Saturday, November 24, 2012

La comuna de nuestra lengua | The commune of the tongue

La comuna de nuestra lengua |
The commune of our tongue 
a communion
of commotion
a commovement
of movements
who will revolutionize
the skin
of our languages
our tongues
as invisible
as transparent
as the most illegal of illegals
as the most undocumented of undocumented
as the most minority of minorities
as the most queer of the queer
as the most visible of the invisible
as the most remembered of the forgotten
as the lowest of the lowliest
as the most homeless among the homelandless
as the most human of humanityness
so when you put your words in the vibrating air
anyone can step into them
feel at home
transliterating freedoms
obliterating the muteness
making the world
into jagged pieces
that fit together in their crags and ragged tendernesses
disperses in orderly chaos
organizes in spontaneous spring-times, whatever the season
who dares make the commotion together
who dares make the movement different
who cares about tomorrow, the natural world
who cares about the land, the community
who cares about our bones, the wind
who dares the sun to return for the sixth time, the continents
who dares to stop time
and return to the starting place?
I am a human out of place
I am a human in a country no longer human
I am a human in every road, path, trail, a movement
Congealing, coalescing, germinating
on the magnetic waves of tenderness
on the gravitational fields of freedom
on the bare arms of a campesina
a commotion
a communition
a cosmomovement of neighbors.


I do not want a revolution of empleados
I want a revolution of emplumados.


No quiero una revolución de empleados
Quiero una revolución de emplumados.


Saturday, November 10, 2012



Mis rodillas

a la tierra
y abrazo
al espacio

en mi carrera sin rumbo
mis labios

te besan
y en torno

besan a todos y todas.

Por tus labios
bebo la lluvia
Por los mios
el lodo

a carrera
sin mas rumbo que encontrarte

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Late Picasso: You can't confuse Picasso with anyone else

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Late Picasso: 
Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings, Prints, 1953 1972
In Late Picasso, covering the last two decades of his life and art production, Picasso re-examines, remarks, re-evaluates and takes off from his own work and those of his peers and ancestors. He does not re-paint, he does not repeat himself as much as builds on his oeuvre, visiting, no retaking and occupying, the highest vantage points of his work.

Late Picasso is a deeper, newly found Picasso. Older yet now slower. He is quoted as saying that in while in one day he does a hundred drawings, variations, sketches and paints, other painters spend a 100 days on one painting.

A painter I admire much once told me that Picasso was over-rated. I did not ask after her why. Poring over each page of "Late Picasso," squinting at the paintings reproduced, he has completely reached another level, twisting-inside-out of the skin of Cubism, distortions that create a new lens of focus. While some of his late work may appear to verge on the sloppy, closer and closer inspection says otherwise. yes, his precision changed but his output didn't. In the 20-volume catalog of his complete work, more than half was produced during the period covered by "Late Picasso."

In art, in poetry, in painting, there are no accidents. In Picassos, there were no accidents.

Picasso painted his daily life, made meaning from his studio, from his relationships to women and other painters, friends and political unfoldings. Picasso made a chronology of art and the artist of a new type out of the life of his imagination. Picasso feared death, dying. This spurred him on to paint and paint, knowing that one day -- whether alive and incapacitated by age or dead, which to him we're the same -- he would not be able to. Picasso made many drafts and versions of his work, from sketches, to paintings to sculpture and collages. He then would paint his paintings, create sculptures from his paintings, an auto-locura [a self-crazyness], creating in the process a new process and fusion of what he had produced and accomplished and then some.

One of my favorite poets wrote that it was a crime for a poet to not write, to not produce poetry, every day. Picasso acted in the same way, literally to the day he died. For us, Picasso not painting was a crime to humanity.

Picasso evolved and emerged out of himself a few times over, a butterfly emerging out of the one cocoon where he created several lifetimes. Not reinventing himself but becoming a creator anew, not stuck on his accomplishments, pushing himself -- and in the process art, artists and us viewers-- to new limits.

Maybe many of us would have stopped, and maybe even the majority of work forgotten, after painting "Guernica." Picasso did no such thing. Ceramics, sculpture, collages, mural-sized paintings, poetry, theater, love making in all, Picasso's work will take many more eyes and generations to settle accounts. His last painting was an open work, yet to be finished or even started. The last painting? He left a blank canvass, signed Picasso.

Over-rated? Maybe. Great, yes. Individual, yes.

No one will confuse Picasso with anyone else other than Picasso.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

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The Prison Poems of Nikolai BukharinThe Prison Poems of Nikolai Bukharin by Nikolai Bukharin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A note to start reading "The Prison Poems of Nikolai Bukharin | Transformation of the World (Verse about the Ages, and About People."

Nikolai Bukharin in Russia's revolutionary and socialist history represented a potentially humane leadership alternative to the catastrophe of Stalinism. We will never know. An economist, a sportsman, an organizer, theoretician and now a poet, you can imagine that someone with such a broad political and cultural background would have created a different result from the ex-Soviet Union. In other words Bukharin was a revolutionary with a different approach to culture and vision that was, could have been, different and had an impact. Yet, he ended up in a Stalinist prison. Bukharin was defeated in political debates by Lenin, though not eliminated. After Stalin took power, through COINTELPRO-like tactics, infiltrated, smeared, hounded, isolated, caused divisions, and persecuted, murdered some and then imprisoned many fellow leaders and members who may have thought that their views and organizing were covered by freedom of expression. Debate, oppositions and differences should have been signs of health and may have been comsidered par for the course towards achieving some semblance of unity of action. Many found out otherwise. The Stalin machine attacked Bukharin, imprisoned him, and finally erased him from official history and he faded from the scene.

Bukharin is probably only known by specialists, historians of the Bolsheviks and partisans of the long-faded communist movements. Even then only his writings, much less about his life and fate and even less so about his poetry.

Now, in a 533 page book, the reader will find out that while imprisoned he wrote a cycle of poems dedicated to telling the stories and histories of revolutionaries and their revolutions, their battles, dreams and defeats. Bukharin, even as he was imprisoned and headed towards death, believed in the machine. Irony of ironies, to believe your executioner is your liberator, that good will overcome evil, that there must have been a big mix-up and in due time will be corrected. Subtitled "Transformation of the World (Verse about the Ages, and About People," Bukharin saw all the way to the edge of the first global darkness called fascism, -- and the impending wars -- writing from the other bank of the river of history called Stalinism. Bukharin's backbone is not promising; as I skimmed the pages I saw him write a poem on the "Stalin charter." Optimism and hope never perish? C|S

“But the most amazing thing is that, despite everything, the time of shining hopes had not passed for him. He would pay for these hopes with his head. Moreover, one reason for his preposterous confessions in the dock – incomplete, but sufficiently egregious confessions – was precisely this: he still hoped that the idea to which he had dedicated his life would triumph.” [Anna Larina, This I Cannot Forget, Pandora, 1994. Bukharin's wife.]

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Picasso painted as he lived

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Picasso 1926-1939: From Minotaur to GuernicaPicasso 1926-1939: From Minotaur to Guernica by Josep Palau i Fabre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Picasso 1926-1939: from Minotaur to Guernica, Josep Palau I Fabre tracked and linked Picasso's daily output of paintings, drawings, etchings, scultptures, collages, poems and other artwork reflecting almost a chronology of his intimate, private and at times public life. A Herculean task, Palau i Fabre provides unusual insights into the creative dynamics and cultural process that is named Picasso. Covering approximately 12 years of Picasso's life and work, Palau documents over 1300 pieces of art produced by Picasso. From the monumental piece "Guernica," including dozens of preparatory pieces that are masterpieces in and of themselves, to pencil drawings on pieces of matchboxes, Palau highlights the connections and the circuits between Picasso's art and the women in his life. "Guernica" was a commissioned painting (about 11 by 25 feet) that became a homage to the city namesake that was carpet bombed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and a continuing outcry against all war.

In From Minotaur to Guernica, Palau shows how Picasso wove his personal struggles into his artwork and in the process made art and culture that took on a life of their own. Palau links Picasso's art to Picasso's daily strife and tribulations, marriage, love affairs, politics, cultural developments, interpersonal relationships, war and nationality.

Picasso created a new way of seeing art, transforming and creating new spatial dimensions or illusions on a canvass. Picasso's art and life still continue turning heads, being contradictory, controversial, contorted, communist even, utopian, cubist, cartoonish, animated, childish, whole, full, intoxicating. Picasso showed that you can edit an image, much like a writer cuts and pastes words or sentences, and rework an idea over and over, with each iteration a stand alone piece. Fascinatingly detailed, this book is for individuals that want to learn from Picasso's method, his contributions that continuing impacting artistic production.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

My land | arno!do garcia

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My country
is the smallest country
in the world.
my country fits
inside one-hundredth
of one molecule
in a touch between one strand of DNA
my country
has room
for everyone
every European
every Chinese
every Mexican
every African
every Indian
every Asian Pacific Islander
every queer
every human
every nomad
of the earth
every two-legged, four-legged,
crawling, burrowing, winged-being
fits in my country.
Everyone is welcome, everyone
I'll happily give you
my country
as long as you promise
to take care of her
to let everyone
live in her in peace
in garbled flags
in borders without pigment
borders with human pores
to breath freely
to live breathing
My country is everyone, is everywhere
my country is small
bothers no one
invades no one
drones no one
doesn't stamp your passport
doesn't ask for identity documents
my country lets you be
lets you exist as yourself
lets you determine who you are
my country has no borders
other than those of humanity to humanity
my country has
no armies
no prisons
no police
no homeless
no one suffers
at the hands of other humans
my country is
all the colors,
the clash of colors,
the contrast,
the muddy blends,
the stark yellows,
the pink sunrises,
the red of your tongue
my country fits
in your veins
fits in the bat of an eye
welcomes you to our bodily paradise
you can have my country, if you want
it's already yours
walk slowly take your time
my country is in no rush
peace and freedom take their time
rest a bit, get up, work hard, party
in my country
even the dead
get a turn to dance
every now and then.
There are no regrets
there is only life
and its mortal pleasures
in my country.
Oh! in my country
you would be ideal
you would fit right in
like you always lived there
like your ancestors had been buried there
as a matter of fact
I would encourage you
to bury your ancestors here...
to bring your ancestors here
to my country
to bury them here
take care of them here
take care of our country
where everyone
where every living being
my country is so small
that everyone fits.
And in one of her pores
fit all the suns and moon,
my country, you and me...


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An intifada of my own: Mini-review of "Beyond the Wall"

Add to Technorati Favorites Beyond the Wall: Writing a Path through PalestineBeyond the Wall: Writing a Path through Palestine by Bidisha
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beyond the Wall: Writing a Path through Palestine by Bidisha is a brief excursion into the daily life and struggles Palestinians face under apartheid Israeli rule and occupation. Written after going to Palestine to participate in a literary festival, Bidisha presents a first-person account, mincing no words describing the Israeli military and settlers inhumane treatment and obliteration of Palestine. Bidisha brings you along to see the walls, feel the bombing of Palestinians persons, homes, traditions and lands, experience the normalization of racism, hate the sexism and militarism on the streets and the treatment of women, while getting glimpses of the virtual interpenetration of resistance and culture at the Palfest she is attending.

This is a good book to gift to someone who should already be familiar with the situation in Palestine. While this may not a book for experts or organizers who have studied, organized protests, visited the Middle East, everyone should read it to understand how the occupation of Palestine and her resistance has implications for all of us.

How the Walls Connect Us

Closer to the U.S. home, the wall the U.S. is building and extending along the Mexican border is directly linked by the same policies of Israeli apartheid. The same companies and strategists that built the Israeli walls have been consulted by the U.S. government for the Mexican border wall.

The walls in Palestine and on the U.S.-Mexico border funnel people, communities and cultures to evaporation, disappearance and death. This is not inevitable but deliberate. Although the walls represent deliberate policies and strategies meant to harm and undermine people's mobility, right to place, and self-determination, survival is not being deterred by walls, armies and occupation. Survival is the hallmark of resilient cultures.

Nonetheless, Palestinians under occupation and migrants and women on the U.S.-Mexico border are paying a deadly price. The walls in Palestine will be torn down; it might take a decade or two and from behind them will emerge a new people more determined and having the potential of renewing human culture on a world scale.

Which Side Are You On?

Well, Bidisha doesn't say all this in her short Beyond the Wall. She writes so that we can see over the walls and what they are covering up: settler colonialist violence against Palestinian, against women and violence against the land and human dignity.

Bidisha lets us get on her shoulders to peer over the walls so that we can decide with a deeper certainty if we will be or not be part of this apartheid now or in the future.

Our futures are bound up by the walls and the struggles to tear them down. Her book could have easily asked her readers: Which side of the wall are you on?

Well, which side are you on?
C.S Beyond the Wall  Writing a Path through Palestine

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Migrant graves

arnoldo garcia

Migrant graves 

The big bang is the grave of the earth.
The earth is the grave of the moon.
The moon is the grave of the oceans.
The oceans are the grave of the beginning.
The beginning is the grave of the word.
The word is the grave of the all our ancestors, including the dinosaurs.
The dinosaurs are the grave of our plumed desires.
Our plumed desires are the grave of our paradise.
Our paradise is the grave of capitalism.
Capitalism is the grave of our imaginations.
Our imaginations are the grave of prisons.
Prisons are the grave of all people.
All people are the grave of our descendants.
Our descendants are the grave of all horizons.
The horizons are the graves of all migrants.
Migrants are the grave of the first gods.
The first gods are the graves of all goddesses.
The goddesses are the graves of all divisions.
All divisions are the graves of stars.
The stars are the graves of all death.
Death is the grave of all illusions.
Illusions are the grave of those who refuse my desires.
My desires are the grave of all martyrs.
Martyrs are the grave of those have stolen our lands.
Our lands are the grave of all invaders, empires, armies and power....
The invaders smile over us
The empires stalk our lands
The armies piss on our dead
And power?
No one has power except the earth, grave of the big bang


Monday, April 23, 2012

The world's oldest profession

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Arnoldo García

The world's oldest profession

I practice
the world's
oldest profession
I tell the story of our suns
I tell the story of our dust
I tell the story of the rivers
that run in our veins
I named the directions
I named our bodies
against each other
to become one
to gestate ourselves
I tell the story of our resurrecting body
buried thousands of times
disappeared and disappeared
only to reappear in my lungs
exhaled as story, ours.
I cultivate the seeds
that sprout in our senses
I am the story-maker:
muddy water
flesh offerings
belly-button moon
each of these stories
water in my mouth
I work
the land
the words
of everyone
of everything
of everywhere
I drag my tongue
on the bloodied battleground
I offer my tongue
in prayer for the hollowed land
I sacrifice all my stories
so that our story lives...


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rolling hills

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Arnoldo García

Rolling hills

Rolling hills
ondulating around the sun
shredding the light
Toppenish became my home
drunk Indians and Mexicans
(that is, drunk Indians all)
Three syllables
three roots
dirt roads
hop fields
sugar beet
green beans
the ranchers
drained the Yakama's river
to irrigate cash crops
White Swan stranded in the desert
three seasons and every winter
putting us in our place
My grandmother and my grandfather who took her lead
thought this better than Texas
where whites lynched Mexicans.
Here they strangled us
with hard field labor
Even the Indians had to changez
the spelling of their names, their homeland
so no one would confuse
Mexicans from Yakamas
Yakamas land forever from Yakima lands for sale
That is whites only
took their lands
and made us work it
made fertile volcanic dust
mesh with our sweat,
our dream of return
only to die paupers
without land, work or home
except in the cemetary.
Toppenish, rolling hills, makes
me dizzy
swallows me up
my soul is a tumbleweed
dried up at the mercy
of lost northern winds
Toppenish is my home
my horizon my word
my roots are also
buried there.
My hands lie fallow
I hibernate in dreams
of toxic-free seeds
and uneven rows
meant for walking
and not tractors
we grew up walking
migrant comet trails
blazing cornstalks,
green beans, hops
orchards across
the brown sky of the land
In Toppenish
you see everything
and you see
what you need to see
You cannot ignore me
or forget me in Toppenish
I did not choose this land
This land did not choose me
or my people.
Now she is mine and I hers
Toppenish is the wind become
mountains, hills, vallety,
volcanic path, migrant tomb,
laughter and bully.
the hills ondulate
cutting the horizon into my eyes....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The human tamale (confidential memories of illness)

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Arnoldo García

The human tamale (confidential memories of illness)

my grandma
would crush one or two aspirins in a spoon
add a bit of sugar,
a few drops of hot water
then put the spoon into my mouth
a concoction to kill the fever
In the waves of chills, sweats, speaking in tongues
In my body
I would fly over mountains
run under the hoofs of herds of wild horses
pounding my head and body into a dusty pulp.
Other times I would be lost in a desert,
under the night
I could jump
almost fly
and leap over plants, boulders, animals
My self evaporating into the mirages of the desert heat
The worst was being held captive in a space capsule
floating into the nothingness of deep space
slamming my voice and fists into the cabin window
A steady 1-2-1-2-1-2 traversing darkness, insanity
a deadly, suffocating endless silence
My grandma
would rub a water-laden rag
or with alcohol when we had it
across my body
my forehead
my stomach
my back
my arms
my face
other times I'd be on my back
and the bed would flip feet over head
spinning me into oblivion
The night that nothing worked
I did not sleep
I wept
I was in such deep pain
the only soothing medicine
became my listening
I was able to hear my heart pump
I locked into her steady beat
her steady rhythm
I became indivisible
In the morning the fever had ended everything
My grandma decided to fight the fever with fever
She and Melda had already started cooking tamale dough
They started filling cornhusks with tamale dough
first they created a small bed with them
My grandma picked me up, naked, and laid me on my bak
and began covering every part of my body with them.
My feet, my ankles and calves, my thighs, my hips and crotch
my stomach, belly-button, my chest, my shoulders, my arms and hands
then my neck, my ears, my nose, my forehead and top of my heads
only my nostrils and eyes remained uncovered.
Then I passed out.

Monday, April 16, 2012

paradise here | utopia there

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Arnoldo García

paradise here | utopia there

We are home
We were expelled from paradise
arriving in the American dream
paradise here
utopia there
We belong in both places
yet we have no King David
to save us for our rightful country
We are sliced in half
no more there
no more here
Wherever you go you are home
They deport us home
We return crossing deserts and street corners
Home is in motion
We are a migration-nation
We carry our portable roots in our backpacks

We do not need your
security check-points,
pat-downs, cramming our bodies through body-sized x-ray machines,
birth certificates
or your permission
to survive.


I raise my hands in the air

Alzo mis manos al aire
no para rendirme
para ser
red humana
vela humana
para captar al viento
en mis manos y pulmones
volar sobre los muertos y las fronteras

Pongo mis manos en el aire
no para rendirme
porque el sol cabe en ellas
para que el sol camine por las veredas de mis manos
la topografía de la ternura
Para detener a la guerra
desarmar a los militares con los vientos del pueblo
señales para que los soldados
todas y todos
heridos, muertos y vivos
vulevan a sus casas
vuelvan al amor

Pongo las manos en el aire
no para rendirme
para que todas y todos hagan lo mismo
y vivan....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Poetica declaraciones y denuncias | Statements & Protests

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Arnoldo García

Poetica declaraciones y denuncias | Statements & Protests

A mi abuela y mis hermanos mayores
Manuela Ochoa
John Trudell
Mahmoud Darwish
Vladimir Mayakovsky
y otros y otras
porque mis madres y padres
creían en el amor libre
Es decir,
el amor libre de amar y cuidar
sus cultivos,
sus tierras,
las semillas,
las familias
que eran la misma relación,
la mismita cosa
y aún después de ser desplazados a fuerzas
las siguieron cuidando en sus sueños y peregrinajes
Trataban a las tierras ajenas como suyas
las tendían de semillas de ternura
sabían que la tierra se movían según su corazón
y teníamos que ponerle mucha atención a ella
cuando la trabajábamos.
A mi abuelito le dolía tener que usar un tractor
arrastrando el arado,
era demasiado sólo para sembrar semillas
sí era más rápido
pero prefería que le metiéramos las manos
hundiéndolas hondas
en el lodo
en el polvorienta cuerpo
hundirlas hasta sentir el calor de la sangre de ella 

Mis abuelitos rozaban sus cuerpos
contra las hojas de las plantas
Mariposas-migrantes con sus alas
repartían el polén y se sentían pájaro volador
no pájaro-trabajador migrante que el patrón arrastraba sobre sus campos


Books say my skin is a symbol for ruin, for decline.
So? Their skin is a symbol for genocide, enslavement, wars, atomic annihilation, the nuclear winter we are entering, zombies, alienation and western civilization? (Gandhi would say, "that would be a good idea.")

My skin is an attitude of altitude,
a relationship of love to the sun
I have been walking for 155,000 years
And since 1492 continuing on the longest walk yet.
Will the molecules of my desire survive their self-destruction?
Will we meet again and again in the big curve of space and time
condemned to repeat the process till they get it right?
My teeth, my skull, my bony bones are on full display in the museums of the world, with total disregard for my sons' and daughters' souls that visit me every once in a while. (It costs a lot of money for my descendents to come visit me in this prison they call a museum. My sons and daughters cry that the whites hold my descendents in prisons too, called prisons and reservations in the north....)
Even though I'd like a burial and ceremony to take me closer to my ancestors and elders
they will only agree to repatriating all of our descendents and ancestors in one big chain reaction of nuclear strikes.
Ah, the wonders of western civilizations!

I propose that we all go back to the first circle,
where we all started
and remind our selves through communal dreaming
that when we meet again in, say, 2012
we reconvene into the original circle,
now in a spiral
hug each other
laugh, cry, get drunk on our community
act like long-lost brothers and sisters
that finally reunite to become a healthy family once again
Avoid the wars, give each other food and love abundantly
share our stories from the long walk
remember and remember how the stars were constant in our eyes
how the rivers, the oceans and her waves, the moon, Quetzalcoátl, and the animals and the plants
all guided us, made us who we are and that we owe them our lives to take care of ourselves as we take care of them
and not destroy, not consume, not fear more than we can hold in our arms.

The big bang does not need to end with a small human poof.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Today land, bread, poetry

Arnoldo García
Land, bread, poetry

Today there is
for everyone,
Bread for all,
for those that prefer them.
Poetry for all,
Sonnets for the English-bound
Corridos for the wanderlust
Rap for all my streets
Haiku for revolutions
Cielitos for internationalism
Sones for the chaos of community
Rock n roll for all the old bones
blues for our struggles
The music of the disappeared for the survivors
The stream of consciousness for the undocumented and the bombed out city
Mayakovsky for the eternal working class
Dalton for the ugly utopianists
Pain, pan, pane, خبز, Хлеб, tlaxcalmana, kurinda, fry-bread, buñuelos
with chocolate for all
Land for all
(Except you can't take or have other people's land)
Return the canyons, the plains, the mountains, the rivers, all the sacred places, the forests, the deserts, the waters, the ancestors
to the earth (everywhere, silly)
Land is community, is people, is bread, is poetry.

Land and bread without poetry impossible.
Land, bread, poetry for all, then peace & justice will come.

Friday, April 13, 2012


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Arnoldo García


"THE BOURGEOISIE, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors,” and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.” It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade." -- The Communist Manifesto

Why is everyone smiling?
Are we things
Are we human
Are we plants
Are we organisms
Are we consumers
Are we workers
Are we professionals
Are we community
Are we a shared DNA pool
locked into shopping, working, spending, accumulating

Am I my clothes
Am I what I own
Am I my university degree
Am I my property
Am I my salary
Am I my laughter
Am I my ancestors
Am I my sons and daughters
Am I my car
Am I my tattoos
Am I East Oakland
Am I Matamoros
Am I Toppenish
Am I Yakama
Am I Ohlone
Am I purépecha
Am I mestizo
Am I humanity
Am I the most disobedient son of mother earth
Am I a smokestack
Am I my ancestor
Am I the long distance runner,
the migrant walking for the last 150,000 years
Am I my bank account
Am I a son of god
Am I a prayer
Am I a profanity
Am I a movie
Am I fast food
Am I a commuter
Am I myself?

Today, I noticed that in the small immediate world
everyone is happy
everyone smiles
everyone walks without a goal, without a destiny
the moment is what counts
the moment when you are in the arms of the woman or man
when you are connected
to the people you love
to the people that you can kiss
in public and in private
with the same, slow intensity
that kiss you save up for passion
to use up for the moments when you are alone.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tiempo verde | ofrenda 29

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Arnoldo García

Tiempo verde | ofrenda 29
(Improvisations | de repente)

How many worlds were destroyed
to get to this point
Zócalo de nuestros sones
Indians in the museums
Indians in the malls
we gather humanity
ants carrying a kernel of maize
texting wirelessly
my antennae are up
curling around your body
how did we get this way
I wasn't born this way
1492 is not just a number
the great catastrophe
the great cosmic cultural bang

the eagle is still
crash landing

A more pleasurable war is possible
with Coke!
What is worst than war?
What is worst than death?

Piedras blancas
Pieles negras

On the way to the zócalo
this is no palimsest
this is reality:
The plaque on the corner building declares
Marques de Prado Alegra lived here starting 1725
Now the Marques is displaced
McDonald's 2012 and counting
McDonald's in lodged their, they do home deliveries too
Then right at the curved corner with two doorways
you can enter on the right
you can enter on the left
The plaque declares:
"Aquí estuvo el popular Café del Cazador, 1835-1900"
Ahora está "Go Mart" vendiendo
agua en botellas de plástico, chicle estadounidense
y café sin cafeína, sandwishes, all style of fast food

The union of harmonium players work in pairs
One working the passer-bys
the other keeping the crank going
Both with their uniform-hats asking for donations:
The harmonium yelps
"Me cansé de rogarte
Que yo sin ella ...."
Made in Berlin,
Played in the streets of Tenochtitlán-Mexico City

We are living in different time periods
the green time dominates
calls our our names
The Sirens that no one hears

Everyone is lost
We wear Levis pants
Abercombie t's
the swoosh that once used to open chests,
pluck beating hearts

Everyone one is selling
Something for everyobe
Aztec danzantes charge $10 pesos
to be cleansed with copal and brushings with caxochtli
Their ahuehuetl is made
From a 25-gallon steel drum
The ahuehuetl is also lost, evolving adapting
peak oil, peak sacrifice and war

About 1,000 people later
their is a woman wearing
a deep crimson blouse that's skirt-length
She's also selling trinkets
She is not lost
She tells everyone where she's from
Resisting the sentence Mexicans, mexicas, nahuas, purépechas
are refusing.
Five mexicanos
are playing the Fab 4
A Beatles cover band
"And I love her ...."

More Indians
begging for money,
food, care, recognition,
You have to look down
to avoid running them over,
walking on their skin
on the goddess hands
for the 520th year.
I break down
I plop $20 pesos
in the hat of a viejito with his wife
He quickly slips
the bill in his armpit
underneath the shawl
that's draped across
his and his wife's shoulders.
I couldn't take it
He looked like my viejito
My abuelito
who was cast out Michoacán
when he was still purépecha
He was deported, repatriated back to Mexico
as a Mexican migrant farmworker
Viejitos creaking voices
in the din of thousands
of cars, pedestrians, tourists, unemployed youth,
students, housewives, clerks in ties,
couples making out
oblivious to the oblivion that surrounds us

The Metropolitan Cathedral is crooked
made of indigenous blood, gold, sacrifices
The metropolitan cathedral
is set to implode
The Aztec tyemples
will not allow all the Christians
to reach or touch
the 500 stars
The thirteenth and counting paradise
Where cihuatanteo women are defended by eagle warriors
A kid walks by his girlfiends doesn't like that I am looking at them
that they will end up in this world
He's wearing a DRGN Skateshop T
She's wearing a tanktop
She calls out to me: payaso!
A group of mexican boys wearing black hoodies all with the logo:
Hard Busters
One of them carries a boombox
slung over his shoulder
blasting techno

More condemned to step up
A mexican
dressed in all in black as a hybrid monster
Wearing a Hannibal Lector mask
With a Darth Vader hood and cape
stares at passer-bys
He only moves his eyes
A new mestizo menace
atop a milk carton
playing the role
so we enter the fantasies of the master race

Another mexican
in full Predator regalia
is posing for photos with moms and their children
The Penguin
a bit taller than the original
but a mexican nonetheless
with a variety of umbrellas in different shapes and sizes

An Indian boy
with a squeeze-box almost as big as him
slowing pushes the buttons
playing a corrido
No one notices him
You have to look down
Everyone is standing in a semi-circle
back to back with the accordeonist boy
Watching a big screen
Where the Fania All-Stars jam on salsa

A man
about as old or young as me
puts up his open hand
holding what looks like two ten-peso coins
I say sorry, no thanks
He replies: Up yours!
He keeps going in the opposite direction
I keep going with the flow,
waiting for the green light
to let thousands of pedestrians
leave this reality
and enter the next one.


Tiempo verde
tiempo de maíz
tiempo de los pueblos de maíz

I am lost in the greening of my eyes
My verdant heart bursting in tasty kernels
I offer myself
Coyoxauhlqui purses her lips
hugs herself
tells me to wait my turn

She tells me how embarrassing
(she actually said: how fucked up it was)
That the first official visit she received
was President Jose López Portillo, in 1978
La diosa no recibe visitas oficiales since then!
She organizes underground
Her sisters and daughters are being slayed again
Femicidio sin fronteras!


Ofrenda 29

Un punzón de hueso
bellamente esgrafiado
una cuenta de piedra verdísima,
y un cráneo de águila real
That's all that was found in this offering stone box
An eagle warrior
who pierced his soul
offering blood, sacrifices
to become a defender of the juarez cihuatateo women
who are being disappeared, murdered
at the border indi
in the interior
an unholy war on women
He is there now on the border
flesh offereings
for a new peace
to restore coyolxauhqui
mend her into one
bring back the green time

El tiempo verde...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sones del Zócalo

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Arnoldo García

Sones del Zócalo

Mexico City sones terremoto blues
A Mexican Johnny Depp look-a-like
is condemned to play Edward Scissorhands on a street-corner
Another Mexican, with the square jaw of Michael Keaton
in full Batman regalia
poses for photographs with tourists and other passerby's
Unemployment is down by two.

We are all assigned to play a part in this great drama
Indian women at the bottom

They sit with plastic baskets
asking for spare change
everywhere it's the same
Indians at the bottom
Whites at the top
even if they're Mexicans who can pass for Hollywood stars.
Two young men with a boom-box
breakdance with fury
The polluted, thin air doesn't deter their hip-hopping
to techno
A man his skin rubbed in green
a verdant mime,
Plays an Indian
moves in synch to Bach symphony
He starts screaming platitudes every time he gets a donation
Another indian woman sprawled on the sidewalk her hand held upward
waiting for money to fall down
There is a hierarchy of skin color
The indian woman cannot play a hollywood
she's condemned to beg
Marcos was right
We are being condemned to become products in the shop windows of malls.
Who's playing Che? Who's playing Ramona? Who's playing Frida?

I noticed that all the white mannequins pose defiantly
they stand with the power pose of a chola
Except the real cholas who stand and walk defiantly
get arrested, criminalized.
Here the mannequin cholas display the latest fashions
that they'll never wear.

Who is playing the migrant?
Who is playing the drug dealer?
Who's playing the narcotraficante?
Who's playing the Mexican?
A jarocho strums and plucks a harp
playing the opening plucking notes of La bamba
He starts wailing "Para bailer la bamba ...."
I keep walking on
Mexico City sones to tell our history of survival.
Does anyone want a real change?
Graffitti proclaims: it's time for a real change
AMLO = +educación -muerte
Where are the Indians?
Where are the Zapatistas?
Who's electing who?
What role will the new president play?
War on drugs or war on drug-users or candidates to drug use
to escape the drudgery of neoliberalism
The Zócalo is built over the Templo Mayor.
The metropolitan cathedral is tilting
the temple of Aztecs below are pushing their way up.
What will they see? Hollywood or Mexicans being Mexicans?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Zen fronteras | leche

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Arnoldo García

zen fronteras*

Es casi imposible
ser buddista indocumentado
cuando hay
una lucha de clases
una lucha entre pieles negras, de bronce y blancas

La espiritualidad
está de venta
Steven Seagal
se compró
una reencarnación
de los dailai lamas
Ahora anda
de Border Patrol
armado con carabinas,
pistolas, comunicación digital
y cuentas para rezar durante los breaks

Nadie me toma en serio
cuando me declaro
buddista fronterizo
para borrar
las fronteras humanas e inhumanas
y todo lo que me dan
son palizas, cárceles
y deportaciones.


Che's pseudonym
Transmitting from Bolivia
His son writes
"Alguien intenta quebrar el cristal
con el golpe de una gota de leche."
Che gotita en el mar de las luchas interminables
mujeres, de todas las clases
los descapacitados
los enfermos sin seguro social
los deempleados
los prisioneros
los pandilleros
niños callejeros
niñas en trata
viejitas y viejitos migrantes campesinos
apachurrrados por el sol, las labores y los azadones
si yo pudiera
te comprara
una reencarnación
para gozaras de poeta o mujeriego
tu fuistes el buddista sin fronteras
En Guatemala, Cuba, en Bolivia
Te entrenastes en el Congo
No querías abandonar el campo de batalla
eres un hombre sin élites
Eres una gotas
de leche guerrillero
que pudo todo contra la muerte
Tu eres algo de lo sagrado en todos nosotras y nosotros

Zen fronteras.

*NOTE: These are pieces I have written from memory that belong to a long poem-essay I wrote in 1993 while on retreat at the Vallecitos buddhist center in the mountains of New Mexico. Zen Fronteras came out of a spiritual and ideological debate that took place there, which looks at the class, race, gender materiality of breathing and meditating. I published an excerpt of Zen Fronteras in a collaboration published in 2006 titled "XicKorea." Why do I meditate? To be free to do what I need to do to change the world, one breath at a time.

Monday, April 09, 2012

War Son | April 9: 9th Poem

Arnoldo García

War Son

Cindy Sheehan will not pay federal taxes
Has not, will not, for the last eight years
Her son was killed in the U.S. war on Iraq eight years ago
She says:
I will pay all my taxes
when you give me back my son alive.
The war, all wars, declared or undecrlared
Are immoral, illegal
The U.S. invaded Iraq to force Iraqis
to pay their taxes to the empire of oil and military
Her son, a soldier of the empire
Was killed in Iraq
Cindy Sheehan and five thousand other U.S. familiesPaid the ultimate war tax
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families paid
All the back taxes owed to the U.S. empire since 1492
 An anti-community war
An anti-local peace war 

The first casualty of the US war on Iraqi
was an immigrant

An anti-immigrant war
An anti-family war
An anti-mother war
An anti-natural world, anti-air, anti-soil, anti-ants, worms, birds, beasts war
The breast milk of Iraqi women is contaminated with uranium
A war on the wombs of humanity
An anti-woman war
An anti-breast-feeding war
An anti-fetus war
A war on the future
A war on the womb of humanity
A war on the cradle of civilization
A war on all Iraqis
And anyone who looks like one
A racial profiling war at home and abroad
An anti-Indian war
An anti-indigenous war
A war on pollen
A war on cross-pollination
A war on flowers and song
A war on our ancestors
A war against dinosaurs
A war on the dust of the big bang
A war against the stars
An anti-star war
A glorification of the fantasies
of the master card race.
A war of bullet, bomb, nuke, military words against tongues that only flap poems
A war on poetry
A war on poets
A war on language
A war to militarize the heart
A war against beats & flows
A war against the DNA of stars and suns

Cindy Sheehan
will not pay her taxes
Until the war on Muslims ends
Until the war on Buddhists ends
Until the war on Anahuac ends
Until the war on Mama Pacha ends
Until the war in our souls end 
Until the war on Christians ends
Until the war on Christ ends
Until the anti-christ war ends
Until wars end
Can the federal government resurrect her son
on the third day?
on the third world war?
on the infinite wound of tenderness
against the infinite war of wars?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Día nuevo | Policía blanco sobre piedra negra | poema 8

 Arnoldo García

Es un día nuevo

Es un nuevo día
girando y desgirando hacia el sol
la tierra circula
por las venas del espacio
el sol circula
por las venas de mi cuerpo
el viento el vientre
el aire el desaire
en mis pulmones
nidos para las estrellas moribundas
mi cuerpo un camposanto
de soles y cósmos disueltos
en el polvo purépecha y

Es un día nuevo
con su noche espectacular
El día se cansa con el sol
la noche se acuesta con las estrellas
y todos despiertos y soñando
el nuevo amanecer
el mejor más humano
el más nuevo para cumplir con la palabra
Y abajo
de la tierra
del polvo
la polvorosa lucha...

un policía
un hombre

un hombre
un hombre

un policía
la espalda
de un jóven
que está
las manos
su espalda

un hombre

hombres blancos
piedras negras

cada día
en la frontera

Los desaparecidos
el nuevo día negro
contra la noche blanca

mi palabra
el papel
la pantalla


el color
del desastre

la noche
la infinidad
la infinidad
es negra
es tinta
mi lengua
mis pulmones
mis huesos
mis dedos
mis plumas
mis pieles
mi calavera
mi amante
mi orgasmo
mis sentidos
mis manos
sobre tus pechos
en tu boca

El nuevo día
es negro
el día viejo
es blanco
la humanidad
negra negra
todo blanco

la blancura
la negreza
de mi alma cósmica
mi cuerpo terrenal
polvorosamente negro
un cuchillo
que corta rebanadas
del sol
en las gargantas
que todavía
rezan en blanco
su pureza
la pureza
la purísima
es negra
mi lengua
como mi corazón
como el calor que tengo
el deseo que nada lo detiene
cuando siento tu cuerpo
a mí
aunque virtualmente
mi mirada negra
no la detiene
la pantalla blanca
mi tinta
mi conciencia
mis palabras
mis gritos
mi rabia
mi ternura
explota en todos los colores
de tu piel
de tu amor
es un día nuevo....

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Poetica snapshot | danzantes on Ohlone lands

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Arnoldo García

Poetica snapshot | danzantes on Ohlone lands

I do not want
to trade
The noise of one empire
For another.
The danzantes are lost
In space
My fists pound
We are in Ohlone lands
Now and forever
The four directions
Are meaningless
Without recognizing
Where we are
Without organizing
Where we belong
Without finding our place
In the cosmos of this land
Oh lone shell
Placed against my lips and spittle
I blast the sun into her own darkness
I scatter the ashes of your lie
The ahuehuetl vibrates
Setting off the car alarms
The danzantes bring in stars, suns, ghosts
They cannot hear anything except the ahuehuetl
The car alarm wails
Cries for the police to arrest
The terrestially cosmic movement
The ahuehuetl beats hearts into one
Serpent ondulating whirling dusty fire
The ahuethuetl stops the siren
The ahuehuetl abuelito flor crumbles the waves
Two students, one Mexican, one Black
The Spanish are taking over everything
(They are not happy with the danzantes.)
And I do not want to trade
The noise
Of one empire
For another....

Friday, April 06, 2012


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Arnoldo García


Tenemos utopías porque nos quitaron la tierra, nuestras raíces desplazadas, desmovilizadas y nos forzaron a movernos. ¿Quién nos forzó a movernos, a abandonar nuestros pueblos, nuestras comunidades antiguas? La avaricia de otros hombres, que para acaparar más necesitaban de nuestra fuerza de mano, necesitaban nuestra sabiduría de la agricultura, las semillas y sus suelos.

Somos utópicos porque donde quiera que estemos estamos en nuestra tierra. No tenemos ningún lugar porque todos los lugares son nuestros -- por más incómodos que los terratenientes actuales tengan, por más incómodos que nos sentimos como extranjeros en nuestra propia utopía, nuestra propia tierra.

Nuestros muertos están enterrados en los estados de Washington, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tejas, Oregon, Arizona, y pronto Nueva York y otras regiones del norte grande. Nuestros huesos se han convertido en el andamio de la tierra, ligándonos a raíces mexicanas. Y todas estas tierras son tierras de pueblos indígenas que fueron desterrados empezando en 1492.


Nuestras palabras, trenzadas y destrenzadas del lenguaje, tienen múltiples raíces y voces.

Nuestra alegría parece ajena, que no nos pertenece y quizás siempre es fugaz. La falta de utopías nos convierte en fieles seguidores de un dios sin milagros, flagelándonos, auto-inmolándonos para un paraíso que se viste los domingos y nada más. Otras nos convierten en consumidores de alcoholes, drogas y sustancias que nos llenan la panza pero nunca el alma.

Nosotras y nosotros los más utópicos sin vergüenzas tratamos de cambiar este mundo donde las adicciones son comunes y los grupos de anónimos tratan de convencernos de que no somos normales los que como nosotras y nosotros quieren vivir al filo del viento, pensando hoy como hacer el mundo nuevo, retomar nuestro lugar en el orden de la naturaleza?

Y quién son los anónimos de cada día? Las y los migrantes, los indocumentados, la sombra que trabaja para mantener los ricos ricos.


Todo es posible con la esperanza de amar hasta la muerte.
La muerte es una barrera más que hay que brincar o demoler;
no es impenetrable porque nuestras muertes no mueren sino pasan
a otra realidad fecunda, polvorosa, nebulosa,
que nos cuesta aceptar y reconocer a nosotras y nosotros los vivos
para su muerte,
nosotras y nosotros dependemos de nuestra vida de nuestros muertos.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

La revolución emplumada | The revolution is to be human

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Arnoldo García

Tus palabras me alientan
tus manos me liberan
tu cuerpo me cambia, me trastorna
con la ternura

Tus palabras son la iel que vibra y viborea
entrando en mis sentidos
(aunque prefiero tu piel contra la mía)


Too much struggle
not enough love
will harden the eyes
and flay the heart.


You can organize with laughter
laughter will bring down the empire
laughter can stop the war
laugh at the rich
and see how long they last
before turning over their ill-begotten gains.

The revolution is plumed by laughter
draped in tears that cannot be
stopped. Laugh and the revolution
laughs with you. Too serious
and no one, especially the
revolution of laughter, will take you seriously.
The revolution of laughter makes
no concessions to those without
humor. Stalin never laughed, not even at his crazy world power scheme,
Hitler always frowned,
no pleasure in global genocide,
whose sole aim
was to eradicate even the
laughter of the German race
Stalin who let the posters smile as he
slaughtered the proletarian happiness
every five years or so.
The revolution will laugh or not be at all.
The revolution will soar and not let herself be dragged
The revolution is to be human....

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Guitarra armada | Song vs war

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Arnoldo García

 Guitarra armada | Song against war

The vatos always laughed at me in disbelief because I’d always show up with a guitar.

They would always show up, their backseats loaded with bats, knives, chains, steel knuckles, rocks, the car jack or the occasional gun for the brawl, the rumble, the showdown with the other gang, who you didn’t really want to kill; maim maybe, hurt yes, intimidate away if possible so that you too wouldn’t get hurt.

“Whose ass are you going to kick with the guitar, ese,” someone would mockingly ask.

They didn’t know my guitar was the main weapon. I could strike down anyone with it; but it’s too valuable for one smash.

My guitar was a womb, a movie camera, a grand canyon to record and sing out the next corrido of the street wars.

You can’t really impress the girls with a knife or a gun. Maybe with a bruised face or a blackened, swollen eye.

But pull out a guitar before her, during or after the chingazos, and the girls will come to listen.

You sing a short corrido of the blows and then switch to a bolero to tell them how you really felt, why you fought – to protect her or the barrio’s honor. And no one in their right mind would think that the guitar is a weapon, much less the most powerful weapon.

The bullies scoff at it – you can’t be a romantic when you’re always threatening someone. The vato locos appreciate it cuz someone with a guitar will always sing their great deeds of valor. The armed dudes, well they know who has power and that it don’t grow from the barrel of a gun but from the fists of the man with a gun for added protection.

And you can’t hide a guitar like a 9mm.

You carry the most dangerous weapon in full sight. You carry it through the crowds, you stand at the front and wail away, getting in hits and licks on where it hurts most – in their hearts and souls.

After the fight, the guitar would heal us, soothe the hurt away with a beer or two and the rucas waiting for their song, their turn at my heart.