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The Liebster Award

March 18, 2015

liebsteraward

The Liebster Award is a chain award that was created by bloggers, and is a tradition to make new friends in the blogging community. I was nominated by the lovely Alysyn of the blog home, Alreinhardt. Many thanks to you, Alysyn! :)

Rules:

Thank and link the person who nominated you.
Answer the questions given by the nominator.
Nominate 11 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers and link them.
Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

Although I know not 11 bloggers with blog membership under 200, I nominate the following bloggers:

Colette Paul

Withlove, Tania

jlpiallat

The last 8 nominations I leave open for whoever comes across this, has less than 200 followers and wants to be nominated.

My Answers to Alysyn’s 11 Questions:

1. What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?
Ooops! I honestly don’t remember or cannot recall to judge. :) If the movie threw me into a coma, I most certainly can’t dig up its name. The movies I pay to see, you can believe I wanted to see them. Those on Netflix I choose, I want to see, too.

2. What artists or bands do you currently love?
I love Nikki Minaj, Rhianna and Amy Winehouse.

3. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is of my family and I enjoying the drive-in with a picnic basket, drinks and cruller donuts dripping in a sugary glaze. Those huge, bulky speakers resting in our lowered windows were a joy, the sound tearing through the car like a sweeping lady, her skirts all aflutter.

4. Favorite book? (You can choose more than one)
Toni Morrison’s Paradise, Song of Solomon
Fiona Zedde’s Bliss, Dangerous Pleasures
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, The Secret of Joy
Skyy’s Choices, Full Circle
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Black Candle

5. Favorite quotes?
“Be still and know.”

6. It’s the end of the world! The only people left are you, the main actor/actress from the last movie you watched, your least favorite book character, & your favorite dead artist (writer, musician, what have you). Will you guys be okay?
Absolutely! There will be no time for regrets. We’ll be so busy laughing and getting in the praise and the digs, until there will be no time to monitor the fading hours.

7. A elephant sized puppy or a puppy sized elephant
Most definitely a puppy-sized elephant

8. Pick one: a boat, a castle, a cottage, or a rocket. Make up a reason why.
A cottage will be the perfect setting in which to serenade my new love. Hidden in an exclusive dive, a stalker former love will find us out of reach, and if the groundsman is bribed, there is a trap door in the floor. All is never lost.

9. Do you ship any characters? Or hate a ship?
I ship characters worldwide on a moment’s notice. No time to hate!

10. If money was of no concern, what would be the next thing you buy?
I’d buy a trip around the world for my immediate family members, their mates and children, and their best friends.

11. What’s the nicest thing anybody has ever done for you?
Stopped her merry-go-round to spend time with me…

My Next 11 Questions:

What is your favorite pastime?
What is at the top of your Bucket List?
Nudism or Top-free
Who is or was your favorite relative?
Which season and why?
Music or Art? Why?
What is your most difficult challenge to-date?
Meditation or prayer?
How would you spend a cool million?
Poetry or prose? Why?
Kiss or hug, in greeting? Why?

LOVE & LIGHT

Meditation and Awareness

March 17, 2015

I have missed practicing the art of meditation.

Once, not so long ago, I graced myself with its peace and sense of well-being twice daily, reverently, no matter what was going on in my life. Then I dropped off. I don’t remember why I stopped. Sometimes we just get in a rout and fall off into a well of worry about what may never come to pass and the next thing we know, we don’t know if we’re starting or finishing. Seems like we’d get still and realize that it is in those hectic times that we should seek inner peace on autopilot. But we don’t. So life has to whop us, rewind us, pause us.

Thank goodness I’m back on point, though. I feel at peace. For the past month or so, I’ve been sitting in a yoga position, legs crossed, torso straight, palms usually face up and open to receive all the blessings that life has for me. I close my eyes. And turn off the lights and even shut the blinds to cancel as much daylight as possible in the morning. If I don’t, my eyelids go into a wiggle-jiggly dance that makes me want to lower my head into the palm of my hands and carry on. Yet I persist. Eventually the wiggle-jiggle ceases when I relax and give it leave to do whatever because I’m going to stay with it. Now if something is standing in the middle of my thoughts, up-ending me, my eyelids shimmy and shake then, too. And I do that same thing: allow the situation to be as it is. No judgement.

My thoughts skate. At times, I follow them and totally forget I am meditating. When I catch myself, I lovingly bring my center back to the calming darkness behind my closed lids. Where the darkness seems to brighten, sometimes, and shift into shapes and swirling patterns. Universal pageantry, I guess, a wonder consisting, as they say, of all the splendor of the Universe, right there inside of us all, if only we could stop to plug ourselves in.

Momentarily, after I finish typing this post, I’m going to make like an appliance and plug myself into the outlet that is Source. I’m grateful! I’ve had a blissful day, editing my narrative for my To Honor the Heart anthology. Just like that, I lost track of time and edited all day, rising to chat with my sisters, eat or stretch my limbs. The zone is what I call it, and that is a sacred place for us creators. Wait. We are ALL creators, creating something, whether it is art, music, literature, little people, rules, politics, muscles, orchards, cars or mess. And the list is inexhaustible.

Anyway, I felt accomplished.

I finished a major round of edits, reading quietly and aloud, combing the twenty-four pages diligently, proudly. Sent the well-stroked draft to several beloveds from whom I want feedback. Prepared myself wholesome meals. And cleaned the kitchen.

I want to go empty now, because there is nothing more delicious than being rejuvenated. Meditation brings me up close and personal with Awareness. In it, at those still moments when my thoughts run void of their sabotaging power, I shiver in the joy of that Awareness, and all over again, I remember who I really AM.

Beside me, to the left of this laptop, is a sheet of yellow Stuart Hall Executive Steno paper. On it, from a few years back, in my scrawl, is the paragraph:

“When life catapulted me into an accident on Hwy 85, I noticed an influx of joy or inner peace that thrust me into the position of The Observer with an Awareness that shut down thought. In the peace, I understood that a Higher Presence, a divine power, had taken over.”

To the man on the shoulder of the highway standing outside his work truck, a vehicle I had hit, I was in trouble. Each time my Jag made a revolution, we held the other’s gaze. Inside my car, an Awareness soothed me and tacitly told me not to focus on the oncoming rush-hour traffic. Whispered to me in the language of feeling to turn the wheel to the left and tap the brakes. I was at peace, fully alert, aware of the movie playing out before my eyes. Awareness was in control, and I was along for the ride.

Heaven was in my black Jag. Heaven was in the watching man’s heart, for he told me when I finally stepped out of the car, “I wished I could take your place. I didn’t want anything to happen to you.” Heaven was in the knowing that no one was killed or hurt in that occurrence. Heaven was in the state trooper’s disbelieving eyes, when he asked me to tell him what happened one more time. And Heaven was in my beloved passenger and my enjoyable trip that weekend.

Am heading off to meditate. May you always know that Heaven is not a destination in the clouds. It is wherever you are, within. Meditate. Meditate more. And luxuriate in consciousness…

Love & Light

The Lez Talk Books Tour welcomes Author FIONA ZEDDE

March 13, 2015

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Evening Beloveds,
It is my pleasure to introduce my friend and author extraordinaire, FIONA ZEDDE, as our next scribe on The Lez Talk Books Blog Tour. After reading of her many accolades, if you haven’t had the privilege of reading her work, you will want to visit your favorite online or brick-and-mortar bookstore to savor her stories for yourself.
ENJOY!

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The Nikki Davinci Code: Poetry and erotica: a book review

March 5, 2015

I have been steeped in poetry for some time now. And this is a wonderful place to be, wrapped in the gemstones of distilled language, rhythmic words, elevated and everyday diction and the wonder of sound and sense. Being in this place today, in the silence of a time-out house, with the wind howling like a crazed woman in swirling gray skirts beyond the sliding glass doors to my right, I am doubly enthused, for now I am poised to let these PC keys click in honor of Nikki Davinci’s debut poetry collection, The Nikki Davinci Code: Poetry and erotica.

The Nikki Davinci Code: Poetry and erotica by Nikki Davinci

The Nikki Davinci Code: Poetry and erotica by Nikki Davinci

My pleasure it was to meet Nikki Davinci via my lovely and talented jazz artist friend, Naima Obaitori, on Facebook. There, I discovered the young poet to be beautifully mysterious and sensually delightful as her engaging poetry posted in the Notes section of her Facebook wall. Beguiling, she’d claimed the otherworld beauty of her face, her alluring gaze, that untamed mane, as if her visage were a canvas and it was her divine providence to capture and showcase it in every imaginable light.

I became an instant fan.

When she shared the title of her poetry collection, of course, I found my way to Amazon, and what a fascinating and enthralling read I discovered. If you are a poetry enthusiastic, you will thank me royally for sharing this review, same as you did, if you stopped to partake of Eduardo C. Corral’s work, about which I wrote yesterday. If you aren’t a poetry aficionado, open yourself to the plunge. I promise: Nikki Davinci’s pen is worth the read.

Like her photographs, Nikki Davinci’s work is intoxicating, hauntingly beautiful. I love that she dedicates the writing to LOVE, her favorite four-letter word. And mine, too.

This body of poetry is not for the faint of heart. You must be a lover to part the pages of this well-served meal of a volume with enough poetic dishes to leave you satisfied, though never sated. Once you close its pages or dim the light of your e-reader, you will want more. Nikki has gifted her readers with at least three volumes of poetic pearls in one collection, and based on that alone, it is a treasure, especially since each pearl is more than enough to sink your teeth into.

I read and hummed in awe, read and stared, and read and smiled.

She serenades her reader in truth, sensuality, love, sex, desire, longing, ferocity, temptation and so much more.

Her titles alone were exquisitely lush: “scent of you,” “Traverse hearts,” “Passion–ate,” “Fools Ballad,” “for some men and some women…(thoughts),” “OD on me,” “PickHer up Her,” “Tour me,” “Hard to find a Lady,” “Blues come hit her,” “writings on my back,” “and “Fear and revolution.” As a writer who usually begins with a title in mind or on the page or screen before she begins the dance of writing, I love a great title, and these are only a few, but Nikki shows us she is fertile ground from the title to the final line.

I loved reading what inspired her, along with Love.

In “Strange truths (a poem inspired by strange fruit),” Davinci writes of our people’s history and present in the lines:

“we stay linked up

steady chain imposing,

past disclosing itself…”

She notes our pain is our amulet and that we are stringing ourselves up now. Sadly, “our silence dwells in hollow mouths.” And of all our amazing history as a people, we’ve allowed our imagination to fall to doubt. Like the Southern trees in Billie’s haunting song “bear strange truths not just fruit,” this poet reminds us that “we become our own version of cruel.” We’ve forgotten who we are. In playing the fool on television and in school, sugarcoating pain, we forget. We’ve become smoke circles on the wind, “in a war we were taught not to win/but some of us/still fighting.”

Like the wild curls across her head, Davinci brings it all home to us, the power and mystery in the historical and the erotic, the longing and the belonging, in the midst of love and loving. Her poems paint the sizzling colors in what it means to be considered too young to love by an older lover. She knows the hurt in unrequited love, doubted love. Simultaneously, she welds a wicked pen when crafting what it is to be sure of one’s prowess in love, one’s swag in floodlights for all to see what sensual confidence means. In “Inquiring minds,” she’s direct, her pen clear. “Do you think you’re free baby?” I love the way she invites the lady of her desire to open her eyes, and her mind, to ponder her freedom. ‘Cause, baby, “Think you’re free?” The poem’s narrator invites the charmer to “Take a bite of my mind and don’t let me leak from lip corners.” Here, one aims to elucidate while the other, the charmer, only wants to flash garter, but the narrator doesn’t want to feel like she’s forcing herself “on a woman who’s blind.” Davinci knows her way around the playful, the seducer and the beguiled exceptionally well, proving it time after time, in poem after poem. No playing here: “When I open your lips, I hope their depth matches mine/Cause I’m not a wading pool/You’ll drown while trying to get knee deep/If you can’t answer my question when I ask/Ma/Are you free?”

The range of Love’s emotions are palpable in The Nikki Davinci Code.

This unapologetic poet has lived the lines of the love she culls. An old soul, she writes of love at midnight, with its consuming fires. She crafts sweet love at sunrise, in all of its real and pretentious promises. She understands hunger, craving. The insecurities that Love evokes peer up at you from her lines and stanzas. Under her pen, she is the Queen of Hearts and the rejected, the deserted. The dom, a fierce and formidable whip welder, she understands what it is to submit, to soften, to release control to taste what one desires.

I delight in all that Nikki Davinci brings to poetry and our erotic palates. The colors, in Sapphire blues and blood oranges, the sounds of song, the heat in attraction, the literary allusions, the delicious nuances of touch and taste and the exhilarating tones in her prose. All of it is there, in her work, for your edification.

Nikki Davinci’s prose summons me to a quiet corner, in candlelight or morning light, or even to midnight shadows, where I patiently await the release of her novels and short stories. I know they are coming. Don’t have to text her to know she’s writing. I can read it in “Sunny,” a bit of her prose. I gulp it, and its pungent savoriness is beyond sweet. In the piece, the unnamed narrator has a mind to make her beloved hers. So she crawls to her corner of the earth and kisses the ground…”so you might know I associate you with nature and all other forces.” Never groveling or unsure, this bold one pens her intentions on her beloved’s soul’s innards and hopes she might remember to give back the pen.” I love it! The simplicity. The diction. The depth of feeling. And although the chosen one seems uninterested, undaunted, the narrator pushes on, letting “lips linger. I let them linger like Elizabeth Arden’s white diamonds after an elderly woman walks by.” She marks her. She feels her. Tongue tastes. And she tastes like summer. “I had been waiting all my life to have a woman like the sun, to keep away the rain.” Yes! I understand!

The first poem in this book is “Blow me.”

The poem beckons you, proclaims this poem (this book) is for you. If you let her, the poet will lay you in the sun, brew you, be your nite and your krypto. She will “be the paddle, the boat/And the wind to yo row…” She will give you warrant to make her do some time, and believe me, dear reader, you will slip outside of this thing called Time. The reading will be that divine. We are her Queen of Hearts who dare not “blow her down/Like a house of cards.”

And in the final poem, “Evolution,” Davinci offers up a glimpse of who she is and from winch she has come in the potent words:

“Evolution: A girl who wears her heart on her sleeve growing up into a woman who wears it on her pen. A woman who has learned to completely conceal anything beneath her emotional surface from the world, until she finds someone worth letting in. Even then…A woman who can forgive herself when she let’s in someone who does indeed hurt her. Evolution.”

And this is only the tip of my adoration for poet extraordinaire, Nikki Davinci. Her work can be found on Amazon, in print and on Kindle. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook:

http://Twitter.com/Nikkidavinci

http://Facebook.com/nikkidavinci

Mucho amor a todos! Buenas noches!

I’m Back!

March 4, 2015

Yes, I know. I’ve been on hiatus for so long hiatus may not be the most precise word. Vacation or the British term “holiday” might be better choices! No matter…it is lovely to be back. I remember writing a Facebook post once that essentially read: I’m going away to come again better than I was before. Yes, that’s it. I’m there once more, and I know it’s okay. Still. Perhaps it’s ongoing, actually. Every part of me sings out for repose. A Siren’s song. The older I get, the more I pause to heed it.

Last September, my blue lady, my Dell, slipped to her knees and beeped seven times before fainting and passing away. My heart sank but I woman-ed up. Remember? I blogged about it…somewhere. Anyway, the update is after waiting patiently for five months, my laptop returned with a busted keyboard, a missing delete key and a functioning mouse pad. Despite it all, I was grateful. My blue lady was elderly and heading, faster than I expected, straight to that great PC haven in the sky.

In acceptance, I eventually purchased this Lenovo and a nice Vlogging camera. Who-dee-whooo! You can imagine I’m tickled inside and very much proud of myself. Right about now, I’m reminding Claudia that tomorrow is another day, and if I want to be as fresh as a tulip come tomorrow, I should click the X, close this lid and dance straight into slumber.

Truth be told, my writing/web furlough cloaked me in newness. In a deep-seated appreciation. I see things I didn’t see before or things I was beginning not to want to see anymore. For example, I was questioning myself, “Why blog, Claudia?” I pondered the time it cajoled from my “real” writing, the writing that just might, prayerfully, pay the bills and send me on round-the-world trips into Eat Love Pray print and footage. But now that I am Present, I can answer myself. Hurling myself into a future moment causes pain, mental and physical. Fact is, last time I looked, I wasn’t tossing bills into the air and running under them in glee. I wasn’t packing my luggage—no, someone else wasn’t packing my bags, so that I could broad the jet, along with my traveling crew, as we set off on a New York Times-worthy adventure.

I’m right where I am. Doing what I’m doing, and from this very seat before these singing Lenovo keys, I will write my runway to wherever the next moment will be. Oh yes. The reprieve from writing and the web took me by the hand and walked me back to my prior practice of meditation. After this post, I’m heading to the sofa, where I’ll sit cross legged, thumb to forefinger, eyes closed and meditate, emptying my mind. It’s perspective for me. The more Light and Consciousness I welcome, as I’ve been reminding myself and my Twitter Family, the more I can better breathe in “Wanting for nothing…attracts everything,” as Russell Simmons said on OWN’s Super Soul Sunday, last Sunday. I’m not living in a mindset of lack. I’m remembering to daydream and visualize. Period.

So thank you for continuing to join me on this journey! I appreciate all of us, known and undisclosed, who follow this blog.  You help to make my circle complete. C’mon. You know us writers gotta write. And readers gotta read. And we must learn to bow to reading one another, regardless of our backgrounds and other lines of demarcation. We are one.

Wait. What am I up to?

I’m editing my narrative for my anthology, TO HONOR THE HEART. The English teacher within just won’t allow me to release my words after the fourth or fifth edit. A taskmistress, she demands that I comb and rack, brush and style, flip and dip, and heat and repeat. I don’t mind really. I’m charmed the submissions continue to trickle in. Like I wrote before, it’s a ponderous topic and survivors learn to stand tall, strong and invincible under its yoke, until it is no longer a yoke but a platform.

I’m returning to fiction that has long awaited my loving stroke. Thus I must give it, for it is my “sweet work,” as bell hooks writes, “my right livelihood.” I believe. I believe in me. I believe in the healing essence of words.

Therefore, I leave you mine for now. And the music in my smile. Buenas noches!

Hello all!

Hello all!

Oh, I forgot to share a few Alabama scenes of my trip home recently! Enjoy! They don’t call the state Alabama, the Beautiful for nada!

On the road again...

On the road again…

Passing scenery nearing home, well, right up the road a piece...

Passing scenery nearing home, well, right up the road a piece…

I'm a country girl with a laptop...

I’m a country girl with a laptop…

I'm tickled and gleefully most of the time, and in this pic I am delighted at my new protective style! At my hands, in my shop, in this bathroom called home! :D

I’m tickled and gleefully most of the time, and in this pic I am delighted at my new protective style! At my hands, in my shop, in this bathroom called home! 

In Search of Frida Kahlo

March 3, 2015

Frida Kahlo’s life has beckoned me a for while now. And here she is again.

As I search, I remember. Salma Hayek, una belleza tambien, portrays Frida in the film, FRIDA.

Salma and Frida bear a hauntingly beautiful resemblance.

Salma and Frida bear a hauntingly beautiful resemblance.

I find Kahlo fascinating on so many levels. Her paintings fascinating, most of them self-portraits; her notoriety as a bisexual woman who, as James Baldwin said of himself, “I’ve loved a few men and loved a few women;” her unique beauty with the delicate features and that prominent uni brow gracing her small forehead; her cascading sheets of hair that was often swept up in a top bun; her sacred love of animals and lush plants in her paintings; her freedom with herself and others, her fame as being Mexico’s greatest artist, and these are only a few things that I can think of off extemporaneously—Kahlo was a legend in her own time.

I admire her fearlessness to be herself, in whatever version that manifested itself in, in her heart and head.

Think I’ll search Google for movies that showcase her life. A good start would be to pan Netflix. As I write, I wonder what she’s written. I can imagine a woman living as she lived in a man’s world, doing all the things she did, sans the thought or need of “asking permission,” was the subject of a few pens.

Corral’s poem in my last post drew me to this image of her unique self-portrait that is rather different from all of her other self-portraits. I feel the fire in her pain, love the sass in the her portrayal of the paneled white dress, the these are breasts directness in her posture, the understanding in her shamelessness that breasts and chests ought to be commonplace…so what is the problem? The steel in her back illustrates strength in her vulnerability. The nails her ability to withstand whatever she needs to endure. Her spine may have been broken but never the woman.

If you click the greeting below, you’ll find a site that offers me a starting point for reading about this phenomenal woman. The site unearthed this marvelous quote: “I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best.” Now how can I not admire a woman who painted with these words in her mouth?

Saludos Frida!

Frida Kahlo's self-portrait, The Broken Column (Image found on a Google search)

Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait, The Broken Column
(Image found on a Google search)

Since skipping across Goggle, I’ve read that Frida initially painted herself without the white garment she holds. I’m certain that might have been far too much for some viewers…you know the ones nudity astounds. Between you and me, she should have painted both versions. Now that would’ve been bold, Fridalicious! Nonetheless, the woman is awe inspiring and I’m on my search, intrigued!

SLOW LIGHTNING: A book review

March 3, 2015

Today I read it again, for the “I’ve forgotten the exact number of times,” since the first time I pulled it from its standard yellow mailer. Impressive, la portada del libro boasts a coil of shiny, black serpents, glistening and magical, respected and potent, and sensual and explosive at once…like the unforgettable poems between its dark covers. All over again, I am awed. Humbled. Sorrowful. Joyful. Lightening struck. And lifted.

Below is a picture of Corral reading his work to us, my fellow Lambda Literary Writer’s Retreat fellows and me, in Los Angeles, at the American Jewish University, in August 2014. Quietly unassuming and warm, with a flash of mirth in his gaze, Corral wowed me with his flavorful words, meted and measured, it seemed, effortlessly, as if he’d been crafting poetry from the time he could hold a pen. And me, having always bowed to the spell of skillfully crafted words, written or spoken, I simply had to know of what stardust SLOW LIGHTENING was formed.

Eduardo C. Corral treated us to his hypnotic voice and  the majesty of his award-winning poetry.

Eduardo C. Corral treated us to his hypnotic voice and the majesty of his award-winning poetry.

To read the work is to gift oneself with a poetry-writing workshop. Corral spreads a poetic feast, offering a wide selection of genres. As the eloquently analytic poet Carl Phillips writes in the foreword:  “I love the range here—psychologically, emotionally, but also in terms of mode: narrative, lyric, elegy, homage, the anti-ecphrastic ecphrastic.” Phillips’ last mode rushes me to an online dictionary, just to find the term isn’t among its treasures, but I know that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I pause, inhale, then rely on my ability to make an educated guess. I fathom it could possibly mean a poem of words and phrases that seem disconnected in meaning, although they are quite intricately bound by theme and subject, however dovetailed their first glance. That offered, dear reader, if you are willing to elucidate my understanding, please know you are welcome to comment.

SLOW LIGHTENING nourishes my imagination, my pen, my experiential base.

I love what Corral does with creativity, when he sits to delight in a work of art, as he does in several poems in this shimmering volume, and then allows his imagination to capture what he sees in the shapes, forms, colors and meanings surrounding the work. His words are so vivid, so alive, until I feel as if I can recreate OUR COMPLETION: Oil On Wood: Tino Rodriguez: 1999 without going in search of it on Google. Imbibing the poem, I am the thrashing branches, the sleeping dark, the humorous words written in the margin of a book of Dickinson poems. I admire and adore Corral’s dance between his two languages, Spanish and English, in the same line. He takes dichotomy under his quill and suffuses parts into a sweet wholeness, into oneness. It’s like painting a colorful masterpiece, illuminating for the viewer, mentally as well as visually, the beautiful awe in both languages in one sweep of his plumed brush.

I cannot help myself. Excuse me while I traipse off in search of Frida Kahlo’s painting, The Broken Column. Tell me, how am I not to do so with the power in Corral’s opening stanza burning my imagination:

On a bench, beneath a candle-lit window

whose sheer curtains resemble honey

sliding down a jar, Kahlo lifts her skirts.

There are 1,000 pictures to see. I soak in a few then reread the poem. It takes on more of an enlightened meaning now. In my third eye, I see the lovely Frida, sitting before her easel, La Columna Rota, taking shape before her, even as pain ripples her back, as Corral writes:

Her spine: a pouring of sand

through an hourglass

of blood.”

I am in awe. Corral feels the artist, the gorgeous dynamo. Well beyond merely phrasing the painting, he culls what it is to be the artist crafting her self-portrait different from her other self-portraits, for Frida is alone in the painting, experiencing her perennial pain without her signature monkeys, parrots, cats and foliage. When I return to Corral’s poem, the work invites me back into its numbered stanzas and I am one with Kahlo, making art through pain, searching for the perfect red.

And this is one of the innumerable things an award-winning poet does…sends you spiraling outside of yourself in awe, on the end of melic skill, of a melodic lasso.

His border poems touch me deeply.

In “Border Triptych,” I am Jorge, doing what I must for “fifteen years, six days a week, at half past eight.” I answer the narrator’s questions, watch my bike being defiled, and I remain silent. I am the epitome of calm. Though I do not dishonor the checkpoint station manager, who is on his way out, on retirement, he thinks me a bastard. But I smile and reply, “I smuggle bikes.”

My heart rises, does a couple of flips, when, in the poem’s second section, Sofia heeds her mother’s advice, which she keeps to herself, and joins the others, a group of men and ten women, crossing the Tijuana/San Diego border. The van they are riding in stops on “an isolated road.” Bandits demand the men hit the ground, face down, while the women are raped, at gunpoint. Pero no Sofia. El consejo de su madre la guarda. The rapists have no way of knowing the “reddish brown” stain in her sweaty underwear is gelatin powder. So she is passed over, spit on and slapped.

After I read To A Mojado Who Died Crossing The Desert,” I feel my heart bow. To every soul who ventured the journey across seething sand, ravenously calling “out for more footprints.” I understand how the mirage of a sanctuary in a boulder might have been what my heart might have called out to see under layers and layer of scorching sun. I shake my head, aiming not to imagine being hungry enough to eat a lizard or mouse raw, to survive. To face the leap of a coyote…sometimes “over creosote.” I stop and ponder. What is creosote? I go in search of its meaning to discover it is “a dark brown oil distilled from coal tar and used as a wood preservative.” And I think to myself, maybe Mexicans were using it to ward off coyotes, but being the animals were hungry enough, they chanced the oil spray. Just the mental image saddens me.

There is much to be honored in this esteemed collection, a Yale series of younger poets heavy hitter. I could be here all night, extolling its praises, elucidating the many ways it feeds my writer’s spirit. The poems honor the sensual and the lushness of the sensuous. It culls a fierce picture of the human spirit to survive. It dips its pen into the vibrant paint of the erotic and the filial, and boldly allows us to swan dive into the beauty in how just the concept might terrify the timid. Pause. Think. How else do we learn to love others if we do not learn filial and self-love love, at home, first? Love envelops us and continues to flow from there into the wellsprings of love that we know as romantic, agape, platonic, and friendship, etc.

Corral’s poetry is sharp, soft, heavy, piercing. It is playful, visceral. Mesmerizing. It has garnered a place on my shelf. As I once tweeted, I go to it, like a traveler to water, to run my palm across its varied, velvet, and veritable words, and I am blessed.

Pick it up on Amazon or anywhere books are sold. The POET in you will thank you.

Yale Series of Younger Poets's SLOW LIGHTNING Eduardo C. Corral

Yale Series of Younger Poets’s SLOW LIGHTNING
Eduardo C. Corral

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