Saturday, March 12, 2005

My friend, Coptic poet Mathew Shenoda, has answered a question I asked him more than a year ago. The question has to do with the role of poetry in today’s world. His response is the following:

“The mission of poetry in the world today is first to express the truth, to soothsay and second to take the knowledge of that truth and create a visionary space wherein another world is possible. Poetry is counter-madness”

Mathew has a new book out:

Somewhere Else
Poems by Matthew Shenoda
Introduction by Sonia Sanchez

Rooted in the traditions of the Coptic community, this compelling debut collection widens the political conversation surrounding ethnicity, pan-Africanism, and pan-Arabism.“These papyrus-dipped poems launch the Eastern desert into the ‘Forever-West’ where we all dwell. Listen to Shenoda’s ‘giraffe tongue’ unwind—incantations reclaiming the Coptic earth and its peoples, stories and sufferings, a grandmother and grandfather’s lessons of war, death, rebirth, love and peace. This book holds the keys to our present global predicament—each word is a star in our night.”—Juan Felipe Herrera

“While reading Matthew Shenoda’s Somewhere Else, I become acutely aware of history insisting on the verity of knowledge. History is more than memory. It is hope and experience. And it is the passion of life. And for Shenoda, it is the connection to the Nile of story, song, music, dance, and the power of language between Egypt and America. Great poetry you can dance to!”—Simon Ortiz

“The history of Eg ypt and the Nile River Valley are strikingly evoked in these tightly crafted, most times short, terse poems, with lines full of surprises, as in: ‘I am somewhere/between home & home,’ or ‘in our bodies a rooted history.’ These are strongly political, beautiful and peaceful poems and they constantly remind us: ‘Holy things/Do not die.’ Somewhere Else is a wise, eloquent book.”—Quincy Troupe

Paperback Original
ISBN: 1 -56689 -173 –6
Coffee House Press
List Price $14.00

I can’t wait to get my copy.

Friday, March 11, 2005


When I died
I saw demons
Condemning me
For all my evils
It was excruciating
I also
Sensed the prayers
Of my 4
Year old grandson
Like morphine
They took
The pain away
The devils disappeared
As my daughter’s boy
Down there
On planet earth
Crushed a scorpion
With a rock.


Escucho la voz
De mis niños
Entre el tráfico
Juegan con
Un caracol.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


I considered
How the rifle
Was heavy
On my back
Just like love
Necessary for
For a fruitful

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


When it rains
Radio signals
Travel farthest
Alongside migrating birds
Sensuality stops
For a moment
And television broadcasters
Proclaim death
On the highways.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Jesus Christ
Bless the food
Of your servants
Protect us from
Invisible pesticides
And diabolical hormones
Render useless
The transgenic
Poison in our
Children’s bodies
May the acid rain
Become like
Sweet wine
May sugar
Not be
A drug
And may your blood
Cleanse the
Arteries of
The modern world
For heart attacks
To cease
Together with
The radiation
Of all the
Microwaves in the planet
Make barley flourish
May coca—cola disappear
Cast down
The cell pone towers
Symbols of disease
Obliterate the power lines
That burn the flesh
Of our people
Our cities
Oh Lord
Have become
Shrines of addicts
To created light
May depleted uranium
Be erased from
The food crops
So that every time
We partake of the
Fruits from the earth
We might think of you
In the name
Of the Father
And of the Son
And of the
Holy Spirit

Monday, March 07, 2005


Flies around
The food
Are an omen
Of the madness
From hoarding


It’s time
To go to bed
And the fog
Comes from
The ocean
From the
Capricious Pacific
With its
Underwater earthquakes
Ah the uncertainties
Of middle class TV

Sunday, March 06, 2005


La poesía
Es la única energía
Que puede salvar al mundo.


To Ricardo and Carolina

Watching a school
Of dolphins
While we wait
For our dear friends
Then following them
To their home
In a secluded vineyard
By the countryside
It is drinking wine
With the winemaker
It is eating cheese
And bread
Pondering in the
Inevitable end
Of all things
And being asked
To spend the night
In one of their
Rustic cabins
And I try
To remember
When was the last time
I like this place so much
To no avail
Just faint and uneventful memories
Of fishing boats
And drunken tourists
It’s is not knowing
If this will be the last time
I would see my love ones
It is standing close
To the fire
Because the night
Is getting cold.