The City I Love is Destroying Itself

Dr. David Romo is my long-time compañero de la lucha as well as my colleague in the arts. He is a writer and musician, and speaks many languages, a true intellectual and artist. I was privileged to be in a band with him in the late 1990s and have great respect for him in all facets of his work. He is a hero, along with other activistas such as Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyla and others. Nicole Antebi, the writer of this interview, has illustrated it with brilliant animated art.

Longreads

Nicole Antebi | Longreads | November 2018 | 18 minutes (4,438 words)

For the past few years I’ve been working on a topographical film titledFred’s Rainbow Bar and Other Stages on the International Border featuring a variety of animation styles along with live-action and archival imagery to interrogate histories, memories, and imaginings of the border landscapes of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, the region where I grew up. During this time I’ve also been following the incredible story of “Paso Del Sur” a watch group in El Paso who have been fighting to save Duranguito, the oldest barrio in El Paso Texas.

At any time of day or night, a group of older residents can be seen patrolling the Duranguito neighborhood in downtown El Paso, Texas, located across the river from downtown Juárez, Mexico. Historian David Dorado Romo is one of several “Paso Del Sur” figureheads who have…

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Speak the Language of the Land includes three of my poems

Speak the Language of the Land is the first of what will be an annual showcase of talented poets, presented by the Lummox Press in conjunction with The LUMMOX Poetry Anthology and the Angela Consolo Mankiewicz Poetry Prize(courtesy of the estate of Angela C. Mankiewicz and her husband, Richard Mankiewicz).

Order your copy here

Summertime rain

         for Oseye

Swing clarinet blinks neon in a foggy afternoon.
Black wings take to the carmine sky. A cry rises
loud enough to be heard on the other side.

Flash of black limbs spread deep into ruddy earth.
Another son dead 50 years before his time. Another
Mama looking hard for some good to find.

A spontaneous wail stretches from the golden gate
to the one made of pearl. Despair travels a highway
that ends in unfriendly waves.

Either way, waters cold or warm still drown the same.
Every mothers’ sun rises on a world black with pain.
Every breath becomes a sob.

Every mothers’ son lucky each day he doesn’t die.
Flesh like Black Palm. Skin like Walnut. 
Every time another son gone

every mother joins in the silent sigh. 
Nothing as cold as a summertime rain.

#####


Cruising the Alameda

After hearing Douglas Kearney’s “Alameda Street”

Down on Alameda, close to Azcarate, a 1955 Bel Aire. A stretch of chrome splits pink from white, ends in fins.
The color of Bazooka, that gum wrapped in a comic,
goofy boy’s face covered by a turtleneck.

A bass beat from a purple T-bird rattles storefront windows.
Good boys pretend to be bad, white cotton shirt over khakis,
almost a uniform. Pack of Lucky Strikes in rolled up sleeve,
sleek groomed hair.

Grandmas cross themselves, not sure if the bad boys just pretend. Intimidated bookkeepers on their way to work lock the car doors. Attracted, but not fast or loose, secretaries check their lipstick,
touch their hair, flash big I-Love-Lucy smiles.

If I Daddy hears me laugh louder than Bobby Fuller on the radio I get, What did your mama tell you before she let you come along, baby? What she always says, I chime, be a little lady. I look down,  imagine white patent leather shoes,

pink flowers on an Easter hat bobbing in time to rock and roll,
scalloped anklets embroidered with tulips. I repent laughing too loud,
still looking at the boys in the corner crowd. Eyes on my tennie shoes,
I hum along with the radio and vow,

When I grow up, I’m going to laugh out loud. When I’m full grown,
I’m going to brag of how I cruised the Alameda in a bubblegum car,
speaking Spanish to Daddy, English to Mama, and Spanglish to friends.
All the time loving the drama of bad, bad boys.

#####

Your smell is a glove

That splash of secret smile, so rare, such sweet victory. That flash caught by fluke in response to something I said  The Cramps blasting up to the open sky, wintry and hot.  The beat takes over my body and the words happen
without premeditation. I need a new wardrobe now.  I still feel the flannel gown I had on 20 minutes ago,
the snuffled tears dried by the desert air of my bedroom.

You move fast, both behind the wheel of a car and walking
through a doorway. Christening my lips with something
both sweet and bitter. I caress my face with speckled
knuckles. Your smell is like a glove.

Review of The Tongue Has Its Secrets in Yellow Chair Review

Review of The Tongue Has Its Secrets reviewed in Yellow Chair Review

The Tongue Has Its Secrets

Donna Snyder

NeoPoiesis Press, 2016

Reviewed by Eric A. Cline

The Tongue Has Its Secrets by Donna Snyder is a poetry volume rife with spirituality, sensuality, mourning, violence, and prayer. The language utilized throughout the books possesses what may be the most important criteria for establishing strong voice in writing: uniqueness glossed in polish. Snyder actualizes her vision for her work through meticulously crafted execution, resulting in the sense that the book’s many words, lines, and stanzas have all been cradled and cared for at length by the artistic mother who birthed them.

 

During my initial reading of the work, the most consistent theme to catch my attention was Snyder’s frequent evocation of the religious. More specifically, Snyder references a myriad of feminine deities, from the Corn Maiden to Athena to Mother Crow. Even when not referencing a specific deity, Snyder envisions God as a woman. One example of this can be found in the poem “Creation Myth,” excerpted below:

          “A fairy whispers in my ear that God

            is a woman at all times being pleasured.

            Out of her pleasure unfolds the world.”

 This union of spirituality and sensuality weaves throughout many of Snyder’s poems. The result is an affirmation of not only the femaleness of God as a concept, but also of the ways human sexual energies can result in something almost like worship. This worship can be of the self, or of others one is attracted to, as in this segment from the poem “Fat beauty:”

            “…Boys slipped

            you grins like magic potions, charms for your altar,

            offerings to the image of la Roseanne.”

 Snyder’s examination of femaleness further extends beyond the divine. In “The Muse of Juárez,” Snyder turns her attention toward violence against women. The poem details the sad phenomenon of femicide through gruesome images of the rape and murder of innocent women in Juárez, Mexico. The poem is one of the volume’s darkest in tone, and rather than try to express humanity’s horrified reaction to the subject matter, Snyder ends the poem with the sounds of blackbirds:

            “The world silent. A dead stone.

 

            Nothing but the sound of blackbirds cawing,

            crying out in grief.”

 

Snyder’s verse cries not only for human victims, but also for animals that have suffered at mankind’s hands as well. The poem “The Sunday news” describes dolphin mutilations and the resultant tears of God. The grief found within this piece and others sharing its theme provide the book with a theme of sorrow and hurt that make the book’s other themes of divinity and holiness through sexuality all the more important. Snyder is not content to simply write about pain without offering alternatives or remedies, and though her work transports the reader to places of great misery, it also reminds them why she has bothered to write at all. “Invoking the muse,” a short poem about the power of language, closes with the following description of a female wordsmith:

            “maker of kings

            caster of spells

            inciter of riots

 

            she who wields the power of words”

 

Donna Snyder wields the power of words, and hers is quite the weapon to behold. I would recommend The Tongue Has Its Secrets to anyone interested in female spirituality, sexuality, struggle, or hope. Though dense with references to gods the reader may not possess immediate knowledge of, the book makes all time spent researching its subject matter worth it for the experience of Snyder’s artistic divinations.

Review of The Tongue Has Its Secrets

Michael R. Wyatt’s review in the El Paso Times

BOOKS

Review: New poetry by Donna Snyder

Michael R. Wyatt, Special to the Times

“The Tongue Has Its Secrets” by Donna Snyder

 

El Paso performance poet and human rights activist Donna Snyder has published a new book of her poetry, “The Tongue Has Its Secrets” (NeoPoiesis Press).

The slender volume holds some very powerful imagery and might be thought of as setting forth Snyder’s ontological theory of poetry. After all, Snyder is a poet, and what is poetry but the deliberate revelation of secrets held by the tongue? And, closer to home, what proof is there that a poet exists, but for this revealed poetry, and what the poetry reveals?

The book contains 57 poems, equally divided between three parts. The first poem, “The tongue has its secrets,” precedes Part 1 and is in the nature of a foreword. In it,  Snyder begins to lay the foundation for the universe she later develops.

Her deity is conceptually female: “Praise Her in five songs.” Her creation myth begins with a thought, which requires the tongue to express it; until told, it is just a secret. And her existence of the self is mouthwateringly sexual: “The spurt of the mother / a creamy desecration of the dark.” And, as is true in most maternalistic ontologies, she expressly acknowledges the cycles of life: “Out of devastation new growth green as a jungle / A verdant blanket.”

To set forth such a vibrant and vivid world-view in a mere 30 lines of text on the first page of her new book demonstrates the power of Snyder’s mental and expressive capacity, as well as the tenacity of her work ethic.Snyder, a lawyer by profession, an activist by inclination and a poet by compulsion, has an extensive list of published work to her credit, including “Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal” (2014 Chimbarazu Press), a lamentation in three parts commemorating the lives, and untimely deaths, of three men central to her life. The three parts of her new book are not as clearly delineated, although one can sense a flowing movement from themes of Nature to Voice to Prayer. Throughout each movement, the Tongue, as a necessary component of the voice that guards the Secrets, and as a sexual organ, provides a constant point of reference.

In the first movement, Snyder introduces the Corn Maiden, one of numerous mother-gods she invokes, and draws out for the reader an explicit connection between Nature, sexuality, and the thoughtful, deliberate act of creation. In “Masa on the tongue,” she writes:

I want to feed on Corn Maiden’s flesh

caramelized in the embrace of mother earth

let it melt on the tongue like agave nectar

rain in the mouth of years to come

Other goddesses featured in this work include Dea Tacita, Ixchel, Mother Crow, Epona and Oshun. The reader may be excused for an occasional Wikipedia break.

This also holds true for Snyder’s references to her non-deified muses, which include various fauna of the Southwest (mariposa, colibri, jaguar, eagle, coyote, deer, bear, serpent); a couple literary lights (Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein); and a deep well of half-hidden languages women have invented to share their secrets in plain sight (Lingua Ignota, Nu Shu poets and the so-called “Venus of Willendorf”). In each case, the poet invokes the muse to give voice to the secrets of the tongue, and thereby creates her world.

Snyder’s keen social awareness also requires her to express alarm. Somebody has killed the muse of Juárez, severed the tongues, silenced the girls, left a dead stone: “Nothing but the sound of blackbirds cawing, / crying out in grief.” And her concern reaches beyond the femicides of Juárez to the planet herself. This collection contains a series of contemplations on the environmental degradation man has wrought, which include “Bitter poison of history denied”; “Earth Day”; “The Sunday news”; and “Agua de mi sierra madre(TM).”

But the poet remains sanguine, both in spirit and flesh tone. In “Struggling with fragile” she expresses her conviction, in a most personal fashion, that spilled blood signifies life to come: “bones of the broken moon turn verdant / flesh and sinew become roaming beasts / spilled blood becomes life. …” The moon “quivers / calls forth the waters to flood and surge / makes the blood rush forth between the legs / the fragile moon / her body broken / her bones and body become life.”

And even though life is but a long wait to die (in “Carmine”), the poet concludes with a prayer (“Supplication”) in which she asks that particular “great and beneficient energy flow” to cleanse her soul, heal and protect her, and restore her vitality.

In the morning, feed me honey with fresh yogurt,

and mint or sage tea at noon.

In the evening, stroke me

with the peacock feathers

of your benevolence.

In the afternoon, love evokes remembrance, and in “Minnow slip of the finger” the artist’s sexuality drips from the page: “humidity sudden in the desert heat / monsoon season of the wet country …,” where “a beard of thorns waits to be trimmed / the ruby flash of tuna / anticipation of eager teeth / dripping sweet.”

In the end, she is prepared to ululate! The reader may be forgiven for discerning a secret meaning from the text, and for allowing the Tongue to suss it out.

Michael R. Wyatt is an assistant El Paso County attorney and has practiced law in El Paso for 28 years.

 

Make plans

What: Poet Donna Snyder will read from “The Tongue Has Its Secrets” during a BorderSenses-sponsored book release event. The event also will include an all-ages open mic.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Rock House Cafe and Gallery, 400 W. Overland.

How much: No cover charge.

Information: Snyder, 328-5484 or donnajosnyder@gmail.com, or Richie D. Marrufo, facebook.com/BWOMS.

 

 

 

My poem Dead Hands published at This is Poetry

This is Poetry
a project of The Literary Underground

theliteraryunderground.org

Dead  hands

Dead  hands

The dead reach out across the desert,
burned like bricks by the enemy sun.
Beyond the corpses,
a litter of bottles emptied of life
makes a trail to the border with its gaudy signs.

Down the highway,
a panel truck hides its contraband behind a locked door.
Inside the odor of bodies warns the night sky
to open its arms to death’s bounty.

The desert stretches,
a merciless sea of boiled blood waiting for the coming sun.

Only the desperate
believe the lies of the coyote.
(Coyote tricked the Holy Ones out of their fire
and gave it to the People along with this scorched earth.)

Somewhere the names of workers are written
like beads between fingers.

Somewhere fields still and quiet
wait for dead hands to harvest poisoned fruit.

 

“Dead hands” was first published in Chrysalis and later in Unlikely Stories 2.0 and Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press)

 

My poem Him all Jack Kerouac and shit published at This is Poetry

This is Poetry

a project of The Literary Underground

http://theliteraryunderground.org/

Him all Jack Kerouac and shit

Him all Jack Kerouac and shit

him all Jack Keroac and shit
his biography an artist’s cliche
oh he told a good anecdote yes
took her to his garrett to see the view
she let him dry her with skin and lips
all happy in the moment he kissed her hair

her all this is only just for now you know
an ephemeral spring so drink up fast
when it ended she hardly noticed lost
so was she in grief for pretty words
mirror shards piled like minnowy regrets
all caught up in the moment she almost knew

“Him all Jack Kerouac and shit” was previously published in I Am South (Virgogray Press).

My poem I am South published at This is Poetry

I am South

I am South

Once there were women who made many kings
by taking their mates
The tacit memory of them inhabits me
like stones left to mark my way
Blood of northern tribes undeniably runs
through my body
My hair is reddish and my skin pale
with caramel flecks
But I am South

Gravity pulled me from north to south
to find some truer self
South is where I learned to swallow
Pablo Neruda like rum
Where time stretches out like a bus trip
in exotic lands
And South is where I both swear and sweat
in Spanish
There is antiquity here everywhere
and I have become part of it
Inscrutable past etched across desertscapes
like ghost buttes
The scattered detritus of other lives lived
and other loves
Effulgent planes and circles circling out
through time and space
like ephemeral water

The humid kiss of desert stones
I am South

 

an earlier version of “I am South” was previously published inI Am South (Virgogray Press).

Interview with Scott Thomas Outlar, Author of “Songs of A Dissident”

Interesting 2016 interview of Scott Thomas Outlar

Geosi Reads

Photo: Scott Thomas Outlar Photo: Scott Thomas Outlar

Brief Biography:

Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa where links to his published poetry and fiction can be found. The site also features a page with an extensive list of links to literary venues, as well as a page dedicated to the work of other contemporary writers and artists. Scott’s chapbook “Songs of A Dissident” will be released in January 2016 through Transcendent Zero Press. His words have appeared recently in venues such as Yellow Chair Review, Dissident Voice, Dead Snakes, Harbinger Asylum, and Section 8 Magazine. He is always happy to connect with new people, so feel free to reach out and contact him on Facebook and Twitter.

Geosi Gyasi: To begin with, I find your obligatory biography quite intriguing. What do you mean by saying you “survived both the primordial fire and the cataclysmic flood”?

Scott Thomas Outlar: I, like everyone else…

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