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Editor's Note

James R. Adair

I remember watching the TV screen with my family on a warm July afternoon fifty years ago as the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon. Then a few hours later, Neil Armstrong emerged from the capsule, followed a little later by Buzz Aldrin. As Armstrong planted his foot for the first time on the lunar soil, he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was generally reported that he said “for man” rather than “for a man,” but Armstrong confirmed frequently over the years that his enunciation of “a” was just blended with the previous word. Indeed, the sentence only makes sense as a comparison of the act of an individual human with the great leap forward in human history that the moon landing represented. Even my eight-year-old mind sensed the immensity of the moment.

In this issue of Voices de la Luna we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landing through poetry, prose, and image, starting with the cover page art by San Antonio street artist Mike Comp Arguello. We review a book written by NASA engineer Merlin Merritt, whose work on the moon missions influenced and inspired his faith in God. We also remember quintessential American poet Walt Whitman on the 200th anniversary of his birth with two essays—both of which include several excerpts of his poems—and we combine our Whitman and lunar threads by presenting several of Whitman’s poems about the moon and other celestial bodies. To quote Ronco founder Ron Popeil, “But wait, there’s more!” We also honor contemporary American poet, publisher, and bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

In other news, our serial contributor Paul Juhasz finally ends his sojourn as a longsuffering Amazon picker, and his description of his final days at Amazon are as witty and acerbic as ever. We are fortunate to have Clifford Brooks, educator, author of two poetry collections and a chapbook, and founder of the Southern Collective Experience as our featured poet. For our featured interview, we don’t stray far from home, delving into the life and literary experiences of Voices co-founder and editor emeritus Mo H Saidi, who, rather than settling into an uneventful retirement, is embarking on a new literary venture. Our spotlight artist is Venessa “Nessie” Marie, a local San Antonian with a BFA in metals and jewelry design, who is currently focusing on creating works in watercolor.

Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, art, music, architecture—even the beauty inherent in math, science, and the universe itself—all inspire and shape our lives in innumerable ways. They enhance our experiences and shape who we are as individuals and communities. We see the therapeutic value of creating poems in the poetry therapy section of each issue, and we also see the effect on those around us who are immersed in literature and the arts. Such a person was Harold Rodinsky, a retired professor of psychology who spent his retirement writing poetry, feeding stray cats, tending his garden, and serving as chair of the board of Voices de la Luna. This issue is in his memory.

 


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Themes for future issues
August 2019: Mothers
November 2019: Genre Bending

Current Voices

 

Hideaway Highway Songs

Clifford Brooks

We are half notes now whole. Come to Asheville, Athens, Nashville, or New Orleans. A town made of sound seems to build a better home. Defiant souls not reliant on the mystic Dixie ideal, Momma says to let Joan Baez drive us down. Darlin’, let’s ride until we find Lynyrd Skynyrd divine. No jet planes, or Paul Simon, Alabama roads won’t notice our yellow taxi. You, my special Joni Mitchell, the South is our river to skate away on. Miles Davis saves us while miles behind us create a pleasant distance; the past, its heel marks wear out. Your bellbottoms, hyacinth in your hair, our ’66 Ford Fairlane is infused with My Girl. Our lexicon for home rooted in Lexington. Expelled, compelled we will never leave here. Hidden in high grass, by the creek, harsh skies hide behind the tops of broad trees. No newcomers after us this summer. Here, where we’ll owe no one, nor be crushed by a harsh sun. We get up from our duvet to dance, kiss, and caress. This is why Otis Redding only wants us to try a little tenderness.

 

Westside Wetlands

Sabra Booth

 

Little Moths

Larry D. Thomas

Established in Florida, Alabama, and inching toward Texas, they alight, lay their eggs, and let their red larvae ravage the pads of prickly pear from within, little moths so like, fluttering about the flames of our souls, their dark little cousins of revenge.

 

Dreams

Venessa "Nessie" Marie

 

Whitman 200: A Whitman Sampler,
A Collage in Celebration

Jim LaVilla-Havelin

Yes, the old man is immense! In influence, in images, in his extent, in the length of lines sprawling across the page, in hours deep into the night spent nursing wounded soldiers in a hospital in D.C., in Beats, in Latin Americans, in punctuation—yes, the exclamation point, in exuberance—the body electric, and yes, in a national consciousness swelling to embrace whole worlds.

On May 31, 2019, we celebrate the 200th birthday of Walt Whitman—think of the size of the cake to fit that many candles, think of the blaze—the light and the warmth. Light and warmth, sound and song, a poetry of self and others, a torrent of words capturing the optimism of an entire people, and elegies of such heart-broken grieving, they are forever twined around their captain.…

 

Walt Whitman, Striding across the Open Plain

George Wallace

I met Walt, kind old father, on the llano… striding across the open plain… his beard, coarse, scraggly, warm, filled with sunlight, like llano grass filled with grasshoppers, grillos, protection for lizards and jackrabbits, rattlesnakes, coyotes and childhood fears…
Rudolfo Anaya, “Walt Whitman Strides the Llano of New Mexico”

You’ve seen the pictures: Walt Whitman in an open collar shirt, one part dandy, one part radical hayseed. A signal. A gesture. A selfie. A sign, sure as a hoodie, as love beads, or as a red bandana in a working man’s back pocket. Think Pachuco in a 1950s LA zoot suit. Think Jay-Z. Think Eminem.

And thanks to Rudolfo Anaya, think kind old father striding across the open plains of New Mexico, sporting a coarse, scraggly, sunlit beard.

The eras may differ and the representations change, but in the 200th year since the birth of Walt Whitman, America’s Good Gray Poet, it’s clear he was intent on looking street. Not a territorial, turf war kind of street, mind you. A radical democratic street—he had the look of a man embracing the entirety of humankind, all existence really, irrepressible celebrant of the aggregate human condition.…

 

Earthrise

Photo by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders

 

 


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