Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rosh Hashanah - Tashlich

May we learn justice without which there is no peace;
May we learn justice 
without which there is no peace;
may we learn compassion 
without which there is no justice.




These are the days of awe —
time of inventory
-----and a new beginning
when harvest of what we sowed
----- comes in.
(What have we sown
------of discord and terror?
Where have we fallen short
------of justice?)

The scales dip and teeter;
there is so much
to discard,
so much to atone.

When our temples stood
we loaded a goat

 -----with our transgressions
 ----------and sent it to the wild.
Now we must search our pockets
for crumbs of our trespasses,
our sins to cast upon the rivers.

The days are upon us

 -----to take stock of our hearts.
 ----------It is time to dust
the images of our household gods,
-----our teraphim,-
---------------------our lares.

------------© Rafael Jesús González 2014

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

Que aprendamos justicia 
sin la cual no hay paz;
que aprendamos compasión 
sin la cual no hay justicia.




Estos son los días de temor —
tiempo del inventario

 -----y un nuevo comienzo
cuando la cosecha de lo que sembramos

(¿Qué hemos sembrado
------de discordia y terror?
¿Dónde hemos fallado

 -------en la justicia?)

Las balanzas se inclinan y columpian;
hay tanto de que deshacerse,
tanto por lo cual expiar.

Cuando estaban en pie nuestros templos
cargábamos una cabra

 -----con nuestros pecados 
----------y la echábamos al desierto.
Ahora tenemos que buscar en los bolsillos
las migas de nuestras faltas,
nuestros pecados para echarlos a los ríos.

Están sobre nosotros los días

 -----para hacer inventario del corazón. 
----------Es tiempo de sacudir
las imagines de nuestros dioses domésticos,
------nuestros térafines,
 ---------------------------nuestros lares.

---------------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2014


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Climate Change, Climate Justice


Sunday, September 21, about 400,000 people gathered in New York before the United Nations to demand action to halt climate change. People gathered in similar rallies around the world and in Oakland, California several thousand came together in the same cause.

As before, our “leaders” were not equal to the task and as usual the U.S. was more an obstacle than a leader in dealing with the most disastrous crisis that has ever faced humanity.

I share with you below the words of Colin Miller (Coordinator, Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland Campaign of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition and Program Manager of Bay Localize, a local organization struggling in the cause of climate justice) to the rally:


PEOPLES CLIMATE RALLY - Oakland - Sept 21, 2014

Colin Miller

Why are we here today? Why are over 100,000 people marching in New York, in the greatest climate march in human history? Why are millions of people, marching, rallying and demonstrating in over 200 actions around the world today?

On Tuesday, the United Nations will come together for a one-day summit on climate change, and we are demanding climate justice.

Regardless of how the UN responds to our demands, we are here in solidarity with struggles from the local to the global, recognizing our interconnectedness.

From Frisco to Ferguson, from the fence lines of the Chevron refineries in Richmond, to the front lines of the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, we are here for justice and we are here for peace.

We are here because we love our children, as we love our Mother Earth, and all of her creatures, all our relations, from the smallest insect, to the greatest of towering Sequoia redwood trees. We are here because we are not going to allow all that we love to be destroyed in the name of profit - not without a fight.

We are here for the fight of our lives, and in a fight for our very lives - for the lives of our children, and for our children's children's children - for the next seven generations.

We are facing the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced - literally threatening our own extinction. In fact, the ecological and climate crisis is the greatest social justice struggle of our time, and it touches every facet of our lives.

This moment in history requires unprecedented courage.

First, we must have the courage to see honestly and clearly, the situation we are in today.
Second, we must have the courage to speak truth to power, and to envision the world that we want to live in and that we want to leave for future generations.
Finally, we must have the courage to ACT - to heed the call of the Climate Justice Alliance's Our Power Campaign, by walking the path of a Just Transition together: away from an extractive economy based on fossil fuels, and towards local, living, loving economies.

We must have the COURAGE TO SEE:

Globally, this summer was the hottest summer on record.  In California, we face the worst drought in five hundred years.

While science tells us that climate change is caused by excessive emissions of greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, these polluting emissions are just the consequence and the symptoms, not the root cause of the ecological crisis that is threatening the very future of life on Earth.

Just as the title of Naomi Klein's new book implies, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus the Climate,” it is the economic system - the globally destructive, extractive economic system that puts short-term profits before people and planet - that is the true root cause of this unfolding disaster.

Let us take a step back to rethink what we mean when we say, “The Economy.” As our friends at Movement Generation remind us, the meaning of the root word of Eco is Home, while “Nomy” means Management. So if the world is our Home, the crisis  we are experiencing now is the global mismanagement of home, of our Mother Earth.

We must Have the Courage to Speak the Truth

Nationwide, low-income communities of color face vastly greater exposure to the toxic and lethal byproducts of our current economic system, while largely being shut out from the economic benefits of that system. Here at home, the Alameda County Public Health Department has found that an African American child born in West Oakland will die, on average, 15 years before a Caucasian child living in the City's most affluent area - the Oakland hills. With climate change, East and West Oakland are facing flooding caused by sea level rise and risk of displacement, as we saw in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina nearly a decade ago.

We must have the courage to speak the truth that the Pentagon is the greatest polluter of greenhouse gases on the planet, the worst climate criminal of them all. As the U.S. prepares for yet another military invasion in the Middle East in the name of protecting “our” national interests and our so-called “national security,” the U.S. Military Industrial Complex is directly upholding this extractive economy, maintaining our society's addiction to oil and keeping profits flowing into the coffers of the most powerful corporations on Earth.

We hear about massive solar farms in the desert, the proposed geo-engineering of the oceans to drastically reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, industrially grown “organic” vegetables on sale at Walmart, nuclear energy… the list goes on and on.

We must have the courage to name these as FALSE SOLUTIONS, offered by the economic elite.

Understanding this, we must now have the Courage to Act in Alignment with our Values

Our movements for justice and sustainability have Real Solutions that are rooted in our communities.

From the Fair Food Program of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida and the worker-owned cooperative businesses of Cooperation Jackson, in Mississippi, from the Pamoja Solar Cooperative in Richmond, to PODER's Mutual Aid Cooperatives in the Mission District of San Francisco, we are putting the pieces together to build Solidarity Economies.

Solidarity Economies are based not on exploitation and extraction, but rather on principles of Cooperation, Mutuality, Equity, Democracy and Sustainability.

There are many examples of this shift towards solidarity economies in action.

The Divestment Movement, from students to faith groups, is getting our universities, our cities and other institutions to divest from Fossil Fuels, and to Re-Invest in Resilient, Community-based Economies that honor our cultures as they respect the Earth.

As individuals, we can put solar panels on our own roofs, but this alone is not enough. Just as in cloudy Germany, on one day this summer the nation sourced three-quarters of their energy from wind and solar power, much of it on rooftops, so too can we generate 100% of our own local, clean energy here in our community.

As the Oakland Climate Action Coalition's Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland Campaign is calling for, our communities can choose to build just, sustainable, local sources of renewable energy, and we can own it ourselves.  Alameda County recently voted unanimously to move forward with Community Choice energy - We can support them in doing so the right way - by creating hundreds of unionized, family-sustaining jobs. In so doing, we can also create apprenticeship and training programs, to employ low-income communities of color and people with barriers to employment, especially formerly incarcerated people...

As Earth Peoples, we must remember our ancestral wisdom, and restore balance to our planet by taking back through democratic governance the sacred elements of air, earth, water and fire that have been privatized, commoditized, and re-sold back to us by corporations for profit.

It's not enough for some communities to enjoy the benefits of solar panels on our homes, of affordable, healthy, organic local foods, of clean air and safe drinking water, affordable housing and accessible public transit. We all deserve to live in equitable and resilient communities - and we have a right to.

As the great civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer said, “Nobody's free until everybody's free.”

Each of our social movements has accomplished tremendous things on their own right: movements for labor rights, for economic justice, for civil rights, for racial justice, for environmental justice, for queer rights, for women's liberation, for immigration rights, for prison abolition, for peace.

Yet now we know that unless we all stand together, in true solidarity with one another, we face an uncertain and terrifying future.

As our friends working for housing justice at Causa Justa Just Cause remind us, La Unión Hace la Fuerza - Unity is Strength.

Union labor leaders are marching in New York and rallying in Oakland today, because they recognize that the corporations that are exploiting workers and busting unions, are the very same corporations that are poisoning our communities and destroying the life support systems of our Mother Earth, upon which our very lives depend.

In New York, the Labor Movement is marching shoulder to shoulder with environmental justice communities, indigenous leaders, and environmentalists.

Here in Oakland, the Alameda Labor Council has endorsed this Peoples Climate Rally. I see the California Nurses Association is out today in force!

Last week, I visited the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 that built a state-of-the-art Zero Net Energy Center in San Leandro that is a sustainable model for future construction in California - all because union members voluntarily withheld money from their paychecks to help build it.

People on the front lines of this crisis - native communities, low-income communities, and communities of color -- are rising up everywhere and organizing for just and resilient communities.

Native youth from around California recently refused to leave the Capitol in Sacramento until the government shut down the Klamath and Trinity river Dams that are literally killing those rivers, and the salmon that are central to their cultural survival and identity as native peoples.

Here in Oakland, the Recycling Workers Campaign of the ILWU Local 6 recently celebrated a victory where workers organized for the City to pass a living wage ordinance to support dignified working conditions for our brothers and sisters on the front lines of the real solutions to this crisis.

We celebrate these victories today, and too many more to name.

The change that we are seeking in the world begins with ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi reminds us that we must be the change we wish to see in the world. But it does not end there - our individual contributions must be channeled into coordinated and strategic collective action.

Together, we are cultivating the courage to see, the courage to speak, and the courage to act.

And as our mentor Rafael Jesús González reminds us, we were never kicked out of the garden of Eden. We have only royally messed it up. Our task now is not only to fight and transform the institutions that exploit our labor and that destroy the Earth - we must begin to heal.
We need fierce healers as well as warriors.

Since we're here in California, we're going to do the Unity Clap, a tradition dating back to the early days of the United Farm Workers movement. It was a way that Raza/Latino and Filipino farm workers could express solidarity with one another, no matter what language they spoke. It starts off slow, and speeds up. Let's do it together now.

Colin Miller

Coordinator, Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland Campaign of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition; Program Manager, Bay Localize

California drought 2014, worse in 500 years


Pandemonium Press 1st Wednesdays Reading, Oct. 1


(Webster at 17th; just 2 1/2 blocks from the 19th St. BART station) 

Poetry & Flash Fiction

 Wednesday * October 1 * 6:45 pm
featured readers:

Rafael Jesús González
Tomás Moniz
Anthony Adrian Pino 

Tony Acarasiddhi Press

Hao C. Tran on guitar
Curator: Leila Rae
  An open mic precedes and follows featured readers.
Sign up now for open mic: 

Book Table 
Book & Broadside Giveaway

Admission Free

Come early or stay late for food/drink at Spice Monkey


Monday, September 22, 2014

Autumn Equinox - Libra



Alumbran a la balanza del día y la noche,
el zafiro temprano del amanecer
y el ópalo tardío del atardecer.
Se alza en obelisco de jade, de nefrita
al punto cardinal del aire,
el apoyo del viento,
----y en cada platillo de cobre
se miden el arte y las consecuencias
---(el amor pesa en la ijada
----de la indecisión,
----en los lomos del deseo.)
La alzaprima del otoño
sostiene sobre el caos,
trémulos y vacilantes
----el sentir, el pensar —
-----------amor, belleza, verdad —
sueños, siempre sueños, justos sueños.

-----------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2014



The balance of day and night
is lit by the early sapphire of dawn
-----and the late opal of dusk.
It rises on obelisk of nephrite, of jade
to the cardinal point of the air,
the lever of the wind,
----and on each copper plate
----are measured art and consequences
--------(love weighs on the back
---------of indecision,
---------on the loins of desire.)
The fulcrum of autumn
holds over chaos
tremulous and irresolute
----feeling, thought —
--------love, beauty, truth —
dreams, always dreams, just dreams.

---          ----------© Rafael Jesús González 2014


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Poets for Change, Saturday September 27


Backyards: Poets for Local Change 2014
a free poetry reading with refreshments

Saturday September 27

7:00 pm

Frank Bette Art Center

1601 Paru Street, Alameda.

Hosted by Jeanne Lupton.
Curated & MC'd by Sharon Coleman

Wilfred Galila
Kristen Hanlon
John Isles
Sara Anika Mithra
Rafael Jesús González
Vince Storti
Harold Terezon
Joyce Young


Born and raised in the Philippines, Wilfred Galila is in pursuit of deciphering the ramifications of cultural hybridity in his postcolonial mind. As a writer, his work has been published in Beyond Lumpia, Pansit and Seven Manangs Wild, an anthology of short prose and poetry by Filipino-American writers. He has contributed art, design, and prose for the Milvia Street Art and Literary Journal of Berkeley City College. As a photographer, he was commissioned for the Kodakan Project, exploring and making visible the various identities of Filipinos in San Francisco through still and moving images. The exhibit will be remounted at the I-Hotel Manilatown Center in San Francisco starting on October 2015. He also makes music and rocks out with his psychedelic garage punk band ElectroSonic Chamber.

Rafael Jesús González taught Creative Writing and Literature at Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican & Latin American Studies Dept. He has been Poet in Residence at Oakland Museum of California and Oakland Public Library. In 1996 he won a Poets & Writers award. He has thrice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English for his writing 2003 and 2009 by the City of Berkeley for his writing, art, teaching, social activism. His book of poems La musa lunática/The Lunatic Muse (Pandemonium Press, Berkeley, California) was published in 2009.

Kristen Hanlon's poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Volt, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. A chapbook, Proximity Talks, was published by Noemi Press in 2005. She lives in Alameda and works in downtown Oakland, which means a good portion of her time is spent on the 51. She likes to hang out with her kids, Delia and Liam, and her husband, John, in their backyard where occasionally poems are written. As a contributor to The Alamedan, Kristen curated the Alameda Bookshelf feature and interviewed local poets, journalists, writers and teachers of writing.

John Isles is the author of Inverse Sky (Iowa, 2008) and Ark (Iowa, 2003) and coeditor of the Baltics section of New European Poets. He received an award from the Los Angeles Review in 2004 and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005. His poems have appeared in such journals as American Letters & Commentary, the Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, and Pleiades. He currently teaches at City College of San Francisco.

Sara Anika Mithra performs poetry to give voice to characters ekeing out an existence on stubble, dregs, and leavings. She's featured at Expressions, Frank Bette, and Art House and enjoyed performing at Mudpuddle Music Shop, Berkeley Center for the Arts, and FUSE Festival. Watch her poem videos on Vimeo or listen to her dramatic readings on SoundCloud. She also fashions handmade chapbooks.

Vince Storti was recently published in the online Parisian literary journal Levure Literaire (issue #8).  His work has most recently been included Carol Louise Moon's Dad's Desk. He's editor and publisher of the North Coast Literary Review. He currently helps run a poetry workshop for the Alameda Island Poets. Vince believes prefers poetry as solace rather than poetry as confusion. He is currently enjoying a workshop with Poetry Flash's Richard Silberg.

harold terezón is an educator and poet from Pacoima, CA. He received the San Francisco Foundation's James D. Phelan Literary Award in 2013. He served as a teaching artist for WritersCorps from 2011-2013, helping San Francisco youth find their voice through poetry and writing. His work has appeared in  POECOLOGY, Puerto del Sol, PALABRA, Rushing Waters Rising Dreams: How the Arts Are Transforming a Community, and The Acentos Review, among other publications.  He is currently teaching poetry at City College of San Francisco and working on Hunting Izotes, a collection of poems inspired by his family's immigrant experience.

Joyce E. Young's work has appeared in riverbabble, New Voices of the American West, Temba Tupu! (Walking Naked): The Africana Woman's Self-Portrait, Paint Dreams on Walls, Milvia Street, The Squaw Review, Writing for Our Lives, and Skin Deep: Women Writing About Color, Culture and Identity. Joyce received grants from the California Arts Council, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and a Writers on Site residency through Poets & Writers, Inc. She teaches at John F. Kennedy University and is at work on her novel Parallel Journey. She's also a semi-retired dancer and practitioner of T'ai chi and yoga.  She loves to be near water- ocean, river, stream or lake.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

16 de septiembre — Mexican Independence Day


-------Fiestas patrias


Ha llegado el día 
en que todas fiestas patrias 
me repugnan 
y todas fronteras 
me aprietan demasiado. 
¿Qué es este orgullo de nación, 
estas banderas
-------sean águilas o estrellas? 
No importan los colores; 
sólo sirven para disfrazar 
Si no representan justicia y paz 
-------abajo con ellas.

--------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2014


---------National Holidays

The day has come

in which all patriotic holidays
disgust me
and all borders  
fit me too tightly.

What is this pride of nation,
these flags 
-------be they eagles or stars? 
It doesn't matter the colors; 
they only serve to disguise 
If they do not stand for Justice and peace,
---------down with them.

-----------------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2014


Monday, September 15, 2014

Art in Nature - Nature of Art, Sun. Sept. 21


 Xochipilli's schedule:

Art in Nature, Sun., Sept. 21
Redwood Regional Park, Oakland Hills

Orchard Meadow

11:00 AM ongoing:
Xochipilli's Papalotl Garden

interactive family art space

Orchard Meadow

1:00 PM
Calpulli Huey Papalotl

danza mechika/Azteca dance-prayer

Old Church

3:45 PM

Rafael Jesús González reading
with Gerardo O. Marín on flute, Xochipilli

Flor y Canto

Xochipilli & Associates
will this year again participate in the

Art in Nature Festival

creating with you & all who wish to join us a


Jardín Papalotl - Butterfly Garden

our theme is la mariposa, the butterfly

to honor the butterfly as a creature & symbol
of life endangered by climate change

as a symbol of the falseness of borders
& human history as one of migration & movement
across continents, of the struggle for immigrant rights

as a symbol of transformation, transcendence, renewal, of beauty, of art, of joy, of spirit, 
of consciousness

Please wear the butterfly when you come: in all forms of jewelry, printed on shirts, on badges & pins, of cloth, of paper, of plastic, all materials, all colors & patterns, as wings, face painted in butterfly designs — Your imagination is the limit.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Full moon: The Moon Embroiders With Silver


La luna borda de plata

La luna borda con sus agujas de plata e hilazas plateadas las olas del mar, las hojas de la arboleda, las hierbas marchitas de las lomas. Me asombra tal hermosura y pienso como la verán los niños de América Central y de Gaza en sus huidas del hambre y del terror de sus tierras buscando amparo en esas otras tierras que son la causa misma de su hambre y de sus terrores. Encontrarán barreras, muros, escasas bienvenidas.

Casi odio a la luna por su fría indiferencia pero sería injusto culparla por lo que sucede en la Tierra, la luna que no conoce fronteras e igual borda de plata el alambre de púas, los muros, las barreras. Odiosos mas bien los gobiernos de esas naciones que hambrean por las riquezas y las tierras ajenas y destruyen vidas.

Hay, Israel, Israel que presumes ser el pueblo escogido de tu Díos; hay, Estados Unidos de América que pretendes confiar en ese mismo Dios. Nada esconderá el hedor de la blasfemia ni menos asquerosos hará nuestros pecados el bordado plateado de la luna.

                    © Rafael Jesús González 2014

The Moon Embroiders With Silver

The moon embroiders with her silver needles and silver threads the waves of the sea, the leaves of the grove, the dry grasses on the hills. I am amazed at such beauty and I wonder how it is seen by the children of Central America and of Gaza in their flights from the hunger and the terror of their lands looking for refuge in those other lands which are the very cause of their hunger and their terrors. They will find barriers, walls, scarce welcomes.

I almost hate the moon for its cold indifference, but it would be unjust to blame her for what happens on Earth, the moon who knows no borders and as well embroiders with silver the barbed wire, the walls, the barriers. Hateful instead the governments of those nations who hunger for the riches and the lands of others and destroy lives.

Oh, Israel, Israel who presumes to be the chosen people of your God; Oh, United States of America who presumes to trust in that same God. Nothing will hide the smell of blasphemy nor will the silver embroidery of the moon make our sins less vile.

                    © Rafael Jesús González 2014