Como Tú / Like You / Like Me

Richard Blanco

{for the D.A.C.A DREAMers and all our nation’s immigrants}

…my veins don’t end in mebut in the unanimous bloodof those who struggle for life……mis venas no se terminan en mísino en la sangre unánimede los que luchan por la vida…

          —Roque Dalton, “Como tú”

Como tú, I question history’s blur in my eyes
each time I face a mirror. Like a mirror, I gaze
into my palm a wrinkled map I still can’t read,
my lifeline an unnamed road I can’t find, can’t
trace back to the fork in my parents’ trek
that cradled me here. Como tú, I woke up to
this dream of a country I didn’t choose, that
didn’t choose me—trapped in the nightmare
of its hateful glares. Como tú, I’m also from
the lakes and farms, waterfalls and prairies
of another country I can’t fully claim either.
Como tú, I am either a mirage living among
these faces and streets that raised me here,
or I’m nothing, a memory forgotten by all
I was taken from and can’t return to again.

Like memory, at times I wish I could erase
the music of my name in Spanish, at times
I cherish it, and despise my other syllables
clashing in English. Como tú, I want to speak
of myself in two languages at once. Despite
my tongues, no word defines me. Like words,
I read my footprints like my past, erased by
waves of circumstance, my future uncertain
as wind. Like the wind, como tú, I carry songs,
howls, whispers, thunder’s growl. Like thunder,
I’m a foreign-borne cloud that’s drifted here,
I’m lightning, and the balm of rain. Como tú,
our blood rains for the dirty thirst of this land.
Like thirst, like hunger, we ache with the need
to save ourselves, and our country from itself.

Copyright © 2019 by Richard Blanco. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets, from How to Love a Country (Beacon Press, 2019).

Source: https://academyofamericanpoets.createsend1...

Mr. B’s fleur dynamique

Mel A. Tomlinson, 65, Ballet Star and ‘Agon’ Interpreter, Dies

Mel A. Tomlinson rehearsing “The Afternoon of a Faun,” choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, at the Joyce Theater in New York in 1988. Mr. Tomlinson was a star performer with Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and New York City Ballet.  CreditVic DeLucia/The New York Times

Mel A. Tomlinson rehearsing “The Afternoon of a Faun,” choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, at the Joyce Theater in New York in 1988. Mr. Tomlinson was a star performer with Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and New York City Ballet.

CreditVic DeLucia/The New York Times

 By Gia Kourlas

  • Feb. 13, 2019

Mel A. Tomlinson, a ballet dancer of powerful, regal demeanor and one of the few performers to star with three major companies — Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and New York City Ballet — died on Feb. 5 in Huntersville, N.C. He was 65.

Claudia Folts, a friend who collaborated with Mr. Tomlinson on his 2018 memoir, “Beyond My Dreams,” said the cause was pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Tomlinson was already well known when George Balanchine invited him to join City Ballet, making him the company’s only African-American dancer at the time. He made his debut on Nov. 27, 1981, opposite the principal dancer Heather Watts in Balanchine’s groundbreaking 1957 ballet “Agon.” Anna Kisselgoff, the chief dance critic of The New York Times, called Mr. Tomlinson’s performance “electrifying.”

In “Agon,” he danced the part made for Arthur Mitchell, the first African-American principal at City Ballet. The central pas de deux in that work, created during the civil rights era, was choreographed for Mr. Mitchell and Diana Adams, who was white. Until Mr. Tomlinson joined City Ballet, Ms. Watts had performed the ballet with white men.

“Balanchine was very excited,” Ms. Watts said in a telephone interview. “He came to me and said, ‘I’ve hired Mel, dear, from Dance Theater of Harlem, and he’s going to dance “Agon” with you and we’ll work together.’ ”

Mr. Tomlinson had “a huge presence onstage,” Ms. Watts said, and was “kind of wise and deliberate.”

“Yet he was so lanky and long and rangy,” she added. “He was intent on showing me off, meaning how he moved me.

“The way Mel corrected me,” she continued, “was to say, ‘Wait for me. Let me really do it, Heather.’ It was like putting a little bridle on me.”

He was the only dancer who learned “Agon” from both the man it was created on (Mr. Mitchell) and the man who created it (Balanchine). Before Mr. Tomlinson joined City Ballet, where he danced until 1987, he had already performed “Agon” at Dance Theater of Harlem, the company formed by Mr. Mitchell and Karel Shook.

Mr. Tomlinson performed with Dance Theater of Harlem from 1974 through 1976; spent two years at the Ailey company, where he memorably performed Alvin Ailey’s “Pas de Duke” with Judith Jamison; and returned to Dance Theater from 1978 through 1981.

Dancing for three major companies was a feat. Virginia Johnson, the current artistic director of Dance Theater and a former principal dancer, said in a telephone interview, “Mel was making a statement — this beautiful black body performing ballet at the highest level.”

After leaving City Ballet, he performed with the Boston Ballet and North Carolina Dance Theater.

Mel Alexander Tomlinson was born on Jan. 3, 1954, in Raleigh, N.C., to Tommy and Marjorieline (Henry) Tomlinson. His mother was a homemaker; his father worked for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and as a delivery man for a jeweler.

While most children had bicycles, Mel rode a unicycle. It was a Christmas gift his father had saved up for when Mel was 9.

One of six siblings, Mel had no formal training in acrobatics or gymnastics but was the sports mascot of his high school. A local ballet teacher saw one of his halftime performances and offered him free classes.

He continued his training at North Carolina School of the Arts (now the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where the Mel Tomlinson Scholarship for dancers was recently established). He was spotted by the choreographer Agnes de Mille, who hired him for her Heritage Dance Theater.

Tall, flexible and long-legged, Mr. Tomlinson was well known for his performance as the Snake in Mr. Mitchell’s “Manifestations” (1975), a ballet about Adam and Eve. Karen Brown, a former member of Dance Theater and a friend, said Mr. Tomlinson had bought a snake for inspiration.

“He had a little cage that he carried it in,” she said. “Some people were afraid of snakes, and he was like, ‘It’s in a cage! Come on, calm down.’ He was studying the snake and he was mimicking it and watching its every move, which was why his interpretation was so realistic.”

Ms. Johnson recalled dancing with Mr. Tomlinson in Balanchine’s brisk and challenging “Allegro Brillante” (1956). “He would come out and put his hand on my waist and say, ‘O.K. you’re going to make it, keep going, just breathe,’ ” she said. “He’d be talking in my ear while we were getting through those last moments, and it was comforting to know that he was there, and it was impossible, but we were going to make it.”

Mr. Tomlinson had stopped dancing during the 1990s and was mainly teaching ballet. In 1995, after collapsing, he tested positive for H.I.V. In and out of the hospital for three years, he was eventually admitted to the House of Mercy AIDS hospice in Belmont, N.C., in 1998.

“He almost died three times there,” Ms. Folts said. “I can remember the head of the hospice calling me and saying: ‘This is it — his kidneys have stopped. You have to say goodbye now.’ ”

But against the odds, he recovered and left the hospice in 2000. While there, he made use of his time: He became a phlebotomist and earned a doctorate in theology. Up until his hospitalization, just before Christmas last year, he delivered services using American Sign Language at St. Paul Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.

“It was like watching him dance,” Ms. Folts said. “It was all his hands and his face, and it was just beautiful. It was like he got to perform every week.”

He still appeared on stage occasionally. In December, in what would be his final appearance, he performed Drosselmeyer in “Nut ReMix,” with Katie Smythe’s New Ballet Ensemble & School in Memphis.

At one point at City Ballet, where he attained the rank of soloist, Mr. Tomlinson expressed doubts about why he was there. He approached Balanchine.

“Mel asked him, ‘Am I here because I’m an artist, or am I here because I’m an only-est?’ — and by only-est, he meant the only black man in the company,” Ms. Folts said. “Mr. B. said, ‘You know you’re my dark angel, but that’s not the only reason you’re here,’ and he went on to explain that all of his dancers were flowers in his garden and that they were all different, and that’s what he liked. Mel was another flower in the garden.”

Correction:February 14, 2019

An earlier version of this obituary misstated the surname of one of Mr. Tomlinson’s fellow dancers. She is Karen Brown, not Karen Black.


And, so it is: 

thanks to the incredible eye, of a Ms. Joyce Wallen, whom I do not know personally, only via her astonishing finds on a social media site, a group named “Jewels of the Gilded Age.”

For this and so many other worldly marvels; that this is my birth month, that I am still alive to draw breath, smile, laugh with loved ones...to  be, is an incomprehensible ( at times, wildly so) marvel. An inestimable gift;  a purely lucky alignment of chemicals, star dust, the mysteries of the cosmos, love and courageous intimacy, with all and everything that I am, with every fibre of my being, knowing, soul and my heart, for which, I am eternally mystified and evermore grateful. 


Twin Stork Brooch/Pendant in Gold, Garnet and Pearl

Circa 1900

Source: https://www.facebook.com/groups/8974469702...

November 2018

We are still alive; some of us. Some amazing victories drew life back to our senses, yet the senseless violence does not abate. Fragile, raw, yet steady, lionhearted voices cut through the vitriolic hate and fear spewing bullhorn.  Persist, we must. 

Oranges, Portraits,  and Autochrome, never cease to delight, visually;  though the full history behind any of “this” to me, is not known.  The blind spot presents, hence, an ensuing examination, and surprises. For a moment, a reprieve, and a breath, is welcome. 


Do excuse the interruption

Due to what has become the fruition of a deadly, long game,  political power grab,  and international threat; an international hydra with far reaching tentacles,  whose many apendages are trying to insidiously or fervently,  un weave or callously rip apart,  with rotten, fetid and crumbling teeth,  the very fabric of life…

Due to circumstances beyond one’s control, this site has not been updated to show the vast amount of work and advocacy that has taken place and continues at a pace;  dictated by conditions that have  their own sets of tyrannical rule;  flagrantly disrespecting with chaotic zeal , any semblance  of a former life, with its discipline, schedules, timetables, deadlines, mobility  and vitality…

This image represents an account: the small fruit of so many (some unseen and sometimes,seemingly  impotent) endeavors, a shimmer of light still emanating from the tunnels and trenches, a needle, with which, a delicate stitch may repair any fabric; one small potent action: a vote. Never take for granted  (the right and its democratic legitimacy itself : direly imperiled)  all that is at stake, for the entire world and humanity’s fragile future, with this one action.

This is the sum of precious time spent,  the urgency imbuing every action, thought, word, act of love, and creation, known only by living one more minute than one thought they had, given the reality of mortality. 


new statement yet to be officially posted and processed/2018

I am a human being, experiencing life. Life is poetry for me;  is the most concise statement regarding my bodies of work. The subtext may be apparent or elusive, nuanced or raw; I process the experience by creating. The medium, subject, and skill set, are always, rather, continually,  subject to change. That mercurial character is its nature; it is the key: unlocking new ways, illuminating paths, unconsciously or not, constantly the impetus for: educating, exploring and engaging with the world. A profound connection,  training,  the many senses, to be aware, to treasure moments of stillness, awe, openness  and being. 

To be continued... 

Radio silence

Due to a plethora of unexpected circumstances, this site is due for a much needed refreshing and profound reconsideration;  thank you for your patience. 

I can say, I am grateful for the time I do have. That,  is quite a gift: Inestimable. 


© 2017 Marisa Marko, all rights reserved  


Attachments: The more aloof I appear the more attached I am. I get attached quickly deeply weaving language and lens flares and light rain and scent and touch and texture and tone into something of great and succinct beauty.


Everything is temporal; my rigidity rears its writhing, grieving head and my attachment,  it's grasping amateur claws when something, that has touched me inexplicably, to the depth of which it's beauty makes possible, must evolve from physical reality

into memory and dreams.


In this case: I speak of the last two years and the family cat and this family's isolated acres. It will be two years since a nasty bout of viral meningitis woke up the looming epigenetic storm that had no regard for MY ( humanly selfish as it is) trajectory of life (or anyone's life, who experienced these things)

Storms! people exclaim, PASS! I am the Storm! People exclaim, in an inspired camouflage.

This is a crestfallen attempt to thwart

the evolution from physical reality

into memory and dreams, of others; they hope.

They will never know, nor will you or I...


Storms on earth, are all we know.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a storm that rages on despite its three hundred and fifty years.

In its chemistry, in its alien meteorological behavior, the storm has no desire to pass or purpose to appease by passing.



sounds like  and

has the quality of a light southerly breeze, whispering sparingly, through a blooming  almond orchard.

Once more, our attempt to attenuate the fear and wonder of Post Life. Releasing attachment as softly and fearlessly, as a mother releases the hand of a child, who wants to walk on their own, straight  to the sea.


The Great Red Spot's  constant storming has me sequestered. The Earth unrepentant, corresponded zealously with Jupiter:

This one,

it cannot sit still,

or slow down,

or breathe.

Not because Earth cares personally,  but the torque of evading one's own grief and attachment to it,

brought upon by circumstances or oneself, 

has the power, en masse, 

to create actions

that choke life.

Earth, in confidential talks with Jupiter, asked for the best way to stop a certain kind of madness.

"Create a perfect storm, an alien storm that doesn't succumb to the will of this human's  wanting, or discomfort or fear

Or attachment to its outcome because

This is the madness"


So the headwinds began on the Great Highway bordering the Pacific, before one could even grab a beloved, pleasantly milquetoast warming  coffee at Java Beach, or have one last walk through the beloved Golden Gate Park, perfumed with eucalyptus, redwood chips, the golden laughter of the slipping San Andreas.

I could not grab the places and stuff them in a rucksack, as my temperature soared, my lucidity waned, my legs convulsing in a heap below me, like a struggling baby giraffe.

The scent instead, seeped deep

into my nerve,

the tracts, 

evolving quickly into memory: As quickly

as the physical metamorphosed.


Arrival at the family home. A year of ginger ices and wasting muscles and intractable pain and worried faces.


Some faces showed curiosity, not concern .

The kept Jupiter's secret, and intuited Earth's plan.

The curious had proprietary knowledge of:

all of the trees on the old property,

the two, TWO, families of white owls habituating the centenarian pine tree.

The hawks, the magpies, the coyotes, the ferocious and glorious hummingbirds, the cactus, the pomegranate trees, the yucca, the tamarack trees, the calendulas ( planted to bring back memories of Tunisia) herbs, vegetables, all of the blossoms, camellias, the Bella Donna lilies and the homecoming Maple tree.

The same tree where I sat as a small child, so ill, so still, with nothing but a cloth diaper because my skin was screaming.

It offered shade and took my body's fraught , infantile confusion to the earth, deep below

to transmute ... and wait.


Attachment: a false stoic.

Loss and grief bends me like a pine, holding on at Point Reyes. 

I have tried to not let it etch my external features, a false stoic is vain survivalist.

My inner landscape, well, it understands a three hundred and fifty  year storm.

It understands the infinite deep azure sacred depth of a cenote.

It stares in awe at the creatures who make the Mariana Trench their home.


The cubic pressure of water obliterates attachment, it is stoic and so are its inhabitants.



Some of faces of the curious  are, of course,  feline.

A lineage of abandoned farm cats, now sculpted into a rarefied lineage of mystics, sages and clowns.


Attachment: I have never owned a pet as an adult. Never, never, never.  A playboy model in Los Angeles put her beautiful dog, Hollywood, down because her life fell apart according to "her" plan.

She should have let him save her, but she had cruelty and manipulation running through desperate exploited veins.

Hollywood, the place, was where she should have administered the pink syringe of poison, not her loyal companion.

It has been twenty years: it never leaves my thoughts.

I did not and could not save him, I was not told until after the procedure had taken place.

He never leaves my thoughts.

Soulful chestnut colored eyes to a lifeless writhing then rigid...




The curious felines have seen me come and go.

The many, many phases of a scattered life were anchored by the maple tree, the centenarian pine, blooming orchards, temptations involving stone fruit crops and stories of feline antics.


Especially the one who outlived most of the lineages and who an affinity for being attended to, much like Louis XIV.


I have known him since his arrival. A big beautiful fluffy round peach pastry with a congenital crook at the end of his plume like swashbuckling tail. He immediately was crowned KING and given indoor privileges. The acre and a half was merely his Park, his Bois de Boulogne, to survey daily, smell the air and let the breeze and sunlight configure his regal silhouette.


The others, were not peasants

They were and are staunch pagans.


their wonderland; the last thing on earth they could bear  is/was coddling, cooing and humanizing.

No attachments: Aloof only because they were confident in their physical reality but persuasive enough to be fed as to not disturb the birds. A trade off occurred. Primal nature repressed for easily gained large quantities of nourishment and some doting... but not too much.


They all watched me for six months to see if I could be trusted, to see what creature I turned into when a wheelchair was brought out or a walker, or the constant presence of sunglasses that gave me four sets of eyes. As the six months became a year, then the year became another, they could tell how attached I could get:


my rigidity rears its writhing, grieving head and my attachment,  it's grasping, amateur claws when something, that has touched me inexplicably, to

the depth of which it's beauty makes possible, must evolve from physical reality

into memory and dreams


The false stoic is a city girl.

There is no more city, girl.

This girl has been operating the body of this woman for so and too long.

This girl. This girl cannot bear the sight, the feel the movements, the labored breath of this debilitated woman.

The roots of the Maple don't argue;

the roots have grown large enough to disrupt a retaining wall and hold a much larger body.

The white owls keep chanting  change, change,change... sailing by quietly to grasp prey.


And in this time, the regal feline, the KING,  has watched me wither as well.

My arrogance weaves stories of him sensing how much I adore him. That may not be the case.

My physical sequestering has shoved me into the eye of the storm;

So quietly the time moves in isolation.

Living hour to hour, watching the seasons develop between bouts of incomprehensible, wretched illness. No more time to charade, to play aloof.

I cannot weather a three hundred and fifty year storm by practical design, neither can the regal feline.

He has remained strong until this last week, he has reigned here for sixteen years.

Earth and Jupiter conspired to end my tenure as a false stoic.

I lie on the heated tile in the bathroom, which serves as both a triage unit and sanctuary for the both of us...

both of us watching each other breath, until one falls asleep.

He will soon release attachment, as softly and fearlessly, as a mother releases the hand of a child, who wants to walk on their own, straight  to the sea.

My heart expanded under his tutelage, I wonder how I will weather the rest of the storm , as he leaves his physical majesty for the majesty of his spirit.

I will cry in the aging knuckles of the Maple

No longer rigid

Nor will I fight a storm resplendent with truths:


something, that has touched me inexplicably, to the depth of which it's beauty makes possible, must evolve from physical reality

into memory

and dreams


Rest In Peace, sweet prince Gordie. Thank you for sixteen exquisite years. Thank you for saving me time and time again. You are my heart.  



Zelda returned to Paris once more where she and her husband settled into a home on 14 Rue de Tilsitt (Bruccoli). This return to the city of lights had mainly been fueled by Zelda’s feverish desire to become a prima ballerina. She had always loved ballet, and had been relatively good, but in her youth her teacher led her to believe her talent was exceptional and that she could go further than probable. Ballet became an unhealthy obsession for her. Zelda practiced ten hours a day and seven days a week with abnormal intensity. Her behavior during this time of her life became increasingly odd. During parties she practiced ballet routines over and over to the same song on her victrola, she piled her clothes into a bathtub and set fire to them, and once she even gathered jewels from guests at a party, putting them in a pot to boil to “make soup”(“The Fitzgeralds”).

Suzanne Jones, University of Richmond  

Source: https://uramericansinparis.wordpress.com/2...