for Karen and Paul

Paying my respects to the bronze Gandhi in his fenced-in garden; past the boys and girls busy in their courting, cruising, hanging or what will you; I gaze at the harvest moon beyond the red neon spelling “Union Square.” Her light, somewhat compromised by the lights of the buildings and the streets, bathes the trees of the square in soft silver, caresses the faces of the youths (and everyone’s else) with a tender touch. In the midst of the bustle all is peaceful, and I imagine it is so, at this moment, throughout this city of New York, this nation, this world.

But just for a moment, the briefest of moments, shorter than now; the silver peace of the moon harder to imagine on the huddled form of the homeless man in his shredded and grimy blanket lying beside the dumpster on 17th Street a block away, the mugging going on in another part of the city, the bombings and shootings in another part of the world.

All is perfection, they say, God, they say, is all good – there in the galaxy, among the billions of galaxies, the billions of billions of stars. But we at the outermost edge of the Milky Way, tiniest of planets held by a minor star, look at the moon and in our heart of hearts know that good and evil are the things we suffer, peculiar to us, just as are our gods. And the moon — perhaps neither good nor evil, but lovely nevertheless — rolls over Union Square and around the Earth — and round our confused world.


Rafael Jesús González was born in the bicultural/bilingual setting of El Paso/Juárez and attended the University of Texas at El Paso, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, & the University of Oregon. Professor of Creative Writing & Literature, he has taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas at El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland (where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept.) He has also taught in the public schools under Poets in the Classroom.

His poetry and scholarly articles appear in reviews & anthologies in the U.S., Mexico & abroad; his collection of verse El Hacedor De Juegos/The Maker of Games published by Casa Editorial, San Francisco, went into a second printing. He has thrice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He was Poet in Residence at the Oakland Museum of California and the Oakland Public Library under the Poets & Writers "Writers on Site" award in 1996. He served as contributing editor for The Montserrat Review and received the Annual Dragonfly Press Award for Literary Achievement in 2002. In 2003 he was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English & Annenberg/CPB for his writing. He was selected Featured Poet by the Poetry Center, San José, Fall 2005. In November of 2005, he was invited to read his poetry and present a paper at the World Congress of Poets in Tai'an, Shandong Province, China. In July 2006 he was named Universal Ambassador of Peace, Universal Ambassador Peace Circle, Geneva, Switzerland. In Spring 2007, he read his poetry and presented a paper at the Philosophy Conference at the University of Texas El Paso, presented a paper and read his poetry at the 8th International Literary Encounter aBace in Montevideo, Uruguay and following the Encounter was invited to read his poetry at the National Institute of Anthropology and Latin American Thought in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was named aBrace representative to California. In June 2007, he was honored for excellence in poetry at the 20th World Congress of Poets, Montgomery, Alabama.

Also a visual artist, his work has been exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California; the Mexican Museum of San Francisco; the Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee; & others in the U.S., Mexico, and abroad. He serves on the Latino Advisory Council of the Oakland Museum of California; and on the Alameda County Office of Education Arts Alliance, and Peace Education Network.


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