Thursday, November 23, 2017




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 2017

(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 2017

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

--- ---


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Day — a U.S.A. 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 2017
Alta California


Saturday, November 11, 2017

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 2017

Universal Justice & Peace Flag
  Universal Justice & Peace Flag is licensed under a  
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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 2017

bandera uiversal de la justicia y la paz

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Overthrowing Capidtalism reading Saturday, Nov. 11


Book launch & Reading of

Saturday, November 11, 2017 

5:00 - 7:00 PM 

The Beat Museum 

540 Broadway 

San Francisco, California


Bob Azbian, Jorge Argueta, Lisbit Bailey, 
Elizabeth Ball, Judith Ayn Bernhard, 
Kristina Brown, Neeli Cherkovski, 
Pauline Craig, Romeo A. Cruz, John Curl (M.C.), 
Diego de Leo, Mauro Fortissimo, Arnoldo García, 
Rafael Jesús González, Stephen Gray, 
Lupe Gazzini, Jack Hirschman (M.C.), 
Rosemary Manno, Karen Melander Magoon, 
Jim Normington, Barbara Paschke, Jenne Powell, 
Doreen Stock, A. D. Winans, Chun Yu 



Friday, November 3, 2017

full moon: Moon of the Mystery


Luna del misterio

La luna yerma piedra compañera de la Tierra que jala los humores terrestres nos recuerda que sólo hay el gran misterio. Lo más grande del misterio esta bendita Tierra que da vida de la cual somos nosotros su más grande misterio. Lo que percibimos, imaginamos, creemos saber sólo abre a un cada vez más profundo recinto del misterio.

¿De donde la consciencia? Nos aterroriza el asombro y de la imaginación espantada creamos los dioses/diosas en nuestra propia imagen, ilusiones de espejos que proyectamos allá en los vastos espacios de las estrellas y en nuestros mitos inventamos reglas como sustituyo a los instintos que hemos perdido.

Sólo hay el misterio eternamente creándose a si mismo; es el todo y nosotros solamente minuta parte de este todo.

Olvidando esto creemos que no sólo somos aparte de los dioses/diosas que imaginamos sino de nuestros hermanos/hermanas los otros animales; los árboles, arbustos, hierbas; piedras, guijas, arenas; la Tierra madre misma y en nuestro pavor la dañamos a ella misma de quien somos parte.

Es breve la vida y eterna la muerte y el percibir, imaginar, saber una chispa fugaz en el universo. Preciosa y deslumbrante chispita esta que todo alumbra y en esa luz todo esconde. La luna nos recuerda que esta es una forma de locura maravillosa y fatal que hasta a las estrellas nos lleva y la única esperanza de sanarla es el amar.

© Rafael Jesús González 2017

Moon of the Mystery

The moon, barren rock companion of the Earth that pulls the terrestrial humors reminds us that there is only the great mystery. The greatest of the mystery this holy Earth that gives life of which we are its greatest mystery. What we perceive, imagine, think to know only open to an ever greater precinct of the mystery.

Where from consciousness? Wonder terrorizes us and from the frightened imagination we create gods/goddesses in our own image, illusions of mirrors that we project there in the vast spaces of the stars and in our myths invent rules as substitute for the instincts we have lost.

There is only the mystery eternally creating itself; it is all and we only a minute part of this all.

Forgetting this, we think not only that we are apart from the gods/goddesses we imagine but from our brothers/sisters the other animals; the trees, shrubs, grasses; rock, pebbles, sand; the mother Earth herself and in our fear we harm her of whom we are a part.

Life is brief and death eternal and to perceive, imagine, know a fleeting spark in the universe. Precious and dazzling spark this that lights everything and in that light everything hides. The moon reminds us that this is a form of madness marvelous and deadly that takes us even to the stars and the only hope for its cure is love.

© Rafael Jesús González 2017


Metamorphosis & Migration Día de Muertos exhibit Oakland Museum of Californa Oct. 18, 2017 - Jan. 14, 2018


Metamorphosis & Migration: 
Days of the Dead
at the Oakland Museum of California
October 18, 2017–January 14, 2018

1000 Oak Street
Oakland, California

guest curated by Evelyn Orantes

featuring ofrendas & other works by

Fernando Escartiz, Bea Carrillo Hocker,  
Rafael Jesús González, Hung Liu, 
Jet Martinez, Favianna Rodriguez, 
Chris Treggiari & Peter Foucault, 
Oakland International High School  
with Sara Stillman, 
Thornhill Elementary School with Kathrine LaFleur

Ofrenda del Señor Xochipilli al Señor Mictlantecuhtli
Ofrenda of Lord Xochipilli to Lord Mictlantecuhtli
by Rafael Jesús González
(photo by Vola Ruben) 

Esta ofrenda (en memoria de Roberto Almanzán y Juan Domingo, miembros fundadores de Xochipilli, Círculo de hombres) es para l@s artistas, cual humilde su arte, muert@s en el proceso de migrar. Sobre un altar cubierto por una bandera andrajosa de un país traicionado por su gobierno reina Tonantzin Guadalupe, madre de todo, la Tierra. Xochipilli, Príncipe de las Flores, dios de las artes, en aspecto de Mictlantecuhtli dios de la muerte, se sienta ante el altar. El mundo y la nación serían sombríos sin el color del arte regado por entre flores blancas como hueso. Mariposas, símbolo del alma y la migración, vuelan al rededor y posan en los instrumentos y piezas de arte de las cuales beben el néctar de la belleza y el deleite. La ofrenda fue creada casi totalmente de materia reciclada o materia donada o prestada por mi comunidad. Lo que se ahorró en costos, en forma de cheque a Causa Justa por su labor en pro de la justicia para inmigrantes, forma parte integral de la ofrenda.

This ofrenda (in memory of Roberto Almanzán and Juan Domingo, founding members of Xochipilli Men's Circle) is for the artists, however humble their art, who died in the process of migration. Above an altar draped in a tattered flag of the nation betrayed by its government reigns Tonantzin Guadalupe, Mother of All, the Earth. Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers, god of the Arts, in the guise of the god of death, sits before the altar. The world, the nation, would be stark indeed without the color of the art we see strewn among bone-white flowers. Butterflies, symbol of the soul and of migration, flit about and alight upon the tools and works of art from which they sip the nectar of beauty and delight. The ofrenda (offering) was created almost entirely of recycled material, or material donated by or borrowed from my community. What was saved in costs, in form of a cheque to Causa Justa for its work in immigrant justice, forms an integral part of the ofrenda.