100,000 Poets for Change Santa Maria Valley

A gathering of poets celebrating and promoting social, environmental and political change through the arts and creating a safe space for expression .
Eduardo C. Corral
Blessed our 2016 100,000 Poets for Change Event
Poetry is one way to bridge the distance between us. It allows us to enter thoughts and experiences that are different from ours. It sparks empathy and compassion. We're surrounded by poetry. A single word can be a poem. Your name is a poem. So is the name of the person who disagrees with you. Let's pledge to work harder to comfort those in need, to extend a hand to those who disagree with us. Let's move through the world singing each other's names.

To a Mojado Who Died Crossing the Desert

After a storm saguaros glisten
                               like mint trombones.
           Sometimes a coyote leaps
over creosote.
The sand calls out for more footprints.
                               A crack in a boulder
can never be an entrance
                                        to a cathedral
but a mouse can be torn open
                               like an orange.
           The arroyo is the color of rust.
                               Sometimes a gust of snow
floats across the water
                     as gracefully as a bride.
Blessed our 2015 100,000 Poets for Change Event
In this moment of fracture in our country and our world, when people seem apt to allow difference to be a wedge rather than a source of strength, I am inspired by your willingness to stand up and stand together. As Sam Cooke told us in song, "a change has gotta come." And I take heart that, for all the strife and violence of the past several years, gatherings such as yours will make that a positive, humane change.
Listen to his poem of blessing here:
Chorus of X, the Rescuers' Mark
Blessed our 2014 100,000 Poets for Change Event

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
for the 43 members of
Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees
Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant,
who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye, 
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo, 
the harbor of pirates centuries ago. 
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle 
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea. 
Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap 
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane 
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua, 
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes. 
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked 
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza. 

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up, 
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium. 
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen 
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations: 
Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana, 
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh. 
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,  
where the gas burned blue on every stove 
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers, 
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs 
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans. 
Alabanza. Praise the busboy's music, the chime-chime 
of his dishes and silverware in the tub. 
Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher 
who worked that morning because another dishwasher 
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime 
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family 
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.

Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza. 

After the thunder wilder than thunder, 
after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows, 
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs, 
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen, 
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo, 
like a cook's soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us 
about the bristles of God's beard because God has no face, 
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations 
across the night sky of this city and cities to come. 
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have.
from Alabanza: New & Selected Poems