Canton de San Antonio, El Salvador, los jovenes de la iglesia Luterana celebrar en el campo, el dia en 2009 cuando las lluvias de Huracan Ida empezaba. Este video incluye una muerte de un joven de la iglesia por causa de los pandillas. Hay un bautista tambien. Incluye imagines de los jovenes durante una mes con Obispo Medardo Gomez y su esposa Pastora Abelina Gomez.
Obispo Medardo Gomez y su sermon celebrando el mes de los martires, November, 2009. Bishop Gomez remembers the story of exile, world-wide solidarity during the war, and the role of the pastor, un compromiso al pueblo, a promise from God, not a profession. Part II concludes with El Corrido de la Cruz Subversiva and Communion in Church of the Resurrection, San Salvador.
RUDA, ANTES LA BATALLA, ANCIENT LEAVES
SEND A BOUQUET OF PERFUME BEFORE THE STRUGGLE
Obispo gets in the car and hands me
a sprig of ruda, canoe-shaped leaves
the size of the moon on your fingernail.
the yerba buenas y malas de su mamá.
Esta mañana, Obispo, ¿Que vamos hacer?
Ataque, he says, striking the air.
Sí, sí, comandante, I say, saluting.
Strong sweet smell of the tiny leaves be your morning shield.
18 de noviembre 2009
En su casa, Obispo Medardo Gomez, habla de plantas, teologia de la vida, y los necesitados, preparando para la celebracion manana. Bishop Gomez uses the term "necesitados" for those who need God's presence and love, preferring it to "rich or poor," because many times it's those surrounded with riches, who are the most needy. La Cruz Subversiva, that went to prison for the sins of the state, gets cleaned up in preparation for the celebration. 2009.
Parte Uno: 20 Anos con la Cruz Subversiva en El Salvador
Oja de la ruda los ancestors la planta tiene poderes espirituales
Bishop Medardo Gomez
Creencia, buenas vibraciones, buena suerte
La ruda and its uses.
Aroma que Medardo le gusta y resumen.
Teologia de la vida en la mesa conmigo y pastores y nietos
integrar y popular en la forma para el pueblo.
Pueblo es acompanado por Dios. Notas en mi cuaderno.
La lema de los pobres—los necesidades—
muchas veces el rico es mas necesitado que los pobres
alegria y esperanza
en medios de los lujos
Pobrecito mi patron, piensando que el pobre soy yo
SIDA, Guerra, immigracion
y preparando para celebracion de la cruz subversive
Da me la mano, da me la mano, da me la mano por luchar
Blue-green paint of the polluted city,
the wood banks, the car wash across the street,
buses going by. Songs of the pueblo,
finishing with the band. Greeting the people coming in.
La gente del pueblo, greeting the people,
beginning el servicio de amor
Parte II: 20 Años de la Cruz Subversiva en El Salvador
Pastor es un compromiso de la vida por la vida
no es un profesion—pastor, pastora
noviembre , el mes de martirios
16 de noviembre,
21 de noviembre
20 years, la Guerra en el pais,
pueblo oprimido, hablando con Ignacio ellacuria,
No te preocupes, Medardo,
Con su trabajadores,
Vinieron los militares,
15 extranjeros, vinieron los militares, embajada de alemania,
honking horns of the street
Nueve obispos de los estados unidos
Esta cruz es la cruz de cristo, regalo de Dios
Cruz de un buen pastor
El Corrido de la Cruz Subversiva por Regino
Parte III: 20 Años de la Cruz Subversiva en El Salvador
Communion during the celebration of the cruz subversia,
La gente has traveled from all over the world for this service,
El Reino de la Justicia
Mitigation de la crisis, eating with Gomez and his pastoral crew.
The hurricaine Ida hits El Salvador during the month of the martyrs in November, 2009.
Walking through the community of the marginados con Obispo during this crisis.
houses of tin filled with mud.
the love the community has for Medardo, for walking with them.
All that happens during times of celebration when living in marginal communities.
From contaminated water to destroyed houses.
crisis integral, pastoral integral, no hay una barco de noe para salvarnos.
From the Notebook:
Medardo says, introducing me to his community, that I was converted by the Mexicans.
His wife, Abelina, from Mexico. A pastor. She cooks Mexican and El Salvadoran.
Pastora Abelina pastors Fe y Esperanza, a refugee community of Ex-combatientes,
from the Guerra Civil.
In 2002, Blue Begonia Press had just published
Seeking Light in Each Dark Room/Buscando Luz en Cada Cuarto Oscuro.
We were the abrecaminos, and we were on the move.
Carole Folsom-Hill had begun working with Holden Village to create
a Hispanic Community Retreat Week at the former copper mine in the mountains
to bring the immigrant community together from all parts of the state,
in all of its various forms. In Yakima, we were immigrant Mexicano, campesino.
We came from Michoacán, Jalisco, Oaxaca.
Getting on the boat at Lake Chelan, the Lady of the Lake,
I met Medardo—el Obispo de la Paz—Obispo Medardo Gómez.
We were looking at photos. In those days, we still had pictures printed,
shiny in our hands. “Come to El Salvador and you’ll write the best poems of your life,”
That’s all it took.
The war, that recent. The angry Salvadoran introducing me to Jon Sobrino.
Take off your rings willingly so we don’t have to cut your fingers off.
The murdered vigilante.
The trips back and forth. Medardo. Habitat. Mary Campbell. The Subversive Cross.
Holden Village. Repeated trips. Michoacán. La Cuestita. El Rancho.
Dizziness. Vertigo. Between the balance and the fall. Catch of the breath.
Para qué sirve la ruda?
La planta de ruda: cómo usarla para proteger tu hogar
hierba de los mil atributos.
absorbe con gran facilidad las corrientes energéticas
que puedan perturbar la armonía en el hogar.
Sus hojas tienas propiedades medicinales
procesos digestivos ya que estimula la función billar.
Holden Village/La Cuestita/San Salvador/Yakima/El Salvador
Antes el campo de futbol estuvo un patio. Desde la area de Rutilio Grande. El Canton de San Antonio. Unionistas. Memorias de la guerra y la hacienda antigua. Today it's a soccer field, but even after the war it was one big patio, a landing pad for helicopters.
During the Month of the Martyrs, November, 2009, the rains of Hurricaine Ida hit the marginal community of Apopa en San Salvador. Bishop Medardo Gomez meets with his pastoral community in his home before walking with the people whose homes and drinking water fill with mud. "No hay una barca de Noe para salvarnos," Bishop Gomez says.
TRAVELING IN THE
OF EL SALVADOR WITH OBISPO MEDARDO GÓMEZ
An avalanche of mud just fell into the house.
Call the police just to see if they´ll come.
It´s not important to know where Obispo
is going. When he gives the invitation
To get in the car, get in the car.
The man in the back seat is a mason,
albañil. He builds houses for Habitat.
Last night his house filled up with mud.
When it got to my neck, I got up on the roof
And climbed into another house. It, too,
filled With mud. All the houses this morning are gone.
Me llamo Lazaro, he says. ¿Cómo? I ask,
How is that? Lazaro, he says again.
We´re driving Lazarus to work,
To build a house. Lazaro, I ask,
Can I take your picture? I describe
His blue striped shirt in my notebook
For verification. I take three pictures, And then
I take one more. Then I ask,
Lazaro, can I get in the picture with you?
handing the camera to the driver.
Good, can you take one more just to make sure.
Lazaro builds houses for his pueblo.
The bishop walks with his pueblo.
I don´t make things up.
I write what I see and hear.
When the Bishop asks you to get in the car,
he gives you an invitation to change your life.
13 de noviembre 2009
WITH MARIO AND MÁRDEN IN THE HABITAT PICKUP,
EATING RED BERRIES OF COFFEE, LISTENING, TAKING PICTURES
We leave Lazaro at the house
where the foundation has been set.
Márden shows me the water tank
Lazaro will use for drinking and washing,
the kind of tanks the armed forces
have mounted on pickups to get to people
whose houses are gone. Bariles con pipas.
Water in barrels, for bathing and drinking.
Lazaro, the albañil, will build this house
in six weeks. Márden, a university
student, lost his house last night, too.
He lives with his four brothers.
His father salió la casa cuando tenía
13 años, and his mother’s in
for 18 months. She calls once a week.
Mario wants me to see his city
desde la cima
del volcan de
from the summit of the volcano.
Finca de café. We stop for photos
by the side of the road. Mario shows me
the red berries of the coffee
growing in the shade trees. Cuidado,
Jim, he says, vas a estar enfermo si
helping parents pick café get sick
sucking on the sweet fruit so exotic
in my daily ritual. He has to talk
with a habitat owner delinquent
with payments. I wait in the pickup.
Eight soldiers pass by with machine guns.
On my side of the pickup, a coffee plantation.
On the driver’s side, una casa de carton.
I recall lines from la cancion por los Guaraguayos,
You won’t believe this but they have schools
to train dogs to bring the newspapers to the door.
Es bien complicada, Jim, Mario tells me later.
Life here is not based on money. We eat better
here than in the city, and we don’t get sick.
I’m looking at the lamination. Tin half-door
with clothes drying in sun. Pura casa de carton.
One wall corrugated tin, the other, a fiberboard
crate for shipping. The exterior wall:
Plywood, Pine FACEBACK 18 X 220X 2440,
SHEETS/CRATE, all caps, like that.
to: PORT Acatutla, El Salvador. Half the soldiers
walk around my side of the pickup, the others
walk by the driver. Más complicada, Jim,
over and over all day, like the song, Asi, es, Jim.
One truck reads Cristo Rey on the windshield,
another reads, Unforgiven. Mejor comida,
aguacate, aire fresco. Rich coffee
from poor countries. Mario at the summit
has Márden pull off for more photos.
Mario’s working, pero posiblemente
esta día es puro vacación para cada uno
de nosotros. Mario stands on the balcony’s
handrails, balancing, while I photograph him.
Riding with the albañil Lazaro.
Being driven by Márden. Both washed
from their houses. Helicopters can get in,
but I had to walk out, un milagro.
Police stop us on the way down the volcano.
I think they want to see my passport,
but what they want is a ride, un aventón,
down the mountain. I take their photo
in the rear view mirror. Mario explains
the legend of the sleeping woman,
la princesa de Suchitlán.
ll de noviembre 2009/San
30 November 2009/Yakima
Its wild erotic swing
from the deepest penetration
to the key under mother’s pillow
All practice, all training
24 January 2015
A LA ASEMBLEA
MICRO CREDITO EN LA SASTRE
Unidad. Diciplina. Trabajo. Valor.
Unidad. Diciplina. Trabajo. Valor.
Unidad. Diciplina. Trabajo. Valor.
Esta es la forma de vida.
After the chant, la lema, the role taking.
Estimado compañeras, Sandra Pérez says, calling role.
Attendance is important because lives
Are on the line. How to become sustainable.
How to get out of your own way.
The vocabulary to get up to speed.
Prestar. Deuda. Saldar una deuda.
Negocios.. Confiar en,encomendar.
Tenerle confianza. Solidarity.
Solidaridad. Say it until it becomes
A way of breathing. Ganar.
Mora is the word the women use for debt.
Cuota is the word the women use for payment.
Primera prueba. Propios principios. Enfrentar.
Reading Dorothy Day in Spanish at night.
Había compartido el fermento revolucionarios y artistas.
John Reed. Los diez dias que sucudieron al mundo.
The handwritten note during role call:
Ella no viene por motivo de salud.
Sus negocios. Lo que es su negocio.
Sí, se puede..
Pigs, too. Raising pigs.
Me llamo Rosa,
venda Ropa. Compra tela.
Aquí estamos siempre en la lucha.
My name is María Elena, soy jefa. Presidenta de la Asemblea.
I’m the president of the assembly and coordinator for anti-malaria.
Volunteering is a way of giving back.
20 women and two men. Women in cotton dresses.
Men in Dockers turned work clothes.
I get my first check today
And tomorrow I’ll start my first day of business.
Start with una dinamica. An ice breaker.
Pon en pie.
¿Sabes que es una abrazo?
Esta es un abrazo. Move around the room.
Touch someone and let yourself be touched.
The hard stuff’s coming.
Es el abuso fisico, sexual, e economico.
Learn the word trompados for blow. ¿Y te callas, eh?
Tell anybody and there will be more where that came from.
Y que sea la ultima vez se encuentra una camisa sin butones
por que la proxima vez, te voy a….
It’s not just the buttons.
It’s the unconscious man and his favorite shirt.
La maltrata.La maltrata.
The class in the patio. Green and yellow walls.
Fresh paint. The illustrated drawing
Shows the man in the act of self gratification,
The suffering woman.
What is the word for macho in your culture?
The television in the sala throws me off.
I forget there’s no electricity.
Ciclo de violencia. Primera etapa.
Ya termina la charla.
A woman steps forward and makes her 10th payment of 12 payments.
The company names: Nuevo Amanecer.
5th payment of second loan.
Trabajando Unido, 5th payment of 6th. First Loan.
This assembly has zero debt.
All payments are made.
La Ceiba/La Sastre/El camion—Honduras
Feb 27-March 1, 2007
THE LAW OF THE STORY
He sits and listens, waits his turn,
Then changes his mind and says nothing.
Later he gets out his notebook.
He wonders what will come out.
Earlier, a man said, I represent the law.
He carries that one around
For days. In his notebook
He writes, I represent the law of story.
One follows what one can.
Dissent is so automatic it becomes routine.
How I learned to cancel myself
To become myself. It didn’t happen
All at once. Mi propio ser.
It emerges in the listening.
What we talk about when we talk about love.
So much disappointment.
Limits of talk in quick time.
He does not abandon the mission
Remaining quiet. Silence has nothing
To do with playing it safe.
Each cup of coffee is a social occasion.
The man representing the law
Made uncomfortable by good manners.
All of this stuff in the notebooks.
Yesterday, he picked one red cherry
From the coffee plant, breaking open
The cáscara with his teeth, sucking
The sweet fruit surrounding the two seeds
Like the birds. He held them in his mouth
As a secret and a promise, most of the afternoon.
Savory memory. Good brew.
The fact of transformation
Under fire. The mere thought
Of the dark roast ahead made him dizzy.
No conflict, no story.
And then, the explosions in the mouth.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
WHEN THE ALMOND BEAN BLOSSOMS:
LETTER TO DEAN BRACKLEY, S.J.
Llora por cosas lejanas
This is the spirit of earth, Dean,
you, the fierce part of the light. Duende is a power,
not a work, as Lorca says. My sister watches my brother
in a hospital bed, saying, Every brother
needs an advocate. Ventanitas de oro, tiemblan,
Little windows of gold, trembling.
You’re the pacamara cherry
I tuck between my lips, shade-grown,
native, on the volcán. When crossed
with one called from the Bronx,
it’s a prophet’s brew, making next steps concrete.
You are the voice in my mochila.
Waking in skies over the ocean
among the television screens, the stewardess
looks for the person who lost her socks.
Are these your socks?
Are these your socks?
Lorca rises from the page, ¿Que dicen?
What are they saying? I know roads, too,
but I’ll never get to Cordoba. My mother’s voice,
also fierce, repeats itself, You don’t have to go
to El Salvador to find God. OK--
but I need Dean’s language of solidarity
for flesh and bone. El Espíritu trabaja
para la libertad…Ignacio propone
tres juegos de pasos…in your voice
huerfanos no existe, agua corre en cada casa.
Mary brought me to you.
The night street March with Gene Palumbo
a new testament for Jayaque. Your barrio—
and everyone needs one—esta búsqueda
nunca tan lejos desde nuestros ojos.
Your voice, it will be speaking forever.
You shall be speaking forever.
You have nothing to do with cancer.
You rise from the earth in Santa Tecla.
When the almond bean blossoms,
Sister Teresa’s walking life
up and down the Extremadura with John,
is over. Sister Bernadette at Divina Providencia
says its time. March 28 is always a good day.
Receiving the bullet,
is the language of the call.
Your bullet, Dean, is love,
and everything surrounding it.
Your love corrals us all,
all that is unfinished. God knows
it doesn’t look good, but we’re singing.
El padre Dean, diario personal,
y otros escritos, edited by Jon Sobrino—
your photo, your hand writing, all the photos,
your back-and-forth in English and Spanish.
Dios protagonista en la oración en la cubierta.
Before the microphone en la capilla at UCA.
Common house of the poor. Casa Común.
Love construction. Your words. Cement.
Hecho de chispa. Your laughter exploding.
Allí empezó a comprender la pobreza
structural y la repression del estado.
God’s word in your mouth, our work now.
13 enero 2015—23 enero 2015
Habitat for Humanity, Thrivent, International Work Crews, the Lutheran Church El Salvador, combine to build a new "casa comun", a new worship center and church. Here is the final day of work, and the dedication and blessing of the church: Cristo Rey, Santa Ana, El Salvador. 17 January 2015.
Earthquake, 2001, hits Cristo Rey, Santa Ana, El Salvador, hard. A month later, it hits again. Houses and church destroyed. 17 January 2015, 21 new houses have been built, and the "casa comun," the church is blessed and dedicated. Here, the elder of the community and the young prophets, speak with new strength. Habitat for Humanity out of the box. Work crews, Thrivent, Int'l work crews, together.
TALKING TO THE CAMERA
The challenge this morning,
waking with coffee,
if one can be so fortunate
to wake with the pacamara bean
native to Salvador,
is not to take one side
or the other,
but to take the side
of those who have
no side. The challenge
in every morning.
Challenge is a horrible, horrible,
horror-harrowed word in itself.
doesn't need a text, but in others
at museum of martyrs
I've been trying to use
layered light, and reflections
to create an off-balance viewing
because I'm off-balance.
Cell phone camera
But how does one exaggerate this,
I ask, even as I find myself
inside glass, wearing the pants of Ignacio Ellacuria?
Try his work.
Or, try the letters of Jon Sobrino
to his dear friend Ellacuria.
on the cassock
is a reflection of light,
seis triangulos de luz
created from mirrors.
Looking into martyred
glass, I know
that everyone died,
their lives surround us.
My country’s bullets ‘tis of thee
Track lights lighting images
under glass point in different directions
turned into photographs themselves.
Neutral eyes, no, not neutral,
not sentient, not from here.
The alba and estola of Monseñor Romero on a wired mannequin
blurred and blood-soaked robes of the night that will never end
and the white undershorts of a priest under glass.
In a museum, no less.
Here is the palimpsest that unravels me—
reflection from glass in front of me
reveals the mirror behind me
two pairs of pants, a robe, bullet-ridden shirt,
colleagues on the other side of the glass
photographs where a pants pocket might be,
my hand and the camera
coming in from side right
walking away from all the listeners
beneath a cross under glass that might
be seeing around corners.
How this diagonal band of light
from the rose garden
where the bodies were laid
found itself crossing this book
I will never know, but sky, blossom, leaf,
shimmer fixed on the page
over psalm and gospel.
Bullets under glass
Masacre de El Mozote,
10 diciembre de 1981
also with rusted cartridge cases
and burned-out wooden cross.
Any photograph of Rutilio Grande
anytime, anywhere, point to who’s calling me
eyes and fingers in the painting
of the dead Romero
going every whichway
Muerte y resurección de Monseñor Romero
Pintura de Benjamín Caña
More photos of Rutilio
than anyone else
reflects my bias
That’s me beneath the cross
owning my own whatever you want to call it
in whose martyred clothes
oh my God, here’s a pair of pants
hanging from a wire
with photographs for pockets
and three books where a belt should be!
Unlabled, and after-all the times
I’ve seen it waking in dreams
I’m going to call it a burned-out painting
heat created by mass murderers
funded by my country
call this a rant
I still see a human eye
under the bubbled-canvas
cut-out below where an eye might be
and I see human flesh beneath it
can’t be accounted for
get yourself another guide
if you want to, if you can
don’t believe everything you hear
go back to sleep if you can
When I look again,
photographs go all the way to the knee.
And there’s that chair again
empty but for the draped stole.
EYES FOR EL SALVADOR
People making small talk
on way to work site.
I never learned how,
feel my own emptiness.
I listen, watch.
Sometimes ask a question.
I love this drive
to the work site.
A man hangs out the bus,
standing on steps,
waving, bus door
his arms out,
His bus in the fast line.
wants to make
a lane change.
isn’t in much
of a hurry,
neither am I.
22 January 2015
POEM FOR THE YOUNG PROPHET-WORKERS
FROM HÁBITAT PARA LA HUMANIDAD EL SALVADOR
WORKING FOR THE SOULS OF GRINGOS,
TRYING TO SAVE THEM IN SIX DAYS
—for Sofia, Bris, Magdalena, Francis, Kathy,
Karla, Luis, and Evelyn
That’s not a poem, Sofia says,
when I read the haiku written
in my notebook. That’s not a poem,
she says again. Let me try it
another way, then. But I need
another day. I have just been fed
yucca frita, pan con gallina, platano
tamal de chipilin, frijoles, and
two kinds of pupusas, one made
from masa de maíz, and one made
from masa de arroz, washed down
with fresco de ensalada and horchata.
I’m full. Too full too write a poem.
You can’t write a poem when you’re full.
In order to write a poem, you need
to be in love, and you need to be empty.
Poems are always about love,
don’t you know? You need to be away
from your beloved, too. She needs
to be far away. If she’s too close,
or he’s too close, you’ll think
about other things. God says,
Mana for all, and all food is God’s.
God is good, but these Hábitat
workers filled me with too much God,
making it hard to write this poem.
All I can think about is chispa.
I’m dreaming chispa with a full
stomach. Poems are for dreamers,
too. Dreamers and lovers. And fools.
Don’t forget the fool. If you’re a real poet
you might write about all three. And
you must think about the beloved at all times,
full or empty. You need inspiration
to write, but like I said, all I can
think about is chispa. Chispa
is the cement holding the house
together. When I try to think
about love, all I can hear
is the voice crying, “Chispa—
more chispa.” Where is my faith?
Lovers are faithful—how can I be
faithful when all I think about
is chispa? I worry that chispa
dries up my heart, turning it
to cement. I fill my wheelbarrow—
mi carreta—with dried up chunks
of cement, and say to myself,
I’m going to start this poem over.
I will write inspired. I will tell
the honest truth of love. I’m wheeling
my wheel barrow as I talk to myself,
poets are always talking to themselves—
I’m going to dump the rocks
and all my worn out words into the ravine.
Poets are always revising—when
you’re really in love, don’t you always
go head over heels for the beloved?
Aren’t you dizzy? I’m sweating so hard
and I’m dizzy, and I can’t see from the sweat,
and when the rocks and words tumble
from the careta, the wheelbarrow
goes with them all the way to the bottom
of the ravine. It’s gone. Just like my poem.
I’m empty now, I’ll tell you that.
And the Hábitat workers will think
I’m just another lost sheep, a sad-faced lover.
“If he can’t handle the wheel barrow,
see if he can do something easier.
Find him a rake. Find something for him to do.
He may call for more chispa,
but don’t tell me he loves it.”
I imagine those workers thinking like that.
The young men give me their skin
giving me their gloves, going without.
The women carry shovels like they’re machetes.
I’ve thrown away my poem ten times
and lost my barrow. I’m empty,
away from home, wondering if chispa
binding the lovers and the workers,
binds us all. Hábitat workder
make me feel like we’re all one family.
Building a house for others
I—we—feel only love. Hábitat
workers teach us about love. ¿Que es eso?
Maybe I’m trying too hard to find
my way in a poem. Maybe I should try
building a house. Tamp it down,
tamp it down. Maybe what I’m feeling
is just love. Chispa and wheelbarrows
isn’t what this poem is about at all.
What this poem is about is love—
love breaks up the hard heart.
No more dried-up cement surrounding me.
Pupusas fall from the sky. A finished house
is always a real poem.
16 January 2015—21 January 2015
Santa Ana, El Salvador—Yakima, Washington
Carmelite Sister welcomes the pilgrim at Divina Providencia, a daily witness. Ten years ago her voice inspired me, her vision of Oscar Romero, held me. When she turns around, it's her again. This time, there was a camera for her, and she gives her testimony. We are all walking together.
THE CARMELITE NUN WALKS ME FROM THE CHAPEL
AT DIVINA PROVIDENCIA WHERE ROMERO WAS SLAIN
WHILE CELEBRATING EUCHARIST
Every body is walking to Heaven.
Monsignor touched your heart.
Go and help him,
and he will help you.
We are all walking to Heaven.
Nice to meet you.
And we are going to Heaven.
We must start every morning.
It is necessary.
March 20, 2006--15 January 2015
ON CELEBRATING COFFEE, INSPIRED BLENDS
WITH TIERED NOTES SUGGESTING DARK CHOCOLATE,
BROWN SUGAR, AND OTHER LEMONY THINGS
I have tasted the finest coffees in the world.
I have brewed small batch roasts from Andean Mountains,
and purchased the once-yearly blends
of the big players, scouring mountainsides
in ATVs for prized shade-grown cherries.
Blends that rise to the occasion.
Deeply layered, honoring
heritage and future,
believing, too, while sipping, that these are fair trade beans.
I have trained my palette.
I have friends.
One of them, an immigrant woman
from a world heritage site in Michoacán,
brings me coffee in a brown paper bag.
Inside is a 2-liter plastic jar
with a red lid reading Folgers.
This is not instant coffee, friends.
Not Folgers either.
Nothing instant about it.
These are beans from the barrio,
desde las casas de cartón
between railroad tracks
donde los marginados viven,
given to me by my friend.
These are beans of the thirsty.
Do you know the song?
Casas de Cartón? Latin Americans
know it like they know the Beattles.
Anyway, my daughters, who are teachers,
have taught the woman’s children.
In my glory days I didn’t pay too much attention.
One day the father of the children,
who is from El Salvador, is stopped
by the police while taking his kids to school.
They take him from the car, jail him
before he is deported. His daughter
tells this to my daughter.
This is a kindergarten story.
I don’t know how the kids got to school that day.
The girl is an honor student in high school now.
I’ve taken her brother to the top of the mountain on skis,
and visited their father in San Salvador.
He’s there now.
We’re friends on Facebook.
Passing through the living room last night
I hear on the evening news that the drone program
at the border costs 500 million dollars a year,
that the cost of apprehending each campesino
is somewhere around 30,000 dollars.
I am washing dishes as I listen, preparing
to return the bowl to my friend,
the mother of the children. She has made some posolé for us,
complete with radishes, shredded cabbage and lime.
This is about coffee, though. I get ahead of myself.
My friend shows me how to brew this coffee
in our kitchen. Much like camp coffee,
boiling water in a kettle, spooning it into the full boil,
dropping the egg shell to settle the grounds.
Remember the unknown fire, though, the mysterious process
with beans nobody can sell. Remember, too,
the trained palette, and the aroma of coffee
brewing in the kitchen. Grand children
know the smell of coffee brewing,
even if they’ve never picked the sweet cherries
on the hillside until they have diarrhea.
This is coffee from the margins.
This is coffee that doesn’t sweeten the room.
This coffee keeps you awake at night.
It’s a bitter drink, friends. It leaves residue in your mouth.
December 25, 2014—7 January 2015
RIDING WITH THE COFFEE MAN
—para Arnoldo Paz
I. Going In
When the road disintegrates
For the van as the degree of incline increases,
The delegation carrying shoes
For the rural mountain school
Pile into the back end of a pickup
And a 4x4. Except for cushioned seats
Of the 4x4, I choose by chance
Who I’m riding with.
He’s the coffee man,
Copaneco, I was one of these kids
You’ll put shoes on.
I taste coffee all day long.
I went to high school in
And learned English.
But all I do is taste coffee.
“We have 100 police here.
You can’t solve anything with that.
We’re living under the law of
Don’t get caught.
“We’re getting all shade grown coffee now.
We’re teaching people not to use wood,
Not to cut the bosque, the forests, to cook
And heat. We’re trying to show them another way.
I ask them, Do you wonder why you’re running
Out of water in March?”
Arnoldo Paz pulls his SUV around the last
Rain-washed corner in the red dirt road
Too high and rough for any but the toughest cars.
We’re looking at the kids getting shoes.
Here they are in blue jeans and any manner of
short-sleeved white shirt that will qualify
as a uniform. Shoes are from churches
and camps in the States given to Rotarians
for distribution in two country schools.
“The kids getting shoes all go to school.
Those two kids outside the fence with their mother,
They’re not going to school. They say
Next year they’re going to go to school
And get some shoes.”
As kids line up outside, the distribution plan
Gets explained inside.
We don’t let them choose. How do we fit them?
Hold the shoe to the foot.
They’ll tell us if they’re too tight or too big.
One room with two-seat wood desks on runners.
The shoes look good. They light up,
Make promises to fly.
Fruit of the Loom socks, 3 girls with make-up
And hair-dos on the heel, a soccer shoe with lights,
Cushioned soles, air in the heel, Nike Swoosh.
Reeboks. Set up stations.
Each kid gets shoes, two pair of socks,
Shorts or panties. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Hello Kitty. Brats. Four black stripes.
Take your old shoe off when you come in.
Give it to Jack or Sean. They’ll get you
The right fit. Four operating stations.
40 children plus.
This is Escuela FHIS II, 1994-1998,
Formando ciudadanos para engrandecer a
Forming citizens to make a greater nation.
On the walls: Espaciio de estudios, Sistema Óseao,
Escuela Tuburcio Carias Andino.
He was a dictator, one of the helpers says.
These are some slip-ons. Give me your foot.
I leave the children to sit with Arnoldo.
“This is a special place for coffee.
Red dirt for coffee. Acid.
See that forest?
Conifers, soil acidity. Ph.
The only problem is water.
It doesn’t stay in the same place
At the same time.
“We’re at 1300 meters here.
Hot days and cool nights.
Like apples and grapes where you come from.
Coffee needs six hours of sun
For the type of acidity you enjoy for your roasts.
Coffee’s like wine. Different acidity. Different flavors.
Here we get citric or orange, usually
From the forest. All Arabica Caturra varieties.
Perdido los burbonos, No?
Burbonos needs too many people.
“Fair Trade? It’s a type of seal, that’s all.
I want to make it more fair than that
For the fathers and mothers of these children.
Probably fair is not even the right word.
Utzkapeh is the Mayan word for good coffee.
We are exporting 65,000 bags.
“We’re doing the right thing environmentally.
Social, water, land, people.
I used to be one of these kids here.
I had shoes though.
“We have been a volume camp here for so long.
We have a coffee competition 28 March.
We’re going to be a quality camp.
Our First Lady’s coming.
We’re going to pick the best ten coffees.
Drink, spit, take water.
Keep the palette fresh.
“We’re starting to get chocolate flavors in Copán.
Here in Copán there’s a sweetness, an aftertaste.
In my neighbor’s fields we found a strawberry chocolate.
The gentleman’s name is Manchame.
“My biggest joy is in opening up possibilities
In the people and in the qualities of coffee
At the same time. I’m trying to show them
How not to damage the coffee in the process
All the way from picking red cherries,
Through fermentation and staying clear of mold.
Not picking the green ones.
“We’re making changes.
Small ones. Firm ones.
Finding people that want to be trained.
Trained to stay, too. Spreading the word.
Keys to good customers.
Send a bag of coffee with a story.
The coffee comes from a forest and a family.”
The children walk out in new shoes.
I ask them about their teacher.
She has good energy they say. Buen energía.
She’s funny, in good health,
Ganas para nosotros aprender.
She wants them to learn.
I look at their shoes and then in their eyes.
Sus ojos son más importante qué sus zapatos.
Qué tiene a dentro es más importante qué sus ropas a fuera.
Your eyes are more important than your shoes.
What you have inside is more important than your clothes.
Let’s see you run. I can’t help myself either way.
Watching them compare shoes is too much.
Estos están tan apretados.
These are too tight.
Let’s see you run now. Wow.
“Coffee itself is social,” Arnoldo says.
“500,000 coffee workers in
300,000 hectares in coffee.
Average size is from 5 hectares.
“Parents don’t have farms, but have plants.
How many of your parents have coffee plants?
They have three, four, five plants.
They’ll sell to intermediaries. These guys
Come up in trucks and say,
I’ll give you 50 Limpiras for that bag of coffee.
They should be getting 200 Limpiras.
They don’t have a truck to Copán.
I want them to know the price.
Do I sound a little Revolutionary?
Instead of ten bags, they’ll have 500 bags.
They can show some power and bargain.
Sometimes the doors are closed
Because they’re fun to open.”
II. Shoes at the
A covered open air room with desks
And no walls where children sit waiting.
A garden immediately behind them.
Rabanos. Mostaza. Culantrillo.
Their class President, Jeremias Antonio Cruz,
12 years old, in 4th grade, tells me of his school.
María Magdalena Aquino is the school.
Marubeni Morales Manchame is their teacher.
I’m behind on my learning.
I’ve been with Arnold Paz.
Donna gets me up to speed.
Her heart’s been ripped by this experience.
She’s in an altered state of grace.
The others are, too, But I’m next to Donna.
Sean cuts the plastic ties with his jack knife.
Putting a pair of socks on bare skin
That’s never felt cotton this soft
Catches me off balance.
I look away one time and reach for the shoes.
Saúl walks among the children
Secretly preparing them to sing.
They’ll sing the Honduran Anthem for us at the end.
Their eyes are more beautiful than the shoes.
“Coffee is good with the environment
Because it lives with other plants,”
He gives me his phone number and email.
“Email me,” he says. “I keep losing the phones.”
In the mountain schools in Copán
March 3, 2007
AND THE COFFEE PLANTATIONS
For Saúl Molina
The man walks with a macaw feather in his staff
As part of his uniform. Colors change from blue to gold
On a single feather pointing to an older story.
Tropical rain forests call caciques to build even larger plantations.
Maybe it was the beauty of these mountains
That led to the calendar itself. And maybe the calendar
Became more important than the mountains and rivers.
God only knows, and God’s not talking.
How the people forgot their collective memory
Interests me more than any calendar.
’s on the left and
we follow it into Copán. Copán
Santa Rica’s kind of like a sister town to Copán
With 4000 people who don’t have a plan.
Compra de café. Tomatoes and chiles for export
Salvador or Guatemala.
These people used to raise tobacco.
This is the road to
Guatemala. We’re 10 kilos
From the border.
I know these things because
I’ve been listening to my guide from the
All the way into Copán where he lives.
I don’t belong to any club, nor do I wear a uniform.
I carry a notebook listening for words like ixoqui,
Mayan word for woman. A word given to me
Simply for paying attention.
Lo que es verdad. Lo que es paja.
And the ability to know the difference.
Whatever happened, collective amnesia dogs us all.
My country’s collective memory’s gone
The way of frozen computers.
The world descends on Copán in a vast pilgrimage.
The guide broken open by song. He belongs
To an earlier past, not the one he was born to.
A single feather sings his name.
March 16, 2007
FLAP THAT SHUTS THE WORLD AWAY
No word for goodby
Sister Sadie Sadie
My other self gone
Water dog walking
Her breath is now mine
8 January 2015
BREATHING BREATH BEDS
Divine human content
Nature looking at nature
God looking at God
Listen to them breathe
Between two winter dreamers
Steady wife, old dog
7 January 2015
Low light, low snowpack
Cork bark black pines wired
to survive earth quakes
5 January 2015
TREES THAT LIVE AFTER
Counting syllables at night
Develop new trunk
5 January 2015
GET AWAY IN ORDER TO ARRIVE
Flakes of iced glass
No story slowing snow melt
Wool quilts on warm walls
4 January 2015
SOMETIMES MY OWN FAMILY
This walk between worlds
Wonder's cool intimacy
No may why yes be
1 January 2015
WHEN THE FAITH OF THE CAREERISTS
FAILED MY MOTHER
SHE TURNED TO BASEBALL
and have been found,
Arbitrary space, spaces,
trees, rocks, basements
Others, the other,
and their places
(built by men, too)
only to be away
out of wind
31 December 2014