist. I could never rightfully call myself an activist.


Marco Saavedra and Viridiana Martinez are undocumented students and DREAM activists.

Saavedra grew up in NY City after having arrived from Mexico in 1993. On July 11, risking deportation, Saavedra and Viridiana Martinez infiltrated the Broward Transitional Center in Florida—a detention and deportation center, owned and operated for ICE by GEO group; “the world’s leading provider of correctional detention” with facilities in the U.S., U.k., Australia and South Africa—in order to organize and bring awareness to those facing deportation and incarceration in such facilities. People like:

Claudio Rojas, originally from Argentina, and who was detained by Border Patrol agents after having picked up his son and accidently driving into the Ft. Lauderdale port, in Florida. He is now in a hunger strike.

or Anibal Hernandez, from Mexico, and whose children have—in the absence of his father—been reduced to live a hand to mouth existence, where what is eaten one day maybe needed the next.


I am not a poet. I could never rightfully call myself a poet.

Marco, Viridiana, Claudio, Anibal are poets whose primary concern is life.
 Poetry, when it works—when it is real poetry—IS life.

Anything else is irrelevant.

they slash poetry from her roots
she learns to walk without having roots

even from the desert they kill her
she walks the desert still

they deported her from her tongue
she learned to speak their tongue

bendita sea la mano 
que le corta la lengua a la poesia