Weltschmerzed, Eyedrum Periodically, July 2013
It is May, and cold in Baltimore. I am eleven years old.
My mother has just given the toss to my savings of colorful M & Ms.
If it is not raining, I take my bike out and spend hours
high in the branches of the cherry tree at the Vanderbilt plantation down the road,
reading. The woods behind our house where I cut my own paths
through webs of sodden leaves,
playing Lewis and Clark, carrying both sides of their conversation,
is a half-mile green swath with a cut-through creek
between new white housing developments and an island grid
of black neighborhood with its own elementary school,
its own library, its own gas station.
One road leads into it, over a bridge I am not allowed to cross,
but a turn of handle bars carries me just a block or two
before I discover clustered flat-roof houses on a lattice of dead ends.
The creek wanders down hill to a shallow pool, stagnant in summer and stinking
of skunk cabbage, but, in May, I fill a mayonnaise jar with tadpoles.
The jar stands in the kitchen window and I hover there,
useless, until my mother shoos me outdoors, out of the way.
When slivers of tadpole tail
appear at the bubbled edges of the water,
she dumps the paddling, grayish mess into the yard,
never mind that futile, minute struggle of diminutive legs in the grass,
my ineffectual tears, the impossibility of rescue.
“The Stage as Battleground: Opera, Ballet and Gender Politics in the Age of Giselle,” Journal for the Colloquium on the Revolutionary Era, 2009-2010 edition, February 2013
The Stage as Battleground: Opera, Ballet and Gender Politics in the Age of Giselle
Since the 1842 split of opera from ballet with the production of Giselle, audiences have observed a multi-faceted and successful revolution in the staging, design and aesthetics of story dance. In terms of the persistent theme of heterosexual politics, however, opera and dance continue to validate obvious and cumbersome stereotypes. In the 19th century, audiences attended the opera house in order to see two types of works, opera and ballet, which were not yet fundamentally different from one another. (more…)
Disjointing, Pyrokinection, November 11, 2012
During a hiding
game at a back-yard barbeque party,
the summer of my twelfth birthday,
my father and his professor friends
load up on burgers and martinis.
All the neighborhood children are here,
anyone who will play.
They hide themselves under bushes, behind trash cans,
narrow the lines of their shoulders into doorframes
as the darkness grows opaque and the adult laughter rises,
soaring with drink and daring.
I find a hiding spot in short grass and lie down in it,
invisible, glad to see my companions vanish into connecting yards,
hear their voices grow more faint as they call my name
less often. I flatten my body against the planet,
spread my arms wide, feel it arc under my hands,
hang suspended in gravity, empty,
neither up nor down, a speck of dust in encompassing stars,
a theory of consciousness insubstantial as an atom.
I am nothing. Then I open my head and take in the ballooning universe.
Comprehending all, I am all,
sufficient in myself.
Now, at forty-eight, humbled by this lesson that so long ago
I taught myself, I lie awake in insomniac hours
examining my neglect of its message
for specters of petty yearnings.
Desire, my oldest enemy, closes in,
flattening my vision.
A collapsing telescope, it focuses ever less acutely
on the fractures in my lazy and feeble history.
The night after my father’s party I dream the moon is falling.
A radio program tracks its progress loudly as our teachers
herd us toward the bomb shelters.
I duck through queues of children.
I must find my father although I understand
I will not reach him and it does not matter.
The moon plasters the night sky, its landscape pocked
and craggy with experience.
I lie down in a patch of grass to wait out the voice of the newscaster.
It counts seconds one by one until impact.
The truth is no search will bring you closer,
no logic nor patience, no tears.
The decision, as nearly always, is a moral one:
to consent to the terrible and wondrous
laws of leave-taking.
The Proxy, Pyrokinection, August 7, 2012
You hang, head down, a fiend’s joke
dangling in a cave.
Our words fill the hollows with lightning, rain,
bat clicks. When you bite into my ribs,
drums echo against the banks of the river.
I clap together this numbskull’s grin
and swallow the dank air to keep from
those wild, yellow curls are lost to me.
You wait, smelling, almost hearing
blood, this damp earth where I bend over.
Triptych, Bluestem Magazine, March 2012
Panel One: The Spider Paintings
Either way, we die, my love.
If I were a painter like Albrecht Durer, or even Andrew Wyeth,
my brush a gentle remove, unlike clumsy hearts and bodies,
I would center my composition upon your injured eye:
the milky blue iris cast up and to the left
in permanent contemplation of some distant paradigm.
I would linger long upon that insurrection of bound blond curls,
the lean, graceful lines, like a dancer’s,
of neck, chest, pelvis. Then I would work the other eye, capturing if I could
its mystery, its static concentration, its humor: white moths fluttering in green sunlight.
I would do a series of paintings: you
hunching over your monster comics,
examining the black widow lodged under my mailbox with babies on her back
or pushing a mower – back and forth across my lawn.
It’s the way I would love you if I could affect the necessary distance.
My public would call it my Spider Period:
no private showing but a parade
of the heart-stopping beauty I see.
Panel Two: In the Gallery
They are nearly the same height, both slim, graceful people, wandering together
barely touching among the mounted photographs, a gallery show of all invertebrates.
Some, like the spiders, are deliberately beautiful. Others – tangles of tapeworms, maggots
swimming in rice – even given the cool remove of the lens – designed to repel.
He tells her about the animals, and she him the color, the light, the symbol,
but their tilt toward one another of mouths and pelvises is the story.
The props of reason are the lines at the corners of her eyes
separating them by decades, the student ID he carries in a back pocket,
the bonds of expensive rings strangling her left hand.
At home, she remembers his face, the distinct eyes, as she stands naked
before the mirror. Shadows hide the flaws of her body
and for a moment she can believe she is still beautiful.
She leans toward the glass, looks into her own eyes and whispers,
“Leave that man alone.”
Panel Three: There Be Monsters
But perhaps the story ends another way.
“Only if one of us were a wildebeest could we be breaking more taboos,” she jokes –
a failed blind, for they must cross without artifice, hearts and bodies trembling,
from the known world into this strange landscape.
In his bed among the trees the universe tilts on its weird axis,
and when they drift into sleep gray moths alight in their mingled hair,
larvae trace the lines of their closed eyes
and spiders emerge. They creep in and out of the mouths of the lovers,
their black abdomens lit with showers of stars,
while worms explore beneath the skin, visible descriptions of back and forth slithering.
“AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega Welcomes Obstacles,” Hispanic Magazine, October/November 2009
“Obstacles Welcome: An Interview with AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega,” PODER. October 2009
Challenges in business and life? To Ralph de la Vega, they’re just “opportunities in disguise.”
Part 1 — De la Vega’s story
Part 2 — De la Vega’s story
Power Breakfast Series – Ralph de la Vega
AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets CEO Ralph de la Vega believes in the American Dream. A Cuban native, he came to the U.S. alone at the age of 10, struggled and prospered, and now has written an inspirational book, Obstacles Welcome, about his formula for success. “America is still the land of opportunity,” he told PODER in an interview. “Mine is a universal story about how immigrants can succeed in this great country. That is our history. That is our heritage.” (more…)
“DANCING IN SECRET; NATIVE AMERICA’S CULTURAL SURVIVAL,” Ballet-Tanz, April 2007
It is a balmy October afternoon in south Florida, and I am driving toward the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation to meet members of Native Nations Dance Theatre. I can hardly believe this country road is a mere 80 miles west of the ugly billboard-burdened landscape of Ft. Lauderdale. The air is fresh. I’ve seen more than a dozen species of birds, and marsh grass punctuated with small copses of trees extends in all directions. (more…)