Después de carnaval llega la hora de la ceniza, tiñe las frentes del humilde devoto y del arrogante y el vanidoso. Cae del cielo gris y solemne de donde llueven bombas bobas y listas.
Pienso en la alta hora de la noche que como tú que lees estas líneas todos amamos la paz y aborrecemos la guerra (pero también los que aman la guerra leen y hasta escribirán versos.)
No lo sé. Lo que sé es que siguen las guerras, la matanza, la injusticia, el sufrir y que no se logra el descanso del guerrero ni el de la víctima si no es que la encuentren en la muerte donde todo es ceniza gris y fría sin ningún matiz de carnaval.
After carnival comes the hour of ash; it stains the foreheads of the humble devotee & the arrogant & the vain. It falls from the gray & grim sky raining bombs stupid & smart.
I think in the high hour of the night that like you who read these lines we all love peace & hate war (but also those who love war read & may even write verse.)
I do not know. What I know is that wars go on, the killing, the injustice, the suffering & that rest is not attained for the warrior nor for the victim unless they find it in death where all is ash gray & cold without shade of carnival.
Rafael Jesús González of El Paso, Texas, who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an internationally known poet and peace activist. A professor of Creative Writing and Literature, he taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland, where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Department. Somos en escrito has also featured his book of poems, La Musa Lunática/The Lunatic Muse. Follow his blog at rjgonzalez.blogspot.com.
is a special “little corner” in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
Dial M for Machismo
by Marisol Lozano
Men, Mensos, Machos, Mamones.
Los hombres tell me my shorts are too short, I’ll make the older men think bad thoughts. Los hombres tell me to cook, clean, be a woman. Can’t you see, estupida? The machistas mow the grass you lay your head on while you think. Los hombres are turning me into a consumable chick, breed as many kids as you can, in the baby mill inside your body. You fucking dog. Starve your kids, starve your hombre, bury them and roast them like winning hogs. Salivate thinking about the man who has been roasting underground with potatoes, onions, chilies. Think about the sweet basting sauce that was carefully poured over his thick light skin. Basting liquid that was slowly and carefully massaged on his body making sure it made its way down the scores on his body. Think, think, think. Think about the rub recipe that’s been in your matriarch’s lineage before your hombre was even a thing. Let your mouth water as you think about crisping his skin on the grill over coal. Watching carefully making the skin glassy and crispy for a midnight snack. Los hombres no son Buenos hombres.
Los Machos stand by the wall, one foot planted on the ground one touching the wall. Los machos say ‘en mi casa yo mando’ Code for, ‘My women. Eat my shit.’
Los hombres y los machos van a ver.
Los hombres y los machos are allowed to get angry. They yell, They kick, They stomp, They curse, They drink.
They grab you like a doll and throw you to the wall. Los machos named, Mario, Mariano, Marco, wrap their thick big hands around your neck and refuse to let you breathe. Los machos suffocate you. Finish you off on the floor kicking and dragging you around your home. Clumps of hair scattered on the floor, scratch marks on the floor trying to save yourself, broken nails, ruined face.
Grab a fistful of el macho’s hair and bring his skull to your direct vision. Slowly bring a dull knife to where his forehead and hairline meet, scrape the knife against the soft sweaty skin, and stab. Slowly, insert the dull blade into the skin making sure to hit the right spots that make him squirm. Remind el macho why you’re doing this, he needs to learn.
Go around his head forcing the blade on him making him wince, feel the same pain you do. Hum a soft tune while you dig deep into his tissue scraping, digging giggling. Pull his scalp and listen to slurping and pulling of his tissue. Listen to the cries of the demon, relish in his pain. He deserves this, he needs to learn and become broken. Do it for the failed women, who were fooled by these men.
Los hombres, los machos, y los mamones do as they please, Cheat, Lie, Steal, Laugh, And we’re supposed to be okay with it.
Marisol Lozano is a BA English student with a concentration in Literature and a minor in Film Studies at UTRGV. A Chicana from the Fronteras trying to seam her Mexican and American identities together. A daughter of a Mexican man who was never swayed by the American dream and a proud Tejana. She loves her parents, sisters, dog, and grandparents.
Ferias II (detail) by Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo Mixed media drawing on mylar
I gave up a whole country and you keep asking for more
Tía Tere as Cipactli Tlaltecuhtli:
A Gang Rape in Six Parts
Where El Pueblo Points Their Thousand Fingers at La Niña Tere
We did what every pueblo did when soldiers came asking for our children. We hid inside barrels of beans and slept on rooftops. We called the names of our gods and our country hollered back. They found us at school, reciting the national anthem. They found us selling conchas a cora on the streets. They found us between bedsheets, nude as newlyweds, asking for names. And if they gave us the choice between their enemy and our head, we did what every pueblo did. We gave them puta ó pobre. We saved ourselves.
Where Tía Tere Knocks Out the First Conquistador and All Else is Unimaginable
Spilling colónes on the street is the closest we will get to smearing dirt all over
Cristóbal Colón’s gilded face. So, when soldiers tear the purse from her arm and bills rip ragged
as flags from its slapped mouth, burying coin and conquistador in shit and mud, we can call it
resistance, a victory for the little hand that spun and struck midnight raw against the jaws of soldiers.
Tía Tere’s wrists were younger then, stronger than they are now, puffy and punctured. She caught
the first soldier in the nose and broke red yolk down his rugged grimace. Before he raped her, she forced him
to weep a boy’s tears. If he survived the war, then he still walks today with the nose the devil gave him.
Best believe she would have merked him before the gun buckled her neck and for hours she blinked back black.
Love Letter from Tía Tere to a Boy Soldier
n the months dogs dig their dry noses through trash in search of water, you were the boy who left out tins for the strays to lap,
a chicken bone for muzzles to startle and snap. Papi threatened to beat us if we stole the fruit that fell from your father’s terreno
into our yard. I hid the mangos you gave me in my shirt and only got caught once. Later, we shared the bruised seed, our white uniforms
half-translucent in the summer sweat, the pulp, bright and yellow, stuck thirsty on our lips. I never repaid you for your kindness.
He had your face,
The man with the fat nose who dug through me like trash.
Here are my kindnesses in return:
I fucked up his mug, gave him a new nose and busted lip before he overtook me.
I told myself you went North instead of enlisting. You were the one I saw when I closed my eyes.
Where Tía Tere Faces the Judge
If bullet wounds had tongues to testify, ¿would the judges
believe us then? If the vagina could speak and write its darkest
name in blood, if she could count the soldiers and their barrels,
¿would my pain be legitimate?
I gave up water and let my voice evaporate in the Chihuahuan desert.
I gave up a language—even the words amor y luz --and now my teeth cut my lips like rakes.
I gave up a good mother who worked like an ass, a father who starved to feed his children.
I gave up my body and let its most tender parts crack to pieces like a clam full of dirt.
I gave up a whole country and you keep asking for more.
Your honor, dile al presidente, the officials of ICE, the alt-right, and this nation’s countless slaves: I am here to court each of you.
I brought you all the arm of a child, plucked from the earth the way some pick a daisy. I apologize for its lack of fingers.
You already know how these games go. He lives, he lives not. Are your men astute enough to tell me when it’s from:
¿our old war or yesterday’s tiraera? They all look the same. If it’s not el ejercito, it’s la policia. If it’s not a landmine,
it’s a mara. ¿Which are you? If you want to play Pantokrator, por favor, please judge me.
In the Last Judgement, we will all be sent to El Salvador to reap our eternal redress.
In the Last Judgement, you will be forced to face the insurrection of our dead.
Prayer to Cipactli Tlaltecuhtli
Tía says so many men went over her she lost count.
They all blurred into one— the soldiers y conquistadores the judges y el pueblo the police y las maras the boys who once offered her the ripe heart of a mango.
You were the goddess men tore in two and claimed they created the earth, as if la selva isn’t the nap of your kitchen, as if Izalco y Ilamatepec blossom from somewhere other than your bosom.
We call you the world monster—la mujer, la guerrillera, who survived a gang rape of gods and gave us your queendom, bloody belly and slaughtered womb. ¿Are you not madre y martyr of our Americas, splintered at the isthmus, legs thrashing
against every chain and stitch? ¿Are we not all the children of a woman torn at the border? You burst from the pin of a guerrillera’s grenade as an angel. You flapped your wings and the leaves of the trees fluttered
in flames and spoke--
Mija, soy la mera, mera, Santa Salvador. Mira las heridas sobre mi cuerpo, las bocas que gritan en cada rótula, el rio sangriento de mi pelo que llena mares con su furia. Sos mi hija-guerra, nene, carne de mi carne, la rosa de mis moretones. Entiendes ahora porque mis bocas siempre ansían por la sangre. He perdido tanto de la mía. Pero no vas a morir aquí, ahorita, mija, yo te concederá la vida.
and the men were blinded by your light, made deaf by the roar of your rifles
and the men hid behind your trees which fell like hands clapping flies
and guerrilleros ambushed the camp as the colonel selfishly begged Tía for life
and the men lost their arms in the scuttle and finally prayed to mothers they never loved
and the men lost their legs in the scuttle and finally knelt humiliated before their Maker
and her thighs were still mud-slapped, bleeding to her knees as she led him through her homeland, the dark arch
and dip of your chest, where once she nursed from your honey and felt her bones harden with your marrow
and where then you gave her the strength to save a man who didn’t deserve your blood.
Prayer to Tía Tere
When I call you Cipactli Tlaltecuhtli I mean this:
You gave us a world, torn limb by limb, rich with your sacrifice. You gave birth to the poet and the thug, to men who never knew your power. If you let us live, it is by the grit of your grace. If we betray your love, then we do not deserve your mercy.
Editor’s Note: This poem is about a woman’s abduction and torture in El Salvador in 1979.
Photo by Danielle Hernandez
Willy Palomo, the son of immigrant parents from El Salvador who now lives in Cedar City, Utah, is a McNair Scholar, Macondista, and a Frost Place Latin@ Scholar. He has performed his poetry at the National Poetry Slam, CUPSI, and V Festival Internacional de Poesía Amada Libertad in El Salvador. Other works have appeared in Best New Poets 2018, Latino Rebels, Muzzle, and The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States. His first collection of poetry is due out in 2020 by Black Lawrence Press. Follow him @palomopoemas and www.palomopoemas.com.
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo immigrated to Canada from El Salvador at age 11. A graduate of The Ontario College of Art and Design, he earned an MFA degree at Concordia University in 2008. He has exhibited widely and received numerous awards. He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. For a closer look at his works, visit https://www.osvaldoramirezcastillo.com/.
Rinconcito is a special “little corner” in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
By Arnoldo García
To the 1%
You cannot wash away your wars You cannot bury your crimes You will never finish mourning your losses We will make furrows over every inch of the earth our hands roots that reach into the tomb of everyone called the land So that everyone we love every neighbor every co-worker every family every original people every woman, man, student, guerrilla, migrant who is missing turns the sun inside out into our shadow The light's flayed skin wrapped around the shoulders of the wind To comfort us from you. You cannot murder the sun You cannot swallow the earth You cannot overthrow the clouds You cannot. Our song thunders in our sleep Our sleep is an armed movement Our sleep is serial justice You die in our sleep and we wake up to our dream...
Rinconcito es un rincón pequeño especial en Somos en escrito para escritos cortos: un poema, un cuento, una memoria, ficción de repente, y otros.
No podrás limpiar tus guerras No podrás enterrar tus crímenes Nunca podrás acabar estar de luto por tus pérdidas Haremos zurcos sobre cada centímetro del planeta Nuestras manos raíces que se extenderán en la tumba de todas y todos llamada la tierra Para que todas y todos que amamos cada vecina y vecino cada compañera y compañero de trabajo cada familia cada pueblo original cada mujer, hombre, estudiante, guerrillero, migrante desaparecido voltea el sol al revés en nuestra sombra La piel desollada de la luz envuelta alrededor de los hombros del viento Para consolarnos de tí Nunca podrás asesinar al sol Nunca podrás tragarte a la tierra Nunca podrás derrocar a las nubes No podrás. Nuestro canto retumba en nuestro reposo Nuestro reposo es un movimiento armado Nuestro reposo es justicia que no será detenida Ustedes morirán en nuestro reposo y nosotras y nosotros levantaremos a nuestro sueño...
Arnoldo García is a co-writer of Poets against War & Racism | Poetas contra la guerra y el racism Poets against war and racism, published by Editorial Xingao, Oakland, California, 2017. For a book, click copy. For more information, visit artofthecommune.wordpress.com.
“Healer's badge” Button adaptation of Earth-Justice-Peace Flag
The sacralization of the Earth, of Life
By Rafael Jesús González
In solidarity with the worldwide movement to achieve “a whole Earth capable of supporting all life” through social justice and non-violent means, we publish this guest editorial by a noted Chicano poet and peace activist.
Family, friends, colleagues, fellow activists for Earth-Justice-Peace The weekend of May 19-21, 2016, I attended a Nonviolent Strategy Summit with the Albert Einstein Institution focused on Climate Change. There was so much of value (much of it ineffable) that we shared and explored, but in trying to determine a “Grand Strategy” the one thing that I found of utmost importance was articulating and arriving at a consensus of the “Grand Vision,” goal to which any “Grand Strategy” must be subservient: a whole (entire, healthy, integral) Earth capable of supporting all life.
This is our Grand Vision and our hope though the Earth is already compromised so by our myopic vision and toxic values that our future is bleak. Our utter disregard for our “inanimate” relations (the waters, the soil, the minerals) except as “resources” for our consumption has already caused the extinction of many of our animal brother and sister species, many species of our plant relations. And many of our human brothers and sisters throughout the Earth are even now suffering greatly from the effects of “climate change” (droughts, hurricanes, floods) and there is much more suffering to come.
So we must hold two simultaneous visions, one “Grand” vision of our hopes and dreams for which we must strive, and a clear vision of the disasters and suffering we face now and will have to soon increasingly face. Hence our “Grand Strategy” must be two-fold: 1) to mitigate “climate change” and heal the Earth and 2) to prepare ourselves to deal with the disasters that we now face and are yet to come. I state the obvious, but perhaps the obvious must be said for us to truly own it, such as putting a “Grand Vision” into words.
One thing that struck me at our gathering, something so obviously taken for granted that unified us all, patent in our faces, our demeanors, in everything we said, our very presence, and upon which our “Grand Vision” itself is rooted, was not once said during the entire day of our deliberations: love — love of life above all else.
Because our task is huge beyond imagining we must be very clear of what motivates and empowers us to undertake it. The task, enormous beyond measure, is to foment and realize a world-wide revolution, a revolution of consciousness, of the mind and of the heart that transcends nation, race, ethnicity, gender, language itself.
And the Grand Vision for the Earth must include the demands for Climate Justice, for Justice in every aspect (racial, ethnic, gender, etc.) without which there can be no peace.
Granted that all aspects in a strategy of nonviolent struggle as presented to us are to be engaged simultaneously, in my assessment, the foremost is that of propaganda. Suspect term in light of its coinage and its past use as it is, it is defined as information to propagate (transmit, disseminate, promote) a particular point of view or cause — win hearts and minds.
I cannot imagine a more firm, solid, irrefutable base on which to base such a world-wide revolution of which I speak than love of life. Not life as an abstraction, but the concrete experience of the Earth in all its exquisite (as well as terrifying) forms. Is this not the very root of divinity we humans imagine? This is what the indigenous cultures, which the Western world with its hunger for wealth and its imperialistic drive have brought to the brink of extinction if not already made extinct, can teach us. Our task is nothing less that the sacralization of the Earth, of Life. That is the revolution that we must propagate.
We must change, convert the dominant culture on a huge scale and to do this we must recruit and engage the most powerful agents of cultural change, the artists: the poets, the musicians, the dancers, the painters, the sculptors, all. Nothing is worth propagating if it is not rooted in love, informed by beauty and joy. If life is devoid of beauty and joy, what is there in it to love? Let us be very clear in our premises and base our strategies according.
To propagate a belief and a cause we need symbols and signs, flags to identify and unite us. Obvious in western history are the Star of David, the Cross (in hoc signo vinces), the Nazi swastika, the Stars & Stripes (not to mention the myriad logos on which corporations spend millions to sell their “goods.”) Several folk at the summit said that our various organizations confronting “climate change” need a common symbol or symbols to unify, identify us in our common cause. And our common cause is social change, our common cause is Justice and Peace for all.
I put forward then and do so now the “Universal Earth-Justice-Peace flag” that adorned the podium at the summit as fit symbol of all our struggles for Justice, for Peace, for the well-being of the Earth:
Since, as some at the summit said, the stories behind symbols are important, here is its history:
In 1982 I took a leave of absence from my teaching at Laney College, Oakland to work with the Livermore Action Group to organize the International Day of Nuclear Disarmament. One of the issues we had to work out was setting the date for the international actions that were to take place throughout the world. As you might imagine, it was not easy to find agreement, but Starhawk (of her many books, I recommend her futuristic novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, which is in the process of being made into a movie) whom I met at the time, and I were adamant that the day had to be a universal world-wide holy day free of national, political, religious, partisan overtones. It had to be a holy day set by the Earth itself in her movement around the Sun and that meant either one of the equinoxes or one of the solstices. After long discussions (with the consensus process you may imagine how long it took), the date was set for the Summer Solstice, June 21, 1983.
A logo for the day of action was needed, one who’s meaning embraced the issues involved, and whose meaning was immediately clear and went beyond language, nationality, political bias, etc. The logo accepted by the organizers was the image of the Earth, superimposed upon the Sun and spanned by the wings of Peace. It was this logo (with many variations of design) that went around the world for the 1st International Day of Nuclear Disarmament.
The day was a huge success as far as the number of actions and people involved went. At the Livermore National Nuclear Laboratory blockade alone, 1,000 of us were arrested for civil disobedience. At Santa Rita prison, a huge circus tent had to be set up for the arrested men; the women were crowded into a wing of the prison.)
Well, that was the first and last International Day of Nuclear Disarmament. We came out of jail and, exhausted from organizing demonstrations, the Livermore Action Group dwindled away. (Direct Action: An Historical Novel by Luke Hauser https://www.directaction.org/ is especially useful for the appendix including valuable material from the Livermore Action Group about organizing the world event.) No one else took on the gigantic task of organizing a second day, and the logo of the action was forgotten.
Then the summer of 2011, at the inception of the Occupy Movement, some veterans of the Livermore Action Group got together to organize demonstrations throughout the financial district of San Francisco that Summer Solstice (“Solstice in the Streets,” we called it) and the logo was resurrected.
For these actions, the logo was superimposed upon the international rainbow flag for peace that was flown throughout Europe and Latin America (as well as in the U.S.) just before and during the last war on Iraq. We called it the “Universal Earth-Justice-Peace flag.”
Universal Earth-Justice-Peace flag, Solstice in the Streets, San Francisco, June 6, 2011 Photo by Steve Nadel
An artist friend, Joaquin Newman painted a huge, beautiful banner with the image of the flag and the words “Despierta/Awake,” which has been carried in many a demonstration since Summer Solstice 2011. (Joaquin was 14 years-old at the time of the International Day of Nuclear disarmament and the youngest member of Lifers, our affinity group.)
A group of activists (which includes many of you reading this) have become so associated with the banner, that people refer to our group as the “Despierta/Awake Contingent.”
We have wanted to have the flags made, but the expense was beyond what we could afford so we only have one. So we settled for having a button made, “healer’s badge” we call it, extrapolated from the flag.
Because the quantity of buttons that we have been able to afford has not been large, we have given the buttons to other activists for Justice, Peace, well-being of the Earth, healers throughout the world whom we meet wherever we find ourselves. People invariably respond to its beauty and ask, “What does it mean?” We always decline answering the question and ask, “What does it mean to you?”
We have not met a single person who did not know how to interpret it, no matter what their culture, their language; always they identify the Sun, the Earth, the bird of peace, and the rainbow (harmony in diversity, auspicious sign throughout the world.) We also tell them that if someone asks them to explain the badge’s meaning, not to give it, but instead ask for an interpretation from the receiver. We also ask that if they see someone else wearing the pin, ask how they came by it. Thus a connection is made, a net woven of folk sharing values: Earth-Justice-Peace.
There have been many stories related to the Earth-Justice-Peace healer’s badge, of which I share with you an e-mail received from someone who was in Paris for the climate talks in November. She wrote:
“A quick story: this morning we got mega hassled on the bus en route to cop21 for not paying. Like super agro crazy French guards yelling at us asking us for papers and surrounding us. They kept trying to charge us for not paying and we tried to explain we were with the UN delegation and we didn't understand the bus system. Finally I showed her the peace button and we explained in English and the crazy cop woman completely changed her energy, was begging us for forgiveness! I took off the button and gifted it to her. She kissed me and they let us go!!! The peace and justice button saved us!!!”
The power of symbols is enormous, especially those that transcend culture and language, especially those that are beautiful in themselves. I offer you this one as the logo or one of the logos to use in conjunction with those of our organizations to link and unite us in our movement to heal the Earth. The more widely that we use it, the more ubiquitous it becomes, the greater the impact visually and psychologically. Imagine if it appeared in all our marches and demonstrations and direct actions, not only here, but throughout the world: flags, banners, posters, billboards, fliers, t-shirts, incorporated by artists into their art, etc.
The flag, as I said, has been expensive for our group to have made, but the more flags ordered from a company, the more affordable they become. Groups could come together to place a large order and share the lower cost of having them made. As the demand increases and more flags are ordered, a company could be convinced to make the flag in large quantities and have it ready for sale to groups and individuals at a lower price (as it happens with the U.S. flag and such.)
The Earth-Justice-Peace flag and symbol are protected under a Creative Commons License so that anyone may use it as they like and no one may claim exclusive rights to it.
Our group had the pin/button/badge made by: Just Buttons 59 School Ground Road Branford, CT 06405 https://www.justbuttons.org/ 1-800-564-2924
Buying them in large quantities considerably lowers the cost. Groups coming together to buy them in large quantities and sell them at demonstrations and other events would be a good way to disseminate the image and raise funds for one’s organization.
Our task of healing the Earth and mitigating the suffering that climate change is causing and will increase to cause is huge, daunting. The task of bringing Justice to all, Peace to all is an essential part of the task. But not because of that must we lose hope. Let us undertake the task with heart, with joy, with beauty, and celebrate the Earth, all that she bears, Life, and each other. Let our struggle be a dance.
Rafael Jesús González of El Paso, Texas, who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an internationally known poet and peace activist. He conducted the open ceremony of the International Tribunal of Conscience held last September in New York City. A professor of Creative Writing and Literature, he taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland, where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Department. Somos en escrito has also featured his book of poems, La Musa Lunática/The Lunatic Muse. Follow his blog at rjgonzalez.blogspot.com.