The First Steps

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Written upon the Lunar Eclipse

the moon

--blood, spinal tissue, hearing –

Suspended above the large, irregularly shaped black domes

by cat string

---- sliding back and forth –

amazed and glorious -- red as fire

on--sight --- targeted

swollen with

temperature and height

a stone searing and tearing


Max Wolf Valerio
Oct. 28-2004

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Instruction to the Horned Eater and Watcher ---------- Courage

so instructions are given and forgiven and forgotten

ice breaks --- hot ash -- the window -- rampant

above Scorpio -- an eclipse tastes --


above the waterline

feelings struggle for eminent domain

positron idyll

quasi-horse faces droop

I am forgiven and forgiven --


cat body


musical --

without support in a world where time is meaningless

without words to

make holy or spectral

the exact position of the sun above

our lifting ---the weight up to the sky

-- a shifting answer

--- the voice of the angel

trumpeting on down

a guitar boom tripe sound

the rest of the blues

played out to sight

tuning to crossroads

on the dirt road palace

road to straight-up whiskey town

bending over from the weight

magnetic and purple

hoarse voices in the dark

wet moans that silence


the ghost

the hand

the tree

the coming

the tracing

the oral fixation






egun gun gun eggun egboni boni boon bune egun boni ignoble ghonboni

boom a trapeze assumes

flexibility and flight claustrophobic in the night --

empty sound swinging round slipping off the wire walker

slip slip slip slip

the entropy

in a long drop

vanishing --

when you name -- ---spin and --gyrates over bone

trombones bone

yards of fat sleek wet bones rising to --

vehicles filling with

heavenly blue faces drifting -- the silent


drift -- as machines pound at

flesh bar light rages drinks

fly rapid

over the dark outside

fists and drums exchange voices --

Travel --on the dirt road out to the dark black

ringed with white light --

keep traveling in the night

quiet in the car bobcat faces are

out there

the snake chews the


the smaller visionary elements

keep themselves cloaked in red deer masks --
--looking for the white and tiny forces bound up in a roving voice

listening to the distinction that hoods

the long beaked singers

everywhere we look we can hear their hard voices

and the rocks sing
and the water is limp where the moon is scratching her face

in the trapezoid kidney box --

what was once imaginary is now


and what cannot be described is

now without boundaries

the old man is turning into a wild

breaking voice

sqawking out of a summer box

* Napi -- with a driver's license

and a switchblade in his headdress straight up Eagle feathers --

Dog Society

warrior -- limber and silent as a knife slipping under the skin

on fire howling

at the eyes two adjusted -- smoke and raw night meat

fire warrior the tightening --

flames silence your dread and open up courage --

go and leap in and eat ---- don't let them make

you know any less than the entire shimmering number ---count them

all -

count them

all count them now holy -- keep

track and

watch ---

Max Wolf Valerio

May 5 - 2004 - 12:44 am - First Draft --- * "Napi" is Old Man in Blackfoot a trickster -- second draft - Oct. 24 - 2004

note: again these line breaks are not accurate, but -they have to do for now. The complete left justification is inaccurate, yet adequate with dashes added.

Judges of War
Max Wolf Valerio
Written - June 7 - 1998

in the house of

the lamps are
lit with

girls play on

the boys eat rock candy and
play at bombing
enemy villages

the satellites tip in
the evening
unseen from the ground
and suck up sounds from
primal fires

the lights of disaster are in our eyes
swelling out of proportion to the lies

unable to cope or
to cry out or
to understand
the order in which the names
are called

from the rotunda of noiseless walking
tapping and tapping

the cane and the blind man with a mark
he has eaten and is digesting

the X. broken into
0s and 1s - seditious
and stealthy unfurling over a panel of spangling
stars -

the night sky flaming
lines perpendicular to
the alignment of tombs

gray balloons
and oval drums

Oz and anti -
strikes at
-- balances

the judges are watching
from lines we spackled to

tubes and
spheres motionless
over our heads

arcs and orbs -

enterprises shift to

and we aren’t
anything to hide
our knowing or
-- knowing

- Max Wolf Valerio - June 7- 98

Thursday, October 14, 2004

For Gloria Anzaldua –My friend and Mentor--

In the late seventies, when I was 21, I read a poem about the Wind in Dolores Park at a group reading. That afternoon, I met Gloria Anzaldua. Although she was also protected by Yemeya, who is the ocean and the mother, Gloria had many of the qualities of Oya -- who manifests as wind. Like Oya, she was a warrior, and a fearless revolutionary -- a revolutionary of ideas and images who was able to bring these into immediate, vivid life for people all over the world through her writing, her activism, and her pioneering work as an editor of anthologies. That afternoon, she smiled at me from across the crowd, I can still remember. She approached me and asked if I was Chicano, she could tell by my Indian eyes she said. We began a friendship then, that was about writing and spirituality. She read my tarot cards and did my numbers -- I believe we were both 24. Gloria was then ( I believe) only embarking on the journey of writing that would make her a renowned and major thinker about feminism, people of color, queer people, and the world of thresholds and borders. I watched her begin the work on This Bridge Called My Back and was honored to take part. I wasn't the essayist I am today, and she painstakingly edited a slew of papers I presented her with into a coherent, if scattered essay. It's no exaggeration that she helped put me on the map as an essayist. She brought me to that doorway and with what I regarded as an uncanny confidence in my abilities, and in the importance of what I had to say – pushed me through. Although feeling gangly, unsure, unformed and – conflicted about what it was I had to say -- I was able to begin. To participate, through that initial essay in the first Bridge, — in feminist theory, for the first time, to have a voice and to have it heard and recognized— I will forever be grateful.

The importance of that first Bridge, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color – cannot be overstated. In 1981, I read, with many of the other writers, to a large, overflowing crowd, of hundreds – as I remember, at La Pena – we read with distinct voices from that anthology. It was a compendium of first voices, raw yet honed with crucial integrity – the women of color who were part of that first effort – made contributions that reverberate to this day. They were historical, and if not for Gloria, possibly, many would not have been heard.

Gloria understood bridges, thresholds, borders – ambiguity, and the power that is inherent in ambiguity. Before I completely intuited that the threshold was also the place where I have always lived, the perilous tightrope between worlds that I will never NOT inhabit – she was completely conscious of the power of being in two or more worlds at once. Of * being * the bridge, the threshold – of containing all of those forces inside, those myths…

In 2000, I began another essay for the second Bridge, This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation_ and was able in that article to express my most closely held feelings and thoughts regarding transsexual identity, masculinity, queer theory both in practice and influence, and the emerging transgender movement. Gloria provided a forum for that voice, which is -- a controversial, even violently contested voice – and this act alone – is a testimony to her diligence and courage. I have often been afraid to read from that essay in public, yet I knew, that Gloria could handle it’s intensity and it’s unrelenting complexity. It is not an accident it was delivered to her hands, and at her request.

Gloria Anzaldua was more than an inspiration, she was a tireless worker for a complete re-envisioning of the human spirit and capacity. She lived on that threshold, that bridge. The second bridge was painful to birth as it was very controversial. She and her co-editor AnaLouise Keating invited men (both trans and non-trans) to participate, as well as white people. This was a bold and brave act. Indicative of her ability to see ahead and to create connection, communication, movement. This decision created more than a little controversy, even among some of the writers in the anthology, who were upset by the inclusion of non-female and of white voices – many felt that the original Bridge was a kind of sacred text, and that this inclusion was a desecration. But the sacred is not inviolable, and – it is actually the task of the sacred technician, who can be a writer – not only to heal and sweeten – but to tear a part and to rend – to create new visions from competing and conflicting ideas and experiences – to eat from and celebrate the charnel ground –to sacrifice – and at the completion of that sacrifice to renew. I've said it before; but it's true. Gloria really had a fearless vision for feminism. She wanted it to expand and become more... That's why she did the first Bridge and the second. She wasn't afraid of controversy. Her vision and self continued to become larger, and truly more "inclusive" with the years. She took risks. If only, there were more like her.

She could combine the "spiritual" and the political. Her writing was visceral and full of images that reverberate, that can be seen, heard and touched. She re-imagined sacred images and traditional Chicano/Aztec stories and religious forces –gods/goddesses. They felt near and alive – when she wrote about them, contemporary and able to bring us into the future. She was poetic and theoretical, and an activist. Visionary, a word that I deeply honor, is really the correct term.

I'm not as young as I was then - that day in Dolores Park when I met her, and I realize, with her passing, that there is a lot of work for me to do. There is a great deal of work for us all to do. Now, as the reactionary forces in this country and around the world, tighten around us – and a bland and corporate “individualism” is advertised and promoted as though it’s the real thing, now that risk – an active engagement with life that risks death, that risks not knowing or controlling -- is something increasingly avoided at all costs, in favor of safety, of assurance– and now as a religious fundamentalism so crushing and airless – lifeless -- rigid – is beginning to blanket the world – and this country –we really, all of us, really have work to do. We really have dreaming to do – seeing. Not only political activism – (which is very important of course) but the work to keep alive the inner eye, that visionary aspect of the self, that Gloria honored so much, and that she was in deep contact with. The visionary who is connected to myth, and to vital forces -- forces unable to be contained or understood in any simple formula. The visionary -- elemental, and primordial, that consumes and expands; which is, the source of vitality and human potency. The visionary that demands risk, and is aware that annihilation and an unforgiving, ruthless engagement with all of our dreams and potentialities -- is actually the steep cost of transformation and renewal… This visionary is what living in the thresholds, being the bridge is about. It is finally a refusal to easy answers-- an authentic openness to the abundance of imagination. It is able to access - Coatlicue, the serpent goddess – lady of the serpent skirt, living inside, and in balance with -- duality and even beyond that—into multiplicity and – the veils that partition many, many worlds.

Gloria’s passing reminds me, that I don't have time to waste. There is no one in this room, who has time to waste. She was and remains a visionary -- and we also must be.