Wednesday, January 24, 2007

your name is the splinter inside me

hark I hear the harps eternal | ringing on the hollowed shore | as I hear the swollen waters | with their deep and solemn roar | hallelujah

there are many things that I wish I could record in my head, and replay later, on blank white walls, in three dimensional loops. bits and pieces. like the flashing by of quito in the night as the taxi driver stops, “bendita la luz” singing mournful in the background. waiting for the girls outside a little jazz club on la calle de Isabel, and watching a boy on a bicycle make his way through the city. the tingle of caiprina on my tongue. pictures of old presidents lining the walls of bathrooms overstuffed with art. hide and seek, Ecuadorian style.

we found the center of the universe! ok, not the center of the universe. el mitad del mundo. which IS the center of the world. world meaning earth. there are street dogs taking naps, and tienditas with leftist propaganda clinging to the walls, and even strings of laundry hanging in the sun. who knew the center of the world could be so like a pueblo?

to el pahuma, where the lima family resides. efrain, and rene, and susanna (a most wonderful cook). but the most adorable of all are stalin and javie. two little boys, nine and ten respectively, who know oh so much about everything in their montane orchid wilderness haven. stalin, while younger than javie, is most definitely more outgoing, coming on adventures with us [going through los yumbos, a quichua trail used for millennia by people traveling toward the coast from quito] and guiding the way. everyone loves him. it’s hard not to, of course, because he will grow up to save his country and its landscape.

a las cascadas! to look up, into the falling drops of a waterfall, as it tumbles over cliff sides, through drooping vegetation, towards the tierra, the andes, these mysterious magnificent mountains, is to watch time slow. vertical time is slower than regular time. have you ever noticed? looking up through the falling drops, they slow down…slow down, way down. as soon as you’re out from under, they come back to life speed; but so, so, so slow while you’re underneath. and you can catch each individual drop in your eyes as they fall. it reminds me of this summer under the river sun, high and dreaming of deeper things.

sticky sweet charades, vines, and the strangled strangler fig. RAIN. the smell of it is sinking into the earth, and falling all over our faces, our skins. being covered and fog, and as darkness descends, the night walk commences. walking stick contests. frogs. spiders. a spinx moth the size of my hand, who alights on my hip, and decides to stay for the rest of the hike.


what was that?

we are silent, sneaking, creeping.

a toucan? a shy, stealthy, spectacled bear?


bamboo in the nighttime looks like kelp in the sea. floating on currents, stillness, in the water which is actually only clouds come down to look for its lost light.

Plate Billed Mountain Toucan : Ramphastos laminirostris
Sangre de Drago: Croton magdalensis
Gorgeted Sunangel: Heliangelus strophianus

I love this. viscerally. breathing in this rainforest air, pressing my hands into the ground and soaking it in…

funneling pathways, down mudslicked slopes. we go to el pahuma (which, in quichua, means the flattened place). and it is, for the most part. mora, growing wild and purple on vines covered in prickles. hopefully they do not become hallucinogenic, because the pathway back could become treacherous under the influence of imagined things. to the lookout, where we can see down into the Andean valley, through the cordilleras, between a break in the clouds, before the fog rolls in once again. wanting to leap from the top, to fly across el piso del cielo [the floor of heaven] gliding along the surface, through all of those canopied trees.


ngo’s, and the formation of orchid reserves, and the politics of crazy things.

candalosa: puntas (Ecuadorian moonshine, made from sugarcane) + jugo de naranjilla + fire. warms your soul, from the pit of your stomache way up into your nose.

mountain toucan sitings in the early morning hours, before walking meditations along mountain sides, and through the frigid cold waters of the waterfalls of the quichua persuasion. humming birds. toasts made of pilsener (the beer of the Ecuadorians) to things like salud, and amor, and la vida. choclo. tostados. besos de ciao.

and thus it has begun.

eres mio, y soy tuyo.

Monday, January 15, 2007


the blacked hatted women, with multicolored skirts.

old, grey-haired men; tired shoulders, round bellies. mostly because of the altitude, and the blood that was pushed from their hearts under iron fisted rule.
the valley appears behind the twists and turns of the hills. these andean monsters who slumber and lull (with their rumbling, with their seismic rocking) all these millions of creatures to daily peace.

daily peace is different than what beauty queens wish for, that impossible state of human compassion, synergy, quiet madness in the face of unstoppably brutal reigns. daily peace is the feeling (hiding in the pit of your stomach, resonating a comfortable, throbbing pleasure) which only appears when the glittering lights of the city are calming and do not taunt from their distance, when the howling of street dogs is a symphony between the rusted telephone wire forest, sprouting from every angle and criss-crossing black through the air. {can you feel the buzz-buzzing?} it is there, in their silence, that daily peace resides. acceptance.
the buildings here, houses and high rises, press into each other, merging at the spine and becoming chaos. from the window of the bus, i see these walls take shape, come alive with moving people; as i imagine the woman in front of me walking along the broken sidewalk, and through the open air to her kitchen, which she cannot see as we curl and caress the asphalt with our rubber-bus wheels, but she knows it is there, has memorized the stain in the ceiling tile, the blush pink hibiscus bursting from the corner of the window above the sink. i can see her in it. i can see her walking, with the strain on her calves as she heads uphill, the smooth sliding stillness of her eyelids as she blinks. she knows the exact moment to stand, wave down the driver, because she has eaten this time. the twenty-seven minutes from cumbaya to the road side stop just below the market, they have been made into ice and eaten. frozen. and now they are hollow in her stomach, but singing, 'now! now is your time to escape!' and so she does.

at eight o'clock in the evening, every night, without fail, the dogs always start barking. not loud angry barking, or the kind no ear is able to ignore (the kind that comes when the dog is in pain, or afraid and backed, hackles raised into a corner). this barking is pure speech, for fun, or maybe not, but only between each other. the dogs are telling the night stories of the city. [this can be read two different ways, and both are correct. it is to the moment to determine which it will be. is the night a vast audience, soaking in the words like disappearing starlight? or is it the stories OF the night that the dogs are howling at us as we pass, as we sit in our vacant rooms, staring out windows and seeing nothing, when really, it is everything?] maybe i am wrong about everything. people are almost always wrong about everything. especially when it comes to each other, but even more so when it is things that we do not understand, cannot comprehend. maybe these dogs are only barking to make themselves heard. to make themselves hoarse. merely to hear their own voices echo off the walls, funnelling down their throats like burning sand. this is why it is called howling.

cuaron once said 'green is the only color i understand' and this is true for me, as well. of all things, green makes sense to me. don't ask me to explain my logic, because i won't be able to, but when i am drawn [to the weeds, we are brave like soldiers, falling down, under pale moonlight...] in, it is usually because of green. or the ocean.

Enhydra lutris: sea otter (lutra)
Bothrops asper: fer-de-lance

it's terrifying, really, how little sound you hear when there is no limitation to your speaking. when no one understands, when you recognize how loud everything is, everything is amplified.

the act of missing is painful. it is visceral, i don't care what anyone says. you are causing aches in my chest, in my eyes, in my mouth. when i return, you will be flattened. i will hug you so hard, you will break. be ready, for i will be leaping.

-el parque el hjedo, and el mercado de artesanias.
-the circling pigeons of la plaza de santo agosto
-0,25 centavos for helado
-making friends with ecuadorian security guards
-dali dripping from the walls
-el libro se llama 'cuentos del ecuador'

-feeling hunted after dark
-gringo bars
-clumsy words, clumsy tongues
-missing pieces

take me home tonight i don' wanna let you go 'til you see the light take me home tonight

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

of busses, and voices, and quiet.

so here we are.

have you ever thought that the world was too big? that there were too many corners and crevices and cracks, too many spaces to fill in with light before you could catch it all in the lenses?

every day is an adventure. every second, even, because it´s all in another language. a foreign tongue. nobody tells you, before traversing across miles, over oceans and mountains, through cities with cracking pavement and all that nonsense - nobody tells you how hard it is. life is hard, we know that. college is hard, too. classes, yeah, but the people. people are hard to understand. but living in another country where you could hardly claim to be bilingual, where the culture and the politics and everything else is totally different, this is difficult. but so totally amazing! oh. it´s fantastic how hard everthing is. i´m not drifting through each day, completely oblivious to my own breathing. here i have to contemplate each step.

a las avenidas de zamora y brasil.

there goes a car
another, but with a boy, maybe sixteen, seated in the back. he looks tired.
three busses, one of which i was supposed to be on.
[how do i say this is spanish? who should i ask? he looks nice. the one in the yellow sweatshirt. he has a long nose. strong. maybe i´ll ask him.]
step into the street, across -
there! there is my bus.
and there is the city. flashing past, through open doors. i am standing, praying to the floor with my toes that it will not let me go, and watching the street as we drive, me without a seat, without a tongue, without a voice.
around corners, clinging to the bar that will keep me inside, away from the pavement, above the crushing wheels. who would notice if i fell? would anyone stop the bus if i tumbled out, into the street?

(¡más libertad!) scrawled in red on the plain concrete sides, spilling their crumbling mortar into the street. the graffiti here means something. la voz de las murales.
sitting. three people, travellers. a beautiful woman, tall, wearing striped purple and blue pants, made of wool. indigenous. her lip is pierced. no, it is a scar. (from what? her blood was spilled for some reason, her mouth mangled. she was in a fight, when she was nine. maybe ten, but regardless, her older brother pushed her down, and she bled. it is an elegant scar, clean and straight.) her eyes follow the tumbling body of a four year old boy, con mullet. he is laughing, rolling on the floor of the bus. the eyes of everyone on the bus are drawn to his laughter, bouncing off of the dusty walls, but his eyes are attached to a box, which rests on the head of his father (his father? i don´t want to assume, but he shares the same nose, and perhaps they are a travelling family of gypsies, riding on busses across continents, wearing purple striped pants and singing songs about little black birds and rejoicing in their simplicity. no, this is too romantic. their bodies are tired, and they do not rejoice because it is all they have known. but it is enough. so maybe...) the man has curly black hair pulled into a ponytail at the base of his neck, and brown boots. the box has holes. in a former life, it was used to transport tangerines. but now, now there is a sound coming from the box.
a kitten!
there is a small brown kitten climbing out of the box.
the woman sees me staring, watches my eyes follow her son, her lover, her cat. she blinks, and continues singing.

live here with me. voiceless.
i have never known what it is to be voiceless.
everyone should realize this someday.
in america, many have been silent for decades. their families
quiet, ignored, questioned.
we should all be made voiceless for
to understand the quiet.
we live in it.

"for beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains
to annihilate us...
and so i hold myself back and swallow the call-note
of my dark sobbing. ah, whom can we ever turn to
in our need?"
-r. m. rilke

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

the messiest year in the world


"how is the word, infinitely? i hate that word. forever. i can love forever."
12 december, 2006.

i am a techno-ballerina and this is my symphony. sympathy. symphony.
there is a sparrow in the fireplace, sitting on the piles of ash (cold for months) flying up the stairs in patches of sunlight that catch in the folds of the wrought-iron railing.
1 may, 2006.

things are precarious, and i am uneasy. but i am most loveable when i am rambling about random things that really do not connect, when i am being totally ridiculous, immediately after running when my face is flushed and i am full of energy, when you remember to ask little things that no one ever notices.
flying pink carnations, falling through the air in slow-motion, time erased.
14 february, 2006.

there is a dime in the dregs of my apple tea, and you're hiding behind the barbed wire fence that is covering the rabbit hole in your front yard. you called me alice, and i laughed, but it was bittersweet, because i spoke to the walrus the other day, and he told me there was a tea party in the abandoned hallway between your mousetrap and the laundry machine. too bad you forgot - i know the walls of your house are glass.
baby baby baby, there is nothing so fragile as me, when it comes to you. but this splinter here, spider cracked and spilling further along the side of my face, this splinter isn't made of matter, the shrapnel that you left me with. you can't call me alice anymore. there is a dime in the dregs of my apple tea, waiting to be uncovered, discovered, left in peppermint leaves.
14 october, 2006.

i want to dance. barefoot, for the rest of my life. wearing old slips, made of lace and satin [the kind the dressmakers used to place on their bodies, stiff and silent in the attic gloom;] bright red satin. or black. i will walk the curves in these roads, barefoot. letting the peculiar pieces of granite, and asphalt cling to the pads of my toes. soon, i would be three feet taller! if i didn't stop to take them out, that is. i will teach our children to climb trees (barefoot, all of us). when we reach the top, we will holler at the top of our lungs. about things like civil rights, and lung cancer, and underwear. we will scream obscenities into the wind [but only here, at the top of the world.]
27 july, 2006.

if i write it down, that means that's it. i'm done. no turning back. no ranting, no hoping, no thinking, no more. i'm done.
28 february, 2006.

bad habits die hard. summer of arms and legs entwined under a haze of blue smoke, or between sheets of seventy proof champagne skies. my hands are small and weary of being held, but from behind my back i'll let yours drift to my hips, passed my ribs, through my lungs. we're going to start a revolution, between the two of us. will you be that one i've been running towards? the one who doesn't hold on all the time?
2 september, 2006.

i came back for you, she said.
i know,
he looked at the flowers on the table - white and freshly cut. these smell horrible, he said. they smell like granite, and hospital gowns.
it was the thought that counts, kiddo, she sighed.
she hated lilies, he said.
no one but you knew that.
except for her.
except for her, she said.
they look like tumors, too. white, bulbous tumors.
she fell silent. there was nothing to say.
i didn't expect you to, come back, i mean. he said finally.
what else am i here for? she asked, and filled the room with light. he shut his eyes.
he swirled a glass of red wine and held it up, high in the air, as if he hoped, if he let it go, it might stay there, floating.
you'd have done the same, she said.
he grunted, said 'i don't know.'
true, she said.
the chiming of seventeen individual grandfather clocks echoed in his head, interrupted by the slow, wheezing gasp of the closing of a screen door.
he followed her into the street. i'm sorry, he said.
don't be, she said. sit in the dark for a while. i'll leave the light on for you.
5 august, 2006.

these tired eyes, that pirate smile; we were always good at being tired; he stays still; tight tight tight; body to body, he never stays still.
30 december, 2006.

crazy german ladies hiding yelling dogs following english toffee with the milwaukee folk. tornado warnings, lightning billowing, brewers games michaelangelos and the chocolate shoppe, and the squid and the whale, all over and everywhere. cacciato at the union in the mornings and by the fiberglass muralled cows, dance parties in the kitchen [FAKIN AMNESIA] james brown and rhythm is a dancer, singing soulful in the stairwell, the messiest orange in the world, and a mouse in the frying pan.
4 june, 2006.

you do what you can | when you can | why you can. | and when you can't | you can't.
23 september, 2006.

"now you just look over there, a'right? anything the matter, bru? yah yah. . . and if you ever threaten my life like that again, my friend, i'll peal your face back off your 'ead."
i'm yelling! i'll drown you out. you'll drown me out.
life is like the surf, so give yourself away like the sea.
28 december, 2006.

reading poetry in the morning. peanut butter and jelly. sudden violin outbreaks which sound like wailing after i've drawn on my toes and spoken to a pair of old men in houndstooth bowler hats and matching (each other, not the hats), decided to continue dancing wherever possible, regardless of the threats from mental health workers. love, whenever possible. love HARD and often.
13 january, 2006.

oh, this time we'll be infinite.
but not, like you said.
not forever.
that's too much time. it's just that the bound(arie)s will hold us down, and for
the time it takes to cross the space
we're in
we'll be infinite.
29 november, 2006.

the truth hurts. so we lie.
4 march, 2006.

we sit in the coffee shop, surrounded. on the couch, there is a man and a woman. she lays her head on his shoulder, talking straight into his ear. everyonce in a while, she flings her head sideways, her bouncy brown curls sliding across the rosy peach of her cheeks. she continues to chatter, laughing and explaining about how some man on the bus asked her where she'd gotten her boots (which are black and pointed, making click-clack sounds which echo on the tile when she walks) could she tell him where to find them? his wife would like them. she laughs when she tells her man this story, her arm pressed between his and his ribs, her hand resting quietly on his thigh. she laughs because she is comfortable in her love.
but he is not paying attention, watching instead the woman across from them, alone at a table reading a newspaper over her black-rimmed glasses. he does not love the woman who laughs.
17 november, 2006.

big things are occurring, and i don't even know if they're phasing me enough as they should. cliff jumping with the sidewalk revolutionaries of the yellow traffic lights (aka: the dead rabbits). el presidente (amsterdam), the secretary of war, the personal assassin, the secretary of propaganda, rocco, and i (the muse, the speechwriter)
the voice of pacifism in the chaos of anarchy.
3 august, 2006.

i am in espresso, and through the frame of the front windows, the overture centers' doors reign over the street. there is a line of men on bicycles, waiting for the stoplight in front of them to signal that they are free to go. one of them is looking down at his hand, wondering whether he will need to buy new gloves before winter's end. these men are splayed against the backdrop bricks of the building behind them, ivory and cream colored stone that reminds the busses not to exhale too much dust into the air. the stoplight turns green, and they are gone.
13 december, 2006.

you're singing, but i can't hear a word that you're saying.
it's all like a caucaphony of words, words and jumbled up birds
in my ears.
they're falling like glass through that turquoise blue lava you're spewing
why can't i hold on to you?
just let me sleep for a while, and maybe i'll hear what you're singing.
maybe i'll hear every word that you're praying...
25 march, 2006.

sepia tone loving. champagne. speaking in letters, and smoking out windows, and sailing into fits of giggles. charlie the unicorn. waking up in hotels, slipping in and out of sleep. coffee shop goodbyes. love HARD and often.
1 january, 2007.