Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thoughts for the last day of the year 2016


Thoughts for the Last Day of the Year 2016

I have holed-up this holiday Season, under-cover if you will, literally. I wake up late, pull the covers over my head and sleep some more, wake again and pick up the book beside me and often get out of bed at 11:00, sometimes 12:00 or 1:00, even 2:00. (I have read Woodard's American Nations, Dunbar-Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Best American Short Stories 2007 picked by Stephen King, Gatto's Dumbing Us Down — not cheerful reading but enlightening.) I lie watching the rainbows thrown by the prisms hanging in my windows across the thangka of the Green Tara and the Huichol yarn paintings in my room. I am sleepy all the time.

This reluctance to crawl from under the covers I blame on the dark, the cold (even on clear days), my years. But I know that it is the coldness in my chest, the knot in my gut, anxiety, fear, not-quite-despair that immobilizes me. The year finishes badly; the new one promises much pain.

A child never-grown-up has been selected to head the nation, not one "spoiled" by pampering which at least connotes a doting love, but a brat made rotten by little love and too much privilege, narcissistic beyond imagining, willful, demanding, petulant, angry, prone to tantrums if he does not get his way. Shall I repeat the litany of his faults — his misogyny, his racism, his homophobia, his bigotry, his profound ignorance? His analysis, his description, his judgment of anything does not go beyond stock superlatives; he knows nothing of ideas, much less policy, not an iota of science. "I am a business man," he says proudly as if that justified all his conniving, his dishonesty, his thievery. Should we doubt it, he has his billions to prove it. So the empire now gets its own, homegrown Caligula. Sociopathic megalomaniac, he too may come to declare himself divine. True, we have been governed by criminals before (can one govern an empire and not be criminal?), but this is a case apart.

It is the cruelty I fear, the utter heartlessness in the face of suffering, the willingness, nay, the intent to cause suffering and pain. Nor compassion nor justice is a hallmark of the 1%, the Republican Party he represents and that brought him to power. (Being a Democrat is no guarantee of decency, but it seems that a decent Republican is an oxymoron.) With Republican control of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive (the proposed Cabinet reads like a Hitlerian wish-list), full-fledged U. S. fascism has come, a fascism prepared to destroy the Earth itself for the sake of wealth and power. Can it be called anything but madness?

I suspect that most of you reading this are too young to remember the century past German fascism and Hitler (whom the U.S. president elect resembles in character and action), the unspeakable suffering, destruction, death. I fear the suppression of inquiry, information, and expression, that what I write may be cause for my arrest, imprisonment, torture, death. Under the rubric of "terrorism" any act of opposition to the state can be a crime while terror itself is the policy of the state. In the hands of the Republicans, the Constitution could be altered, the Bill of Rights nullified, civil liberties cancelled. I fear the trump, trump, trump of military boots in the street outside my door.

What could you, my fellow citizens who voted for Donald T., possibly have been thinking? He hid nothing, not his arrogance, not his violence, not his disregard of common decency. He appeared before us naked in all his nastiness obligating the opposition to respond to his outrageous boorishness and lies leaving untouched matters of governance and policy of which he is completely ignorant. It pains me that in spite of the many explanations and excuses bandied about, I seem to have but little choice than to consider you, my brothers and sisters, either scoundrels or fools. What in him called out to you? I dread the answer. (And you who could have but did not vote?)

It is perhaps that part of us that I dread most, those of us who will rally to his standards of violence and hate. And just as much those of us who will quietly acquiesce, glad for the job, routinely signing the papers that will tear families apart as the families of slaves were torn at the beginning of the nation; those of us who will make the arrest and turn the key, apply the cattle-prod because "it is our job;" those of us who will make evil banal and routine because we have families to support and our lives are ruled by fear. And we will learn to become blind to the suffering of others. Imagine.

Democracy once lost is very hard to restore. Our resistance must be immediate and overwhelming, our love fierce, our joy protected. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities must be made bulwarks of justice, of refuge. Our schools sanctuary of freedom of thought and inquiry, our churches voices for justice rooted in compassion. Much is demanded of us and great may be the sacrifice, but if we all share it, it will be much, much less. Let us then take to the streets and public places dressed in our most joyful colors, making music with our drums and flutes, dragging our pianos out our doors if we must, dancing, singing, chanting, turning all our art into protest and celebration — and make our spaces truly our own.

Not only have the wrong answers but the wrong questions been forced upon us. We should stop asking not what can we do for "our" country (that meaningless abstraction that has come to mean the state demanding we work to keep the greatest army in the world in constant war to protect "our" interests, meaning those of the 1% filthy rich who are the state) but, if the country is truly us and ours, we must ask, nay demand, of a government that is us and ours, that it do for us who are homeless, for us who cannot afford to live where we work and our communities are, for us who have no medicine when we are ill, for us who have no education and our curiosity starved, for us who have no meaningful work because either machines do it in our stead or work is taken where slave wages can be imposed, for the holy Earth that births and sustains us. Unless we do this, forget the nonsense of making 'America Great Again." 'America, the U.S. of A, may be mighty but until it is just it will never be great.

So as 2016 comes to a bitter end and the new year, popularly depicted as a baby in diapers, ominously crawls in, I will bid the old year goodbye and bring in the new in vigil and ceremony with bitter sacred medicine to sweeten the heart. And in my cedar and sage scented prayers I will invoke Lord Ganesh that he may with his dance do away with the great obstacles to our democracy, freedoms, justice, peace, the wholeness of the Earth itself, and make our way as smooth and painless as his mercy allows. To you I send blessings hoping that we meet in our streets and public places making joyful noise for the sake of life.

© Rafael Jesús González 2017

Berkeley, California, December 31, 2016


Pensamientos en el último día del año 2016

He pasado esta temporada de fiestas en retiro, bajo cubiertas si gusta, literalmente. Despierto tarde, jalo las cobijas sobre la cabeza y duermo más, despierto otra vez y cojo el libro a mi lado y frecuentemente salgo de la cama a las 11:00, a veces las 12:00 o 1:00, hasta a las 2:00. (He leído Naciones americanas de Woodard, La historia de los Estados Unidos de las gentes indígenas de Dunbar-Ortiz, Los mejores cuentos cortos de 2007 escogidos por Stephen King, Embruteciéndonos de Gatto — no lectura alegre pero iluminante.) Me tiendo observando los arcos iris lanzados por los primas en mis ventanas a través la pintura de la Tara Verde y las tablas huicholas en mi cuarto. Constantemente tengo sueño.

Esta desgana de arrastrarme de debajo las cobijas culpo a la oscuridad, al frío (aun  en los días claros), a mis años. Pero sé que se debe al frío dentro el pecho, el nudo en la barriga, la ansiedad, miedo, casi desesperación que me inmoviliza. El año acaba mal; el nuevo presagia mucho sufrir.

Una criatura nunca crecida se ha seleccionado a encabezar la nación, no una "echada a perder" por mimos que a lo menos connota amor cariñoso, sino un mocoso corrompido por poco amor y demasiado privilegio, narcisista más allá de imaginar, voluntarioso, exigente, malhumorado, colérico, dado a berrinches si no se hace lo que quiere. ¿Repetiré la letanía de sus fallas — su misoginia, su racismo, su homofobia, su intolerancia, su profunda ignorancia? Su análisis, su descripción, su juicio de cualquier cosa no va más allá de superlativos cursis; sabe nada de ideas ni mucho menos de política, ni una jota de ciencia. "Soy hombre de negocio," dice orgullosamente como si eso justificara todas sus manipulaciones, su fraude, su robo. Si lo dudáramos él tiene sus billones para comprobarlo. Así que el imperio ahora tiene su propio, doméstico Calígula. Sociópata megalómano él también llegará a declararse divino. Por cierto antes hemos sido gobernados por criminales (¿será posible gobernar un imperio y no ser criminal?) pero este caso es cosa aparte.

Es la crueldad que temo, la falta total de corazón frente al sufrir, la complacencia, no, la intención de causar sufrimiento y dolor. Ni la compasión ni la justicia son sellos del 1%, del Partido Republicano que representa y que lo trajo al poder. (Ser Demócrata no es garantía de decencia pero parece que un Republicano decente es oxímoron.) Con control Republican del Congreso, la Suprema Corte y el poder Ejecutivo (el Gabinete propuesto lee como lista de deseos hitleriana) el pleno fascismo estadounidense ha llegado, un fascismo listo a destruir la Tierra misma por la riqueza y poder. ¿Se le pudiera llamar otra cosa que locura?

Sospecho que la mayor parte de ustedes que leen esto son demasiado jóvenes para recordar el siglo pasado el fascismo alemán y Hitler (a quien el presidente electo de los EE. UU. semeja en carácter y acto), el abominable sufrimiento, destrucción, muerte. Temo la supresión de la investigación, información y expresión, que lo que escribo sería causa por mi detención, encarcelamiento, tortura, muerte. Bajo la rúbrica del "terrorismo" cualquier acto de oposición al estado pudiera ser crimen a la vez que el terror mismo es la política del estado. En manos de los Republicanos la Constitución pudiera ser alterada, la Lista de Derechos nulificada, las libertades civiles canceladas. Temo el trump, trump, trump de botas militares en la calle fuera mi puerta.

¿Qué pudieran, ustedes mis conciudadanos que votaron por Donald T., posiblemente haber pensado? Ocultó nada, ni su arrogancia, ni su violencia, ni su indiferencia hacia la decencia común.  Apareció ante nosotros desnudo en toda su vulgaridad obligando a la oposición responder a su grosería atroz dejando sin tocar asuntos de gobernancia y política de los cuales es completamente ignorante. Me duele que a pesar de las tantas explicaciones y excusas intercambiadas no parezco tener otra opción que pensarlos, mis herman@s, o canallas o bob@s. ¿Qué en él les llamó? Me da pavor la respuesta. (¿Y ustedes que pudiendo hacerlo no votaron?)

Tal vez es esta parte de nosotros que más temo, esos de nosotros que se reunirán a sus estandartes de violencia y odio. Y tanto más ell@s de nosotros que contentos de tener el trabajo quietamente consentirán rutinariamente firmando documentos que romperán familias como fueron rotas las familias de esclavos al comienzo de la nación; ell@s de nosotros que harán el arresto y pondrán la llave, aplicarán la picana eléctrica porque es su "chamba"; ell@s de nosotros que harán banal y rutinario el mal porque tenemos familias que mantener y nuestras vidas son regidas por el miedo. Y aprenderemos a cegarnos al sufrir de otros. Imagínenlo.

La democracia una vez perdida es muy difícil recuperar. Nuestra resistencia tiene que ser inmediata y abatidora, nuestro amar feroz, nuestra alegría protegida. Nuestros hogares, nuestras vecindades, nuestros ciudades hechas baluartes de justicia, de refugio. Nuestras escuelas santuarios de la libertad de pensar e investigación, nuestras iglesias voces por la justicia arraigada en la compasión. Se nos exige mucho y grande será el sacrificio pero si tod@s lo compartimos será mucho mucho menos. Tomemos a las calles y espacios públicos vestid@s en nuestros colores más alegres, haciendo música con nuestros tambores y flautas, arrastrando nuestros pianos fuera la puertas si tenemos que, bailando, cantando, gritando, volviendo todo nuestro arte en protesta y celebración — y nuestros espacios verdaderamente nuestras.

No sólo se nos han impuesto las respuestas equivocadas sino que se nos han impuesto las preguntas equivocadas. Debemos dejar de preguntarnos no lo que podamos hacer por la "nuestra" patria (esa abstracción sin sentido que ha llegado a significar el estado exigiendo que trabajemos para sostener el más enorme ejército del mundo en guerra constante para proteger "nuestros" intereses, queriendo decir los del 1% asquerosamente ricos que constituyen el estado) pero, si el país es verdaderamente nosotros y nuestro, debemos pedir, no, exigir de un gobierno que es nosotros y nuestro que haga por nosotros desamparad@s, por nosotros que no podemos vivir donde trabajamos y están nuestras comunidades, por nosotros que carecemos de medicina cuando enferm@s, por nosotros que no tenemos educación y privada nuestra curiosidad, por nosotros que no tenemos trabajo que signifique algo porque o máquinas lo hacen o el empleo se lleva a donde sueldos de esclavos se imponen, por la bendita Tierra que nos da nacer y nos sostiene. A menos que hagamos esto  olvidemos esa bobera de hacer a "América Grande de Nuevo." América, los EE. UU. Americanos podrá ser poderosa pera hasta que sea justo jamás grande será.

Así que 2016 llega a fin amargo y el año nuevo popularmente representado por un bebé en pañales siniestramente entra gateando. Le daré la despedida al año viejo y recibiré al nuevo en vigilia y ceremonia con medicina sagrada amarga para endulzar el corazón. Y en mis rezos perfumados por cedro y salvia invocaré al Señor Ganesh para que con su baile derribe los grandes obstáculos a nuestra democracia, libertades, justicia, paz, la salud de la Tierra misma y haga nuestro camino plano y sin dolor tal como su clemencia permita. A ustedes les envío bendiciones esperando encontrarnos en las calles y espacios públicos haciendo ruido alegre por el bien de la vida. 

© Rafael Jesús González 2017

Berkeley, California, 31 diciembre 2016


Sunday, December 25, 2016


---------A esto

Se dice que
el fulgor de un lucero
y el cantar de ángeles
anunciaron el nacer
del dios hecho hombre,
del niño nacido
entre animales domésticos.

Sea lo que sea el cuento
de la trágica y gloriosa
trayectoria de su vida,
todo se reduce a esto:
------enseñó amar.

----© Rafael Jesús González 2016

-------------To This

It is said
that the brightness of a star
and the singing of angels
announced the birth
of the god made man,
the child born
among domestic animals.

Whatever is the story
of the tragic and glorious
trajectory of his life,
it all comes to this:
------he taught love.

----© Rafael Jesús González 2016



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice — Capricorn

Solsticio invernal/Winter Solstice

Deseándoles las bendiciones de la temporada hoy y siempre.
Que el nacer de la luz nos ilumine el corazón 
y nos traiga la justicia y la paz,
salud y felicidad 
y un Tierra sana y salva.

Wishing you the season's blessings now & always.
May the birth of the light illumine our heaarts 
& bring us justice & peace, 
health & happiness, 
& and Earth whole & safe.

Capricorn — Winter Solstice



La cabra, piel hirsuta,
---cuernos de turquesa,
---ojos de granate,
---pesuñas de plomo,
se arrodilla a Saturno,
planeta de sortijas,
en la noche larga
----y persevera, dura
----en su anhelo de cornear
el punto cardinal de la tierra.

----------© Rafael Jesús González 2016


The goat, hirsute hide,
-----horns of turquoise
-----garnet eyes,
-----hoofs of lead,
kneels to Saturn,
planet of rings,
in the long night
---and perseveres, persists
---in his desire to gore
the cardinal point of the earth.

----------© Rafael Jesús González 2016


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

full moon: Ghost Ship Moon


-----Luna del barco fantasma

-a los muertos del incendio del Barco Fantasma,
-------Oakland, California, 2 diciembre 2016

La luna inmensa llorona
busca sus hij@s en los escombros
del barco fantasma quemado,
barco fantasma de fantasías,
de ensueños, de visiones
de l@s jóvenes artistas
que no tenían
donde vivir y crear
mas en el barco fantasma
velas de llamas.
¿Qué intentó purificar
el Señor Shiva
con este sacrificio de inocentes?
¿La infernal economía de imperio, 
la codicia que sólo les permitió
esta morada en el barco fantasma?
¿Que expiación se requiere?
La luna busca a sus hij@s
del barco fantasma quemado
pero es que todos estamos perdidos.

----------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016


-----------Ghost Ship Moon 

------------to the dead of the Ghost Ship fire,
------------Oakland, California, Dec. 2, 2016

The immense wailing moon
looks for her children in the rubble
of the burned ghost ship,
ghost ship of fancies,
of daydreams, of visions
of the young artists
who had nowhere
to live & create
but in the ghost ship
sails of flames.
What did Lord Shiva
intend to purify
with this sacrifice of innocents?
The hellish economics of empire, 
the greed that allowed them
only this lodging in the ghost ship?
What expiation is required?
The moon looks for her children
of the burned ghost ship
but it is that we are all lost.

------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016


Monday, December 12, 2016

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin


------Rezo a Tonantzin

-------madre de todo
-------lo que de ti vive,
es, habita, mora, está;
Madre de todos los dioses
--------------------las diosas
madre de todos nosotros,
--------la nube y el mar
--------la arena y el monte
--------el musgo y el árbol
--------el ácaro y la ballena.

Derramando flores
haz de mi manto un recuerdo
que jamás olvidemos que tú eres
único paraíso de nuestro vivir.

Bendita eres,
cuna de la vida, fosa de la muerte,
fuente del deleite, piedra del sufrir.

concédenos, madre, justicia,
--------concédenos, madre, la paz.

----------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016

----Prayer to Tonantzin

-------mother of all
-------that of you lives,
be, dwells, inhabits, is;
Mother of all the gods
-----------------the goddesses
Mother of us all,
---------the cloud & the sea
---------the sand & the mountain
---------the moss & the tree
---------the mite & the whale.

Spilling flowers
make of my cloak a reminder
that we never forget that you are
the only paradise of our living.

Blessed are you,
cradle of life, grave of death,
fount of delight, rock of pain.

Grant us, mother, justice,
--------grant us, mother, peace.

--------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016

by Robert Lentz


Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Richmond Anthology of Poetry reading Thursday, December 15


You are most cordially invited to an event

Thursday, December 15, 2016

7:00 - 9:00 PM

Richmond Progressive Alliance

2540 Macdonald Ave.

Richmond, California

at which 

 Tarnel Abbott, Daniel Ari, Lauren Ari, 
Rebecca Auerbach, David Brehemer, Kristin Cerda, 
Mort Cohn, Karin Fisher-Golton, Glynnis,  
Rafael Jesús González, Deb Gorman, 
Sylvia Ledezma, Allison Luterman, 
Alexandra Naughton, Sharron SK Williams

will read from

The Richmond Anthology of Poetry

Daniel Ari, editor

 just released


Monday, November 28, 2016

Standing Rock action, San Francisco, Wed. Nov. 20


On Wednesday November 30th, 8:00-11:00 AM PST, Justin Herman Plaza, 1 Market St., San Francisco, California, we gather together to support water protectors on the front-line at STANDING ROCK. This is one of many national actions Nov. 30th to Dec. 2nd to encourage divestment from financial institutions funding the pipeline. 

The morning will begin with prayers for the water led by the women of Idle No More SF Bay. A teach-in will be conducted on why everyone needs to divest from the financial institutions funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. This will be followed by a prayer walk to several banking institutions funding the DAPL. Educational hand-outs will be available to pass out.

We ask that you close your accounts to protect the water and let us know when you do! Financial institutions listed here::'s-banking-dakota-access-pipeline

We are calling on all women to join us and use your voices to either collectively withdraw your money from the banks funding DAPL or support your sisters in action.

While this is a woman-led action, everyone is invited to join us!

Come prepared with signs and artwork (Standing Rock and Wells Fargo Divesting) that will visually spread the message loudly! Here is a link to artwork you can download:

If you can't make it to the SF event, we'll be sharing through Facebook Live via @Farewellsfargo facebook page. Please check back to see how the events are unfolding.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Fidel Castro (August 13, 1926 – November 25, 2016)


---------------------Ay Cuba

-------Los derechos se toman, no se piden;
-----------se arrancan, no se mendigan.
      ----------------------------------------José Martí

---------------a Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz 

Le llegó la muerte al viejo revolucionario
extinguiendo lo que le quedaba del puro
dejándole la cachucha militar
para  que no le pusieran laureles
que le molestaran.
No es cosa chica enfrentarse al imperio
y sobrevivir su furia de perro rabioso
del cual se le quita un hueso.
Ay Cuba de la historia amarga,
de palmas, bailes, canciones,
de los tambores de Alegba y Yemayá,
de la caña hecha dulce por sangre y sudor
enlútate y recuerda, canta, baila, 
obra por la justicia y jamás 
vuelvas a la esclavitud.

----------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016

---------------------Oh Cuba

------Los derechos se toman, no se piden;
----------se arrancan, no se mendigan.
      ----------------------------------------José Martí

-----------------a Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz 

Death came to the old revolutionary
put out what was left of his cigar
leaving him his military cap
so they would not place laurels
that would bother him.
It is no little thing to confront the empire
& survive its rage of a mad dog
from which a bone is taken.
Oh Cuba of the bitter history,
of palms, dances, songs,
of the drums of Alegba & Yamayá,
of the cane made sweet by blood & sweat
mourn & remember, sing, dance, 
work for justice & never 
return to slavery.

-----------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016


Thursday, November 24, 2016




Gracias y benditos sean
el Sol y la Tierra
por este pan y este vino,
-----esta fruta, esta carne, esta sal,
----------------este alimento;
gracias y bendiciones
a quienes lo preparan, lo sirven;
gracias y bendiciones
a quienes lo comparten
(y también a los ausentes y a los difuntos.)
Gracias y bendiciones a quienes lo traen
--------(que no les falte),
a quienes lo siembran y cultivan,
lo cosechan y lo recogen
-------(que no les falte);
gracias y bendiciones a los que trabajan
-------y bendiciones a los que no puedan;
que no les falte — su hambre
-----hace agrio el vino
-----------y le roba el gusto a la sal.
Gracias por el sustento y la fuerza
para nuestro bailar y nuestra labor
--------por la justicia y la paz.

----------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016

(The Montserrat Review, no. 6, primavera 2003
[postulado para el Premio de la Poesía por la Paz Hobblestock;
derechos reservados del autor.)

---------------- Grace

Thanks and blessing be
to the Sun and the Earth
for this bread and this wine,

this fruit, this meat, this salt, 
---------------this food;
thanks be
and blessing to them
who prepare it, who serve it;
and blessing to them
who share it
and also the absent and the dead.)
and blessing to them who bring it
--------(may they not want),
to them who plant
and tend it,
and gather it
--------(may they not want);
and blessing to them who work
and blessing to them who cannot;
may they not want — for their hunger
------sours the wine
and robs the salt of its taste.
Thanks be for the sustenance
and strength
for our dance
and the work of justice, of peace.

-------------------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016

(The Montserrat Review, Issue 6, Spring 2003
[nominated for the Hobblestock Peace Poetry Award];
author’s copyrights.)

--- ---


Monday, November 21, 2016




El arquero apunta a Júpiter,
----planeta de tantas lunas,
cuya luz se refleja en sus ancas,
y en la punta de topacio de su saeta
brota la llama inconstante del anhelo.
------En cadena de estaño
------lleva pectoral de turquesa
------bruñida de ensueños
---------y apunta
-------------------y apunta
---------y anhela herir al cielo.

-------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016


The archer points at Jupiter,
-----planet of many moons
whose light reflects on his haunches,
and on the topaz point of his arrow
bursts the inconstant flame of his desire.
------On a chain of tin
------he wears a medallion of turquoise
------polished by dreams
---------and he points
----------------------and he points
------and desires to wound the sky. 

----------             ------© Rafael Jesús González 2016


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Day — A U. S. Holiday


Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930)


Preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving, favorite U.S. holiday (for we must always be thankful for blessings), it is well for us to recall the history and myth in which it is clothed and reflect upon it.

If in 1621 "Tisquantum" or "Squanto" of the Wampanoag nation, who as a boy or youth was taken as a slave to England fifteen years before the “Pilgrims” came to America, helped the ill-provided colonists and with his tribe celebrated thanksgiving with Miles Standish and the colonists of Plymouth Plantation, it was because the Algonkian tribes were generous and held six thanks-giving festivals during the year (that one being their 5th one of the year.) They brought most of the food, including four wild turkeys, for the feasting.

But it seems that, as William B. Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chairman of the Anthropology department at the University of Connecticut, points out, the first officially declared Thanksgiving Day by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony was the day following the slaughtering of a Pequot village of 700 men, women, and children who were celebrating their annual Green Corn Dance, in June 1637 executed under the command of one John Underhill and documented by William Branford.

In fact, a proclamation of such a holiday recorded in Charlestown, Massachusetts, thirty-nine years later, June 20, 1676, refers to the indigenous peoples of this land as “the Enemy” in “the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land.” And the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts set June 29 to thank the god of the Puritan “pilgrims” for “giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them [the indigenous people],” thankful “when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed.”

It first became a national holiday declared such by George Washington in 1789 for November 26. Abraham Lincoln revived the custom in 1863, and Congress decreed the holiday should fall on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941. And so it is, a holiday with antecedents in the remotest times of human history and burdened with national myth and fact, piety and villainy more often than not inextricably intertwined.

Since 1969 or 70 on San Francisco Bay, the day is begun at sunrise with American Indian ceremony at the gathering of the tribes on the island of Alcatraz as reminder of the history of this land — and as rededication to changing its course for the better.

Feasting with family and friends in thanks for the blessings of life, Thanksgiving is a holiday of celebration whose joy is marred by a consciousness of our nation in continual war and destruction of the Earth. The government (we, if we tolerate it) not only wages war unjustly, unlawfully, justifying itself through lies and deceit, but violates the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights so that our civil rights and liberties are less and less guaranteed. The wealth of the nation is concentrated in the hands of the one per cent rich and powerful, and most of our people will celebrate this day with less wealth, less security, less freedom, less learning, than thirty-four years ago. And the struggle to create a democracy continues. Now under even more difficult conditions.

In the midst of this pain and exasperation, we must give thanks for the gifts of life and the sustenance of the great Mother the Earth. And for each other, and all our relations the other animals, the plants, the minerals. We give thanks mindful that in our gratitude we must also raise our voices in the name of justice and peace resolved to make amends and undertake healing knowing that gratitude for that which we enjoy at the expense and suffering of our brothers and sisters is blasphemous and unacceptable.

© Rafael Jesús González 2016
Alta California


Monday, November 14, 2016

full moon: Two Ominous Views of the Full Moon 

Dos vistas ominosas de la luna llena


La inmensa luna llena
baña de luz blanca y fría
a la Señora de los mares
-----Dama del puerto
que parece en desesperación
alzar su antorcha
que aun despide más humo
que luz y parece
a punto de extinguirse,
lo que representa ahogarse
en las oleadas de luz
indiferentes y frías
para luego caer en la oscuridad.


La luz de la luna inmensa y brillante
parece hacer aun más fría la noche
cubriendo como escarcha luminosa
el campamento de los defensores
del agua sagrada, de la Tierra.
E igual cubre a los destructores,
los guardias, soldados en sus cascos
con sus garrotes y perros.
Y las piedras siguen de pie
cubiertas de escarcha de luz
silenciosas cual centinelas impotentes,
testigos imparciales.

--------------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016

---Two Ominous Views of the Moon


The immense full moon
bathes in white, cold light
the Lady of the Seas,
----Dame of the Port
who in desperation seems
to raise her torch
that even now sends more smoke
than light & seems
about to go out,
what it stands for to drown
in the waves of light
Indifferent & cold
to then fall into darkness.


The light of the immense, brilliant moon
seems to make the night even colder
covering with luminous frost
the encampment of the defenders
of the sacred water, of the Earth.
And equally covers the destroyers,
the guards, soldiers in their helmets
with their clubs & their dogs.
And the rocks stand 
covered with hoarfrost of light
silent as powerless sentinels,
impartial witnesses.

----------------------------------© Rafael Jesús González 2016


Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day

When the First World War officially ended June 28, 1919, the actual fighting had already stopped the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the previous year. Armistice Day, as it was known, later became a national holiday, and in 1954 (the year I graduated from high school), the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans of all wars.

The only veteran of that war, “the war to end all wars
,” I ever knew was my father’s step-father Benjamín Armijo, from New Mexico, an old man who seldom spoke and whom I would on occasion see wearing his cap of the American Legion. (He was also Republican.)

“The war to end all wars” was anything but that and when I was not much more than five, three of my uncles on my mother’s side (Roberto, Armando, Enrique) went off to fight another war, the Second World War.

I missed my uncles and remembered them by their photos on my grandmother’s home altar, very handsome in their uniforms; in the endless rosaries and litanies the women in the family regularly met to pray; and in the three blue stars that hanged in the window.

My uncle Roberto, tío Beto, did not last his second year; he came home and ulcers and los nervios, nerves, were mentioned. My uncle Armando, tío Pana, in the Infantry division or the Cavalry Division (though not one horse was ever ridden into battle in that war), served in the Pacific Theater, and Guadalcanal is a name that in some way sticks in his history. My uncle Enrique, tío Kiki, the youngest, in the Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles,” served in the European Theater and parachuted into the taking of Germany.

After that war ended, they came home, tío Pana into a hospital, sick with malaria which affected him throughout the rest of his life; tío Kiki with a malady in the soul not so easily diagnosed, hidden in his quiet humor, gentle ways. All my uncles were gentle men, in all senses of the word. And Beto, Pana, Kiki spoke not at all about their experiences of war in spite of my curiosity and questions which they diverted with a little joke or change of subject. What they had seen, felt was apparently not to be spoken and the family sensed this and respected their reticence. Neither of them joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars that I ever knew.

Enrique González Prieto

The Korean War “broke out”, as they say, as if it were acne, not long after. But as for me, I have never fought in any war, though I joined the U. S. Navy upon graduating from El Paso High School to become a Hospital Corpsman and obtain the G.I. Bill with which to enter Pre-Med studies upon my discharge; two of four years in the Navy I spent in the Marine Corps with the rank of Staff Sergeant. The Korean War had already ended. And though I served closely enough to it to be given the Korea Defense Service Medal and am legally a veteran and eligible to join the VFW, I never did nor do I intend to.

If I consider myself veteran of any war, it would be of the Viet-Nam War, not because I fought in it, far from it, but because I struggled against it. (I counseled conscientious objectors, picketed recruiting offices, marched in the streets.) The war veterans I have most intimately known are from that war, many, if not most, wounded and ill in body (from bullets, shrapnel, agent-orange), wounded and ill in the soul (terror, guilt, shame, hatred putrefying their dreams, tainting their loves.)

I am leery of being asked to honor veterans of almost any war, except as I honor the suffering, the being of every man or woman who ever lived. I am sick of “patriotism” behind which so many scoundrels hide. I am sick of war that has stained almost every year of my life. Given that almost every war the U.S. has waged and wages are invasions of other countries justified with thin pretensions of "defense," I am impatient with fools who ask whether I “support our troops.”

What does it mean to “support our troops”? What is a troop but a herd, a flock, a band? What is a troop but a group of actors whose duty it is not to reason why, but to do and die? In the years I served in the Navy and Marine Corps as a medic, I never took care of a troop; I took care of men who had been wounded and hurt, who cut themselves and bled, who suffered terrible blisters on their feet from long marches, who fell ill sick with high fevers. If to support means to carry the weight of, keep from falling, slipping, or sinking, give courage, faith, help, comfort, strengthen, provide for, bear, endure, tolerate, yes, I did, and do support all men and women unfortunate enough to go to war.

Troops, I do not. If to support means to give approval to, be in favor of, subscribe to, sanction, uphold, then I do not. The decision to make war was/is not theirs to make; troops are what those who make the decisions to war use (to kill and to be killed, to be brutalized into torturers) for their own ends, not for ours, certainly not for the sake of the men and women who constitute the “troops.”

Indeed, I find the question whether I "support our troops" offensive, cynical, hypocritical given that we care so little for our veterans: so many are homeless; find no work; have little care for their wounds, physical and psychological; little for their addictions; many are in prison; a great many commit suicide. This acknowledged, the "patriotism" the question pretends is hollow and blind.

I honor veterans of war the only way in which I know how to honor: with compassion; with respect; with understanding for how they were/are used, misled, indoctrinated, coerced, wasted, hurt, abandoned; with tolerance for their beliefs and justifications; with efforts to see that their wounds, of body and of soul, are treated and healed, their suffering and sacrifice compensated. I never refuse requests for donations to any veterans’ organization that seeks benefits and services for veterans. I honor veterans, men and women; not bands, not troops.

If you look to my window on this day, the flag you will see hanging there will be the rainbow flag of peace. It hangs there in honor of every veteran of any war of any time or place. Indoors, I will light a candle and burn sage, recommit myself to the struggle for justice and for peace. Such is the only way I know in which to honor the veterans (and victims
military or civilian) of war.

Berkeley, November 11, 2007

© Rafael Jesús González 2016

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Día del Veterano

Cuando la Primera Guerra Mundial oficialmente acabó el 28 de junio 1919, la lucha actual ya había cesado en la oncena hora del onceno día del onceno mes del año anterior. Día del Armisticio, como fue conocida, más tarde se hizo fiesta nacional, y en 1954 (el año en que me gradué de la secundaria), el nombre se le cambió a Día del Veterano para honrar a todo veterano estadounidense de todas las guerras.

El único veterano de esa guerra, “la guerra para acabar con toda guerra,” que jamás conocí era el padrastro de mi padre, Benjamín Armijo, de Nuevo México, un hombre anciano que raras veces hablaba y a quien en ocasión veía llevar la gorra de La legión Americana. (Era también republicano.)

“La guerra para acabar con toda guerra” fue todo menos eso y cuando yo tenía no mucho más de cinco, tres de mis tíos maternos (Roberto, Armando, Enrique) salieron a pelear en otra guerra, la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Echaba de menos a mis tíos y los recordaba por sus fotos en el altar hogareño de mi abuela, muy guapos en sus uniformes; en los rosarios y letanías sin fin que las mujeres de la familia a menudo se juntaban a rezar; y en las tres estrellas azules que colgaban en la ventana.

Mi tío Roberto, tío Beto, no duró su segundo año; regresó a casa y se mencionaban las úlceras y los nervios. Mi tío Armado, tío Pana, en la División de infantería o la División de caballería (aunque ni un solo caballo jamás fue montado en ninguna batalla de esa guerra) sirvió en el Teatro del Pacífico y el nombre de Guadalcanal de algún modo se pega a su historía. Mi tío Enrique, tío Kiki, el menor, en la División Aérea, “las águilas chillantes,” sirvió en el Teatro Europeo y se lanzó en paracaídas en la toma de Alemania.

Después de que acabó esa guerra regresaron a casa, tío Pana a un hospital enfermo de malaria que le afectó por el resto de la vida; tío Kiki con dolencia del alma no tan fácil de diagnosticar ocultada en su humor suave, modos amables. Todos mis tíos fueron hombres gentiles en todo sentido de la palabra. Y Beto, Pana, Kiki no hablaban nada acerca sus experiencias de la guerra a pesar de mi curiosidad y preguntas que distraían con una pequeña broma o cambio de tema. Lo que habían visto, sentido aparentemente no era para decirse y la familia lo percibía y respetaba su reticencia. Ninguno de ellos se juntó a los Veteranos de Guerras Extranjeras de que yo sepa.

La Guerra Coreana reventó, como dicen, como si fuera el acne, no mucho después. En cuanto a mí, yo nunca he peleado en ninguna guerra aunque me ingresé a la Marina estadounidense graduando de la Escuela secundaria de El Paso para hacerme enfermero y conseguir la beca militar con que empezar mis estudios de medicina cuando acabara mi servicio; dos de los cuatro años en la marina los pasé en la Infantería de marina con el rango de Sargento del personal. La Guerra Coreana ya había acabado. Y aunque serví lo suficientemente aproximado a ella para ser otorgado la Medalla de defensa de Corea y soy legalmente veterano y elegible a juntarme a los VFW [Veteranos de Guerras Extranjeras] nunca lo hice y jamás lo intentaré.

Si me consideraría veterano de ninguna guerra sería de la Guerra de Vietnam, no porque haya peleado en ella sino porque luché en contra de ella. (Aconsejé a objetores de conciencia, puse piquetes a oficinas de recluta, marché en las calles.) Los veteranos de guerra a quien he conocido más íntimamente son los de esa guerra, muchos de ellos, si no la mayor parte, heridos y enfermos de cuerpo (de balas, de metralla, de productos químicos), heridos y enfermos del alma (terror, culpa, vergüenza, odio pudriéndoles los sueños, envenenándoles los cariños.)

Soy sospechoso de que se me pida que honre a veteranos de casi cualquier guerra, excepto como honro el sufrir, el ser de todo hombre o mujer que jamás ha vivido. Estoy harto del “patriotismo” detrás del cual tantos canallas se esconden. Estoy harto de la guerra que ha manchado casi todos los años de mi vida. Especialmente ahora en medio de una guerra más sin justificación, inmoral, ilegal, insoportable, cínica, cruel que la nación hace en Irak, en Afganistán. Soy impaciente de los bobos que me preguntan si no “apoyo a nuestras tropas.”

¿Qué significa “apoyar a nuestras tropas”? ¿Qué cosa es una tropa sino un rebaño, una manada, una banda? ¿Qué es una tropa sino un grupo de actores cuyo deber no es razonar el porque sino cumplir y morir? En los años que serví en la marina y en la infantería de marina como enfermero, nunca cuidé de una tropa; cuidé de hombres heridos y dañados, que se habían herido y sangraban, que sufrían ampollas terribles en los pies debidas a largas marchas, que enfermaban con fiebres altas. Si apoyar significa llevar el peso, impedir caer, resbalar o hundir, dar valor, fe, auxilio, consuelo, fuerza, abastecer, cargar, tolerar, sí, lo hice y apoyo a todos hombres y mujeres tan infelices como para ir a la guerra.

A las tropas, no. Si apoyar significa aprobar, estar en favor, suscribirse, sancionar, entonces no. La decisión de hacer la guerra no es de ellos para hacer; las tropas son lo que esos que hacen las decisiones de guerra usan (para matar y ser matados, para ser brutalizados en torturadores) para sus propios fines, no los nuestros y ni mucho menos los de los hombres y mujeres que constituyen las “tropas.”

En efecto, encuentro la pregunta si "apoyo a nuestras tropas" ofensiva, cínica, hipócrita dado que tan poco cuidamos de nuestros veteranos: muchos están sin techo; no encuentran trabajo; tienen poca atención a sus heridas, físicas y psicológicas; poca a sus adicciones; muchos están en cárcel; muchísimos se suicidan. Reconociendo esto, el "patriotismo" que la pregunta pretende es hueco y ciego.

Honro a los veteranos de la guerra solamente del modo en que sé honrar: con compasión; con respeto; con comprensión de cómo fueron/son usados, engañados, indoctrinados, obligados, desperdiciados, dañados, abandonados; con tolerancia de sus creencias y justificaciones; con esfuerzo para que sus heridas, de cuerpo y alma, se traten y se sanen, su sufrir y sacrificio se recompensen. Nunca me niego a las peticiones por donación a las organizaciones de veteranos que buscan beneficios y servicios para los veteranos. Honro a los veteranos, hombres y mujeres; no a bandas ni a tropas.

Si buscas a mi ventana este día, la bandera que encontrarás allí colgando será la bandera arco iris de la paz. Allí cuelga en honor de todo veterano de cualquier guerra en cualquier época o lugar. Dentro, encenderé una vela y quemaré artemisa y me dedicaré de nuevo a luchar por la justicia y la paz. Tal es el único modo en que sé honrar a los veteranos (y víctimas militares o civiles) de la guerra.

Berkeley, November 11, 2007

© Rafael Jesús González 2016

bandera uiversal de la justicia y la paz