Monday, July 23, 2012

Reading, Monday, August 6



August 6-9, 1945
67 years ago, on August 6, 1945,
the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
Three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

Pandemonium Press
a Poetry Reading to mark this tragic event & to support Peace

Monday, August 6, 2012

7-10 pm

Casa Latina
1805 San Pablo Avenue
(near corner with Delaware)

Berkeley, CA. 94702

Featured Readers

Rafael Jesús González
Kirk Lumpkim
Robert Pesich
Joyce Young

Open Mic
Open to to all.  
Please limit yourself to one poem on the theme of peace.


Saturday, July 21, 2012




El león, ojos de carnalina,
colmillos, garras de sardónice,
lleva en el pecho corazón de rubí
que guarda el fuego fijo del valor.
-----Anhela devorar al sol
-----y mudarlo en oro
que surgiera por sus venas
como río caliente de luz.

----------------© Rafael Jesús González 2012


The lion, carnelian eyes,
fangs, claws of sardonyx,
carries in his breast a ruby heart
that holds the steadfast fires of courage.
------It desires to devour the sun
------& turn it into gold
that would run in his veins
like a hot river of light.

----------------© Rafael Jesús González 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Poetry, the Ultimate Game, Spillway 18


A la poesía

Rama de rosal cortada,
escaramujos secos un gesto grotesco
como si la rosa fuese consumida
         por su propia llama,
ahora brota hojas nuevas.

Son así las palabras,
o como un vuelo de garzas —
¿serán del año pasado?
Su vuelo, nueva caligrafía
         lo dice de nuevo.

Cuando uno pensaba
         que ya lo había dicho todo
                  llegan las palabras.

De la celebración no hay fin.

      © Rafael Jesús González 2012 

                (Spillway 18, Summer 2012)




To Poetry

A cut rose branch,
dry hips a grotesque gesture
as if the rose were consumed
         by its own flame,
now sprouts new leaves.

Words are like that,
or like a flight of cranes —
are they last year’s?
Their flight a new calligraphy
         says it anew.

When one thought
         he’d said it all
                  the words come.

Of celebration there is no end.

              © Rafael Jesús González 2012 

                                              (Spillway 18, Summer 2012)


Poetry, the Ultimate Game

Once, for a graduate writing seminar, I asked my students to write down their theories of poetry. If I could understand entirely the sources of my request (or assignment, if you wish), I could come closer to defining poetry myself. But I would be hard put to say why poetry should be defined at all. Let us say because it poses a problem, because I like problems I can play with, because I like games, and since poetry, like life, has no solution, its game is interminable. Now whether poetry and life can be defined as “problems” depends upon our states of consciousness and that constitutes the very nature of the game.

Consciousness - here is where the game starts. And ends. In the beginning was the word and whether the word was made or the word made, we cannot know. Sanskrit (samskrita), name of the most ancient language we know something about, is formed of the past participle of kar, “to make” (cognate of “create” through the Latin “creatus”) and proposition sam, “together” (cognate of “same”) and is to be understood as “completely formed” or “accurately made, polished, refined: with “speech” originally expressed or understood with it. And from language, poetry (from the Greek poiein, “to make.”) The poem is language, speech, in the act of creating or being created - consciousness entering into form. Chaos (the Absolute) entering into order, the differentiated (the relative.)

Going back, not to chaos, the Absolute we have lost contact with but its first-born, Eros, desire, who has not, in love or in need (sometimes difficult to tell one from the other), sought for the one sign, symbol, word to encase the universe of that need, that joy, that pain? (At this point we are talking of the sacred, which I will define as that which confounds us precisely because it makes us so acutely aware of life in all its joy, beauty, and pain. Love, then, is the most sacred of our experiences, which orients or disorients us depending on how we experience it.

At this point, out of touch with true chaos, ground of all possibility, disorder threatens, we become vulnerable and stand at the abyss of our aloneness. We feel we drown and clutch at a straw, poetry, a straw that through some magic becomes a lifeline. We know of those for whom poetry was not enough, but I often wonder how many poetry could have saved had they been able to use words to order their experience. For poetry is a naming of the abyss and to name something is to somehow check its power. (I maintain that there is no man or woman who has not, some time or other, in the darkness of a closet, whether he or she has written or no, been a poet.)

Poetry has been called magic and has been put to the uses of magic (consider the rune and the chant from which we get enchantment), but don't let's confuse mystery with magic. Poets may indeed be magicians of sorts, but more so, to use Jerome Rothenberg's term, technicians of the sacred.  (They have also been called legislators, philosophers, priests, tricksters, etc., etc., but “poet” includes them all.) In Mandarin China, poetry was a major part of the examinations for any magistrate and in Mexico the Nahuas looked for truth, neltiliztli, “that which stands, which lasts”, not in the desiccated and docile fact, but in “flower and song”, in xóchitl in cuícatl, poetry, simply because it is in the multifaceted symbol that we must look for truth, for the simple sign with which we codify a fact is much too narrow to allow the full richness of the boundless universe to illumine the heart and mind. The Huicholes know of what they speak when they say, “our symbols make us rich.”

A serious business, poetry. But let's not confuse seriousness with a solemn mien. We give sacredness a grave face perhaps because in our confusion we have made pain the measure of value. (“No pain, no gain” type of thing. The more pain something has cost us, the more we value it.) But the sacred can also be laughed at. (The fact that there is so much laughter at the sacred rites of the Huicholes has often been baffling to some western anthropologists.) Remember, the poet is also trickster and even now I play a game. It is a game of mirrors, each reflective or transparent according to our need. The poet plays with words so that suddenly truth will flash at us even though we may peer at it, as Plato would have it, "through a glass darkly.” It is a game that sharpens our wit, our imaginations, our honesty, our feelings, our wisdom - in a word, our consciousness, for poetry is not so much a matter of expression as it is a matter of perception. It doe not so much isolate and analyze (which is more a function of fear) but combines and synthesizes (which is more a function of play.) Poetry, life, is a serious game whose seriousness and gameness will not be enhanced by a solemn face nor diminished by laughter. Poetry is a knowing, a making, a playing. (We humans define ourselves as homo sapiens, but we are firstly homo fabers , and even more so homo ludens.)

What is most important behind poetry is dark, radiant, secret, ineffable. Poetry is sound playing with meaning knowing that the absolute, eternal silence from which it comes has no meaning except the game it undertakes when it creates voices. Poetry is a tautology. Poetry is a mirror pretending it reflects a flower, a landscape, a face, when in reality it reflects only itself. Poetry is like any other object - a plate, a piece of fruit, a boot - except that whatever uses it pretends, only one is at its roots: our vindication.

© Rafael Jesús González 2012


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July — Independence Day

For my brothers and sisters who on this day may want to wave flags, these thoughts to ponder:

It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.



Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.

James Bryce (British politician, diplomat, and historian, 1838-1922)


To him in whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family.



The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation.

Jimmy Carter (39th U.S. President (1977-81). Nobel Prize for Peace in 2002. b.1924)


The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?

Pablo Casals (Spanish Cellist and Conductor, 1876-1973)


It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars.

Arthur C. Clarke


True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.

Clarence Darrow


You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man's freedom. You can be free only if I am free.

Clarence Darrow (U.S. Lawyer, Speaker and Writer, 1857-1938)


I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.

Eugene V. Debs


We do not consider patriotism desirable if it contradicts civilized behavior.

Friedrich Durrenmatt


Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them!

Albert Einstein


He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.

Harry Emerson Fosdick


Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, and liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us than are those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury.

William Lloyd Garrison (Declaration of Sentiments, Boston Peace Conference, 1838)


I love America. I love the world. Brotherhood and sisterhood have no borders. My heart orbits the Earth, love cannot be measured in longitude or latitude.

Terri Guillemets


Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln


We are free, truly free, when we don't need to rent our arms to anybody in order to be able to lift a piece of bread to our mouths.

Ricardo Flores Magón, speech, 31 May 1914


Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.

Marya Mannes, Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times, 1959


Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched.

Guy de Maupassant (French writer of short stories and novels, 1850-1893)


We need a type of patriotism that recognizes the virtues of those who are opposed to us . . . The old "manifest destiny" idea ought to be modified so that each nation has the manifest destiny to do the best it can — and that without cant, without the assumption of self-righteousness and with a desire to learn to the uttermost from other nations.

Francis John McConnell


If I knew something that would serve my country but would harm mankind, I would never reveal it; for I am a citizen of humanity first and by necessity, and a citizen of France second, and only by accident.



Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarreled with him?

Blaise Pascal


If you can't get them to salute when they should salute and wear the clothes you tell them to wear, how are you going to get them to die for their country?

General George S. Patton (U.S. general in World War I and II, 1885-1945)


If patriotism is "the last refuge of a scoundrel," it is not merely because evil deeds may be performed in the name of patriotism, but because patriotic fervor can obliterate moral distinctions altogether.

Ralph B. Perry


I couldn't help but say to [Mr. Gorbachev], just think how easy his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held if suddenly there was a threat to this world from another planet. [We'd] find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this earth together.

Ronald Reagan, 1985 [Stupid indeed, and blind, if we cannot see our common humanity without a threat from another planet; what greater threat to humanity, and the Earth, than ourselves? R.J.G.]


Patriots always talk of dying for their country, and never of killing for their country.

Bertrand Russell (English logician and philosopher 1872-1970)


Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.

Bertrand Russell


To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.

George Santayana


Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.

George Bernard Shaw


Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

George Bernard Shaw


I am not an Athenian or a Greek, I am a citizen of the world.

Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC)
also credited to Diogenes of Sinope (412 BC - 323 BC)


I have no sense of nationalism, only a cosmic consciousness of belonging to the human family.

Rosika Schwimmer


The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded.

Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy (Russian thinker, novelist and philosopher, 1828-1910)


The time is fast approaching when to call a man a patriot will be the deepest insult you can offer him. Patriotism now means advocating plunder in the interest of the privileged classes of the particular State system into which we have happened to be born.

Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy


The most tragic paradox of our time is to be found in the failure of nation-states to recognize the imperatives of internationalism.

Earl Warren


As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America [U.S.] among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.

George Washington (1st US President (1789-97), 1732-1799)


You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.

Malcolm X (U.S. black militant leader the early 1960s, 1925-1965)



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Full moon: I Send You the Full Moon

------Te mando la luna llena

Te mando la luna llena
carta escrita con tinta débil
en papel hecho de lotos blancos
compuesta de recuerdos
----y de esperanzas,
de historias que ya sabes
----y de sueños.
Lo importante que dice
es que te quiero.

Recibe la luna llena
carta que se le perdió el sobre,
que se le ha roto el sello.

------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2012 

- I Send You the Full Moon

I send you the full moon,
letter written with weak ink
on paper made of white lotus,
composed of memories
----& of hopes,
of histories you already know
----& of dreams.
What it says of importance
is that I love you.

Receive the full moon,
letter that has lost its envelope,
whose seal has been broken.

------------------- © Rafael Jesús González 2012