on her birthday

Look —
         lift your face
though the tear is seen to roll.
         Yell that the swallow dies
                   but that it knows how to fly.
When you laugh in the night
         & the white sun wounds you,
take my name in your hand
         & worship the cauliflower.
But know in your guts,
in your woman’s breast,
that courage in these deeds
is measured in love.
                  See in the opaque eye,
                  in the colorless lip
                  that those who die living
                  are those who fear pain.
You are you —
                  & you live crazy
with thorns of light in your eyes
         & wilted blood on your mouth.
                  It is good to live life
                  though it tastes much of bile
                  for from bitter thistles
                  is sweet honey made,
for with a golden scream
the flame consumes lime,
for a woman who has loved
is from all evil immune.

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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