Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I like this song. I didn't work on poetry today. I drew. It felt good. I also walked in some fantastic Colorado weather. Life is good. I like this song.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I got some help with the manuscript and am feeling better, but am now thinking about sticking with Seven as a title. I've gone back and forth at least five times now, so we'll just have to wait to see what the title will be.

Luckily, P is going to help me with the table of contents/ section titles program it's in in Word.

I am getting excited about Canto Mundo next month. My mom will be driving to Austin with me and will stay with her good friend Little Lucy. So, she will arrive with me to Canto Mundo!!! Yay!!!

Then after Canto Mundo we will visit my sister in Dallas. So, I'm really looking forward to the trip and the retreat. It was really good last year.

Today I will walk and try to do so mindfully, which is difficult for me. I've enjoyed walking a bit this summer and feel more at peace than I have in a long, long time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I've been working on the table of contents for my second manuscript, tentatively titled THE BREAKING now. I will get some computer help hopefully with this from P tomorrow. He put it in some table of contents program and now pages one to fourteen don't have page numbers anymore. It's been a year since it was put into the program, so who knows what I did. Hopefully I haven't screwed it up or anything. I have been steadily trimming the manuscript and am feeling better about it these days, recognizing the content and aesthetics of trauma may not appeal to some, but I have to write the book the way I wrote it. I will trim some more modifiers, yet part of the wildness in the book, I want to keep. That's the whole point re: breaking, the breaking, the fall etc. One reviewer kind of said the manuscript was a "maverick on a mad run."

It is difficult for me to move on and send it back with some criticism that it's not yet ready, but I have been working on it quite a bit now, so hopefully I can get the help I need with the table of contents and send it to reviewers. I don't mind going through another round of revisions after they look at it.

Ugh. I'm wanting to listen to some Enya and work on newer poems, which I have a lot of now. I have some work still out at various places and so far, the feedback has been good, a lot of ink on rejections and a lot of encouraging comments. I had 3 taken, so hopefully more will be taken. I have a huge batch of newer poems which I would like to start focusing on in regards to revision.

Life is good, better than it has been in years. I feel the manuscript is coming together, and I'm able to identify my own sensibilities matter just as much as those of other people. I tend to be a people pleaser and am wanting to please others with it, but the fact of the matter is, I was a "maverick on a mad run" of sorts when I wrote it. It's not titled The Breaking for nothing.

I am basically enjoying my time to write and revise very much. I am extremely broke ALL THE TIME, but I am finally free from the burden of being an adjunct. My time to heal is here. Some are saying I need to get a book out because where I am in my life, because of where I've been. I think they may have a point, but I am in no real hurry, but there's time to revise with editors.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We were as voiceless children, offered up
for the entitlement of others. We were as mimes,
our faces hidden beneath make-up.
Our hands were the hands of children,
our bodies shocked into adulthood.

When I was a child I prayed to God,
turned to what’s visible,
saints glistening in blue windows,
a priest gathering sins up into the coals.

My father, a figure in the corner,
a sharp headless looming, a disastrous need
I could not name sin.
Easier to forget and forget I did.

Praise the child of Lethe
and this woman now remembering violence.

I want to believe in something miraculous,
but the sea of sky calls me to sobriety.
God wasn’t a figure or a form? God, a summer respite
after the breaking. We can beg for forgiveness,
but we must first forgive our limitations.

Risen to the pink sunrise, the crazy coos of birds,
and the silence of waking, we are as children,
as blooms and flickering stars. Everything a comparison
of wonder. There is justice in the still day—

beauty in the morning light. As a child,
the desert sun set spectacular along hilltops.
Here now in Saratoga Springs comes
a still slow recovery.
The sun glints and tops the pines.

We are at once as the first sunrise,
as the first willows in the wind.
We are the first heron on the stillest lake,
ribbons of moonlight cast along water.


I am posting the above poem because I want to see it in a new light. Somehow, having an actual audience, however small, gets me to revise better. Right now I'm still struggling with revision, though I have trimmed and cut a lot out of the manuscript, I recognize that the subject matter, childhood abuse, death and recovery are difficult to get a grip on. The language of trauma is flat? I am trying and trying to recover, as well as get a grip on the poems. Lots of uncertainty and doubt, lots of fear too. I think I am just going to have to get over it and send the manuscript back to the reviewers soon, so I can receive their feedback. So, here's to a work in progress, slow progress.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Painful to look at

This song is appropriate to how I feel tonight. I feel utterly inept with the manuscript. But today it's over. Tomorrow is another day, but tonight I feel like I can no longer write. It's just a struggle to revise. I am thinking about cutting seven poems out of the manuscript now. I don't have the energy I need to revise them. They are sloppy. It's not only confidence that has exited. I've been encouraged to revise, but the fact of the matter is that I want to start over at the moment. I don't even know if I can ever publish again. I will speak with someone tomorrow about four or five of the poems I am uncomfortable with and see what his opinion is. The manuscript deals with sexual abuse, death of a loved friend, and simply breaking down. There is no real uplift or aha moment as I haven't resolved so much in my own day to day life. The language is flat. The language of trauma is flat. I am trying to dig myself out of this hole. It's hard as it's the same hole I find myself in repeatedly, so how to go around the hole, spend time going in a new direction. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to focus on revising, on the fact that healing comes next. I've sent the manuscript to a talented female reader and maybe her take will be more positive on it. I am seriously struggling with these poems. It's painful to look at them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"You do not even have to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, remain still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you unasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet." Kafka from Ted Kooser's The Poetry Home Repair Manual.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My poem, "Elegy for Narcissus" was just accepted by the Valparaiso Poetry Review!

Yipee. That makes three, and what's really good is that this poem is from the manuscript, so that helps a lot with confidence since of late it's been drained.

Tonight I will wash clothes and get back to revising some poems.

I walked about a mile today, and my foot is now sore. Boy, do I need to keep walking. I am starting to feel my age these days. So hopefully long walks through a nearby park will have me writing a few good lines. It's a great way to meditate and to feel better about life. Lots of robins and squirrels, one big white rat (as earlier relayed), rabbits and tons of crickets and bugs buzzing all over the place. It's fantastic.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's indeed raining a lot in Denver, and this song is apt for a lot of regret I have about a lot of things, but all we can do is keep on living and try our best not to make the same mistakes.

I attended a great workshop today and hope to get motivated to revise the manuscript tonight. I have a goal now of revising a poem a day. I can do two, but I grow weary of doing too much too fast. I need to drop a lot of modifiers and am wracking my brain about whether or not I've cut too much out too. I need to find a lot of modifiers and cut them out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Just started reading a little book called AS A MAN THINKETH by James Allen. I really am enjoying it, but questioning some of it, particularly an example of a man he gives as an example of poverty or moreso a man's reaction to it.

In any case, here's the foreward

This little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to simulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that-- They themselves are makers of themselves by virtue of thoughts, which they choose and encourage; that mind is the master weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness.-- James Allen

He compares the mind to a garden which we must weed and keep up and tend. I am really with him up to this point.

Then he writes, "Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound." ...He gives an example of a poor man who shirks his work. This is where I have some questions, but I of course will need to continue reading as I value what is written here.


Here's a video on Post Traumatic Stress, which is one reason I tend to question such thinking.

It seems that certain mental illnesses where one needs medication or severe trauma where one's life is threatened or even economic disparities etc. lead me to disagree with the example of the poor man being "lazy." This type of thinking pervades our society. Am I simply being guilty of being a bleeding heart liberal? I don't think so. I think all sorts of factors weigh in on how the mind works and how we can change our thinking. Not so easy! Especially if one is dealing with a bad deck of circumstances. The mountain to scale is much higher. Is this simply a victim mentality? In any case, I will finish the book and see where it takes me.

I'll read further into what he says about circumstances, but the one statement bothers me. I of course think that we are essentially what we think, but the whole thing is vastly more complicated in light of mental illness and simply bad circumstances.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Well, it looks like I'll be staying with the manuscript for a while. It's just not ready. :( Hopefully, I can enjoy revising and improving it. I guess working on an acknowledgement page was a bit premature. I will call and communicate, but I simply can't publish it as is now.

Today it's windy! Hope it dies down before 7pm, so I can go for a walk.

I've been journaling a lot but writing less. Tonight I hope to try to write something new as I am really tired of dealing with the manuscript. I will stay away from it for a week or two and then hopefully get back into the revision process. I think I was in a hurry to publish due to comparing myself to others progress, but my pace apparently is slower than I thought. I worked on Pity for 5 years, but I had some of the poems as early as ten years before the book came out. Overall, I was disgusted with po-biz, but I need to spend my time healing and resting right now, so I'll contact someone and let them know it's still in progress. I am overwhelmed in many ways with trying to keep up with others. It will find a home when it's ready, and it's simply not ready. It's been nagging me for some time now, knowing something isn't right, feeling the lines were too flat, maybe listening to too many people too. So, B will blow a gasket when I tell him since I told him I was essentially done. I'm not. I will try to give it a few more months, maybe two to six more months of revision. I don't know.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

I am working on my acknowledgements page. Here it is so far. I am sure I have forgotten someone.



I would like to thank the following journals where some of these poems have appeared or will appear, sometimes in different forms:

Bordersenses: “Brandy Down Our Throats Like Fire”
CopperNickel: “He wants a poem”
Huizache: “La Chingada,” “Three,” and “For the Fire Happy Boss at the 7-11 on Ralston and Wadsworth in what surely is the middle of hell: Arvada, Colorado”
The Wisconsin Review: “Border”
Bridges: A Feminist Journal: “Gall Bladder”
Feminist Studies: “Chico’s Tacos”
Many Mountains Moving: This is the Wintry Season,” and “The Flowers Coming Soon”
Margie: “Coming Home” and “Born in the Southwest”
American Literary Review: “Mortar”
Eleventh Muse: Nada
Ensemble Jourine: Hybrid Writing by Women: “Kitchen of Grief”
Standards: The International Journal of Multicultural Studies: “Lubbock, Texas 1981”
Women’s Studies Quarterly: “Beginning and Ending”

I would also like to thank a number of residencies, which afforded me time to write and focus wholly on the manuscript: Ragdale, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Anderson Center. I would like to thank Letras Latinas and the Guild Complex for supporting residencies at Yaddo and the Anderson Center. I would like to thank Sandra Cisneros for the Alfredo del Moral Foundation Award which provided much needed financial support.

I would also like to thank the following individuals for their help and support with the manuscript and/or my development as a poet: Wendy Albiatti, Sharon Michael, Eduardo C. Corral, Bryan Roth, Lew Forrester, Suzanne Friskhorn , Kristin Buckles, Leslie Ullman, Benjamin Saenz, Bruce Bond, Paul Gutierrez, Christine Granados, Carmen Seda and Dagoberto Gilb.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A big rat, manuscript notes, po-biz frank talk, and adjuncting your way to death

Geez. My roomate and I just saw a gigantic rat outside the apartment. It got mad at us and started shaking the bushes! It was huge and white.

On a more serious note, I called someone who said to call tomorrow about the manuscript. I went to workshop today and got a lot of good feedback on "The Damselfly." A couple of poems in the manuscript deal with damselflies and dragonflies. Feeling kind of confused about what to do with the manuscript, so I think I'll put of deciding what to do with it for a few days. It was recommended for publication by three readers with editing, so I have been revising since November and am concerned I am taking way too long with it. Wondering if this press reads over the summer. Oh yes, I can call. What an idea.


I made some jokes about PTSD and maybe shouldn't have. In any case, my poetry life is quite dull-- revision and more revision. No circle of gifts to give other than words and reading other people's books and doing the occasional review over a book I enjoy. I am disappointed in myself these last few years, as I was overwhelmed with being an adjunct. When I say it nearly killed me, I am not joking. Overall, I don't recommend earning an M.F.A. but more so the PhD is something I will caution anyone in pursuing, unless they plan on attending a top notch school, and I'll say poetry may be the same way. I mean the M.F.A. in poetry. I think the decks are stacked with students of various programs earning the dough. I also think my first book was a true disaster. I didn't realize it would get so little attention all the while self-serving individuals touted their reputations as being "generous" when they were utterly selfish. But we are all learning in this I suppose. It seems this second collection has been daunting. I was too angry, and that anger comes from wounds which are no joke.

I can forgive. I am trying my best to get better.

I have had very different reactions to the second manuscript as a whole. Some like it better than Pity and others don't seem to like it as much. It is different. I think the book was overshadowed by male Latino writers who were avid self marketers and I grew disillusioned at what appeared to be very gendered margins, with the women on the outside. Then it appeared women who were supported more than I was even though I had thought I won some prize, but in the end the Poetry Foundation created a page for me for which I am thankful,but in some ways I am concerned they have their heads up their asses.


I am at peace applying for disability and have come to the conclusion that it affords me time to rest and heal. I don't care if people don't understand. The phrase, "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" comes to my mind, and I understand that sentiment, but I think we cannot really put ourselves in others' shoes or traumas or illnesses. All I know is that some things online are public and prove later to be embarrassing, but I feel blessed now that I have a chance to breathe, to read and to write. Being an adjunct is simply terrible. When I was at U.T.E.P. a fairly young man needed a heart transplant. He didn't get one. He wasn't afforded health insurance. He died. I wonder how many other adjunct English instructors across the country are succumbing to such illnesses. This is why I am applying for disability. I need medical care which I cannot afford without health insurance. It's a sad testament maybe to my own deficiencies which are many, but also a sad testament to the current situation in which many adjunct instructors find themselves. I really think something needs to be done down the line, but it is all supply/demand I suppose, but those tenured profs are often unaware at the absurdity of their salaries being three times the size of those of adjuncts. I'm not saying anything new. The Chronicle of Higher Education runs stories about this all the time, but nothing is changing, and I'm jumping that sinking ship if you know what I mean.


Friday, May 06, 2011

Going to the workshop tomorrow. Went to another poetry group the other night, which was nice. I realize I've been through some real war-style poetry workshops years ago. Glad that's over.

"Life is strange. If you love something let it go, if it comes back to you it was yours, if it doesn't it never was." --?

Thinking about that quote tonight, trying not to worry, to just enjoy the moment. But love sure is a bitch.

Will workshop a poem called "The Damselfly" in the workshop if there's time. Eager to write some new poems this summer and to spend time revising older work.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Almost finished with the manuscript. A few days?

Almost finished with the manuscript. I think I need a few days, a few comments and then I'm going to send it back, since I can always further revise if necessary. It's time. I'm ready to move on to another project.

Monday, May 02, 2011

This song makes me smile. I am getting ready to pay, oh pay taxes. I've been reading an issue of Poetry Sept. 2010 and finding the poems witty. I think my poems need more wit, or at least think it's interesting to readers who are not poets. But I dislike hard judgment in poems, though I am guilty of the same thing in poems. Drinking chai getting ready to write the first of many monthly checks which will possibly kill me :(

I'm also still reading THE SHIPPING NEWS by Annie Proulx and the jury is still in session on that one, though I do find it interesting as this guy is a loser and feels himself a loser, or at least the narrator does. I can relate to the character so far, feeling somewhat defective and learning only this year it's a result of PTSD.

My friend and I yesterday were laughing at PTTSD, post teaching traumatic stress disorder!!! hahaha

I guess a lot of people are grading right now, and I can only report that I am still recovering from PTTSD.

Went ahead and added two poems to the manuscript tonight. One poem I previously added "She came as dragonflies in death over the pines in a dream," may go. I've since streamlined the poem somewhat, but it's difficult to make sense of it in terms of what the hell is it about. I'm dumbfounded by my feelings over the second manuscript still titled Seven with Latin section titles much to the chagrin of some people, but I will go with the advice of someone who just won a major prize over them. Sorry B. I am just blathering here in the middle of the night/early morning to try to figure out what to do with the damn thing. I want to mail it off to be done with it. I can't seem to cut out one poem which bothers me, but no criticism was really made of the poem, and so in the end we have to rely on our own gut and sensibility. This thing is driving me mad. So next step is to really take a look at "Ouray's Eyes" and decide if it should go. I am crazy staying up late lately trying to avoid it and then trying to fix it. The people who say just send it in want me to start anew fresh with a new project since the writing of this thing occurred with I had a severe episode which left me with one lost friend, it was more than a buildingsroman story arc, more of a madhouse where the chairs smell of piss and the chairs are all made of plastic without cushions as if that could calm down some one's sense of fear. So cutting the poem has value, but maybe the piece can be fixed with streamlining it.

* THOUGHT BLOCK TO calm racing thoughts
I don't know what to do with Ouray's Eyes, it's a photograph poem about an Indian Chief who interacted with the army to try to save his people, to keep them alive meant feigning, pretending if you will and surely this poem can be a better poem if I just work it out somehow.