Life is a Card You Draw

Sample of a Loteria Playing Card which have twenty images on them.

Loteria Playing Card. Played like blackout Bingo, except images are called out, instead of numbers.

When I was, oh, eight or nine, somewhere around there, I played this Mexican game called Lotería. My aunt had brought the game from New Mexico. (Her husband died of cancer, so she moved to California where we lived, where her parents lived.) It’s a game of Life, from Mexican perspective and culture. I don’t know the history of this game, I only know my personal experience with it.

Lotería is played like Bingo, blackout Bingo. But instead of calling out a number, the caller turns a card over from a deck, and calls out the image. The number on the card doesn’t matter. We placed a bean, a raw Pinto bean, to mark the image that was called on our playing card. When someone had a “man” (a bean) on all their images, they called out, “Lotería!

We lived in a small town, north of Sac-of-tomatoes. My mom was the first to move there, with three little kids and another on the way. My dad had cut out. I was four.

My mom’s sisters, brothers, and parents moved there. All except two brothers. We had big family gatherings. There was laughter, lively conversations, memories shared, stories told, gossip, food, drink. My grandparents didn’t drink alcohol, but my uncles drank beer and sometimes took shots of tequila. My grandfather didn’t smoke, but my uncles did, and so did my grandmother. She smoked Lucky Strike, no filter. My mom and my widowed aunt smoked, but never in front of my grandfather. They smoked Winston, filtered. When we were done eating, the guitars came out, and the adults sang Mariachi songs. I liked it when some would break out with, “Ahh, ha, ha, ha hai!” and “Ah who ah!” Ha, something like that. There was so much joy and excitement. It was great. It was especially exciting when my uncle came up from Juarez, and my other uncle from New Mexico. I’m sure those were the best times for my grandparents, when they had all 9 children, sometimes nieces and nephews, and most their grandchildren gathered under one roof. It was always at our house. I had four uncles and five aunts. My mom spoke Spanish, though she understood and spoke some English, but her children were already losing the language. We spoke more English than Spanish. My cousins from Mexico didn’t speak English, my cousins from New Mexico were bilingual. It was the 1950’s.

Things changed. My sister and I talked about this once. She said it was when Grandma died, because she was the center that held us all together. But I think the changes began a couple years before that. They began when my mother remarried. She had gone to New Mexico, and down to Juarez, leaving us in the care of our aunts and uncles. The four of us kids were placed in different households. We weren’t happy about this. When my mom returned, she was married. Out of the fucking blue, she remarries. He was a boyfriend from her teenage days. In retrospect, I know she planned this trip to get married. But we had been kept in the dark about it. I hated him. My mom loved him. A year later, I had a new baby sister. By then my mom had realized the guy was bad news. She told him to get the hell out when the baby was a few months old. Almost immediately after that, my dad comes back into the picture. He’d been roaming the country, hopping boxcars. He had left when I was four, and I saw him again when I was twelve. Grandma died when I was thirteen. That was in 1963. There was less joy, more sorrow, worry, tension, discontent, competition, jealousy, drama.

Image of Mexican woman in a canoe

La Chalupa (The Boat, or Canoe)

Lotería” means “lottery”, so I suppose this game suggests that life is chance, luck of the draw, maybe even a gamble. I never would’ve heard of this game if my aunt hadn’t brought it with her from New Mexico. In those early years, my mom and her brothers and sisters had fun playing it. They laughed and talked, drank coffee, smoked cigarettes, my widowed aunt and my mom sneaking a puff when grandpa left the room or wasn’t looking. Someone would come up with clever or poetic line, and everyone would laugh. Then someone else tried to top it. We kids had fun playing Lotería too. We had our favorite images and got excited when they came up. I liked the game because it was Mexican, and that was kind of a familiar yet “foreign” culture to me. It felt like a cousin. I loved learning about Mexican culture, being reminded of words I still knew, and learning new words. I knew what a mermaid was, but had never known it was una sirena in Spanish. I had never heard the word “chalupa”, which means boat or canoe, or seen anything like this woman in a canoe carting flowers and fruit, dressed in an embroidered “peasant blouse”. I found it, well, exotic.

Loteria card with image of a mermaid.

La Sirena (The Mermaid, or literally, The Siren)

Loteria card with image of El Boracho, or The Drunk.

El Boracho (The Drunk)

I’ve heard that the card El Borracho has been eliminated from newer editions of the game. That’s too bad. I have a dark sense of humor. I love this card because it cracks me up.

As a kid, I stared at this card with morbid fascination and fear. “El Borracho”, the drunk. I knew there were men like this in life. They said my daddy was a borracho.

Indeed, my dad was an alcoholic, but he was more than that. I saw this when he came back into our lives. He was cool, charming, funny, smart, and a work-a-holic when he was sober. He told me stories. I loved hearing stories. I always asked my mom and my widowed aunt to tell me stories. My grandma told me stories about my mom. I asked my dad to tell me stories of his boxcar travels. He loved the song King of the Road (by Roger Miller), he said it was his song. (If you don’t know it, it’s on YouTube. Check it out.) I smile to hear it. That was my dad once. He loved New York, New Orleans, Denver. He saw a lot of cities on his “travels” around the country. In my opinion, he should’ve stayed away from my mom; he might’ve had a chance. But he never figured this out. I only just figured it out myself a few years ago. A whole lot that didn’t make sense then, makes sense to me now. I know more about life, how hard it can be to be human, and I know about narcissistic personality disorder. My dad tried. But he never stood a chance. He was never going to please her. Like I never will. But, unlike my dad, I figured it out. Finally. A lot of years of therapy, psychology books, introspection, and putting pieces together. My troubled and cool dad, with his self-destructive tendencies; my mother, the arrogant, trickster, self-preserving destroyer. What a pair.

Chapbook of poetry titled "For the Hell of it".

My self-published chapbook.

The next time I came across Loteria was in the early 90’s. I hadn’t seen it or heard of it since those days in the 50’s. I lived in Berkeley. My son lived in San Francisco, had moved there when he was a

Game card number fourteen called La Muete.

La Muerte (Death)

student at San Francisco State. One day he came to visit me in Berkeley, and he said, “I have something for you.” It was a T-shirt with an image of a Loteria card–La Muerte. I had never told him about this game. He had no idea that I knew what this image was. I had no idea that he knew about Loteria. Living in the Mission District, he had learned about it.

I painted an image of a woman with La Muerte on her shirt. I used myself as the model, but the painting isn’t me. The painting is meant as a poetic expression, an emotion, and an allusion to indigenous history and connection. But I didn’t make that obvious. Intentionally. It also has an element of dark humor, but I’ve only heard one person make mention of it. She said, “I don’t know what to say about that neck. It’s so…” She seemed unable to find the right words, just went silent. She looked up at me. I nodded. I said, “I know.” We burst out laughing. Then I said, “I wanted to

Loteria card called La Luna.

La Luna (The Moon)

make her look ghoulish.” She said, “Yeah, I can see that. She has a green tinge.” But no one else has ever said anything like that. I used this painting for the cover of my self-published chapbook. Some people have asked me, “What’s the 14 stand for?” It doesn’t mean

Loteria card number thirty-eight called El Apache.

El Apache (An Apache)

anything; it just happens to be the number on that

La Estrella, Loteria game card number 35.

La Estrella (A Star)

card from the game Lotería. The numbers on the Loteria cards have no particular significance, as far as I know. But I’m not an expert on the subject. I simply have my own personal experience with the game. My favorite cards were (well, still are) El Borracho, La Muerte, La Luna, La Estrella, and El Apache (The Drunk, Death, The Moon, A Star, An Apache). The image of the Apache man is actually the artist’s interpretive image of an Apache. My name is Estela, which is a form of Estrella (pronounced ehs-treh-ya in Spanish), so, naturally, this was/is my most favorite card of all.

Life is a card you draw. Some cards you draw at random, some you deliberately choose, some just fall in our path. And, really, every choice you make is a gamble.  Así es la vida.

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Confused Old Bag

Pink forget-me-not flower.Damn, my recall is crap. In my last post I said Violeta Parra was Peruvian. But she wasn’t. She was Chilean. I’m sitting here listening to her singing her remarkable songs, and then like a slap upside my head, BAM! it occurs to me that I made that mistake. I’m like, Oh, man, no I didn’t! How embarrassing!

Violeta Parra was born in Chile, according to Wiki: “San Fabián de Alico… a small town in southern Chile.” It also says she was born “on 4 October 1917″. I went back to my post and changed “Peruvian” to “Chilean”. I wonder if anyone caught the error? Maybe one one cares, anyway. But I do. I care. If I’m going to talk about something, I should know what I’m talking about.

Geezus, what a dork. What I goon I am. Damnit. What a…

Depiction of cute donkey with two thumbs up.

Yup, that’s right!

Wait. There I go. No, I can’t do that. I don’t like to make mistakes, but I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. It makes me feel so stupid when I make mistakes. I wish I was perfect, and I’m so far from it. :(

I want to refrain from self-flagellation. It was an absentminded moment. Damn, but it makes me feel like a jackass.

My recall is bad. I’m getting to be such a confused old bag. I used to have an amazing memory. But, now, I have to work really hard to remember things, and that includes my address, my phone number, where the heck I’m headed when I’m on BART, or walking up the street. It unnerves me. :(

I don’t mind getting old(er). I’m glad to be alive. The life experience amazes me. It sometimes unnerves me. There are things I can’t change that I wish I could. And maybe I’m thinking and fearing what been thought and feared forever, but I think humans will destroy the planet. I wonder: is this a scenario that keeps repeating?

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The Beat Goes On (and a poem)

SkeletonSummer is on its last legs. I hate to see it end. It’s been a long summer. It’s been a short summer. It was great. It was horrible. It started out good, really good. Then I ran into disappointment, then anger, and finally grief. But, hell, I guess that’s the story of life. Stuff happens. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not.

At the beginning of summer, I went to a party, a “Hamfest”. Not ham as in “to eat”. In fact, it was a vegetarian spread. (I, myself, am not a vegetarian. I agree that the meat industry is vile, but some people are starting to get a clue, and there are farmers raising free-range and organic fed livestock and poultry. I can’t afford that meat, but I  purchase organic fruits, veggies, and eggs from free-range chickens, at least. If I had my own home, I’d grow some veggies, like I used to. At any rate, I’m not going to stop eating meat. These incisors are not for tearing into my salads, my veggies and fruit. Or even my bread. Mmm, I love bread. I am sorry for the brutality of the psychopathic corp meat industry. The old Native way was always “in a good way”, a sacred way, with ceremony, with respect, reverence, and gratitude. I’ll bet this is taught still, outside the Mainstream.) The “Hamfest” referred to performance, an opportunity to “ham it up”.  Anyone, who wanted to, could get on the list to perform. There was a list for 8:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m., and 12:00 a.m. Initially, I thought, Oh, man, I’ll be long gone before midnight. But I not only enjoyed reading my work, I also enjoyed hearing other people’s poetry, singing, and/or playing an instrument (piano, violin, guitars, and even an accordion). 12:00 a.m. came up fast, I was wide awake, and I wanted to hear people perform, so I was still there at midnight. It was great. Maybe I’m nerdy, but it’s the best party I’ve ever been to. Generally, I’m not the party type, but this was different.

A lovely, Argentinean woman told me of a famous Chilean singer/songwriter by the name of Violeta Parra.  Her most famous song is called Gracias a la Vida. There is a movie about her. She told me my poetry reminded her of Violeta. After I read the first time, this woman burst into tears. She was up next to perform, to play her accordion, but she couldn’t. I’m glad she did play later on in the evening. I loved it. She told me my poetry “stunned”.

I’ve been researching this Chilean artist, who committed suicide in 1967.  The movie is called Violeta Went to Heaven, and was a Sundance winner in 2012. I found it on Netflix. The movie tells her story, more or less. I’ve found some information about her online, and I can see how the movie wasn’t quite accurate, but it was an approximation. I still think it’s a wonderful movie. I had to read the subtitles, because I hardly speak Spanish anymore, barely understand it, sometimes not at all.

In my research, I discovered that Joan Baez recorded this song. Joan Baez fans, I suppose, already know this. I found a YouTube vid of her singing Gracias a la Vida, but it’s inaccurate. I guess she forgot the lyrics, since it wasn’t a young Baez. She seems to have it right on another vid, her 1974 recording. Apparently, in 1974, she recorded an  album called Gracias a la Vida; all the songs are in Spanish. But I don’t like her rendition of this beautiful song. I know people love Joan Baez, but I never could take her voice: there’s too much vibrato, too high-pitched; it hurts my ears, makes me cringe; it feels like fingernails scratching a slate blackboard. Ugh! :/ Linda Ronstadt she ain’t. And, most certainly, she’s no Violeta Parra. I have fallen in love with this artist.

I found some translations online of Gracias a la Vida, but they are terrible. Some downright wrong.  Most say, “Thanks to life”, which is a literal translation. “Here’s to life” is close, but I prefer “I’m grateful to life.” That’s more the meaning–grateful to experience life, to live, be alive, grateful for the Earth walk. I translated the song, my way. I had to look up some of the words, of course. But as I looked them up, some began to return to my memory. The more I listen to Parra, the more I understand what I hear. I can feel the beauty, as well as the meaning of her songs, even if I don’t catch all the words right off. The more I understand the Spanish words, the more beautiful the experience of listening to them.

The song says, “…me dio dos luceros…” Luceros are bright stars, but it’s also a poetic way of referring to eyes. One really bad translation said, “it’s given me two stars”. That’s just silly. The song says “life gave me two eyes”, but it says it beautifully, poetically, using “luceros” instead of “ojos”. Initially, I translated that as “bright eyes”, but changed it to “brilliant eyes”. Translations have to convey meaning, not the literal words. Sometimes the words have to be changed to arrive at the intended meaning, so translating poetry is no easy task. It takes Ezra Pound capacity to achieve the accuracy of beauty. I don’t know how I did, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the horrible ones I’ve seen online. Some fool translated ladridos into “bricks”, which are ladrillos. Ladrido is a bark, a scream, or howl. The song expresses gratitude for being able to hear. We don’t hear bricks, for Pete’s sake. Well, yeah, if they’re tapped, flung and land on a hard surface, dropped, but, come on, when you think of hearing, you don’t think “bricks”.  :D

I was on a roll, doing this research, listening to the songs, working on translations, when stuff began to happen, and it broke my concentration, and I got into a funk. I couldn’t write. I wanted to write, and I couldn’t, except in my personal journal. But grief, once it goes deep, which it finally did, stirs my creativity. Writing this poem has released me from the funk, and I can now return to my Violeta Parra project.

I have other projects I want to get to also. I promised myself on my birthday that I’d get

Painting in progress of a garden in a park.

Acrylic painting in progress of a garden in a park.

back to painting. I want to start by finishing this one, which I started before moving to San Francisco. Damnit, it’s been too many years. What, like seven? Geezus. Painting makes me happy. Not finding time for it, makes me very unhappy.

I’m happy to end summer with a new poem.

Blue Moon

A big blue moon
hung low
the night I was born.

A million stars
in the raven sky
blinked yellow,
white, red, blue.

Tonight,
I think of you,
I think of death.

Game card number fourteen called La Muete.

Card from Mexican game called Loteria.I think of you.

You’re not worth it.

Humans are insane.
No one is immune.

You and I,
no less the same.

If I keep you near,
you make me mad.

You’re my death.

I have to leave.
I want to live
another day.

You need,
you take,
don’t give back,
like a sociopath.

You laugh
at my pain,
like a sadist.

My love
can’t cure you;

you’re too far gone.
I leave you to God.

I see the full moon
hang high, hang low.
It is white, yellow,

orange, red, blue.

The stars blink
different hues.
The sky has colors too:
black, grey,
blue, violet, pink, red.

The sun hangs there
every day,
like a cyclops eye.

I think of you and weep.
You make my heart hurt.

There is Beauty in life.
It’s healing.
I’m sorry
you can’t see it.
♥  ♠  ♠  ♥

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“Childhoods Are a Blast Out of Hell”

Close up of cherry tree in bloom.When I was around three, I had a fever that caused me to hallucinate. I saw snakes. I screamed, “Vívoras, vívoras,” and tried to push away the (invisible) snakes. (Spanish was the first language I learned, though I can barely speak it anymore.)  I have the vaguest memory of this hallucination, though I think it’s a combination of vague memory plus imagination, since my mother often told me the story. In this vague memory, I see a huge, dark grey snake slithering over me, headed toward my face, its head significantly larger than my hand. Other snakes are crawling up the sides of my bed. Maybe it’s two, maybe three, that part isn’t as clear.

As a little kid, I often had a sore throat and fever, and I couldn’t talk because my tonsils would swell. When I was five, I had my tonsils taken out. In fact, I turned five the day of my surgery. All tonsillectomy patients got ice cream afterwards. I didn’t know it was standard procedure, so when they brought me a dish of vanilla ice cream, I thought it was in honor of my birthday. I felt so special, as I sat there in my hospital crib, merrily eating my ice cream, distracted for the moment from my fear and confusion.

After I finished my ice cream, a nurse came in and asked me, “Do you have to go potty?” I had no idea what she said. I didn’t understand much English. But I heard the word “potty”, and I thought she said “party”, because that’s pretty much how my mom pronounced “party”. My mom spoke to us kids in Spanish, but she threw in an English word here and there, which she pronounced with an accent. I had never heard the word “potty”, meaning “go to the bathroom”. My mom would ask, “Tienes que hacer?“.  That translates into, “Do you have to go,” with the implication of “to the bathroom”. My mom sometimes asked us in English, but she translated in literal terms, so she would say, “Do you have to make?” When I heard the nurse say “potty”, I assumed she was talking about my birthday and was asking me if I was going to have a party. I nodded. When I  nodded, what I really meant was, “Yes, there will be a party for my birthday. There will be cake and ice cream.” She brought me a bedpan. I thought it was a present. A kidney-shaped metal bowl? What was I supposed to do with this? I sat there and looked at it. She said, “Don’t you have to go potty?” I looked up at her, shook my head. “No, I don’t want a party, if this thing is my present. Just bring me ice cream, please.” These were more or less my thoughts, anyway. I was a timid child. I didn’t talk much, and if I did, it was barely above a whisper.

Bamboo plant and red wooden chair.When I was in sixth grade, my teacher asked me a question. He was tall, a six footer, with a loud, deep voice. In retrospect, I realize he was really a nice guy; he wasn’t mean. But he didn’t take any crap or nonsense, and he’d let you know in his big, booming voice. I was afraid of him. One time he asked me a question (about whatever subject we were focused on at the moment). The answer was “yes,” so I nodded. He wanted to make me talk, so he asked me another question. The answer was “no,” so I shook my head. He sat there a minute, looking at me. I sat there, looking back at him, cringing, terrified. Then he goes, “What if you couldn’t do this (he shakes his head), or this (he nods his head)?” I shrugged my shoulders. He burst out laughing, in his giant, booming voice, a guffaw. The class laughed. I drew my body in tighter, tried to shrink myself invisible. But I liked the feeling, actually, of making people laugh.

I’m reading Ham on Rye, by Charles Bukowski. It’s the only novel of his I never got around to reading. (I heard that Pulp, his final novel, didn’t do well. I don’t why. I love it.) I find this novel a little uncomfortable. It still has Bukowski’s dark humor, and I get the feeling he’s being a bit “hammy”, so I like it all right. But his difficult childhood was no joke. I suppose that’s why he developed a dark sense of humor. I knew a woman once who told me, “I think all childhoods are a blast out of hell.” I laughed when she said this. Most people used to look at her like she was nuts. She was just honest and unsentimental, and she had dark sense of humor. I liked her. She cracked me up. She was a bit eccentric. I lost track of her when a job relocated me. Another of my jobs from hell. Most the jobs I ever had in my life were hell. Sometimes life is hell. But it can be fascinating too, and sometimes a nice surprise comes your way when you least expect it.

I’m going to a party tonight. I’m not much of a party person. But the guy who invited me is a poet I met recently. He and his roommate are having a poetry party. A poet’s party. A poetry party for poets. I think only a poet would find that interesting. Sure, let’s see what the night holds.

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Brief Candle

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day; to Close-up of pink gladiolas.the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

(Note: I ignored line breaks, of course. It’s the words I’m focused on, not the form.)

If you know literature, you, Shirley, know the above quote. It’s from Macbeth.

I think about these lines a lot, rather often. I’ve read Macbeth at least four times. At least.

(Oh hell. I accidentally hit “Publish”. I wasn’t done yet. Let me continue:)

Photo of a field.A couple months ago, at a poetry reading, I heard a woman (won’t name her) read a poem about having a PhD, but because she is Mexican-American/Chicana/Latina, she complained in her poetry that people see her as a maid, or a nanny, that in academia, she was treated disrespectfully, brushed off by her colleagues, but that she was all that, she had it going on, she had her fucking PhD. Yesterday, I attended a poetry reading, and another PhD read his poem about being black, and that people looked at him with fear in their eyes, as they stereotyped him, fearing he might be a thief or some dangerous person riding the subway, even though he dressed in a suit and carried a briefcase.

I had no desire to bring out my fucking violin for them. These same two PhDs ignored me. But I don’t feel compelled to write a fucking poem about it. I have never felt compelled to write a poem about being stereotyped. Sure, it pisses me off, and sometimes it’s scary, because I don’t know what that other person is thinking, but it isn’t worth a poem. If anything, it’s time for me to pray, meditate, connect with a Higher Power, because being stereotyped sometimes frightens me and that makes me sad.

The truth is, we all stereotype each other in this world. We live in a world where paranoia runs rampant, and arrogance, and needy egos, and ignorance (no matter how educated you might be), and stupidity.

You can vote and elect any politician you want, it isn’t going change. Maybe a little bit, here and there, but in general it won’t. Politics isn’t going to save us. Religion isn’t going to save us. Governments and their armies, education, science and technology, nothing is ever going to “save us” from our own selves. We will always fret and strut, babble, and jabber, need, want, and then we will croak, bite the big one, lights out. Large planter with plant spliiling over, cascading down over the side..

I’ve heard it said they want to put chips into us, like they do our pets. Personally, I don’t like the idea of putting a chip in my pet, let alone in me. (Well, at the moment I don’t have a pet. Wish I did, but can’t here where I live, damnit.) They are wanting to make machines to take over our lives. I hear talk of wanting to eradicate diseases, even death. But life is supposed to be cyclical, not static. And I’d rather live with less machinery, less technology, as convenient as it makes our lives. And, sure, this is hypocritical of me, as here I am on this machine. I need this machine.

Is that what Frankenstein is getting at? Did Mary Shelley see potential dangers in science, with man attempting to play God?

I hope I live a long time, but I can’t fathom a “forever”. Who knows what this life is anyway? Maybe this experience is a process the spirit, the life force, goes through, and after it’s done here, it moves on to something else. I don’t mean like Heaven or Hell, or Limbo, for that matter. I mean something a human being is too limited to imagine, let alone know.

I’m not too sure what I am trying to get at. Sometimes I just can’t there. It’s too deep.

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New Love Poem (by Poet Dressed in Black)

Photoshopped image of Estela.

Estela

I sold a few chapbooks at my readings. Made a few ducats. It felt a little odd selling my art. But I can get used to it. Initially, reading in public felt odd. Now, I enjoy it.

Baruch described my poetry as “unique and on fire”, and described me as a “badass” poet. Ah, I like that. :D I’m positively appreciative. <3

Last Saturday, I read at a place called Magnet.

Audience at poetry reading at Magnet in San Francisco on April 12, 2014.

Audience at poetry reading at Magnet in San Francisco. (Photo credit to whomever took this. It wasn’t me.)

It was a good crowd. They kept coming, and eventually the place was packed. Magnet is a non-profit in the Castro that provides health services for gay men, but they also offer their space for artistic events.

Marquee at Magnet in the Castro in San Francisco.

Magnet in the Castro in San Francisco. (Credit to whomever took this photo.)

There was art on the back wall, some excellent charcoal sketches, beautiful portraits. (But behind us readers at the mic, there were flyers. I get a kick out of that, to have my picture taken with these flyers behind me. )

Art is subjective. I thought the portraits were beautifully done, though, for my taste, they were too technically precise. But they were amazing in the their technical precision. Charcoal sketches that looked like a photographs. Amazing. I, myself, prefer an element of avant-garde, something new and special. But avant-garde is also subjective, no?

Estela reading poem at Magnet in San Francisco.

Reading at Magnet in San Francisco. Photo by Carrie Gocker.

A poetry reading last Saturday, and another one Monday, and both left me feeling really good. Darn, I don’t have any pics of my Monday reading. I dressed in black, but wore a red scarf and red earrings, in honor of the eclipsed full moon, a Red Moon. There’s a poetry reading on Saturday, but I’m not scheduled to read. It’s going to be great, though. I’m really looking forward to it.

I wrote a love poem. Someone gave me a warm hug and said something lovely in my ear. Nothing flirtatious or anything, just a really awesome thing to say to me. I got to thinking about a story of ill-fated cosmic lovers, and wrote this poem.

When You Hold Me

When you hold me,
the moment is perfect,
as death,

your firm arms
cozy as a coffin.

I love your lies.
I close my eyes
and dream I drowned.

When you hold me,
my heart stops.

You croon bluesy jazz
in my ear,
and I hear worms
hum a tune.

When you hold me,
I’m home ,
as a corpse in in a box.

Maybe you’re a reflection
of a cosmic connection,

maybe you’re a hallucination.
My sweet love,
each time we meet,
you kill me.

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New Bag for an Old Bag

Poster for Donde Esta Mi Genter Poetry reading event

Poster for April Poetry Reading Event

I’m an old bag now. Ain’t no spring chicken. Chronologically speaking. But as far as I’m concerned, my life is just starting. I feel great. I’m excited. I’m happy.

I’ve sacrificed. I’ve suffered. I’ve struggled. I’ve worried. I’ve panicked. I sometimes still worry a little, and I’m still sacrificing, and on occasion I panic, and, well, sure, I’m still struggling. But I no longer suffer. I am acquiescent. I know fate has the final word. All I can do is do what I can do. Then just chill. Que será será, what will be will be. Dream my dreams, and be careful not to confuse them with fantasies. Although sometimes fantasies turn out to be dreams, and sometimes dreams turn out to be fantasies. What’s the difference between a dream and a fantasy? Well, realistic and unrealistic. Possible and impossible. But sometimes what seems unrealistic, becomes a reality. And sometimes what seemed an impossibility comes to pass, it happens. “Oh, she’ll never… Oh, shit, she did.” “Come on, it’ll never… Oh, shit, it did. “

On Saturday I am going to be a featured reader at a poetry festival called Donde Esta Mi Gente. There’s a website www.dondeestamigente.com that describes this event. Baruch Porras-Hernandez dreamed up this artistic project. He’s a writer and performance artist who lives here in San Francisco. He says about this event:

“¿Dónde Esta Mi Gente?  (Where are my people?) is a Festival of Latino Poetry and Spoken Word! For three days writers of all Latino backgrounds are going to get together and recite poetry to the people of San Francisco as part of National Poetry Month. ¿Dónde Esta Mi Gente? -Is a celebration of the voice of the latino writer, a multigenerational, multicultural exchange between writers from all walks of life that seeks to answer that question, by gathering some of the top writers in the bay area.” Close up of fallen cherry blossoms.

I started this blog because I love to write. And because I have reclusive tendencies, I thought it good practice for being (in) public. But I don’t advertise it. I don’t tell anyone about it. Because it’s an experiment. It’s a public blog. Anyone who wants to can read it. I have already said, this is not a professional blog, it’s a personal blog.

Emily Dickinson didn’t have the opportunity to blog, or I’m sure she would have. But would anyone have read her? I don’t know.

I don’t want to be a poet of shadows anymore. I want light. This year seems to be off to a good start. I featured last month, I’m a featured reader twice this month, and I have three other possibilities lined up for future readings. Two are in Berkeley. So, momma’s got a brand new bag. Well, grammy, actually. The old bag. Moi. The old bag got herself a new bag. I’ve immersed myself in poetry this month. April is Poetry Month, after all.

Baruch Porras-Hernanez holding poster of Donde Esta Mi Gente poetry festival.

Baruch holding poster of poetry event.

Dream: I want a nice camera to continue taking photographs. This little camera I use is a simple non-pro camera, and I can’t always get the shots I want.

Dream: Make it as an artist. (Writing, performing, painting.)

Dream: Readers reading my blog.

If you are in San Francisco tomorrow, do come to the reading. It’s in the Castro.

 

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