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Catacalos believes that poetry, like all art, should stand on its own. Thus we find no “blurb” on this book, no biographical information, no authoritative statements from authors, critics, or reviewers. The poet’s entire career, in fact, has involved a gradual seeping into the consciousness of editors and other readers. She has never, on her own, submitted poems to a literary magazine or any other sort of publisher. Nor does she rely on the inherent hype of attending conventions and the like. Yet editors have consistently sought out her work for the past decade. She has been included in most of the major Texas/Southwestern anthologies, published in innumerable literary magazines, and is in constant demand for readings. Word-of-mouth being perhaps the most accurate gauge of both the general quality and accessibility of a poet’s . work, we find in Again for the First Time a “first book” which easily lives up to expectations. But there is the additional gratification of haying all these poems in a single volume instead of scattered through dozens of magazines and anthologies of being able to read back and forth, for this is a book for many readings. Catacalos calls upon all the cultural reserves of her Mexican and Greek ancestry. Ariadne, Dionysios, and Odysseus inhabit the poet’s mind with characters like Lupe of the J & A Ice House, a downtown “bum” called the Dog Man, and Mr. and Mrs. Ozdabeano Maldonado, who “keep whirling their eternal polka” across the poet’s walls. Natural compadres for this “East Side Meskin Greek” who grew up where: . . . every day at noon black girls at Ralph Waldo Emerson High School made a sacred drum of the corner mailbox, beatin’ on it to raise the dead. And make them dance. Like a curandera of the soul, Catacalos and her companions make a journey of healing through the twentieth century, trying to understand and comfort the dead children of Atlanta, the multitudes dying in Latin America, trying to understand and survive personal betrayal and the death of loved ones. Early in the book, the poet is almost overcome: Ancianos, forgive me. All my life you have given me songs and lessons and hope .. . Now because I have lost my way, lost what you taught me to celebrate, I betray you. But there is a gathering of strength, an almost manual acquisition of faith, as she tells us later in the book: We will all be learning the moonstruck skills of gauze and hot water again for the first time. Woven among , other poems in Again for the First Time is a series of almost narrative poems wherein the poet takes on the character of Ariadne, the hapless princess who aided the escape of Theseus from the labyrinth and was later stranded by the hero on a deserted island. This short sequence lies close to the painful heart of the book, exemplifying in narrative terms what was more or less implicit in other poems. Yet it is here also that we see the poet’s realization of personal strength tempered with the acceptance of personal limitations: I am, even if a princess, a simple weaver of spells. Sometimes of faith that there will be no more mazes, no more beasts. Again, this is a book for repeated readings, for journeying with’ again and again from the shores of Naxos to the backstreets of San Antonio. New York THE REPUBLICAN National Convention held in Dallas last month should have dispelled any lingering notions that “it can’t happen here.” The question remains, however, when it happens will we notice the change? Perhaps it has happened already. After all, there was no civil war waged on the convention floor. No prime-time beerhall putsch. Nor were there thousands of militiamen marching on downtown Dallas. Judging from the party platform, it has been a painless, Cara Gendel Ryan is a freelance writer living in New York, where she is working on a book investigating Fascism and Italian Jews. business-as-usual sort of coup d’etat. Painless, that is, if you are a member of the ruling minority, a white, godfearing, heterosexual male who earns an income well into the six figure bracket. Despite the absence of melodrama, the message from Dallas, as it has been from Washington the past four years, is ominously clear, history may once again be repeating itself. The first time around, the change was not ushered in so quietly, and Italy, not America, was the focus of world attention. On October 28, 1922, renegade socialist Benito Mussolini seized control of the government at Rome. This semiconstitutional coup d’etat, financed by big business and carried out with the complicity of the army and king, was perceived both in Italy and abroad as a patriotic crusade against the evils of Bolshevism. “Direct action is intelligible in any language,” proclaimed the New York Times. “A nation that thrilled to the Vigilantes and Rough Riders rises to Mussolini and his Black Shirt army.” After the seizure of power, a wave of violence and terror swept across Italy. Although in the wake of the repression 5,000 Communist party members were arrested, any actual threat of revolution from the left had been brutally suppressed two years before the Fascist take-over. Nevertheless, according to the exiled historian Gaetano Salvemini, Mussolini continued to pose as “the knightly Saint George who had slain the red dragon of communism. The legend appealed to the imaginations and soothed the fears of all the good people of Europe and America.” It was on this side of the Atlantic, however, that Mussolini found his most ardent admirers, his most enthusiastic investors, and the most loyal apologists for Fascism. As German biographer Emil Ludwig noted in his book, Talks with Mussolini, the Italian leader was more popular in the United States than anywhere else. Indeed, until Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, many Americans wondered why it wasn’t possible to have someone in Washington just like II Duce. “Dictator form of Government AFTERWORD Lessons from History By Cara Gendel Ryan 30 SEPTEMBER 28, 1984