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Cover art by Roberta Buckles



 






 

 

 

 


Editor's Note

James R. Adair

Twentieth-century philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But, to adapt the words of the Apostle Paul, “How will they learn without someone to teach them?” Enter the historiographer, the writer of history. Long before writing was invented, elders sat around the hearth and told stories of the past: adventures of their ancestors, journeys of their tribe, successes on the hunt. Epic poets composed songs that captured these tales—the Iliad, Beowulf, or The Gilgamesh Epic, for instance—and other poets took up the baton and transmitted and transformed these stories. Eventually purveyors of the written word recorded this material, further adapting it to a prose form: history. This issue of Voices de la Luna celebrates the act of keeping records, recounting, and interpreting history, the practice of historiography.

We start with an interview with a local historian/historiographer, Valerie Martínez, who teaches history at Our Lady of the Lake University, investigates the past, and writes about it. She delves into her research on women and war, the value of ethnic studies in public schools, and that latter-day boogeyman, critical race theory. How do we choose which stories of the past to tell, and how do we tell them? What lesser-known stories deserve remembering?

History doesn’t always deal with events that play out on the national or international stages. Sometimes it’s family history that occurs in the home or the field. Featured poet Juan Palomo draws on his experiences picking sugar beets and cucumbers with his family and traversing boundaries of language, culture, and power in the process. His poems evoke a sense of connection to the past, tinged with feelings of outrage and endurance in the face of injustice.

In keeping with our theme, we reproduce a selection of poems that deal with historical events or people, and Don Mathis explains the four names that have been given to a bridge that crosses San Pedro Creek. We include reviews of two books, one with a broad historical theme, Forget the Alamo, and one whose historical notes are purely personal and familial, Awaken Memories.

Of course we also include our regular features: poems from a variety of poets from near and far, short stories, provocative and beautiful works of art, poems with an environmental emphasis, poems written in the context of poetry therapy sessions, and poems from poetry workshops. We also feature poems in Spanish by Mexican poet Ramiro Rodríguez, translated into English by Larissa Hernandez.

History differs from chronicle in that it tells a story. It doesn’t offer the “truth” but a perspective on events that happened and an interpretation of those events. In that regard, the phrase “revisionist history” has no real meaning: all historiography is revisionist to some extent, unless it’s pure plagiarism. The question is not whether it tells the same story from a different perspective but rather how idiosyncratic the telling is, and whether other qualified historians agree with the interpretation. Historigraphy is subjective, is often political, and can be controversial. That’s why it’s so interesting to read!

 


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Themes for future issues
November 2021: The Nobel Prizes
February 2022: Silent Spring at 60

Current Voices

 

Pepineros

Juan R. Palomo

Their shack is no more than a mile from the shores of Green Lake, yet she finds it hard to ignore the distance between her family and those passing by on the two-lane road. They are a sun-worshiping migratory tribe, she thinks, these visitors from Chicago, Milwaukee, and other distant cities. They travel in chilled cars and spend their days and nights in the cool lake and cooled cabins. Beaming faces, bare heads and arms, skimpy shorts, and shameful swimsuits. She looks at her own clan, picking the rows next to her on the sandy rock-strewn slopes. She is intrigued how one by one they raise their heads, just long enough to catch a covetous glimpse of the occupants in the passing cars. Her children are not about exposure, but about shielding, protection, about long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, and clammy rubber gloves. Their summer playgrounds are these cucumber fields where they fill tin pails then burlap sacks with the waxy green fruit, where their knees scar, their backs bend, and their hands harden. So early in the day and already they are crouching, pants and sleeves soaked from the dew blanketing the prickly broad yellowing leaves. Soon the sun will chase off the moisture, but the sun can do nothing about sharp rocks piercing denim and skin with equal ease as first one knee then the other lands on craggy hills. This can’t be good for them, she thinks. But maybe, maybe it’s better they see and experience. And know. Maybe, like snakes shedding skin, they need to leave their innocence behind to become toughened to the cruelty of a world ruled by other tribes.

 

 

 

The Corvus COVID-19

Mary Jean Ruhnke

 

 

 

Love Letter to the Immigrant

Noelia Cerna

Yes, you. The one holding fragments of an evaporating language beneath your tongue, crossing oceans so your children could break barriers instead of soil To the mother tucking pieces of her native tongue into her children’s backpacks To the father trading Master’s Degrees for chicken plants To the children entering classrooms in a country that does not like natural hair, curls, or color They will call you ugly, try to wrap your identity within a slur, build cages around you, call you illegal, make fun of your accent and skin color Remember when they try to break you how your ancestors carried the same skin tone how you are still beautiful Do not let them steal the language from your throat They will try to convince you that tongues cannot carry two languages, But remember your accents are landmarks, reminders of the homes left behind, Remember every piece of identity you keep is a connection to home and to those that came before. Remember that seeds do not concern themselves with how deeply they’ve been planted they just take root and bloom.

 

 

 

The Funeral

Judith Sanders-Castro

 

 

 

Ode to Darnella Frazier

Justine McCabe

One May Day, you took a very long shot-heard-round-the-world: a witness to torment on a neighborhood street corner. You reached out and grabbed the hands of Ida B., taking her baton to testify to curbside lynching while Public Safety drove to another town. You’ve earned your place in truthory: you deserve more than a monument, more than a medal, much more than this poem. You deserve, at the very least, safety, protection, and undying gratitude that still remains to be paid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d Rather Laugh with the Sinners

Emily Bornstein

I used to think hell meant heat and blazing insanity and some sort of mangy dog with three heads. Turns out, Sheol is more akin to cutting my hair short, sliding bloodred paint over my lips, flashing a blazing smile, and tasting Jazz with the flappers. Heaven, I thought, would be Christmassy and soft like Johnson and Johnson baby soap or whipped cream. God, I figured, would not sit on a throne, but would roam tirelessly catching prayers, bellowing “Go long!” and then chucking them home. I was wrong, though. Heaven is chaste and mothballed. The people there continue to babble hysterically about release and adultery and unholy matrimony and temperance and abortion, and even God wants them to shut up. And so, the line to get into hell is out the door. Priests and rabbis flash fake IDs and the three-headed dog bouncer at the door laughs and blows them endlessly back to heaven.

 

 

 

 


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