The world is that small space
you occupy. The rest is rumor.
Be careful where you choose to go.
You have freedom, but only think
you can live there. Remember
how you refused that cap and gown
get-up to collect your family’s first
college degree? How your mother cried?
Freedom! And now she’s gone. Some
bonds are roots, others—fetters.
Freedom can be fetters, too.
After hurricane Rita, this place
was just shredded jungle. Now
it’s Jesús and Lídia’s casa,
built by him, by hand, on weekends
and vacations, the way my father
built our first house. Years
we’ve watched the house expand,
two rooms to three, to four, to five.
And the yard, once merely raked
sandy mud, is all rough grass
with a border of tropical flowers
and pepper plants—jalapeños,
habaneros—and this tree
Jesús planted three years back,
a stick with tentative leaves then
out of a coffee can, now
twenty feet tall and laden
dark green pear-shaped fruit
with snowy flesh, the seeds
like obsidian tears. Jesús
carves out a bite and offers it
on the flat of his big knife’s blade.
The texture’s melonish, the taste
wild and sweet—like the lives
we build after hurricanes.
“I know now that every life is a knot of stories to be either untied or left tangled. Every life has stories untold, stories approached watchfully, stories never finished, and truths of its own, hidden even from ourselves. Few of us are who we claim to be, or think we are, in act or deed or words.”
“Dreams are the creative store that is true wealth. They reside at the human edge of the holy. From the unknown, from eternity, into the restless minds of sleepers, their light is given off. In the human body, worlds are charted, wounds healed, illnesses reversed. In our vulnerable sleep, those hours when anything could happen. Like dark matter in the universe, dreams have mass and presence, even when not remembered.”
“There is no advantage to allowing more and more people into the ‘higher circles’ if they must all speak with the same voice. The value of survival is being able to recognize yourself after you’ve managed to survive.”
“Each of us occupies a world that is made by our predecessors. We are given ‘reality’; we do not discover it. […] There are no individual realities, only communal ones.”
“It is common to examine the Other as a means of gaining understanding about ourselves, but we should not mistake the Other for a mirror. We can learn something about ourselves as well through a contrast with the Other.”
“A society that has power over another is not in a position to understand the matrix of that society over which it exercises power. The less powerful society’s matrix, however, is constantly under attack. Through this attack, both matrices are exposed. Two frames of reference in the same place will be competitions for ‘truth’ and ‘validity,’ as witness the former Yugoslavia where Roman Catholic, Orthodox Catholic, and Muslim are inhabiting the same area. The conflict tween America’s indigenous peoples and the European colonial is another example. Early in the contact between the two peoples, there was an attempt on the part of the colonial to ‘co-exist.’ This was followed by an attempt to exterminate the Other, then the incarceration of the Other (in bounded locations), and finally the turning over of the indigenous to the religious missionaries. The attempt to convert the ‘Other’ to one’s own matrix, regardless of how well intended or peaceable, is extermination by other means.”
—V. F. Cordova, How It Is
“I think what Objectivism did was—like the worst part of what I see in William Carlos Williams—they began to be tied to the object, and became a kind of commodity fetishism in poetry.”