Monday, January 23, 2006

For a good time.....

qarrtsiluni is blog that publishes a mixture of words and images centered around a particular topic. You will find a link in my list of links. My poem "Place of Sense" was published under the topic "Finding Home" in January 2006. It was edited by Tom Montag of the Middlewesterner(link in my list of link) and Lorianne DiSabato of Hoarded Ordinaries(link in list of links). Tom and Lorianne helped me rethink my ideas. I have an earlier version of the poem elsewhere on this blog.

Place of Sense

When you live in a place
long enough you learn the smells.
The smoke from its factories.
The ammonia from the fertilizer plant.
The slaughter house blood and bone.
Garlic frying in the woks.

You get used to the sounds.
The honking of horns
and squealing of tires.
The sirens of cops
and the silence of robbers.
The helicopters flying overhead.
The family crying
at the young girl's funeral.
The wild laughter
from the neighbor's apartment.
The Corpus Christi
procession in the street.
Hip hop music from the cars.

You recognize others on the street
in this place where you live, where
you've learned the smells and the sounds.
You walk by people sometimes.
Sometimes they walk by you.
Some of them are bright-eyed,
alert to the world.
Some of them carry their fists
clenched, their jaws set.
You notice that some of them
keep their eyes downcast, averted.
Some never talk.
But the eyes are always
saying something.
Something about love and hate,
about life and death,
here where three rivers meet,
The Floyd, the Big Sioux and the Missouri.
Some of the eyes know you.
They remember you
and you remember them.

The dead girl had been
murdered by her ex-boyfriend
She was an only child.
I know the family.
The funeral was on
a Friday during Lent.
A cold rainy day.
The interment was
on a windy hill.
The notes of the mariachi band
were lost in the wind.
The violins got wet.
The ladies at the parish hall
forgot it was Friday and served
ham salad sandwiches.
I guess that funeral was
everyfuneral for everygirl

Sometimes people just walk by.
You nod your head.
And they nod theirs.
They are like the others.
They are not like the others.
It is always hard to tell.

Let me make this clear.
It has something to do with
the sense of place.
The place of sense.
And the spirit in you.
And the spirits beyond you.
You become part of a place
and the place becomes part of you.
And that is what I needed to say.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Week Chuchumbe Came to Town

Kate and I went to the old restored Orpheum Theatre.
We went to see Chuchumbe.
Chuchumbe means bellybutton to bellybutton.
It is a word from Senegal.
Chuchumbe is from Veracruz.
They play music in the son jarocho style.
They make their own instruments.
They dance.
They sing.
They laugh.
The audience goes away smiling.

After the concert I wanted to buy a CD.
So,I asked one of the musicians.
He said to come to their motel the next night.
They had left the CDs there.

So I went to the motel.
The desk clerk called their room.
He sent me to to room 108.
They opened the door.
We exchanged greetings.
I bought 2 CDs.
Then there was a knock on the door.
One of the band members was bringing in a case of beer.
More introductions and an offer to stay and enjoy a beer.
So I stayed.
We drank a few beers.
We watched a Lakers game.
We talked about music.
We talked about our culturas.
We talked in Spanish.
We talked in English.
We talked in Spanglish.
We talked in solidarity.

They invited me to go to a party the next night.
They had been invited.
So they invited me.
That is the Mexican way.
They party was at Santa and Jorge's house.
They are from Veracruz also.

I picked up several of the band members at the motel.
They needed a ride.
I was playing the soundtrack from Vengo on my car stereo.
I loaned it to Andres who later returned it.
He really liked "Nací en el álamo".
It is sung by Remedios Silva Pisa.
She sings in the style of a gypsy from Central Europe.
She sings in Spanish.
Haunting song.

But, anyway we get to Santa and Jorge's house.
Everbody is there.
The band members. Except for the Colombiano.
The family.
And me.

We ate well.
Platanos y frijoles.

We ate in the kitchen.
We ate at the big table.
We had big conversations.
We had little conversations.
La musica.

Then we went to the living room.
More talk.
Lots of music.
The band had brought their instruments.
They were skilled at making up lyrics.
Cameras were passed around the room.
Pictures of everyone from every angle.

It turned out that Santa had a cousin who was married to a cousin of one of the band members.
So they were cousins.
It turned out Iguana was descended from a family of conversos.
And my greatgrandfather was the last of a line of rabbis.
So we are cousins.

When the party was over,
everyone left with a full belly
and a happy heart.

Maybe if we could hold a big party we could find out how we are all cousins.
We need more parties.