Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hurricane Katrina two years later

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It has been two years since Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans and surrounding areas. A great deal of suffering and death could have been prevented and little has been done to heal and repair. The government conceals and denies its responsibility and what is done is in the hands of the organizations, like Common Ground, that the people form. The United States has lost the birthplace of its soul, jazz, its only major contribution to world art, an art created by its people of African origin brought to its shores as slaves.

Let us work to build a democracy and save the nation’s soul.

---Full Moon Over New Orleans
--------After the Hurricane

The full moon hangs
over what was New Orleans,
its whiteness stained & broken
on the fetid waters.
Drowned are
the jasmine & the gardenias,
the oaks & the magnolias,
the trumpets,
-------the saxophones,
----------------the drums.
The city that dreamt itself living,
---------big & easy,
on Burgundy
-------between piety & desire,
lies under a watery shroud,
its most grievous sins
exposed to the world.

The full moon
breaks & drowns,
dirty in the fetid waters.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

(in Words Upon the Waters, Brundage, Karla, Ed.;
San Francisco (Jukebox Press) 2006; author’s copyrights)

---Luna Plena sobre Nuevo Orleans
---------despues del huracán

Cuelga la luna plena
sobre lo que fue Nueva Orleans,
su blancura manchada y rota
en las aguas fétidas.
Se ahogaron
los jasmines y las gardenias,
los robles y las magnolias,
las trompetas,
-------los saxófonos,
---------------los tambores.
La ciudad que se soñaba vivir,
-------grande y fácil,
de borgoña
-----entre la piedad y el deseo,
yace bajo una mortaja de agua,
sus pecados más graves
expuestos al mundo.

La luna plena
se quiebra y se ahoga,
sucia en las aguas fétidas.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

(en Words Upon the Waters, Brundage, Karla, Ed.;
San Francisco (Jukebox Press) 2006; derechos del autor)

© Rafael Jesús González 2005

------Dña. Catrina en Nueva Orleans

¿Cómo no había de llegar
la Dña. Catrina a Nueva Orleans?
Llegó acompañada de los vientos
de su comadre Oyá,
de las aguas del Señor Tláloc,
esperando conocer a la familia de Degas.
Sacudió los robles y las magnolias
como las plumas de avestruz de su sombrero
e hizo encajes de los balcones y los portales,
se engalanó de jasmines y mirtos.
Vino ostentosa y exigente,
avara y celosa de sus derechos y privilegios
-------y conquistó la ciudad
de pretensiones francesas y señorales
a cuestas de los hijos de esclavos.
Exigió que tantos le hicieran homenaje,
que tantos llenaran su lista de baile.

Así es la terrible Dña. Catrina
y así vino a Nueva Orleans.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

-----Mdme. Katrina in New Orleans

How could she not come,
Mdme. Katrina, to New Orleans?
She came accompanied by the winds
of her comadre Oyá,
the waters of Lord Tlaloc,
hoping to meet the family of Degas.
She shook the oaks & the magnolias
like the ostrich plumes of her hat
& made lace of the balconies & the porches,
adorned herself with jasmine & myrtle.
She arrived ostentatious & demanding,
greedy & jealous of her rights & privileges,
--------& conquered the city
of French & lordly pretensions
on the backs of the children of slaves.
She demanded that so many pay her homage,
that so many fill her dance card.

Such is the terrible Mdme. Katrina
& thus she came to New Orleans.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

full moon: Sometimes the Full Moon

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© Rafael Jesús González 2007

----A veces la luna plena
--------------------a Elena

A veces la luna plena
es tan fría que no parece
merecer ser tan bella.

Pero hay noches
en que la datura amarilla
con su perfume espeso
le presta a la luna color y calor.

Esas noches es testigo la luna
de que lo que hemos bailado
ni la muerte nos puede quitar.

A veces la luna plena
es tan bella que no parece
merecer ser tan fría.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007
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© Rafael Jesús Gonzalez 2007

----Sometimes the Full Moon

------------------for Elena

Sometimes the full moon
is so cold that it seems
not to deserve being so beautiful.

But some nights
the yellow datura
with its dense perfume
lends color & warmth to the moon.

The moon is witness, those nights,
that what we have danced
not even death can take from us.

Sometimes the full moon
is so beautiful that it seems
not to deserve being so cold.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

Elena Castañeda (August 24, 1951 - August 9, 2007)

----Às vezes, a Lua Plena

----------------para Elena

Às vezes, a lua cheia,
é tão fria ,que parece
não merecer ser assim ,tão bela.

Porém há noites,
em que a datura amarela,
com seu denso perfume,
empresta à lua, cor e calor.

Nestas noites, a lua testemunha
de que aquilo que um dia dançamos,
nem a morte pode acabar.

às vezes, a lua cheia,
é tão bela que nem parece
merecer aparentar ser fria.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

---------translation into portugues by

----------© Clevane Pessoa 2007

- - -

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Let us keep a moment of silence for Nagasaki which, three days after Hiroshima , sixty-two years ago was victim of a nuclear bomb. Never, ever must we allow this to happen again.

Cranes Fly for Peace Tanka

A girl in Japan
taught the world to fold paper
cranes — still there is war.
Blessings written on their wings,
oh, paper cranes, fly for peace.

---------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

Monday, August 6, 2007


It was on this day in 1945, sixty-two years ago, that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, another on Nagasaki. We must never let it happen again; we must work for complete nuclear disarmament throughout the world.

-----------------------------------Andreas Bauer

Origami Crane Tanka

It's said that if you
fold one-thousand paper cranes
your wish will come true.
For peace I would gladly spend
the rest of my days folding.

-----------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

In June of 1983, imprisoned in Santa Rita Prison because of blocking the entrance of Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, California, where nuclear arms are designed, we occupied ourselves folding cranes from old newspapers; among us all, we made more than a thousand to send to Japan.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bread & Puppet


Bread & Puppet

I just received the link Arts: Puppets and Protest on the Bread & Puppet Theater from a friend and it served as a reminder that exactly twenty years ago my compadre John McLeod and I traveled cross-country to Glover, Vermont to work with Peter Schumann. It was a summer-camp for workaholics. Besides taking part in every aspect of the large productions and performances, John and I wrote a script (on the Onondaga origins of the Iroquois League, on which the U. S. Constitution is based, the theme that year), directed it, designed and worked on the construction of the set, designed and worked on the costumes, and performed in it. I cannot find the script, lost forever perhaps, but I share with you the closing poem below.

That was the year that was: recently returned from a trip to Europe, that spring I attended the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for my first time, the Sun Dance of the Arapaho in Ignacio, Colorado just before traveling to Vermont, and upon my return to San Francisco Bay, conducted the Wakwa Society’s medicine wheel to mark the Harmonic Convergence.

Now, twenty years later, we are experiencing the darkness predicted before a new age of enlightenment is birthed: the Earth is severely wounded, our government is in the hands of fascists (government lies, illegal and untenable wars, habeas corpus suspended, torture a national policy, unauthorized surveillance of the citizenry, illegalization of protest and dissent by executive order, wealth more and more concentrated in the hands of the few — and the list goes on.)

But we need not, must not let it become even darker before the light breaks. We are, or must become, the light. We are not powerless and must not allow ourselves to be made so. It is in our hands if we accept that responsibility (and even if we do not.) Throughout the world, let us work from the heart through our every work and art to heal ourselves and the Earth.

© Rafael Jesús González 2007

Let the Hand Do

What the heart professes
------let the hand do —
the caress, the rite,
the healing touch,
the greeting,
the hoisted beam,
the woven net,
the record on the rock.
-----Let the act
give body to the thought,
for what the hand touches
----------or performs
gives substance
to what the heart informs.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

Que la Mano Haga

Que lo que el corazón profese
-----la mano haga —
la caricia, el rito,
el toque que sana,
el saludo,
la viga elevada,
la red tejida,
la inscripción en la piedra.
-----Que el acto
le dé cuerpo al pensar,
que lo que la mano toca
----------o hace
le da sustancia
a lo que el corazón informa.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Hands Are a World

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The Hands are a World

We do not hold the world in our hands
but our hands are the world
they impose upon the Earth —
be it with a caress
or with a blow.

Let us hold hands
& make the world whole.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

(Arabesques Review, vol. 3 no . 3, 2007; author’s copyrights)

Las manos mundo son

No tenemos el mundo en las manos
mas son las manos el mundo
que le imponen a la Tierra —
ya sea con una caricia
o con un golpe.

Tomémonos de la mano
y hagamos un mundo entero.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

-----As mãos são o Mundo

Não temos o Mundo nas mãos,
mas são as mãos, o Mundo
que o impõem à Terra,
seja com uma carícia
ou com um golpe.

De mãos dadas,
façamos um Mundo inteiro.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

---------translation into portugues by

----------© Clevane Pessoa 2007

---------The Flag

At our best
we show our true colors,
fly the flag that stands
for our deepest, broadest
allegiance to each other,
to the Earth holy & diverse.

These are my colors:

purple of my sorrows, my remorse,
my shame for betrayals of the heart,
most often of omission,
through weariness or fear.

blue of my memories
that make my history of wings
that soar to the mountains
& drop to the ravines,
complex topography of myself.

green of my hopes that wing
my desires & lend will
to my acts, that inform
even my opposition
to outrage.

yellow of my joy that tastes
of the sun, exultation in the
wealth of the senses,
root of my power & my love.

orange of my abandon, my surrender
to my living, mindless of laws
that would fetter the steps
of my wildest dances.

red of my love that colors all
& is the root & flower & fruit,
the heart of my belief
& what I know of truth.

This is my flag;
-----its colors run,
diffuse at the edges,
-----blend, shade
into hues, half-tones
-----difficult to name.

The tongues that praise it
are so many, so varied, & so sweet
their chorus rivals the birds’
& silences the angels in their flight.

Known everywhere
-----as sign of peace & joy,
let this be our flag;
----------its colors dance.

------© Rafael Jesús González 2007

(Arabesques Review, vol. 3 no . 3, 2007; author’s copyrights)

-----------------La bandera

En nuestro óptimo
mostramos nuestros verdaderos colores,
volamos la bandera que señala
nuestra más profunda, más amplia
devoción uno al otro,
a la Tierra bendita y diversa.

Son estos mis colores:

purpúreo de mi tristeza, remordimiento,
mi pena por las traiciones del corazón,
más bien de omisión,
por motivos de cansancio o temor.

azul de mis memorias
que forman mi historia de alas
que suben a las montañas
y caen a las barrancas,
compleja topografía de mi ser.

verde de mi esperanza que da alas
a mis deseos y presta voluntad
a mis actos, que informa
aun mi oposición
al ultraje.

amarillo de mis regocijo que sabe
a sol, exaltación
en la riqueza de los sentidos,
raíz de mi poder y mi amar.

anaranjado de mi abandono, entrega
a mi vivir , despreocupado de leyes
que encadenaran los pasos
de mis más extravagantes bailes.

rojo de mi amor que ilumina todo
y es la raíz y la flor y el fruto,
el corazón de mi creer
y de lo que sé de la verdad.

Es esta mi bandera;
----- se corren sus colores,
se difunden en sus bordes,
------se mezclan, se matizan
en tonos, medio tonos
-----difíciles de nombrar.

Las lenguas que la alaban
son tantas, tan variadas y tan dulces
que su coro rivaliza con el de las aves
y silencia a los ángeles en sus vuelos.

Reconocida por dondequiera
------como signo de la paz y el regocijo,
sea este nuestro pabellón;
----------bailan sus colores.

-----------© Rafael Jesús González 2007