ABQ Poets Against War: A Beginning

November 15, 2010

By Thomas Wark

George W. Bush is making the rounds of talk shows peddling his book.

On Tuesday, allergy Bush’s successor will place the Congressional Medal of Honor around the neck of Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, viagra the first living American to receive the nation’s highest award for valor since the Vietnam war.

What webs we weave.

As for Bush’s book, sildenafil I can only endorse a friend’s suggestion that we all go into a local bookstore and move a copy or two from its display shelf to the place where it belongs — the crime section.

I don’t know Sgt. Giunta but I know his grandfather, Bob Judge. Someone had to coin the phrase “as American as apple pie” just to describe Bob Judge.

High school football hero, married a cheerleader. Worked his entire life at the absolutely typical American middle class occupation — barber (just like the father of “Charlie Brown” of the comic strip, “Peanuts.”) Loved baseball, steak, riding horses (in blue jeans across dusty roads next to cornfields and apple groves, not the fancy-pants kind of riding that’s called “equestrian.”)

Bob’s a lung cancer survivor, like me. He wasn’t a smoker. What, I asked, when I called to wish him well, caused the cancer? “The doctors don’t know,” he said. “They’re intrigued to find out. Personally, I think it’s from all the ribs I’ve broken falling off horses in my lifetime.” Tough guy. What would you expect from someone who was an all-conference tackle — on offense and defense — in high school? Guy who lifted weights to stay fit and loved to play “burn out,” and if you didn’t grow up in the midwest half a century ago, that’s a version of “having a catch” where you throw the ball back and forth as hard as you can, trying to make the other fellow’s hand sting like hell when he catches it.

Bob is a lifelong resident of Clinton, Iowa, a town that, like Bob, is apple pie American. His wife, Molly, was the town’s women’s tennis champion in her younger years. Won the tournament on the old high school courts before the high school burned down.

Bob and Molly raised six fine kids, worked hard to educate them. Rosemary, Sgt. Giunta’s mother, is a school teacher in Hiawatha, Iowa, although Salvatore was born when she and Steven still lived in Clinton (1985).

Just over three years ago, in a place in Afghanistan nicknamed “death valley,” Sal Giunta ran through a hail of gunfire to rescue two wounded comrades. One of the men he rescued, Sgt. Joshua Brennan, and another comrade, Spec. Hugo Mendoza, died in the action.

“I didn’t try to be a hero,” Sal told an embedded reporter with his unit. “I ran to the front because Brennan was there. All of my feelings are with my friends. I have sweat more, cried more, bled more in this country than in my own.”

“Death valley’s” real name is Korengal. “These people,” Sal said of the Korengalis, “will never leave this valley. They were here long before I could even fathom an Afghanistan.”

The war George Bush started had been dragging on for seven long years when Salvatore Giunta did the deed that won him the nation’s highest military honor. Now, more than three years later, American forces have withdrawn from the Korengali, but elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan other young Americans continue to sweat, to cry and to bleed.

Brennan. Mendoza. Giunta. Cunningham. Gallardo. Eckrode. None will ever hold high office in this land. But it’s their tears, their sweat, their blood that fuels the wars Bush started.

And it’s the taxes of Bob Judge, Steve Giunta and their children and their children’s children that will pay down, ever so slowly if at all, the enormous monetary debt of these wars, still dragging on in their 11th year.

Somebody paid George Bush $9 million in advance for his book. That’s probably more than the combined lifetime earnings of Bob Judge and Steve Giunta.

But not enough to pay for the tears, the sweat and the blood of Sal Giunta and his comrades in arms. Not even the Medal of Honor can pay that toll.

Read more by Thomas Wark at www.bordellopianist.blogspot.com
The Border Book Festival (BBF) Inc. will hold its first annual Border Bazaar on Saturday and Sunday, shop December 18 and 19h from 10-5:00 p.m. at its home base in Mesilla, implant
New Mexico.  The holiday market will feature art of all types and hundreds of vintage 45, 78 and long-playing records that the BBF acquired in several estate sales.  Original vintage records in both English and Spanish will be for sale.
The Bazaar is free and will take place at the Cultural Center, 2231 Calle de Parian, a block west of the Mesilla Plaza.  Artwork includes posters, photographs, lithographs, drawings, jewelry, Mexican folk art, lobby cards and more.  First edition and out of print books will also be highlighted.  The Cultural Center bookstore specializes in Southwestern, Regional, Borderland, Latino/Chicano, Native American, Spanish language and Bilingual books for children, youth and adults.  It is a unique place that embraces all cultures as family.
The proceeds will benefit the 17th annual Border Book Festival, Vasundhara, which will take place April 8-10, 2011.  Vasundhara literally means “The One Who Holds Us,” and honors Mother Earth/Gaia/Madre Tierra.  Featured festival artists include Sandra Cisneros, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Martín Espada and Cristina García.  The festival will include readings, panels, workshops and the third annual Viva La Vida Musical Concert on the Mesilla Plaza.
Donations for the Border Bazaar are gratefully accepted.  Any and all items are appreciated.  The Festival highlights a yearly school outreach program working with children and youth, community centers and multi-generational audiences.  Most recently the BBF has worked with the Teen Parents Program of the Community Action Agency.

For more information on the upcoming festival or the Border Bazaar, contact
Border Book Festival.
P.O. Drawer T
Mesilla, New Mexico 88046
575-523-3988
bbf@borderbookfestival.com
www.borderbookfestival.org
“And thus does the world begin to change — from a kitchen table conversation.”

ABQ Poets Against War began innocently enough. Three of us sat at the old oak table over a simple meal of pasta with home made pesto. We neighbors had come together to relax on a Friday evening and to enjoy some good conversation. At the table were Demetria and Elaine, sovaldi two poets and Daniel, ed
an Environmental Sociologist. Before long our conversation took an unexpected turn.

All three of us felt the heavy weight of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. It hovered over us like an unwanted dinner guest. Demetria confessed that, tadalafil for the first time, she wept upon seeing pictures of a sea turtle mired in oil. She asked, “Do you think this kind of grief is widespread?” Elaine, and her husband Daniel, answered in the affirmative. At that point Daniel said, “You have to understand, imperfect humans cannot make perfect technology. Accidents, such as oil spills and leaks are the norm. And not only that. Most of the oil from the Gulf of Mexico goes to the military.”

Demetria said, “You’ve gotta’ be kidding!” Elaine, feeling the weight of her own activist history, spoke up, “We need to do something. We have a moral imperative to act, to speak now!”

As it happened, Demetria had just returned from the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences. One of her colleagues at the Center’s annual writing workshop was poet Sam Hamill, founder of the international Poets Against War. With this fresh in mind, Demetria put her fist down upon the table and said emphatically, “Why don’t we start our own ABQ chapter of Poets Against War? We could hold a reading addressing the issues of war and the environment.” Elaine responded without any hesitation, “Of course, let’s do it.” And the three of us said in unison, “Consider it done!”

Ice cream and cookies had to wait as we sat and penned the first draft of our mission statement. And so it began.

We held our Inaugural Reading with a standing room only audience, October 24, 2010 at the Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque. Poets Levi Romero, Cathy Arellano, Tony Mares, Stewart Warren, Maria Leyba, Gary Brower, Merimee Moffitt, Mary Oishi, Margaret Randall, Larry Goodell, and Richard Vargas marked the occasion with a diverse array of powerful poetry.

Mission Statement: The Albuquerque Chapter of Poets Against War grew out of a kitchen table conversation about the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and our disgust at the significant use of Gulf oil by the US military. This use of oil, for both human and ecological destruction, symbolizes the failure of democracy to put the needs of people and the environment first. As citizen-poets we must rise up, bear witness and embrace the work of creating a sustainable, peaceful and just future for all life on earth. (For a brief history of Poets Against War, founded by Sam Hamill, visit www.poetsagainstthewar.org) For information: Demetria Martinez (demetriajuly@aol.com) Elaine Schwartz (delschwartz@juno.com)

Sam Hamill, October 25, 2010

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