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The Four Faced Wind

Poetry by Valeria Castellanos

I Asked My God

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“I Asked My God” Florida Highway Men

I awoke before dawn in the Everglades
And, I asked my God to speak to me
But, if he answered, I could not hear
Because the bird’s songs suddenly soared
Louder than the thunder of the rising sun
And, the purple voices of the broad palmetto leaves
Rose in praise of the new day

The tone of the sweet, blue sky rang deep
And, the laughter of the clouds ran loud
The raven’s wings rang wide and full
And, the moss was full of bells

I could not hear his answer
Because the river’s melodies rose up
To join the uproar of the dragonflies
And, the whispers of the stars behind the daylight
I could not hear because of the cacophony of unfolding flower petals
And, the towering symphonies of the butterflies wings
I could not hear because the lizards were reciting ancient rhymes
And, the snails were telling tales of the Milky Way
I could not hear because of the ant’s arias
And, the ballads of the turtles
The moonflowers tempani
And, the caterpillar’s kettledrums

I asked my God to speak to me
And, I am still wondering
What his voice will sound like
When he answers

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I Do Not Need a Miracle

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“I do not Need a Miracle” – Ink and colored pencil on paper – 5 1/2″ x 7 7/8″ – My Artwork

I do not need a miracle.
I have a dragonfly,
With multi-facetedeyes and a wingspan as wide as my hand,
Who has whispered the secrets of the morning to my ear.

I have a yellow leaf who has danced befor my eyes as beautifully as a butterfly,
And, brought to me a golden, sun lit afternoon when she landed in my lap.

I have a purple, heart shaped pod,
Which has falling off of the vine, into my outstretched hand,
And, has promised a moonflower for my hair will be born tonight.

I have a root which has been an intimate friend of the earth,
And, a rainbow which has enclosed the entire sky.
I have a cloud to lay my head upon.
I have a star.
I have a dream.
I have a songbird and a child.

I do not need a miracle.

I have all the proof I need.

V. Castellanos – November 2014

Unwanted

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“The Edge of the Everglades” – Oil Pastel on paper – 11″ x 8 1/2″ – by V. Castellanos

The Everglades do not want us,
We who would be kings,
We who would be scientists,
Would be magicians,
Mathematicians,
Or, even poets,
We who would crack the genetic code,
And, understand quantum mechanics,
We who would walk in the dusts of the moon,
And, on the rings of Saturn,
We who would build pyramids and bridges,
Conquering empires and devouring the earth,
We who would have the weather under our control,
And, the wind under our command,
With robotic slaves and computational miracles,
Clones and the keys to unlock the secrets of immortality.

We are out of place.
We are not really welcome here.
Only the changelings are welcome,
The fairies raised as humans,
The humans raised as fairies,
But, you know, the changelings are part of the past,
There are no changelings now.

What the Everglades really want,
Is for the dragon souls of its trees,
To be free and unfettered,
To slip beyond the confines of their bark into the clouds,
To sing with the mud and to soar with the eagles,
To celebrate snakes and snails,
To creep out of the darkness,
Into the bodies of beetles and the tongues of the tortoise,
Into the breeze and the alligator’s souls,
Into the panther’s eyes and the wings of heron,
To keep the worlds quick shadows,
And, the green heartbeats,
All in tune with one another,
And, in harmony with the rains and sunshine.
They only want time to pass the way the breezes pass,
And, sunlight to continue caressing the ripples under the grasses.
They want the air to feed the trees,
And, the mud to feed the insects.
They would have the simplicity of chaos,
Excite the complexity of nature,
And, keep the universe expanding.
They would nurture every form of life,
Without limitation, without gradation,
Without judgment.
Keep wanting. Reproduce.
Dancing to music we cannot hear.
Laughing with hurricanes.
Breathing emotion.

But, the spirits can no longer do that,
Because they know we are coming,
Instead they are holding hands,
Holding tight to their dreams,
Holding their breath,
Hiding inside the leaves.
They know who we are.
They hear us, almost upon them,
Surveying equipment in hand,
Trampling through and shouting,
Singing of our accomplishments,
And, ready to take over,
Ready to change,
Everything.

If you stopped trampling about so much,
Could you be as quiet as the blue-black beetle,
As calm as a cypress tree,
As graceful as a ghost orchid,
As insubstantial as a rainbow?
If you could, you might hear the thoughts,
Of the lizards and the leaves,
The Spanish moss,
The sap inside of the twigs.
They are whispering into the spaces,
The places,
Inside of one another’s minds,
Where the winds neither enter nor interface.

Wary of every step we take,
They have been around a long time,
And, they have seen a lot.

“Go away! Go away! Go away!” they say.
“Go back by the road on which you came.
“Go away and shut the door,
“Behind you when you leave.”
But, we, who do not believe in spirits,
We don’t hear a thing.

Like the toys in your childhood bedroom,
Who came to life only when you were asleep,
They are keeping their secrets.

And, what are we doing here anyway?
Did we just come to play with Peter Pan?
Did we come here to find the Fountain of Youth?
To make our fortune?
To gain our fame?

Did we come hungry for knowledge?
Did we come for vision to grant us power?
Did we come to break everything apart,
Or to steal the gold egg?
What did we come to change?
Why do we want to change it?
What are the plans we have here,
For our logic and laws and our rational minds?

The Everglades never were intellect’s minions.
They are not challenging the heavens,
Reaching for the stars.
They are not trying to conquer anything.
They are not burdened with the need for evidence, or analysis,
For facts and information,
Statistics or probabilities,
Or, even a personal vision of truth.
They live by the strength of their hunger,
And, the beat of their hearts.
They only want what is, and care not for what if.

The Everglades’ spirits are getting to know us,
And, the wind has begun to shift.

“Aren’t you ready to leave yet?”
“Aren’t you ready to leave?”

We are just like the Everglades.
We can only be what we are.
It seems that none of us have a choice.

What can we learn from one another,
Moving in different directions?
Will we meet at the end of the circle,
Or, will I go on and on until I am dizzy?
Will I follow myself until I’m lost?

After we are gone, of course,
The Everglades will take everything back.
The landscape will reassemble itself.
The leaves will abandon their camouflage.
The birds will grow a thousand wings,
And, the bodies of beasts will manifest,
In multiple additional dimensions.
The lizards will dance for the wild anhingas.
The heron will sing to the strangler figs.

Tonight the Everglades will be in my dreams,
But, I think it will forget about me,
As quickly as they can.

V. Castellanos – 1998

To NYC and Back

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“Improbable Paradise” Digital Art – Photo Art – 9/11/2018

Years and years,
Of escape and consideration,
Piecing together an improbable paradise.
A decision at every corner,
Every crossroad.
Sometimes into the desert,
Into the jungle,
Onto a mesa,
Into no man’s land.
It is important,
Not just where you are going,
But, the direction from which you have come.

I am seeking answers. I am seeking contentment,
The lullabies of the breeze,
The heartbeat of the trees,
The wings of a dragonfly reflecting a rainbow,
In a puddle of mud.
I find nothing but evening falling,
Orange skies on the horizon,
An early owl,
Eager to hunt,
Before the moonrise shadows,
Stars obscured by clouds,
Hidden under the smoke,
And, not reflected in mirrors.
I find nothing but fireflies, confused by tricks of lightning,
Drifting in dreams of luminescent mushrooms,
Dancing under the cracked street light,
Down Broadway and Forty Second Street.

I am lighting up billboards and Plato’s Retreat,
Sitting with honkey tonk percussionists and rebels,
At glossy orange painted tables,
Getting drunk with cocaine and plans,
Jazz under my fingernails,
Howling from Grand Central to Soho,
A pigeon on my shoulder,
Grime and cement under foot,
Cold glass and steel in the sky,
A panhandler on each arm,
The bewildering echoes of the beat of Wall Street,
The eye of Cleopatra’s Needle,
Turned in on itself,
Watching the past,
So safe because we already know what is going to happen,
Nothing like espresso and poetry,
Snapping fingers instead of applause,
Everyone exaggerating themselves,
A “Shakespeare in the Park” actor,
Too good for summer stock,
Able to travel in any direction,
Open any door,
Be whoever you want.
Slumming on the Lower East Side,
Central Park South, Needle Park,
Alphabet City,
Another country around every corner,
From Columbus Circle to Sheridan Square,
Without a single smile,
Finally falling asleep to the rumble of the BMT,
Under the Brooklyn Bridge,
Chinatown over my shoulder,
Choking on air expelled by six million mouths,
Smothered by the dreams of everyone else,
In a hurry,
Rush hour pushing, shoving,
All scrambling to rise,
Above money,
Or fifteen minutes of fame.
Me, too. Drowning.
“Top of the world, Ma.”
And, snap of the fingers,
Everything goes,
Up in smoke.
Street lights out.
Not reflected by mirrors.
Cracked illusions.
The Milky Way retired for the night,
Into the scream of a siren.

Into the silence of a dawn,
Of red wasps in the sun.
Fireflies gone.
Grateful for my life,
And, for an improbable paradise.

September 11, 2018

The Incurious Beetles

The incurious beetles
Are scurrying over the broken shards of reality
Slipping into the illusions of crevices in the canvas
Into cracks of absurdity, of obscurity
Obscenity, infinity
Into five fold mutations

Mutilations

Radiation situations
Stimulations
Simulations
Manipulations
Interrupted continuations
Eradications
Fornications, ejaculations
Fabrications of instability and insanity
Extinction events enclosed in a jar

It is the perfection of nature’s immutable laws
Which keeps me in balance
But, I am still descending into gravity
And, time is catching up
Space running out
Water turning into ice
Hair turning white
Bones cracking
Every mirage a possibility
But, don’t forget Fukushima

I am only a whispering flower
Made of dust
Thirsty
On the edge of the desert
On the edge of emptiness
On the edge of my own extinction
And, maybe the extinction of everyone else

Burned by passing asteroids
By raging daylight
Distant moons and meteor showers
And, howling, cosmic energies
Vibrations feeding my aura with sensations
And, revelations
Struck by a comet from another solar system
Bringing dreams fed by heavy, black stones
Moans transformed into a trembling, musical note
Of unimaginable beauty
And, a smile fed by the memory of every day which ever was

Off to the Shore

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“Off to the Shore” – My Digital Art – 2018

If I should have my way,
I would be off to the shore today,
Where the air is full of breezes,
And, the sky is full of birds.
The bright, clear, brilliant, liquid light,
Is cut into by palm tree silhouettes,
Lizards quick and slick,
Are hidden in the thick,
Spike shadows,
Smooth, gray driftwood,
Swirls in the tide pool,
Prancing, bright eyed, hermit crab fool,
Hovering yellow butterflies,
Adorning perfect turquoise skies,
Spring waves murmuring,
Beneath azalea mists,
All kissed,
By periwinkle sprinkles,
Breezes graced by silver gongs,
Invisible songs,
Water the color of the fishes scales,
Wave the color of mermaid’s tales,
Hibiscus the color of sunrise,
Sands of ancient oyster shells,
The color of kisses pure,
Jasmine white,
Perfume and salt.

I am an ocean of my own,
Composed of blood and bone,
Of minerals, metals,
And, mostly water,
Flowing under the surface tension of my skin,
An ebb and flow of emotions,
Premonitions, preconditions, preconceptions,
Imprinted on the space between time and God.

How could I be anything then,
Except a reflection of myself?
I am a fluid being,
Flowing with my currents.
Even when I am not at the edge of the sea,
I am required to bend with the tides,
Washed by weather and seasons.

These patterns cannot be understood.
They are larger than my perceptions.

The morning dew calls me by name.
I answer, my footprints sink in the sand,
In the morning tide,
Wandering, here and there,
My feet are bare,
Frangipanis are flowering in my hair.
I am bowing to floating clouds.

I am still young,
And, trying to learn,
To smile with all of my being,
Trying to find a way to live recklessly,
And, completely,
In the present.

March 2015

I Shall Dance with the Storm

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“I Shall Dance with the Storm” – Beautiful Photograph – Unknown Photographer

I shall dance with the summer, sun filled days,
And, with the purple banners of dark evening clouds.
I shall dance with indigo skies and roaring rain,
With laughter, with simmering splashes,
With thunderous clashes,
Closing in for the coming storm,
And, the changes in its wake.

I shall dance with shattering, cut glass showers,
In the rush of the quickening, twilight hush,
Because rain flows in my veins,
Because my thoughts are contained,
In the dreams of serpents,
Asleep in the crevices of the banyan’s roots.

I shall dance in the perfumed, evening haze,
Because my flesh has been hoarded and distilled,
By the flowering jungle,
And, together we are standing, with expectations,
At the edge of the break of the ozone.
We are wondering if the wind has a will of its own.
We are wondering if the lightning,
Knows why it is heating the heart of the clouds,
Green as the tree frog’s back.
We are wondering if the rain had decided, before dawn,
It would awaken seeds today.

All I ask of you is not to interrupt,
The wonders of this rain-is-coming moment.
This moment is important,
This moment of hush,
This silk-chiffon, gray-cloud moment,
Of falling jacaranda petals,
When tangled tentacles of moss are set aquiver,
In awful twilight’s purple,
And, the Fates, succumbing to laughter or tears,
Disguise themselves or turn their heads.

I know I cannot become a part of the storm.
I can become neither a sunset nor a Jacaranda flower.
I am only a witness,
Inhaling the air,
Ingesting the rain,
And, internalizing whatever it brings.

I stand against the wind,
In puddles of lavender rhinestones.
I am willing to stand, on my own,
Against the convictions of others,
Against the thoughts of ages,
Against beliefs in yesterday’s traditions,
And, tomorrow’s rebellions,
Willing to stand, if I must,
Against even the wishes of clouds,
And, giant, ghost-stained oaks.

I am willing to let the storm strike my cheek,
And, announce the decisions of the Fates.
I am willing to wait for the universe,
Poised on its turning edge,
To make up its mind about what to do.
If the future has a will of its own,
Does that mean I have none?

The heartbeat of the storm has turned,
And, she has begun to close her eyes.
The crescent moon,
As orange as the beak of the Ibis,
Has rent the veil of clouds,
Which open their mouths,
And, whisper into the sky.
“They say I have changed,”
And, “So have you.”

 

 

1998

Circus

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“Circus” – not my photo

I sat on the wall and watched.
He said, the piebald pigeons started laughing in the street but,
This I did not see,
For I was busy,
Sitting on the wall and watching.

He said, the ragged squirrels juggled ten walnuts at a time and,
The outrageous sparrows flung themselves, upside down,
Off of the trapeze.
But, again, I did not see,
For I was,
Sitting on the wall and watching.

Ten thousand orchids flew into the city,
Landed on the lampposts in the night.
Bloody snapdragons sprouted fiery tongues and,
Were carried away by the MorningStar.
The mountains all decided to stand up on their long, thin legs.
They marched away, across the land,
Leaving puddles as footprints.
They rolled over, onto another shore,
Sending their spume as far as the moon and,
Drowning the soul of the sun.
But, I was busy, busy,
Watching from the wall,
Busy, watching my child grow up.

Just like me. Replica of myself.
Nothing like me. Mirror image of his father.
Sometimes, I cannot tell the stones from the trees or,
The others from each other or,
My son from myself.

In the evenings, everyone sits on the wall and,
I am told of great events,
Of treaties signed and kingdoms sold,
Of stocks and bonds and interest rates,
Technology soaring, epidemics,
Crime on the rise and tax revolts,
Migrations and wars and summit meetings,
Trade unions, accidents and,
Famines in far off climes.

But, once again, I did not see,
For I was busy watching,
Watching from the wall.
I was watching my child grow up and,
He was watching the circus.

August 1985

The Garden

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“The Red Moon” “The Garden” – Digital Compilation by V. Castellanos

We went into the garden,
To plant a seed,
And, watch it grow.
But, then I found,
That someone else,
Was walking in the garden.

Someone was there.
I could not see.
And, evil never dies.

There are voices in the garden now,
Voices without faces,
Voices whispering,
Whispering,
To the innocent ones,
Things it does not mean for us to know.

And, there is laughter in the garden,
Which is neither mine nor yours.
It is not the kind of laughter,
Which I like to hear.

This sound does not belong in the garden,
This dark sound,
Crawling behind the indigo, poison shadows.
This is not the humming of hummingbirds.
It is murmuring,
Dark and torpid murmuring,
Murmuring from under the fountains,
And, from under the grayness under the stairs.
It is not the sound of green or sun,
Or, the joy of praying mantis’ prayers.

I cannot understand the murmured whispers,
But, the innocent ones are laughing,
Laughing,
And, this is not the smell of flowers,
Or, beehives filled with honey.

Something in the garden is calling,
Calling to the innocents,
Calling, calling gray and thin,
Like the sound of chilling rain,
Calling, thin and hollow,
Calling the innocent ones,
To bring their souls,
And, to come into the garden.

Now, I am hearing songs in the garden,
Songs you and I have never sung.
The innocent ones are humming the songs,
Humming the songs,
Humming the gray and hunting refrains.

I fear that the innocent ones will think,
This is only a game.
I fear that the garden will lure them away,
And, they will be tricked,
Into trading their souls for trinkets.

The flowers in the garden are withered,
And, the voices in the shadows are gathering faces.
The gate to the garden is standing open.
Neither you nor I would have left it that way.

I do not remember another time,
Of so many spiders and spider’s webs.
And, there are so many whispers,
Whispering, whispering,
Thin and cold,
Like the sound of chilling rain.

The innocent ones are whispering now,
And, speaking in tongues,
Whispering now and humming,
Singing and laughing,
The laughter I do not like to hear.

I do not want to go into the garden.
The withered flowers have gathered faces,
And, the faces are faces,
You and I have never seen.
The voices never cease their calling,
Murmuring, whispering, moaning,
Humming the hunting refrains,
Of music I don’t understand.

I do not want to go into the garden.
I do not want to go out,
Into the poison, indigo shadows.
Not even just to close the gate.
I do not want to go into the garden,
Of so many spiders and spider’s webs,
The garden of grayness from under the fountain,
From under the stairs.
But, the garden is the whole world,
And, so I have to go.

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