Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11

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The date of September 11 is a day of tragedy for more than one reason.


photo by Marty Lederhandler AP


It was on this day in 2001 that the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York were destroyed bringing in a new era of fascism in the United States and launching the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, the nation is deep in an illegal, immoral, and untenable war making the world infinitely more vulnerable to terrorism by nations (such as the U. S.) and organizations (such as al-Qaeda.) On that day, I wrote


Love & Thoughts to my Friends on a Dark Day


Since early this morning when a friend from New England called with the news of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York, I have been in a daze, too stunned to sort out my feelings, my thoughts except for confirmation of my deep abhorrence of violence. Certainly pain and anger are there — and great fear.

I have not been able to get through to my friends in New York nor to my friends in Washington, D.C.; I do not know if they are well or not.

And despite the images on television, there is disbelief. How could it happen here? How could it happen to us? The mightiest contemporary nation, the current most powerful empire is vulnerable. Seeing the images of the twin towers, symbol of the greatest wealth and power on Earth, flaming, smoking, and finally collapsing against the skyline of monoliths that is New York made me think, in the midst of the horror of it all, of Goliaths falling in the plain. The Earth is shaken by their fall; the death, the pain suffered by so many through their fall wrings the heart. I am stunned by the pain of it.

But who the Davids are we do not know. Certainly not heroes to me nor to any one I know; villains rather. Davids in size only. But still, seeing some televised images of jubilation in parts of Palestine/Israel, they must be heroes to some — and to some in other places of the world as well.

Terrorism is a frightful term; even more horrible is its reality. What does it mean? Webster’s New World Dictionary succinctly defines it as: 1) use of terror and violence to intimidate, subjugate, etc., especially as a political weapon or policy; and 2) intimidation and subjugation produced in this way. Terror.

I see those images of jubilation on the television and I wonder what could induce such elation at such destruction, such death, such suffering. Terror. Terror like that in New York today except on a smaller scale, day to day terror at the hands of Israeli soldiers, and terror in response, and then more terror in retaliation — a story without end.

The day to day terror in Iraq with children ill and no medicine with which to treat them, little food to give them. The day to day terror in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. The day to day terror in so many parts of Latin America, of Asia, of everywhere. A policy, a political weapon to subjugate.

And who has most to gain by it? A hundred images come to mind, but a simple, nagging cipher blinks on and off against them all: we in the United States are six percent (6%) of the world’s people and yet we consume sixty percent (60%) of what the Earth gives. (And, we hold the highest proportion of our people in prison.) These are formulas of terror.

And we are vulnerable. And I think — the only protection is justice. The only protection is to be so just, so fair that none would wish us ill. No, not even the gods are so just, but if only we tried. If only we concerned ourselves with sharing the Earth’s wealth with everyone of our brothers and sisters. If only we honored the Earth and protected her so that she might continue to sustain us. If only we honored each other. If only we honored life.

I would like to think that we could respond to this horror in New York and Washington, D.C. with a commitment to justice for the world. Not merely the primitive, crude vengeance and retaliation I hear demanded, but true justice that would put an end to terror, not only the terror such as that of this day in New York and in the Capital, but the day to day terror of hunger, of lack of medicine, lack of shelter, of education, of freedom and the violence all that brings. Terror.

But what I see does not make me hopeful. I am afraid. I am afraid of our institutionalized terrorism, our policies of terror that hold the world in thrall. I am afraid of the man in the office of President of the United States who was not elected into office, afraid of his associates, afraid of the Supreme Court which has broken its trust as impartial interpreter of the law of the land. I am afraid of this President who would destroy the Earth for the profit of it, who insists upon an insane system of nuclear “defense” to further enforce a policy of terror.

I am afraid for the peoples of the world. I am just as afraid for us citizens of this United States. I am afraid that the tragedy of today will be used to justify the destruction of what freedom, what civil liberties we have, of a democracy for which clearly the President of the United States and his ilk have no respect.

I am afraid of Goliaths and of the Davids they breed.

But still, more deeply rooted than my fear is my love of the Earth and of its people and of all our relations. Because of this, I trust that our work toward justice and peace will go on in joy of life and that, for all the darkness, it will prevail.


Berkeley, September 11, 2001

© Rafael Jesús González 2007



--------------- The Towers
------------September 11, 2001


The towers fall as if,
-----seen through crossed eyes,
a Goliath fell brought down by a David.

Behind the myths
-----who of us is the guilty?
---------Who the innocent?
What is the distance
-----between justice and vengeance?

Death is inevitable, not fair.
And when the innocent are caught
in the webs of violence, it is terrible.

May the Earth hold them in rest.
If we would make a monument
worthy of their deaths,
in honor & memory of them,
let us pledge ourselves
----- to freedom,
----- true justice,
------world peace.

For if death be not just
let just be our lives.




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


(Abalone Moon, Nov. 6, 2oo7; author's copyrights)


photo by Marty Lederhandler AP




------------Las Torres
---------11 septiembre 2001


Se derriban las torres como
-----si visto por ojos cruzados,
cayera un Goliat abatido por un David.

Detrás de los mitos
-----¿quiénes somos los culpables?
----------¿quiénes los inocentes?
¿Cual es la distancia
------entre la justicia y la venganza?

La muerte es inevitable, no justa.
Y cuando los inocentes caen
en las redes de la violencia, es terrible.

Que la Tierra los tenga en descanso.
Si monumento hiciéramos
digno de sus muertes
en honor y memoria de ellos
comprometámonos
-----a la libertad,
-----a la justicia verdadera,
-----a la paz mundial.

Que si la muerte no es justa,
justas sean nuestras vidas.



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


(Abalone Moon, noviembre 6, 2007;
derechos reservados del autor)






On a more personal level, it was on September 11, 1991 that my beloved friend and comadre, scholar, organizer, activist Guillermina Valdés de Villalva was killed when a Continental Airlines airplane crashed near Houston, Texas. Sick with pain and rage, I wrote


Huehuecóyotl, © Rafael Jesús González 2007


---Advertencia De Coyote

-----------------------para Guille


Siempre lucharé por lo bueno,
corazón en el hocico,
un grito en el corazón
y el corazón en el grito.
Por eso anoche bailé,
-----tiré la chancla,
---------wriggled my butt,
--------------meneé el culo
hasta las horas escuincles
de la madrugada
porque tal como a algunos nos toca
hacer penitencia por otros
a otros nos toca hacer
la gracia por los demás
y por eso les prometo
que seguiré meneando el culo
hasta que ya no lo pueda
y mantendré verde el rabo
hasta que me lo tape la tierra.



---------© Rafael Jesús González 2007



Guillermina Valdés


---------Coyote’s Notice

--------------------------for Guille


I will always struggle for the good,
heart in the snout,
a cry in the heart
& the heart in the shout.
Thus I danced last night,
-----tiré la chancla,
---------wriggled my butt,
--------------meneé el culo
until the puppy hours
of the morning
because such as it is for some
to do penance for others
for others it is up to us
to make grace for the rest
& so I promise
I will continue to wriggle my butt
until I cannot
& I will keep my tail green
until it is covered by dust.



---------© Rafael Jesús González 2007



It was on September 11, 1973 that the U. S. C.I.A. instigated military coup in Chile overthrew the legally elected and popular government of Salvador Allende initiating an era of brutal dictatorship and bloodshed. President Allende was murdered as was the poet-compose Víctor Jara among thousands of others. The aging poet Pablo Neruda was held under house arrest where he died soon after.



--------Rastro de la gota

----------------------a Pablo Neruda

------------------I

Te recuerdo en Holanda
donde las rosas carecen de olor
y el alma que le diste a la máquina
no conoce a la gente.
Tu vicio es vicio de amar
y en tu lengua hasta el cardo
-----sabe dar miel —
hay sangre como la de Federico
-----que sabe doler.
Pero aquí las pupilas son de vidrio
y la desesperación es una gota de agua
que se escurre por los canales dorados,
no de limones sino de hojas muertas.

---------------------II

Hace nueve años que en Holanda
te compuse un verso —
----lleno de agua, hojas secas
----y visión de limones.

Era noviembre —
--------------------es ahora octubre —
el diez cuento mis treinta y ocho
y te has muerto.

Te pienso amapolas y geranios —
el cuero de España y Chile ensangrentado —
hambre, sed,
---------------uvas y luceros.
Hay inventarios en mis huesos
y ortigas en los surcos de mis dedos.

Poeta — me faltan azucenas de consuelo.
------Poeta — me duele Chile
-----------como una punzada en el cerebro.
------Poeta — estoy entumido;
lo único que siento es que has muerto.


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


------(El hacedor de juegos/The maker of Games;
-------Casa Editorial, San Francisco 1977;
-------derechos reservados del autor.)





---------Track of the Drop

---------------------------to Pablo Neruda

----------------------I

I remember you in Holland
where the roses lack color
& the soul you gave the machine
does not know the people.
Yours is the vice of loving
& on your tongue even the thistle
----knows how to give honey —
there is blood like that of Federico
----that knows how to hurt.
But here the pupils are of glass
& despair is a drop of water
that runs through the canals golden,
not with lemons but dead leaves.

---------------------II

It has been nine years that in Holland,
I wrote you a poem —
------full of water, dry leaves
------& a vision of lemons.

It was November —
--------------------now it is October —
on the tenth I count my thirty-eighth
& you have died.

I think you poppies & geraniums —
the skin of Spain & bloodied Chile —
hunger, thirst,
----------------grapes & stars.
There are inventories in my bones
& nettles in the furrows of my fingers.

Poet — I lack lilies of consolation.
-----Poet — Chile pains me
--------------like a sting in the brain.
-----Poet — I am numb;
the only thing I feel is that you are dead.



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


(Laughing Unicorn, Fall 1980; author’s copyrights)


Pablo Neruda


The death of poet musician Víctor Jara has become a legend, almost a popular myth. It is told that being held in the Stadium of Santiago de Chile among the multitude of political prisoners, he took his guitar and began to sing. His songs being so popular, the other prisoners accompanied him. The guards then grabbed his guitar and stomped it to pieces under their boots. Then with their bayonets they cut off Victor’s hands. According to the story, Victor continued singing until, his blood draining into the sand, he died.



jacket of one of Víctor Jara's albums


-----------Las manos

-----------------------a Víctor Jara


Cada cuerda rota
una de seis flechas pintadas
que el arco de tu voz lanza
contra la injuria —
cada dedo un punzón
en la conciencia

---cada gota una nota contra el silencio.

Caen las aves negras,
sus plumas nieve enlutada,
en la memoria
donde la sangre hierve

---cada gota una nota contra el silencio.

Las manos caen en la arena,
cada una una fuente roja
que corre hacia un mar sin islas

---cada gota una nota contra el silencio.

Hermano, los gorriones se espichan;
se han roto los cántaros del tiempo
y tu canto corre por el mundo entero

---cada gota una nota contra el silencio:

---cuando la sangre crece alas
---se le llama libertad

---cada gota una nota contra el silencio.



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




Víctor Jara


----------The Hands

----------------------to Víctor Jara


Each broken string
one of six painted arrows
the bow of your voice sends
against outrage —
each finger a lance
in the conscience

---each drop a note against silence.

The black birds fall,
their feathers snow in mourning,
upon memory
where the blood boils

---each drop a note against silence.

The hands fall on the sand,
each a red fountain
that runs toward a sea without islands

---each drop a note against silence.

Brother, the sparrows grow shy;
the jars of time have broken
& your song runs through the world

---each drop a note against silence:

---when the blood grows wings
---it is called freedom

---each drop a note against silence.



---------

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




(Second Coming, Vol. 14 no. 1, 1986;
The Montserrat Review #4, 2002;
nominated for Pushcart Prize;
author’s copyrights)


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Now September 11 is to be celebrated as a day of pain and infamy which only our work toward justice and peace may redeem.
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