Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year

Have a happy new year! My wife and I are off to Vancouver for a few days. But don't worry one bit, our neighbor will be feeding our three Pit Bulls while we're away. For my friend Alex, I leave all of you with this wonderful song.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Eduardo Corral recently mentioned David Trinidad's new book The Late Show at lorcaloca. After reading the post, I quickly went out and bought the book. I enjoyed Trinidad's Plasticville, as well as many other poems I've read of his in anthologies and journals over the years. The Late Show is a moving collection, one I've carried around town over the last couple of weeks, dipping into it in grocery store lines, red lights, parks, restaurants. Read it, read it for yourself.

His poem "For Joe Brainard" made me return to Brainard's I remember, a book I used (excerpts) in a high school creative writing class a couple of years ago. I remember some of the stuff that came out that semester--incredible! One student from that class is now a poetry editor for Westwind at UCLA. Young Amy Sanchez, a dynamo we'll certainly be hearing a lot of in the future. Oh, and Betsy, whose marathon readings of Hamlet made me say "damn," is now a literature student at UCSD.

I remember another project we did that semester based on Juan Felipe Herrera and Artemio Rodriguez' "Loteria Cards and Fortune Poems--A Book of Lives." The artwork and poems were incredible! A great project I recommend to all. I hope to do it again this year.

My first day off, and here I am writing about my students.

Good health to all!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You Say It's Your Birthday

"People look out of the holes in their eyes.
The eye itself is of the spirit.
Not to see, but seeing."

Happy B-day, Kenneth Patchen!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Andres Montoya Poetry Prize

From the Institute for Latino Studies

at the University of Notre Dame:

Letras Latinas,
the literary program
of the Institute for Latino Studies
at the University of Notre Dame,
is honored and pleased to announce

Martín Espada

as the final judge for the third edition
of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize.

To learn more about our distinguished judge
please visit:

Deadline: January 15, 2008

Please read our guidelines for more information.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Lots of rain this weekend. My wife and I took a drive to Sunset Cliffs and watched the sun descend. This song came to mind as we watched the rainfall join the ocean. Also remembered Kerouac's "Useless! Useless!/heavy rain driving/into the sea"

Monday, December 3, 2007

My wife and I visited our El Centro this weekend and ate tamales, carne asada, frijoles, arroz and this.

Try these:

1. ______

And finally, the most authentic Mexican entree according to

FYI: Don't bother looking up bad words. I already tried.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It's barely Wednesday and my mind's a runout groove:

shhhh tic-cick shhhh tic-cick shhhh tic-cick

Monday, November 26, 2007


From the backseat of a cab just outside of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Good to see Ian Curtis headlining again. I recently posted that I watched Control, the biopic about Joy Division. If you don't know Ian Curtis' story, there it is in all of its tragic beauty, according to a scribbler and film director, of course. There were several beautiful shots--all black and white. And when the music rumbled, specifically "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "Disorder," and the obvious closer "Atmosphere," everyone sat speechless (At least that's what I want to think. I want to think that everyone sat speechless. That everyone is capable of sitting speechless(ly) over the duration of a song or two). I caught a man in his mid to late 40s, who was sitting in front of me and three seats to the right, sobbing, sobbing, sobbing to an ending most people know who know Joy Division's music. I'm sure he knew the ending. I'm sure he knows the music and that's why he cries. Maybe he was crying for another reason. I wanted to pat him on the shoulder and say "Hey, don't cry. Bernard kicks ass, too. I bet you danced your ass off to Bizarre Love Triangle back in the day." But I decided not to, I let him be. To be honest, I had to fight back the waterworks. Between him, the music and the scene, who wouldn't?

O, but how the scenario changed, the vicissitudes of life at work. Guess who was tearing up a giant hot dog with everything on it at the concession stand as I shuffled out the theater? The thing was enormous. It looked like a flotation device. Relish reached the ceiling. The onions! The jalapenos, the ketchup! O praises for everything else buried beneath the teeth!

Life wasn't so bad for that guy, I thought. For one, how many people can afford a hot dog at a theater? For another, how many can laugh mightily with a group of good friends, all who are enjoying great-looking hot dogs (and nachos), after watching a (decent) movie about a band that created incredible music? All of us alive.

Beirut - Elephant Gun

Let the season begin! Where to for the New Year?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Check out Pistola: A Literary Journal of Poetry Online here. It's new and it's good.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Thanksgiving is here and I feel like dancing! Throw on the Black Kids "I'm Not Gonna Teach ..." and dance along with me--c'mon!

* * *

I've been sick over the last few days and haven't really had the energy to do anything. I had such big plans for this week. Damn. Anyway, I returned from Chicago last Thursday after reading at Palabra Pura. It was a wonderful experience. Ellen of the Guild really made me feel welcome and comfortable. (I hope she found the other half of my turkey sandwich under the passenger seat). It was also great to read with Eduardo Arocho who tore it up on stage. He's working on an interesting new project that I won't go into here, but I can't wait to see/hear it completed. We also talked about Humboldt Park, and some of the projects he's involved with to preserve the rich, cultural history of the area. The peeps he introduced me to were marvelous--warm, interesting, and obviously, talented gente. And then there was the MC of the night Johanny Vasquez Paz. She's funny and energetic, and just makes it a pleasure to be around her. We swapped books after the reading, and I read her Streetwise Poems/Poemas Callejeros twice on the way home. Git-it! And then Juan, who has ties to s. Cali, and who read an incredible longer poem in multiple parts. I can't wait to read it on the page.

Although it was a quick trip, I had a great time, and I'd like to thank Francisco Aragon for involving me in this beautiful project. What an experience.

On the way to Chicago:
Drunk by Noon by Jennifer L. Knox
Breaking the Alabaster Jar conversations with Li-Young Lee
Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau

On the way to San Diego:
Streetwise Poems/Poemas Callejeros by Johanny Vasquez Paz
Teeth by Aracelis Girmay
Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau

* * *

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Paz.

* * *

Is this good?

Monday, November 12, 2007


Michele Serros comes to San Diego.

* * *
Sushi Presents the monthly series 4x4Tuesday, November 13th, 8 PM
@ Bluefoot Bar & Lounge, 30th & Upas, North Park
d'shire dance Monique Fleming & Frank Thaheld Cela Nash & Ben Willetts Lux Boreal Matt Amar Lorena Santana

This should be interesting. I know Matt Amar will be performing a bit from his play and documentary about Lenny Bruce entitled Looking for Lenny.

* * *
And I will be participating this Wednesday with Eduardo Arocho at Palabra Pura, the wonderful reading series in Chicago.
More later.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


I saw this yesterday. The live performances were great, especially in a theater that was generous with the volume.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Friday November 2
8:00 p.m.
Only $7 ($5 students/seniors/patrons)

Come celebrate Dia de los Muertos with some of San Diego's finest literary talents including:

Irene Castruita
Pablo Jaime Sainz
Jim Ruland
Jim Moreno
Manuel J. Vélez
Michael Cheno Wickert
Sara R. Eslava
and others!

Click here for full size flier

Organized by the Red CalacArts Collective
Hosted by the Centro Cultural de la Raza

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Just In

Mike Davis speaks on how the right is spinning the tragedy as a triumph of Republican values.

Thursday, November 1, 7-9 pm
City Heights Rec. Center4380 Landis (at Fairmount)
Free and open to the public

Celebrated historian Mike Davis is the author of In Praise of Barbarians,Planet of Slums, Ecology of Fear, and many other influential books. In thisprovocative talk, he shows that as soon as the fires started, right-wingpoliticians in San Diego, Sacramento, and around the nation began to applytheir spin.The media coverage has glorified the "heroic" Republican leaders of SanDiego, contrasting them to "corrupt & ineffective" Black Democrats in NewOrleans. Bush and Schwarzenegger have been scrambling for chances to hug firefighters for the cameras. And every chance they get, they crow about how San Diego's evacuation was "orderly and civilized" (versus some other places).These same politicians are responsible for pro-sprawl policies that site subdivisions in the middle of natural fire zones. They're also responsiblefor the anti-tax stance that's starved fire departments and other emergencyresponders of equipment and personnel.Instead of acknowledging that they set the stage for an unnatural disaster,they've hammered the theme of homeland security, even implying thatundocumented immigrants might be responsible for the fires. Half the county has burnt to the ground but the politicians and news anchors haven't stopped grinning for a minute. They're trying to spin this disaster as a triumph of Republican values. But it's really a bonfire of right-wing vanities.Sponsored by Haymarket Books and the International Socialist Organization

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Amidst tragedy, the fear and hate mongers are still slinging their bullshit. I heard the border patrol has been asking people about their status in this country at Qualcomm Stadium.

* * *

Mandie and I are ok in San Diego. The air quality is horrendous, so we have spent much of our time reading, writing and watching movies indoors. Spent a few hours at the public library yesterday, which was bustling with people, and snatched up a great batch of books. Besides a pretty bad ear infection, everything's fine.

* * *
My wife and I saw "Into the Wild" yesterday. The character in the movie visits a place called "Salvation Mountain" at The Slabs, an old military outlet just outside of Niland, California. I visited that place last year and spoke with the artist, Leonard Knight, a really interesting and generous person.
Has anybody else been there?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Playing Again

Here I am with the guitar collaborating with one of the Batwings. Trying to put together poetry to fuzz guitar and organ. Three tracks so far. Hope to perform some of this stuff soon.
It's good to be playing again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Listening to new Sunset Rubdown. Nice.

Caught Amiri Baraka reading along with the great sax player Charles McPherson this weekend. Also playing along with the Gilbert Castellanos Quintet. Baraka read over tunes by Monk, Coltrane, and others, and created a helluva head space for me at least. Bought his new book of stories. Haven't bitten much from it yet--'cept his intro that says when he speaks of some of his fav. story men "We see what they love and what they hate, what they think ugly and what they think beautiful," and I like that. Not some overly cerebral analysis of what that "that" is in art.

Baraka ended with the poem that got him in trouble in Jersey, and other places too, I guess. But S.D. gave him a standing O.

Saw Quincy Troupe read on Friday night. Also Adrian Arancibia who completly lit up the place.

Also got a chance to see Batwings over the weekend. A band that keeps getting better and better and better. Listen to 'em live and you'll see/hear what I mean.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Jawbreaker 9-Condition Oakland live 11-25-95 at Emo's Austin

Saw some cat wearing a Jawbreaker shirt the other night on L.A. Ink. I admit it, I watch it--Rich girl turned bad-ass tattoo artista. Anyway, "Condition Oakland" was a great one. Hope the mythical sands of time do not cover this band's tracks. They were a good one.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


* * *

"David Shapiro is one of our greatest poets. Finally we have a perfect volume of new and selected work--pages filled with his indelible music, imagined landscapes, and unsettlingly exquisite dreams." --Jim Jarmusch

Dead Man was a favorite discussion piece for me and my wife's late great! grandfather Mike Carey. Another one--one that wasn't Jarmusch's--was the flick based on Kipling's "The Man Who be King" with Connery and Caine. Mike was a large man, tough, a gravel voice. In his day he was someone you wouldn't want to f---- with over a debatable poker bet. But he was also a literary man who swept through mountains of paper with his eyes, and earned the trust of children and small animals, a tenderness that can't be faked.

Pure magik! We'd talk for hours, usually with a baseball game on tv inching toward completion in the background.

And Mike taught me great words like "pigsticker" and "smoking a lefty" and "hootch." Shit you just can't fake on paper or in crowds. Those times were wonderful.

* * *

Somehow this post began as a friendly reminder for a poetry reading. Somehow it turned out differently.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Terence Blanchard played a wonderful set last Wednesday. As far as venues are concerned, Anthology ranks way, way up there. Blanchard said more than once that night that people need to support that place if they expect it to survive. He mentioned that he's traveled all over the world and Anthology is up with the best, and it would be a shame if people let it disappear.

I'm not going to try and relive the night here, explaining what I heard, how I felt. I'll just say this--even though I nearly threw a plate of tuna at four idiots yapping on the second floor while the piano man was playing some serious, introspective bars in remembrance of the vanished spirits of Katrina, I left that place cleansed, once again a fan and believer of Big Mama Art. The inconsiderate jerks were asked to shut up by the door man, by the way, but then left soon after as if they'd been wronged.

Overall, the show was magical. The money I dropped that night was worth every penny.


Here are some pictures of Arturo Sandoval playing Anthology.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tonight's Show

My wife and I have really been looking forward to tonight's concert featuring Terence Blanchard. From scoring films, to putting out grade-A albums, to contributing time and efforts to the Monk Institute, Blanchard has forged a career that should be exemplary for all up-and-coming musicians. As a former horn player, or more specifically, a former Miles Davis wannabe, it's going to be quite an experience to finally have the chance to see Blanchard en vivo. As far as I understand, Blanchard will be playing selections from his newest album A Tale of God's Will, which has been called a requiem, exploring the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Can anything go worse for the Padres?

I tore my ACL when I was 21 years old trying to chase down a loose ball during a basketball game. The recovery isn't fun, and no matter what they tell you, your wheels will never be the same after you've snapped one of those bastards.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Off to do a reading and workshop in Salinas, California for a bunch of young people. Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Poem of the Week

Rattle posts "There is a Hole in my Living Room" as its poem of the week. Very nice of them. Very, very nice of them.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007


Rereading Sonia Sanchez's Homegirls and Handgrenades. One amazing poem goes a little something like this:

A Poem for Jesse

your face like
summer lightening
gets caught in my voice
and i draw you up from
deep rivers
taste your face of a
thousand names
see you smile
a new season
hear your voice
a wild sea pausing in the wind.

--Sonia Sanchez

You see what I mean? Boom!

I can't wait to buy David Shapiro's Selected. It's dope. I've always enjoyed his work.

* * *


Monday, August 20, 2007

Missed The Mae Shi yesterday in L.A.

* * *

New finds and purchases:

The Collected Books of Jack Spicer
Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry

Monday, August 13, 2007

Voz Alta

It's been some time since I've attended a poetry slam. Got a chance to see one at Voz Alta tonight. It was wonderful.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

H. Selby Jr.

I'm eagerly awaiting It'll Be Better Tomorrow from Netflix, a documentary about the tuff-eyed American scribbler Hubert Selby Jr. I was really into his stuff at one time, actually trying to write like the man until one teach said: yo, enuff with the multiple exclamation points, kid!!!!

I consider HSJ one of the greatest. His shit comes at you like a semi in flames racing down a Friday night blvd. Although I can't read Last Exit to Brooklyn anymore because I've lost my stomach somewhere over the years, nor can I read The Demon, because it simply scares me, I return to The Room from time to time to step into something deep for a few hours. It's been written that this is his masterpiece. Though I'm not qualified to make such a declaration about any art form, this book fills me with much anxiety. Good.

More later.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Everyday is Like Sunday

Strolling around the new neighborhood today, I stopped at one of the local bookstores and bought Leroy V. Quintana's the Great Whirl of Exile. I've always enjoyed his work and his ability to capture a person or idea in just a few short lines. Also spent some time (didn't purchase though) reading Rae Armatrout, Cavafy, and fingered through a few pages of a Robinson Jeffers bio under the watchful eyes of the clerk. Before I left I practically had to pry six books out of my hands with a crowbar--another day, dude, another day.

With the Ipod set to Nortec Collective, and in near perfect weather, I returned to my new place.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Aram Saroyan on Teddy B.

Listen to Aram Saroyan on Ted Berrigan here. It's an old interview, but it's still cool.
Port of Entry Blues

"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."

"And your name?
Let me guess--
Mother Cabrini?
Of all the damn luck.
Alright, let me hear it, come on."

"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."

"And you?
Of course, Mother Cabrini.
Let's keep it going, come on,
come on, I don't have
all day"

"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."
"Mother Cabrini."

"Alright, alright, let's stop this game right here and now! How many Cabrini's are left? Ok. Now explain this to me: how the hell can there be that many Mother Cabrinis on one goddamn bus at one goddamn time? Will one of you Cabrinis answer me that? Go on, answer me, Cabrini!"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Catcher in the Rye

"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be." ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 22, spoken by the character Holden Caulfield

I can't even express how this quote affected me when I first read it years ago. I felt a certain loss, I remember. For me, it's been among the most memorable images in literature, at least from what I've read so far. My pops revisits this book at least once a year.

I also read somewhere that it's Robert Smith's favorite book. órale! (What up with these definitions and examples? Mensos.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Brownbird Rudy Relic

Brownbird Rudy Relic is an Imperial Valley native, currently residing in New York City, and on tour, spreading his love of the blues up and down the U.S., as well as in Mexico. He recently played a show in El Centro, which I missed, but according to the paper, a fine-looking crowd showed and supported Brownbird Rudy Relic's brand of "Acoustic Holler Blues." Be sure to check out his site and the man's blog to see what he's up to. Turn the volume way way way up and enjoy the sounds.

Petco Park

I can't wait to catch a few more of these over the next couple of months.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Martín Espada on Bill Moyers

Watch footage of Martín Espada on Bill Moyers' Journal here. Also, be sure to read (and watch, si puedes) Aracelis Girmay's "Arroz Poetica," also there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Michele Serros Reads

Under the Bridge Bookstore and Gallery358

West 6th Street

San Pedro, CA 90731 United States

In celebration of the paperback of Honey Blonde Chica, Michele Serros will be hosting a Mid-Summer's Flojo Dream. In addition to reading excerpts from her latest Young Adult novel, Honey Blonde Chica, Serros will be offering free copies of HBC and a pair of one of kind flojos (flip flops) designed by herself, given to those wearing flip flops in the following categories: the fanciest, the ugliest and the most creative.
HONEY BLONDE CHICA -- selected as one of The New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age 2007

"(a) chick-lit title with a Latina flair that captures the confusion of privileged yet vulnerable teens... provides a balance to the white-bread world often pictured in this (young adult) genre.– School Library Journal

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Palabra Pura

Here's La Bloga's great interview with Francisco Aragon about Palabra Pura . I will be doing this in November, and I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Website and New Crib

I just received information about Maceo Montoya's new website. He's an exceptional artist who has included several of his works to check out at his new site. Do yourself a favor and look him up.


My wife and I just decided to move to San Diego. It's been nearly ten years since I've lived there. We're trading the desert for the ocean, at least for a while. To be honest, I can't stand the beach sun. It's everywhere, a person can't find a shadow. The sun creeps up your pant leg and burns your kneecap. And that dreadful sand--eating at the beach is the worse. No, no, no, we'll be somewhere in University Heights or North Park. Hopefully this will all be taken care of tomorrow.

I'm going to miss El Centro--of course, we'll be visiting frequently. I'll especially miss Mexicali. I'm going to miss my family. My friends. My old coworkers. My students. My students. My favorite restaurants like La Fonda and Mandolino's. My mailbox, even though it brings me bills and rejections but I love it just the same. My favorite jogging route where the same owl greets me each day at the exact same spot on the ditch bank. My favorite convenient store where the same cashier greets me each Friday at the exact same counter where I set my tall cans...

But will I miss the heat?

T. Berrigan wrote a beautiful poem called "Farewell Address" where he wrote goodbyes to the Buffalo he knew after staying there for some time. It's so pure. And the rhyme thang he's got going on in it is cool, too.

Anyway, I have to go. I'll drop by later.


Here's a poem in honor of yesterday's all star break.

batting order

Hemingway's been in a slump,
can't hit a curve ball
I'm dropping him to the 6th
I'm putting Celine in
he's inconsistent but when
he's good there's no
Hamsun I'm going to use
in the number 3 spot,
he hits them hard and
lead-off, well, lead-off
I'll use e.e. cummings,
he's fast, can beat out a
I'll use Pound in the
number two spot, Ezra
is one of the better
hit and run men
in the business.
the 5 spot I'll give to
he's a heavy hitter, great with
men on base.
the 7 spot I'll give to Robinson
Jeffers, can you think of anybody
he can drill a rock
350 feet.
the 8 spot, I've got my
catcher, J.D. Salinger,
if we can find
and pitching?
how about Nietzsche?
he's strong!
been breaking all the tables
in the training


I'll take Kierkegaard and
gloomy fellows,
but none know this
game better.

when we field this team,
it's all over,

we're going to kick some
ass, most likely

--Charles Bukowski

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Bits and Pieces

A few tunes on heavy rotation at the moment:

1. Bad Brains: Build a Nation

2. The Robot Ate Me: "Apricot Tea" and "The Red-Haired Girl"

3. Nina Simone: "Here Comes the Sun"
4. Interpol: "Rest My Chemistry"


Kazim Ali has an interesting essay on "Poetry and Space" in the latest The American Poetry Review.


Here's a shorty from Eduardo Galeano's Walking Words.

Window on Memory (I)

On the shores of another sea, an old potter retires.

His eyes cloud over, his hands tremble, the hour to say goodbye has arrived. Then the ceremony of initiation begins: the old potter offers the young potter his best piece. As tradition dictates among the Indians of the northwest America, the outgoing artist gives his master work to the incoming one.

And the young potter doesn't keep that perfect vase to contemplate or admire: he smashes it on the ground, breaks it into a thousand pieces, picks up the pieces, and incorporates them into his own clay.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Funding Opportunity

Arts Funding OpportunityDeadline Approaching!
NALAC Fund for the Arts deadline July 16, 2007

NALAC members who are Latino working artists, ensembles and small and mid-sized Latino arts and cultural organizations are eligible to apply. Grants range in size from $2,500 to $10,000. NFA grants provide organizational support to help build the internal capacity of Latino arts organizations, support the creation and presentation of works by Latino independent artists and ensembles, and strengthen communities by investing in the creative and cultural assets of Latinos in the U.S.
Applications can be submitted in English or in Spanish. The NFA application and guidelines are available on the NALAC website (
The NALAC Fund for the Arts is supported by the Ford Foundation and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and new NFA partners Southwest Airlines and the City of San Antonio Cultural Collaborative.
For more information contact:
NALACGrant Program Manager 1208 Buena VistaSan Antonio, TX 78207E-mail:

Monday, June 25, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mistral on teaching cont'd

Gabriela Mistral

Selected Prose and Prose-Poems by Gabriela Mistral

Edited and translated by Stephen Tapscott

University of Texas Press, 2002

6. Make yourself necessary; become indispensable. This is how you get stability in a job.

7. Let's begin, teachers, by not resorting to spurious means to rise in our profession. An influential letter of recommendation, official or unofficial, is almost always a crutch for a person who does not walk well.

8. If we don't achieve equality and culture in the school, where else can such things be required?

9. A teacher who does not read has to be a bad teacher. She's reduced her job to a mechanical function, but not renewing herself spiritually.

10. Each time your principal repeats a job assignment, however kindly it's done, is a warning and a sign of a shortcoming.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Gabriela Mistral

Selected Prose and Prose-Poems by Gabriela Mistral
Edited and translated by Stephen Tapscott
University of Texas Press, 2002

Here's a partial list of Mistral's Pensamientos pedagógicos/Thoughts on Teaching for those who educate. There are 46. Some of these are tough, asking much from the individual. Most of them, though, are magnificent and inspiring.

1. Everything for the school; very little for ourselves.

2. Teach always, in the courtyard and on the street, as if they were the classroom. Teach with your demeanor, expression, and words.

3. Live the beautiful theories. Live with kindness, energy, and professional integrity.

4. Brighten your lessons with beautiful words, with a pertinent story, and relate each piece of knowledge to real life.

5. Make it unnecessary for your principal to supervise you. The person who is not supervised is trusted.

to be cont'

Monday, June 11, 2007

In the Spirit of the Season

Read Martín Espada's commencement address here. Espada was a recent finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Espada cites one of my favorite Jack Agueros' poems.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Hauling ass up-and-down- the L.A. freeway system this weekend reminded me of this Quincy Troupe poem:

Just Cruisin & Writin

writin poems
while cruisin
at seventy miles
per hour
on the pennsylvania
can be spiritual
fun, if you don't
run into any

-Quincy Troupe

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weekend and Other Stuff

I missed my opportunity this Saturday to see Gronk at Skylight Books in L.A. I got caught up with other things. It's probably best to keep a distance from the heroes.

I read at the 2nd Annual Small Press Book Fair at The Church in Ocean Park (Santa Monica). It was an all day event. I recognized several of the presses and journals present, and even heard a few readings. I read along with a few others who have published in Rattle. The interesting, though, was Charles Bukowski's daughter's mother (not sure if they were married) was in the audience. FrancEyE was in the front row for much of the time I was there (also in the audience), checking it all out. I wanted to approach her, but thought, nah, what for--I'm awkward like that. One of her chapbooks was put out by Pearl Editions, the same group that has put out work by David Hernandez, Denise Duhamel, and the recent gem by Ada Limon called this big fake world.


I have to catch the tera melos this time around.


And Portugal the Man, too. I was in Wasilla, Alaska once--once and only once. Nearly frozen solid while being attacked by a wild band of Alaskan Huskies with nothing but attitude--they tried to get to the saladito stash I hid beneath my tubesocks, homeboy! It got ugly, but desert boy prevailed when he pulled out the Imperial Valley sun from his pocket and blinded those little bastards, raising that shit up like a Gary Soto orange.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New Read

Here's a great-looking book you should purchase now: Text{t}-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the "Mexican" in America by William Anthony Nericcio. Nericcio is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University, also serving on the faculty of the Center for Latin American Studies and the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies.

This book demonstrates a wit and critical analysis faster than a Ricky Henderson/Vince Coleman (my personal fav) snag. Test your arm, baby, and see if you can keep up.

Friday, May 25, 2007

CHiPs Season 1

Who needs Spiderman when you've got Ponch and mutha'fn John, man. I'd hate to be on the other side of those glares. Olvidate.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I'm back. It's been some time, I think, since I last writ a word for this blog, friends. Been very busy. The reading the other night went well. Santa Monica this weekend. I also want to catch Gronk while I'm up there. But before that, might catch Batwings on Friday night in San Diego. They're expected to put on a great show.

Just finished reading Daniel Alarcon's War by Candlelight. Impressive. Now I'm ready for his novel. Also reading everything Berrigan.

Monday, May 14, 2007


* * *

I'll also be reading in Santa Monica at the end of the month with Rattle.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


There, there, nice CocoRosie, nice The Adventures of Ghostface and Stillborn.

I have really enjoyed their previous works. Just beautiful, just, just beautiful. I just wonder when my opera training's going to pay off.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lucha Libre

Saturday night was great. I crossed the border with some friends, a luchador, and an ice chest.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

On Sunday, I posted Jack H's new book. Here's another one I've enjoyed from Manic D press. I worked for Eli Coppola a few years ago at the San Francisco State Poetry Center just before her passing. She was nice, intelligent, and she let me spend my time reading through the Poetry Center's library when I should have been working toward my intern hours. She knew I had a lot to learn--and what better place to learn than in a library.
I have a poem in the new Seattle Review. Check it out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Here's the new book by my wife's new bud Jack H. In it is a poem called "Little Kaddish" that's wonderful. Also, his "The Day Bobby Kaufman Died" makes me say yeah. Bomkauf who said stuff like "Don't laugh at my ignorance, I may be a great bullfighter, ole!"

Neruda news. I wonder that look.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Great new anthology. Check it out!

* * *
San Diego's City Beat reviews Batwings demo.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Back from San Francisco! What a trip. Wife and I spotted Jack Hirschman (a true hero of mine (and now hers)) at Caffe Trieste, then wife saw him later in the day in City Lights lower level while I upstairs and gawky-eyed. She took a picture with him and he farewelled "Take care, young lady." By the time i got down there with his new book in hand and ready with my pen, he had already left the building.

Anyhow, beautiful weather and wonderful wine.


Here's a poem (scroll down) called "Amen." by Venus Jones. I think it's perfect for these times of ours. Awoman

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Bear The Bear The Bear

It's April muthamutha's! Get your ass out there and buy some verses. Deborah Woodard's book is a good one. Let's do it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Alpha Project

I'll be catching (hopefully) the Alpha Project benefit this Sat. night at the Alibi. Donations are suggested to help out a good cause. There will be several good bands and much to drink. Check it out.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

San Diego's Border Voices

I'm going to miss Border Voices again this year. If somebody goes, please share the experience. I'm curious.

I heard Luis Rodriguez had several people in the audience crying last year.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Funny Eduardo Corral mentions L Omar Salinas today. I was at a bar yesterday waiting for a friend and reading The Sadness of Days. As I took my first swig, my bottom lip somehow collapsed and all of the beer in my mouth splashed across the pages--might've ruined a few in the process. So goes The Sadness of Days.

Here's something else that's going on in Mexicali tonight and tomorrow. I'm going to try and make tomorrow afternoon's show(s).

Monday, March 19, 2007


I just received my copy of Max Benavidez's Gronk in the mail. I haven't quite bit into it yet, but it sure is beautiful. Interestingly, it arrived the same day Daniel Olivas mentioned it in La Bloga.

I had a chance to see a few of Gronk's pieces at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla, California a few years ago, and I was blown away by the sheer power/beauty/tragedy of the paint and the hallucinatory effects it had on my mind's eye. Great stuff by a great artist.

The book's physical weight is just right, too. I have a certain affinity for books that can smash windows.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Nesta's Wet Spliff Speaks
after opening today's paper


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Lots of strong winds over the last couple of days and my hair's been a bit Jack Nance. Come to think of it, this morning I shook a few pigeons, Eucalyptus trees, and 'publicans out my hair and now I feel fine.

* * *
Check out an interview with Martin Espada on La Bloga.

* * *
I am really enjoying Peter Bjorn and John's "Writer's Block."

* * *
We heart readers.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

My students are reading Pompa's book and listening to Tera Melos. They love this book, and so do I.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Jawbreaker - 7 Kiss The Bottle live 3/10/94 at Mad Hatter's

I recently read my poem called "Canto Borracho" at a reading. A section in the poem reads " cousin and his band...covered Jawbreaker's "Kiss the Bottle" twenty-six times at a party in one of the old slaughterhouses in Heber..."

After the reading a homeboy came up to me and asked: "Yo, who's Jawbreaker?"

"Gotta check them out, man. They really worked the word and song."

Abraham Rodriguez used one of their lyrics for an epigraph in his Buddha Book a few years ago. Needless to say, this put a smile on my face.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I live 14 miles from a beautiful beautiful border that is so fluid I see Jah! each time I stand on my rooftop. Read this.

Bad Brains -

We loved you CBGB! We love you HR!

Friday, February 16, 2007

I won them off of a cross-eyed pool shark last Saturday. The guy had nothing but attitude, which made it even better. He called me a garbanzo bean and blew pool chalk in my face every time I'd bend down to shoot. "What gives, man?" "Shut it garbanzo bean!" What was most disturbing about him, though, was that his pool stick would fetch him beers and together they'd laugh at my haircut. "Check out his hair! The garbanzo bean looks like Nicholas from Eight is Enough. Hey Nicholas Garbanzo, your daddy can lend you some money for a new haircut. Wanna haircut? I could give you some money, no questions asked, simple as that, HaHaHa, but you know what, Nicholas Garbanzo, you'll never ever win these."

Back again!

My computer's been down over the last few days. We had a small earthquake the other night that might have had something to do with it.

The San Diego State University reading went great, and I send much love to those who were responsible for making it happen. The students and faculty were great, lots of energy and good, blessed vibes.

Mil gracias!

Monday, February 12, 2007


I will be reading at the San Diego State University--Imperial Valley campus in Calexico tomorrow (Tuesday 13th) at 4:30. If you're in the area, stop by. Maybe grab some tacos in Mexicali after the reading.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Bloc Party - I Still Remember

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

I don't know why, but this particular James Wright poem has been on my mind lately:


There is a cave
In the air behind my body
That nobody is going to touch:
A cloister, a silence
Closing around a blossom of fire.
When I stand upright in the wind,
My bones turn to dark emeralds.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Lenny Bruce Revisted

A good friend of mine, Matt Amar, is currently working on a collaborative effort to bring back the memory and principles of one of the most vital players in comedic/political history. Here's a bit of the story behind the story explained by Matt.

In 2003 I was trying to absorb "the method" in New York City at the acclaimed Actors Studio MFA program. It turned out to be a brief stint for a multitude of reasons, none I care to get into here. Nonetheless, it was the best decision of my life not because of the invaluable lessons I would learn about acting because acting really is just about developing more wrinkles on your forehead and more spots on your liver. That's why the young actors of today have such a hard time t being good at it. The last ten years I have spent countless money on classes, books, lectures and periodicals where the most admired describe their ''craft'' and all the shit they had flung in their faces to get there, maintain careers or re-build. Mickey Rourke, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Michael Madsen, Pacino, DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Ellen Burstyn etc. Yes, I sat in sessions of Inside The Actors Studio and even participated in the Q&A with Jude Law. James Lipton later told me my skin looked to oily and he recommend I use a compact before I attend the next taping. Sadly, He had to edit me out of the show. I spent 40 hours a week being forced through drills that would make me an actor. My emotions were F_&^%* with I was brought to some very strange places, mostly dark and depressing. I once heard that the best actors were emotional athletes and I was put through the emotional athlete press. A good friend of mine was working in production on Law & Order and got me a walk on part. It was the middle of December and we were all standing around waiting for the stars to come out of their star wagons. Jerry Orbach and Jesse Martin. It was 6 months before Jerry got really sick and passed away. He had been fighting prostate cancer for many years and had kept it from the cast. It was one of the coldest winters on record in NYC that year and I was feeling it. When Jerry came out of his star wagon my friend asked him to talk to me for a moment because he too was from the Actors Studio. He must have kept the cast and crew waiting for 10 minutes while we talked about the old days of the studio, his time on Broadway and his ups and downs in the "biz". It was so cold that night but I remember once Jerry Orbach began to talk to me I didn't feel it anymore. I told him I was perplexed about whether to stay in school or to venture out to work. He said, "Matt, if you want to be a student, study, if you want to work, get out there and kick down doors". It wasn't that he told me this but in the manner and with the passion and sincerity in which he told me. At this same time I had met an 82 year old gentleman by the name of Carl Montgomery. Carl and I had met at an awful night of performances by actors showcasing material. That night two homeless drunks who were friends of one of the cast members were seated at the back of area. It was at the NYC Comedy Club somewhere around 21st or 24Th st. They mumbled to each other throughout the entire performance and finally one of them fell out of their chairs and came crashing to the ground. The bartender had to escort them out. At the end of the show Carl, who was seated in front of me, turned to me and said "was that the most fucking annoying thing you've ever experienced?" I said, I thought it was funny. We kept talking and we actually walked down the street talking for about 3 hours. He was dressed in all black with the exception of the white long sleeve turtle neck he had on. It was brand new and he had forgotten to remove the Gap tag that runs vertically with the letter "L" for large on it. I wanted to pull it off but worried if he intended to return it after the evening. His demeanor was old New York and I could tell he had lived a life or rich history and that I could learn a lot from him. He could teach me a lot and I knew he had a lot to share. Carl and I became regular friends and mostly on the phone cause he didn't get out much. We met at Starbucks for coffee during the Holidays. As our friendship developed he told me about his days fighting the Nazis in WWII, his time in a P.O.W. camp and his eventual return to New York City where his escapades were always extreme and how he would always live life to the fullest. He wanted to experience it all and all he did. In the early 1960's he came to Greenwhich Village and managed the "Marlton Hotel" on W.8Th St. I had eaten on the corner at Grays Papaya many times before I had met him unaware of the rich history of the hotel only steps away. The Hotel that is now as much a historical landmark as Carl Montgomery is housed a bohemian world of poets, artists and musicians before they made it. Jack Kerrouac wrote his novel "Tristessta" here. Bob Dylan stayed here and the infamous Valerie Solanis lived in the hotel at the time she shot Andy Warhol and 3 others. Solanis tried to come back after she served her jail time and Carl said, "Valerie, I like you but I can't let you back in" He had also told me that "she was the fiercest butch, dyke I had ever known. One time I saw her grab a pimp by the back of the neck and stab the son-of- bitch in the arm". Carl describes how he took the actor, Mickey Rourke to his first plays on and off Broadway when Rourke first arrived from Florida to pursue acting. Rourke would later call Carl from movie sets and invite him on. Of all the interesting stories Carl has shared with me none bring a sparkle to his eye or a sincere emotion as his tales of the late comedian, Lenny Bruce. Bruce moved into the Marlton in 1961 at the height of his fame and his controversial arrests and court trials. Montgomery adds that knowing Lenny changed his life. "He was such a good man and would literally take the shirt off his back for you. People really didn't understand him because they only heard and saw the comedian, Lenny Bruce. He was a really sensitive person". Carl would keep the police outside of the hotel as they came around looking to harass Lenny. He would tell them, "Listen, unless you have a fucking search warrant, you are not getting into my hotel". Bruce was using narcotics at this time as was Carl Montgomery and Bruce would tell Carl, "Carl, do not buy your stuff on the streets. Always get it from your doctor because you never know what you're getting from the streets". Montgomery and Bruce were both using speed or as Carl referred to it as "Blackies" while Lenny was shooting methadrine to stay up and working and Morphine to come down. As told by Carl, "one time the maids came down screaming at me that Lenny had a doctors Chattel full of about 300 needles. I said, Lenny, you are freaking out the maids, Lenny argued, Carl, I have a prescription for everything in that bag! From that first night I met Carl Montgomery I knew that he was a story tellers pot of gold. I felt that I had to do something with this wealth of knowledge I was receiving. By listening to Carl stories I had lived two lives and could imaginatively embark on journey's of old. I told him, Carl, I have to do something about this. Lenny Bruce is an icon and rarely talked about anymore.When he is its almost always within the ex-hippie, sub-culture. I felt that the modern day, hipster movement was ready to be introduced to Lenny Bruce. The last 4 years have seen our country battle in an unpopular war as did Lenny's generation we have seen what many believe to be an over reach of executive power in Washington D.C. and by George W.Bush. In the past two years the federal government has attempted to silence U.S. citizens who spoke out against the war in Iraq and wire tapping become the topic of the day. All of this would have given Lenny enough fodder to perform for years! In January of 2006 I religiously began to read and listen to Lenny's material. I was on a mission to write a one man play about Lenny's experiences as if he has returned from where he is and is going to tell us how it happened one last time. He does so by speaking all of his tales to Carl Montgomery. It's my way of tying the invaluable lessons of friendship and paying homage to Carl at the same time for bringing Lenny Bruce into my life. Lenny Bruce in my life hasn't been all joy. I remember feeling dark and deep sadness in the summer of 2006. It was hard for me to get out of bed and go to work. I started to drink a lot and I put on 20lbs to bring myself closer to Lenny in his last days. The pressure was immense on Lenny and on August 3rd, 1966 the drugs and the police finally killed him. I have interviewed the famous pioneer of political satire , Mort Sahl and Lenny's best friend and founder of The Realist, Paul Krassner. I have spoken to Lenny's daughter, Kitty on the phone and they have all made no excuses for Lenny's penchant for good times. With this said, Krassner and Kitty Bruce and almost everyone I have spoken with all point to the police harassment as what really killed Lenny Bruce. Kitty is really cool and she shoots so straight with you that if you dare attempt to communicate with her you better be tight and crisp because when it comes to her Father,as a good daughter and heiress should be, she is protecting the throne. Kitty has told me that she hopes to see this focus on the relationship of Carl and her Father but last summer warned me that other actors who went on to be her Father fell into dark times as well. Cliff Gorman who took Lenny Bruce to Broadway and Dustin Hoffman who was nominated for an Oscar for his 1974 portrayal also brought him into depression. She advised me to take time for myself, "Dad did, he also had good times". I brought myself out of that funk because I had to keep my day job to pay the bills and because this journey has led me to co-produce a Feature documentary with long time friend, Carla Polkinhorn. Sometime before Jan of 2006 I was telling her of my plans to do the play and she said, "lets do a documentary on you doing the play"! Filming began on "Looking For Lenny" in June of 2006. Because of our day schedules we spend every free hour on the film and play. Carla is the executive producer, she's the boss. In 2006 Carla brought me to meet a prospective Director named Elan Gale. He doesn't have a lot out yet but he has an immense work ethic and is so damn advanced at his ripe age of 23. I can see Elan having a great future. We decided he would be great for the project. I now live with the pressure of a 1 act play, documentary film, day job and being in the shoes of Lenny Bruce. New York City, the Actors Studio, Carl Montgomery and looking for Lenny. I hope I find him...I wouldn't change a thing man!

Saturday, February 3, 2007


"Why do you drive an F150? Writers aren't supposed to drive trucks--aren't writers supposed to be into the environment and shit?"
"Yes, writers are supposed to be into the environment."
"But why drive a truck?"
"I drive it, because it's the only way I can lug around my metaphors."
"It's the only way, you see."
"But I don't see anything, man. Metaphors are supposed to be robust and ponderous."
"I don't know--should they?"
"Of course they should. What kind of writer are you? There's nothing here. The bed of your truck is empty. You spend so much on gas. I just don't get it."
"Me neither."
"But listen, since you have all of this room, obviously experiencing some kind of writer's block, do you think you can give me a ride to the bar?"
"Sorry. I don't have any room."
"Ok, ok. Well, take it easy, and say hi to your wife for me."
"I will. Take it easy."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Northern New Mexico College needs you, you, you, and especially your ass...

Seriously, check it out; it's a wonderful mission:

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I will be posting some photos over the next week by Paul G. Sanchez, a photographer and educator living in San Diego. Most of these were shot while he and his girlfriend were living in San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara, and the city of Guanajuato My wife and I visited them about a year and a half ago. Our laughter's probably still echoing in those cantinas.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody...

I managed to save up enough scratch over the last six months to buy some tix to see the Kronos Quartet at UCSD's Mandeville Theater. It's part of the ArtPower series that features world-renowned artists each month. Los Lobos will be playing an acoustic set Feb. 8th or 9th, I believe. My wife and I really want to catch that show.

Anyway, Kronos Q was incredible. There were violins, viola, cello, barking sled dogs, electric sanders, saws, iron fences, hammers, drum loops, a keg of beer, scary human voices, and so many other troubling devices--so many thoughts ran through my mind: creepy beauty, anxiety, more anxiety. At one point, I wanted to stand up and yell like Nacho: "Hey, take it easy!"

If you haven't heard them play Phillip Glass's "String Quartet No 3 (Mishima)," though, you should. It's very bewtful. And their stuff with Gronk, the badass Gronk, and Cafe Tacuba, and Requiem for a Dream, which they played, oh Lawd, stop me!

Well, my wife and I took my parents, and it was a strange, yet wonderul, night.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another Show

Here's another chance to see Batwings. I saw them at the Alibi in San Diego last Saturday, and they lifted the roof off the place. They're intense--yet melodic, and create an impressive musical space.

Check them out now!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm currently reading through Breaking the Alabaster Jar, which is a book of conversations/interviews with Li-Young Lee. This book is insightful, breath-taking, and inspiring, much like his work as a poet--needless to say, I strongly recommend it to anyone who thinks about Mama-Art, its function, and its necessary place in contemporary culture.

Hasta Luego

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy birthday, Dr. King!

I assigned King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail to my students on Friday, as well as the letter written by a group of clergymen that inspired his response. We are currently studying argument and persuasion. I can only hope they are persuaded by the man's call.

We'll see tomorrow.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Charlie Parker made many, many great musicians toss their altos over the Brooklyn Bridge because they couldn't hang with the new sound. You have a gee-tar in your hands right now?

Seriously, check these dudes out if you haven't already.


Not even voodoo carne asada could help the Chargers...damn.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


If you're in town, check out the show. Si no, put your ear to the sidewalk and howl.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Image and Rembembrance

I just finished the great Mexican poet Jose Emilio Pacheco's book City of Memory and Other Poems. After reading his long poem, "I Watch the Earth," about the tragic earthquake that rocked his native Mexico City in 1985, I was suddenly thrown back to El Centro, California, 1979, my hometown, where Willie, Susie and I got caught up in one that left us running for cover. I'll never forget the image of my swingset, how it looked as if it was walking in place: up, down; up, down; left, right, while our County building tumbled and telephone poles, like roughed-up drunk dudes, wobbled then dropped hard against the streets.

"Los animales avisaron, intentaron hablar
y no entendimos las señales."

Monday, January 8, 2007


"Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt, and live like it's Heaven on earth."

--Mark Twain (?)

Sunday, January 7, 2007