The Four Faced Wind

Poetry by Valeria Castellanos

The Glass Bead Game

The Glass Bead Game – not my art

I awoke with the land folded in on itself.
A sky full of clouds,
With open mouths,
With tongues of sun,
And, eyes of wire,
Taunting the skies,
With spears of fire.

Wandering with fireflies,
What do you watch with moonlight eyes?
Are you lost, tonight, in moonlit nightshade?
In what darkness do you wade?
Do you dance with Belladonna?
Do you toast a toadstool moon?
Are you tossed about tonight,
By a hail storm’s tune?

The mist is mired, and maze inspired.
The labyrinth is spinning loud.
It sings in the opaque landscape’s light,
Behind the steel gray cloud.

Eat golden fire and scarlet weed,
Drink the tea of the dark datura seed.
Laughter, tears and heart aches feed,
Now, string another cold, glass bead.
Dust devils dance in warm swamp gas,
And, the Phoenix burns in the mermaid’s pass.
Jeweled thoughts roam outside my mind,
For the meek are weak and, the strong will shine.
It is always so, it will always be.
You must stand and fight or turn and flee.

Achieve and conquer,
Gain and grow.
Take the next glass bead,
Then turn and go.

With dragons are you dancing,
In the Hell-cat fires?
Did you pick a fight tonight,
With the tongue sharp liars?
Begonias, pink, boom in the shade,
With crooked sword and sharpened blade.
Is all this just for a cold, glass bead?
Does it fill your heart?
Does it make you bleed?
Is now the time to be afraid?
Are you ready to go? Was the piper paid?

Did you wish on the wishing star?
Do you know where you went? Did you travel far?
Did you know yourself. Do you know my name?
Do you think that you won the glass bead game?


The Garden

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,
To the innocents,
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 humming birds.

It is murmuring,
Dark and torpid murmuring,
Murmuring, from under the fountains,
And, from under the grayness, under the stairs.

This is not the sound of green or sun,
Or, the joy of praying mantis prayers.
I cannot understand the murmured whispers,
But, the children are laughing,

And, this is not the smell of flowers,
Or, bee hives filled with honey.

Something in the garden is calling,
Calling to the children,
Calling, calling gray and thin,
Like the the sound of chilling rain,

Calling, thin and hollow,
Calling the children 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 children are humming the songs,
Humming the songs,

Humming the gray and haunting refrains.
I fear that the children will think,
This is only a game.

I fear that the garden will lure them away,
And, they will be tricked,
Into training their souls for trinkets.

I do not remember another time,
Of so many spiders and spider webs.
So much seems strange, so much seems wrong,
And, there are so many whispers,

Whispering, whispering,
Thin and cold,
And, the garden is gray and unfamiliar.
I do not want to go into the garden.

The voices in the garden are gathering faces,
And, the whispering voices are speaking in tongues.
I hear their murmuring, whispering voices,
Laughing and humming the music I don’t understand.

The children are whispering now,
And, humming and laughing and singing the words.
And, the gates are singing, all of the gates,
The gates are singing and calling.

I hear them calling, calling.
There are so many gates in the garden now.
There are gates I never have seen before.
There are gates I can’t even imagine.

I do not want to go into the garden,
Where the voices are calling, whispering, humming,
I do not want to go out to the gates,
Gates that may open up anywhere,

Gates that lead to other places,
Gates that may lead to the other side.

I do not want to go into the garden,
With whispering voices,
With calling gates.

But, the garden is the whole world,
And so, I have to go.


Nothing to Say

I have enclosed all of my words in a jar
In a place where no one can hear them
Everyone can see them
Each word, independent
Devoid of syntax and structure
Disavowing rhythm and rhyme
Disregarding time
Meaning scattered by earthquakes and tremors
Elections and emotions
Unsure of themselves
No legal standing
Petrified, vilified, terrified
No longer knowing what they are allowed to say

I have electroplated them with gold and silver
Aluminum alloys
Sugar and marmalade
Given them meat to eat
Riots to beat
Made them heavy, unmoving, permanent
Precious, polished, exhausted
Weathered, worn out, burned down,
Defeated, defiled, deflated
Infiltrated, greatly hated, hotly debated, regulated
Translated, alienated, transformed, reformed, uninformed, uniformed, programmed, interpreted
Mummified and redefined
Blind, with invisible frangipani flowers shaking their heads
Fragments of butterflies’ wings and desert sands, sighing
Trying to escape the moans and the skeletal bones of the earth
To reach heaven before they are missed
Remembering they once were kissed

The crows are looking for shiny, blue things with which to decorate their nests
And, the song birds are listening, not to words
But, only to the music
The lizards are listening, not to words
But, only to colors and shapes
The beetles are listening, not to words
But, only to light and dark
And, the stars are listening only to
On and off

All of my words are enclosed in a jar
In a place where no one can hear them
Everyone can see them

January 2021

Magic Carpet Ride

My artwork, ink on paper, 5½” x 7⅞”

We are on a magic carpet ride,
On an undulating road of cloud,
We are sailing through jade jungle halls,
Over emerald shade, green light grown walls,
Over seashell sparkles and opal streams,
Our hair kissed about in the gold sunbeams.

‘Round towers and torrents of cloud we fly,
Our wild spirits soar like the birds of the sky,
And, the span of our wings is as wide as the sea,
For I am in love with you,
With you,
And, you are in love with me.

An indigo light,
Floods the sky of our night.
The moon follows soon,
As a worn, silvers sphere,
She smiles like a mermaid,
A soul hovering near,
In an octopus cloud,
Spun of dark mist and swirls,
Medusa’s hair shining with snake spittle’s curls,
And, the span of our wings is as wide as the sea,
For I am in love with you,
With you,
Oh, with you,
And, you are in love with me.

At night we fly soft,
Through the cool Milky Way,
On the warmth of the winds,
Through the sparkling day.
You and I are there dreaming ones.
We are the drifters,
The whispering wind-waifs,
The ghosts of shape shifters.
We are the wandering, wondering nomads,
The pilgrims of spinning-skies wild open roads,
The green flash of sunset, the purple moon’s nodes.
We are children of all but forgotten stars,
Blue-green dreams of Neptune,
Red kisses of Mars.
We are made dizzy by dancing with the rainbow,
Flying with griffins above laughing trees,
By humming in clouds where the bright thunder seethes,
And, breathing the air that the sky giants breathe.

The silver sea shimmers,
Sea glimmers,
Grows wet,
Under our feet,
And, the heat,
And, the butterflies rise,
To a wondrous size.
They glow in our eyes,
And, their flash conjures visions,
Of velvet disguise,
Of orchid brushed breeze,
Of thin, cloud-whisp trees,
Of sky-haloed heron,
And, jasmine kissed bees.

When we come back to land,
Put your hand in my hand.
With hearts still in the sky,
Let’s make love in the sand,
For I am in love with you,
Oh, with you,
And, you are in love with me.

Are You Going to the Everglades?

All emerald and ochre,
Under a wet skin,
Snake skin,
And, painted snails,
Wings and stings,
And, feathered things,
And, fearful things,
In the shadows,
Panther prowling,
In the shade,
Hot breath,
Right or left,
Steaming mud,
A muck eel flood,
Cold blood,
Leaves of jade,
Don’t be afraid.
Jump up or fade,
Circumvent, sidestep or wade,
Carved or curled up,
Cut out,
Above, below and all about,
Scrambling, rambling,
Underbrush and brick-a-brack,
You’re it now. You can’t hit back.
Can’t run away and can’t backtrack.
Don’t try to hide.
Can’t go inside.
No, all entwined,
Tied up in vines,
The sunlight shines.
The birds a twitter,
Bright eyes glitter,
Leaf-litter shuffles,
Sweet or bitter.
You stay here. I’ll go away,
I have to say I’ll be gone awhile,
But, I’ll be laughing. That’s my style.
And, I’ll wear an alligator smile.

Size of a Spirit

Do not scorn the insects.
Ask instead, “What is the size of a spirit?”
Man sized, spirit,
I say,
Or, eyes all afire,
And, too small to be seen,
Stiff hair flying,
Wearing a wildly painted mask.

Size of a monster, perhaps,
Stamping, snorting,
Itching for a fight,
Size of a jungle,
In the green fire-light?
A single, looming eye,
In the sky,
Giant sized the spirits run,
As in times gone by.

What do the temples say,
The temples with mouths the size of doors?
What say the gargantuan Olmec Heads?
What says the Pyramid of the Sun,
Where men turn into gods?

Smaller than the pick,
Of the firefly’s light,
In the night.
Size of a spider’s smile,
Small as the heart of a seed,
Of a weed,
Size of the spark,
Which moves the Morning Star,
The Evening Star,
The Wishing Star.

It has been said,
And, I believe it,
The spirit weighs,
The same as an insect.
“Which insect?” You are going to ask.
“Which spirit?” I will have to answer.
The spirit of a man,
Is the size of an ant.
An ant, an ant.
The size of an ant.
Well, what is the size of an ant?
A black ant, red ant?
A jaw snapping fire ant?
A South American Army Ant?
A little, leaf cutting, foraging, farmer of lichen?
A nightmare ant?
An ant the size of delirium?

The spirit of a man is the size of an ant,
Because, this allows it,
To come and to go away freely.
The spirit of resurrection,
Is the size of a scarab beetle.
Such a tiny thing, it seems,
To power the whole world.

And, the breath of a man,
What is the size of his breath?
The breath of his life,
The size of his life?
And, his words,
And, his thoughts,
His reason,
His wind and his mind?

His breath is the size,
And, the shape of a serpent,
An elephant serpent,
Serpent the size of a mountain,
The size of the sea,
Transparent as anything you’ve ever seen.

This is our being,
And, this is my poem.
Who knows where size it may be?
It, too, is away, like a word, like a bird,
Like a soul,
Like a shiver along the spine,
Without a reason, without a rhyme,
Just like a murmur,
Too small to be seen.


Dragonfly – Painted Leaf by V. Castellanos

Who was it then? Who told me to write this poem?

Already here when I arrived
the dragonfly
   with a wingspan as wide as my hand
   eyes composed of a thousand facets
a thousand questions
a thousand answers
I imagine she is awake because
her eyes are open
   but, she may just be dreaming me

I am dreaming she is my friend because
we share the same stars
   we wear the same seasons
   we bare the same reasons
I am dreaming
   we both believe in joyful cooperation

The edge of the world is blazing bright
barely able to contain us both
   vibrations of a glass bell
   green grass on the breeze
While we are here
   contemplating one another
   a dream
   dreaming another dream
   under a cloudless sky
   we have been growing
Glowing in a world without shadows
   our corners cleaned by the same wind
   imaginations digesting the same perfume
   learned to sing the same songs
     under the same conduction
     of the energy of the sky
     the same reverberations of the earth

Sooner or later the dragonfly
with her questioning eyes
   wing-span as wide as my hand
   silently containing
   answers I cannot fathom
   as still now as the crystal afternoon
   will decide she has learned everything I could teach her
   will decide I have invaded her solitude
     her independence
     her self-sufficiency
She will forget her dream
   and my dream
   forget about me
   fly away
   be gone from my sight forever

I will never learn
everything she could teach me
I will forever be unable to fly
    to be as self-sufficient
    independent or solitary as she
I will stay here
   singing the songs we learned together
   under the conduction of the universe
   holding your hand
   without a dragonfly
   energy of the sky
   vibrations of a glass bell
   reverberations of the earth

I will be holding your hand
contemplating one another
   digesting the same perfume
   in a million crystal afternoons
   blazing bright

The dragonfly
gone from my sight
asked me not to forget
She said this moment is worth a poem

Spring Cleaning

The spiders have spent the last season,
Building castles between the leaves of the lilies.
The last of the winter leaves have turned into fantastic mobiles,
Toys for the breezes, woven from abandoned webs.
The porch is covered in pollen and dust.
The blackbirds are walking all over the roof,
And, trying not to annoy us.

I have a lovely, new red broom.
The jasmine is beginning to bloom.
I have a sponge and a brush and a mop,
The grasshoppers laugh and go hop, hop, hop.
I know that no one can make them stop.
The hummingbirds come and knock on the door,
To remind us, just in case.
The squirrels are up and down the trees,
Engaging in a race.
The green lizard’s cleaning the corners,
Which I am unable to reach.
Spring has finally reached us,
And, now you can eat a peach.
I need to put water into the fountains,
So, the blue birds do not faint.
Everything else needs a new coat of paint.
And, I need a facelift,
Or, at least a good smile,
And, I need time to sit on the porch next to you,
And, to hold your hand for a while.

Written by V. Castellanos – April 8, 2020


You have been there before, I know.
And, I think you go there in your dreams,
You go off to where, it seems,
The purple mesas rise with dawn,
On the horizons hover long,
Delighted by their own mirages,
Illuminated images,
The Trickster waits,
The Trickster’s hidden,
Behind a boulder, not forbidden,
First Mother’s there, behind it all,
One thousand times older than yesterday,
Looking over our shoulder.

Long, blue shadows lie below,
The great, magnetic mountains,
Across the sands,
Across the lands,
Green with copper and yellow with uranium,
Red with rage,
The bones of the earth are all exposed,
The black magma showing her age.

The caverns yawn with echoes of memories,
Smoke signals,
Droughts and floods,
Etchings on the trails,
Made by Kachina’s dancing feet.
They never miss a beat.
Hidden in the landscape,
Bending space,
Disappear and reappear,
In another place,
Start a barefoot race,
Kivas in the shadows,
Towers hidden from the angles of the wind,
And, the white clouds, soft and thin,
Dissolving in the blue sky, under the midday sun.

With us or without us,
The world still rages on,
At dawn, it seems,
My lovely dreams,
Are very nearly gone.

I have followed sandy footsteps from 40,000 years ago,
I have followed stars and spirals painted on the ceilings of caves,
Red hand prints and thirteen petaled flowers.
I have followed goats with rectangular eyes to feed on datura.
I have followed run away rains into the sky,
And, there they left me high and dry.

Now, I am falling into canyons filled with cactus flowers and spines,
I am falling into quicksand rivers lined with tamarac and vines,
I am falling into love, with places you and I, together, have been to.
And, I am falling more and more and more, in love with you.

Written by V. Castellanos – April 5, 2020

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