Friday, July 29, 2016

Electric blind blues

My eyes
have broken
the lightning
the campesino electrocutions
in the fields
of verdant fears
in the footsteps
of indian shadows
the lightning shards
cut up my liver
scrape the sockets
of my eyes
with the darkest threat
of starless nights
the crickets call out her name
over and over
displacing thunder,
dispensing with formalities
on the drum
of my senses
the lightning tremble
slicing open the irises,
bleeding electricity.

I am going blind
because the lightning won't rise up
against the mother
as acrylic clouds
dance upon the rain
inside my skin 
the lightning broken,
lashes at the hat
the farmworker wears
to carry the sun
The lightning 
s broken,
mortally wounded,
inside my eyes
My eyes become
a mudslide of extinction...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Madre-abuelita (for manuela & josé)

I long for my grandmother's tortillas
her bold hands that seized fevers and captured ghosts
her guidance, her comales, where chiles and tomatoes sang
she nourished us with food and prayer
to plant flowers
to surround us with family, community and hope
she didn’t want anyone to die
she preferred to die first
than see us suffer
she promised to see us after death
she came back twice
once she alone and the last time she was with her husband José.
She smiled sternly, but she was smiling.
Everything works out in the end
Her bones rest
Her footsteps let us know she does not sleep
Until everyone is safe

She loved
black coffee,
fresh jalapeños that made men cry
and talking back to God.

As she lay dying
Her eyes
Her hands
Her wilting heart
showered us with tenderness and compassion
Even when she recovered from the first heart attack
she didn’t stop working
Instead of resting
we would return from work
to find the house swept and mopped
food cooking on the stove
a stack of freshly cooked tortillas
and she on her feet
challenging us, defying her own heart
her whole body
was a prayer
a thunderous prayer
then she decided to die
after she found out some terrible news
she was betrayed
she tried to strangle my grandfather
who did not resist
he knew what he had done and was willing to let her have what she wanted now
Gustavo and I were in a side room playing guitars
when we heard arguing voices crescendo
then bodies crashing against walls and floors
We stuck our heads out the door and slowly came out
She was choking my abuelito
He just lay there, she on top, still
holding him down with her legs over his chest and knees on his arms
Then she flopped down on the floor
Leaning her head against the frayed sofa
Enraged, spit drooling out of her mouth
Her body was still a prayer
Invoking herself against herself
That summer
She continued working in the fields
Until she suffered another stroke at the onset of autumn
Then winter came
And she died
Her body still a prayer
When we buried her it began raining, then the sun broke through
The winter day became springtime
We sent her off with prayers, partying
Time under the open sky
The stars swelling until everyone cried
because we were going to miss her
we miss her prayers, her praying
her backbone
her food, her caldos, tortillas, her ponqui pie, her lipstick
her curses, her defense

She kept her promises, she waits for everyone.

Will we rest alongside her bones
or will we be scattered by the wind
only to be reached by her voice,
rescued by her prayers?

Manuela, arise
sons and daughters
grand-sons and granddaughters
great-grand-sons and great grand-daughters

Our mother
Our grandmother
does not forget anyone
does not leave anyone behind…

[Poem: 2002 | "Manuela Ochoa on her wedding day," 6"x8" oil pastels, 1994]

Saturday, May 28, 2016

We are all Picassos

We are all Picassos.
Todas y todos somos picassos.
My DNA is digital
my besos are analogue
I spin through space
two eyes here
two mouths there
the mother displaced, distorted, missing in Michigan
the father invisible, drowned,
dismembered on the canvas of fertile grandmothers
I arrived piece by piece across the migrant spectrum of soul
I will be buried and the earth will be whole again and again
My fate is twisted, a twister, a storm of tenderness
My days are here with you
My nights become DNA,
I spin and float reassemble
myself in your bodies
I ghost other worlds
parallel soul parking
fitting carefully between two bodies
My love is DNA
my hate is analogue
Borderless not wireless
My head leans against the head of Coalicue
My ears are pounded by the drumming
of wars plummeting through my skin
We are all artists
our tongues the brush
our veins the palette of colors
the rio bravo pleading to jump tracks
and wash herself of the maquiladora blood
Picasso made flesh offerings for our eyes to see
Guadalupe buried our placenta in her cries
Today is the day I will eat prickly pears with lemon and chile
smile against the sun
know that everything and everyone I love
will burst from my pores and my senses will make clouds
free the rain from the prison of pipes, asphalt and dams
Two or three more world wars
Ten, twenty, thirty revolutions
Where we disarm the men with guns and pigmentation
we'll get it right
we'll figure out how to be together
dance and not damn ourselves together
Our bodies return whole to the spiderweb,
gently feed the cosmos...

Friday, April 22, 2016

human status for all

human status for all:
all animals,

Animal status for all:
teas, republicans, democrats,
our languages
transmen, transwomen, queers, straights, curved,
the border patrol
the police
the homeless,
the rich,
the technocrats,
the evil bankers,
the corporativists...

On earth day,
all power to the animal people,
the web of life,
All power to the natural world without us...

poem & photograph: arnoldogarcía
Detail of mural on MacArthur Boulevard (near Mills College) in Oakland, California.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Si fuera human@

Si fuera human@
sería una mujer
con puños de ternura llena de espinas

me preocuparía sólo por mis hijas
Amaría libremente
al hombre que me hiciera reír de la filosofía
El hombre que no lastimara a las hormigas o a mis lágrimas.
Si fuera human@
No tendría miedo del desempleo
No tendría miedo de la distancia que me separa de ella
No tendría miedo de nada, sólo del no poder amar bajo la lluvia de inviernos desesperanzados
Si fuera human@
tú estarías contenta, más valiente de lo que ya eres
tú podrías vivir en donde se baja el sol y en donde amanece sin perder tu lugar.
Tú dirías:
Tu piel arrugada, tus pulmones desgastados no importan
Sólo que tu corazón late entre mis manos
Sólo que tu sonrisa es un machete, arma en contra de mi oscuridad
Que tus cicatrices son el ADN de mi placer
Si fuera human@
La utopía sería ahora
A donde vayamos, en donde estemos…

Thursday, March 31, 2016

El camino a la utopía es la utopía | the path to utopia is utopia [poema cero de abril/Zero poem for April]

El camino
a la utopía
es la utopía
hoy celebraban
a césar e. chávez
y los campesinos seguían trabajando
bajo un sol de machetes
nadie los celebró a ellos

hoy dos campesinos
cercas de riverbank
con azadones
estaban limpiando
una labor de fresas
un hombre
y una mujer
dos campesin@s
caminando, cabeza agachada
en un mar verde
que se mecía
con olas de viento empolvado

los zurcos
son las tumbas
más suaves
del mundo
allí enterramos semillas y sudor
y luego cuando
y se estiran hacia el cielo
con nuestras manos
las piscamos
y nos comemos
nuestros muertos hechos de

el camino
a la utopía
es la utopía...

The road to utopia is utopia
The road
to utopia
is utopia
Today they are celebrating
César E. Chávez
and the farmworkers do not stop working
underneath a sun of machetes
no one is celebrating them

today two farmworkers
close to Riverbank
swinging hoes with their hands
were cleaning
a field of strawberries
a man
and a woman
two farmworkers
walking, their heads bent down
in a sea of green
that swayed
under waves of dusty wind

the rows
were the softest
of the world
there we bury seeds and sweat
and then when
they germinate
and reach for the sky
with our hands
we harvest them
and we eat
our dead made of

the road
to utopia
is utopia ...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Soy del otro lado | i am from the other side

Soy del otro lado
del lado bravo
del lado tuyo
del lado izquierdo
donde tengo el nido
para tus abrazos
Soy del otro lado
donde los muros
son las sombras
que persiguen
a los policías
que defienden
a los tiranos del mercado
Y el sol está
a nuestro lado
el lado de la tierra
el lado de las lágrimas con sus sonrisas
el lado de la luna llena y vacía
el lado que es combustible para las estrellas
el lado donde somos íntegros
el lado que divide a las bestias
adomándolas con nuestra luz
el lado que nos abriga
contra la rabia del dinero
Soy de ese lado
con sus seis direcciones y sus siete espacios
donde los abrazos abren cielos y puertas
donde los llantos espantan a las fronteras
y las mujeres nos dan su espalda
para cargarnos y sobrevivir
Del lado donde nuestros desaparecidos
Soy del otro lado
del lado tuyo...
I am from the other side
from the side of the Bravo
from your side
from the left side
where there is a nest
for your embraces & love
I am from the other side
where the walls
are shadows
that persecute
the police
who defend
the tyrants of the market
And the sun is
at our side
on the side of the earth
on the side of the tears with her smiles
on the side of the full and the empty moon
the side that is fuel for the stars
the side where we are whole
the side that divides the beasts
taming them with our light
the side that protects us
against the rage of money
I am from that side
with her six directions and seven spaces
where our embraces open skies and doors
where our crying intimidates borders
and the women give us their backs
to carry us and survive
From the side where our disappeared
I am from the other side
from your side...
poem & art: arnoldo garcía

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Picasso can't be confused with any other painter.

Arnoldo García

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 one one day he draws and sketches and paints hundreds other painters spend 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.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Found poem | Piercings

just in sudden silence
the sound of bones and flesh tearing
the sound of a mouth being beaten
in our eyes
you (with emphasis)
in the heart,
where the mind and the emotions
are jailed
I disappear
in the Nez Perce
place of creation,
Heart of the Monster,
heading towards Kamiah, Idaho.
your mamá (not your mother)
without tongue, with cut tongue, with tongue removed
he, she, or us
lit all through the night
I reappear in
the ghost’s trail
the Milky Way...