The Four Faced Wind

Poetry by Valeria Castellanos

Desert Madness

Desert Madness

The desert eats up everything
including shadows and rainbows
eats the bones
the thoughts
the dreams
eats desires and memories
eats everything
except intensity
this it increases
with the heated passion
of the hysterical laughter
of sun strokes

Dried flowers, dried flesh
dried blood in the sand
dust in the shriveled sky
cactus mummy
corpse of thorns
longing, stiffness
isolation, struggle
crouching, close to the ground
searching for a crevice
a crooked rock
an intangible shadow
Perhaps the earth will
swallow them up
save them
from the rapacious mandibles
of an insane sun

It sometimes comes into my mind
that the desert is not a place at all
the hand print of a demon
a nightmare’s emotion withering clouds
light slashed against a parched canvas
ground glass bowing under a cutting wind
an abandoned delirium growing inside itself
inside of myself
with no regard for anything else
spilling over with its devouring appetite
following me everywhere
carrying everything into it
like a helter-skelter dust devil
a meteoric sand storm
a mirage
spun out of nothing
in my mind

The desert is something to struggle against
composed of extremes
crackling stones and cackling lizards
rocks, barking like a mad coyote
rumbling tunes of tumbling sand dunes
changing the textures of my being
outrageous sunlight stinging my skin
and hideous frozen stars
dictating the colors of my thoughts
and rearranging my emotions

The desert distorts me
rolls me over
rolls over me
with heat waves and grit
gets into my stomach
gets in my eyes
in between my thighs
It needs to be viewed
like a sculpture
from all of its sides at once
from all of its angles
all of its tangles
from underneath
from over and above
upside down
inside and out
from anywhere and everywhere
if you can get there
You will find this is exhausting
requiring almost all of your time

There is no expectation here
that anything will be fair
Everything is just as it is
Without exception
When it comes to the soul
the desert brings no peace
the images it casts before you
often are not real
but the objects it throws in your way
always are

Someday I plan to go live in the desert
because it is extremes which keep the soul alive
Then today and tomorrow will be the same
with no divisions
Yesterday will have ceased to exist
and no one will be paying attention

I will forget the differences I have with the world
the differences
between reality and my beliefs
between the run away tumbleweed
and the hysterical road runner
between the glint of gold
and the stinger of the thousand year old scorpion
between the eyes of the vulture
and my heart

Everything I experience then
will be something that no one has known before
I will become the same as the elements
illusions and phantoms
a dry, dust devil, dancing
I will become who I really am
sand beneath my fingernails
without words to explain myself
and no one will object
insanity is, after all, just a disagreement
over reality
and madness
in the desert
is a normal state of mind



Perhaps – self portrait photo by V. Castellanos

“What is it that keeps you alive?” they ask.
“It is ambition,” I reply.
But, perhaps I am wrong.
Perhaps it is curiosity or sensuality.
Perhaps it is reverence and awe.
Perhaps it is selfishness or love.
Perhaps it is because,
I have discovered that I am the center of the universe.
Perhaps it is because,
I am so insignificant,
I have been overlooked by the spaces in between the stars.

Perhaps it is because of time,
And, things to come.
Perhaps it is because there are things still to be done.
We are, in the end, the sum of our actions.

Perhaps there is something I still have to find.
And, if this is true, do I want to find it?
Certainly I do.
I am searching everywhere.
I am sifting the desert sands and dissecting clouds.
I am reading the news.
I am looking through electron microscopes,
And, trying to decipher the pronouncements of whales.

I have visited imaginary numbers,
And, gone on quantum leaps.
I have held holograms in my hands,
And, landed, with a giant step for mankind, on the moon.
I speak in analog and binary voices,
Sing with angels,
And, dance on the edge of tomorrow,
With the fool who believes in himself,
And, shuns reality.

I understand the subconscious mind and subatomic matter.
I have investigated genomes, gestation, gravity and ghostly apparitions.
I have sought after the unifying principle,
The one thing that holds everything together,
The unified field theory,
The center of the spider web,
The one thing that engenders everything else.
I am pretty sure it is what we have long called God.

This God has told me,
You can’t find the theory of unity,
By taking things apart.
So, I am fitting together all the pieces I have gathered.

I have begun to suspect that we are the unifying principle.
It is our thoughts which are holding everything together.

I am hoping, before the curtains fall,
The chorus will arrive,
And, in unison, with their beautiful voices,
They will explain what everything means.

Carving Insects

Carving Insects – ink on paper by V. Castellanos

I walk on the edge,
With the desert phoenix.
The sky is full of light,
And, I am tangled up with snakes.

I walk in robes of jasmine perfume,
In clouds of dreams,
With tangled seed pods,
Bracelets hung with humming birds,
Are twisted ’round my neck.

I am going off to visit,
The mountains and the gargoyles.
Going to kiss the masks with open mouths,
That open caves.
Going to stir the dust that has gathered,
Under the unsung songs.

Off to the Village of Honey and Justice,
Where sages still drink tea of herbs,
Still sing the words of ancient times,
Still recite the ancient rhymes.

I am a lone bird,
Winging home,
In the afterglow of life.

All of my life,
I have spent carving insects,
Ivory, jade and sandalwood.
I have polished their skin.
I have dusted their eyes.
Now, in the dreams of my old, old age,
They are oozing into life.
They are flowing over the fragrant grass,
That grows at the end of the skies.

I do not think,
The way things are,
That I will pass this way again.

The Glass Bead Game

The Glass Bead Game

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?

Images of Heaven

Images of Heaven

Light against the sandbar.
Cast your fisher net.
Catch mermaid’s curls and floating pearls,
And images of heaven.

The soothing palms are holding,
One another’s hands,
Sheltering weeds and dragon’s seeds,
And images of heaven.

A single moment of soaring flight,
The rise of a graceful bird,
This is all it takes,
For me to forget,
The glories an empire built.

My bones go crack in the wind.
The scent of darkness,
Has worn down the night.
I have come before a courtyard,
Which is mist and poppy filled.

An ibis is blocking my way.
The courtyard gate is locked.
And the poppies grow,
The lilies glow,
On the other side,
Where I cannot go,
On the other side,
Where all I see,
Are images of heaven.

I Speak to Mountains


I speak to mountains,
And, have conversations with stones,
Although this isn’t as easy as you might think,
Because, we have to speak,
In a different temporal continuum.

We talk about sizes and shapes.
We speak of temperature conduction,
Molecular construction,
And, about internal crystalline geometry.
We chat about atomic structure and astronomical design,
Expansion, contraction, density,
Texture, space and weight,
About volume and viscosity,
About force fields and reverberations,
And, about the nature of waves.

We never talk about eternal life,
Love or poetry,
Dreams or even time travel.
For that I have to wait and speak to the flowers,
Who understand romance and flight,
Pheromones and symphonic composition.

The stones tell me,
When the earth was slapped by the moon,
Perhaps just rough housing around,
Perhaps in a jealous rage,
The earth got piqued,
And, with fight-back “I’ll show you” energy,
Set about more magic,
Than was ever before conceived.
Then all of our symmetry was altered,
And, everything became a possibility.

The stones want to know if we appreciate,
The nearly impossible underlying precision,
And, the unending, multiple coincidences of the universe.

I ask them,
About the ice ages,
About the magnetism of the North Pole,
About particle entanglement,
The proportion of space to matter in atoms,
And, why it is that everything can be reduced to mathematics.

They never really answer my questions.
Instead, they complain because,
We are always moving forward,
With great regard to the future,
While the wisdom of the past,
Is swallowed up in the irretrievable gravity sink,
Of our DNA and, our dismembered memories,
Snaps at our ankles,
Crumbles into sinkholes and quicksand,
And, creates the karmic weather.

The Wailing Woman

The Wailing Woman – artist unknown

I did not return,
To the far Salinas,
The desolate salt flats,
The white Salinas,
Full of phantoms,
Wanting to be,
Haunting me,
The Salinas of ever-restless winds,
Forever blowing under my door.

At first, I thought I did not return,
Because of the bitter taste of the salt in the air,
Because of the treeless plains,
And, the disillusioned sand.

I thought,
I did not return,
Because the searing sun,
Would strike my face with a slap.
I thought,
The lack of rain would sober me up.
I would be disoriented by the absence of rivers,
And, the dearth of things,
Flowing downstream.

I thought, it was,
Because of the nonexistence,
Of the intensions of clouds.
I thought, it was,
Because I did not want to see,
The dizzy gleam in the old prospector’s eye,
Lost in his own mind,
Wandering, without remembering why,
Into mirages and illusive mountains,
Oasis daydreams and elusive fountains.
I thought I did not want to encounter,
The outlines of yesterday,
And, ghosts,
Floating with the rise of the moon.

I did not want to walk over the dead ground,
To tread on hollow roots,
To hear the empty sighs of the earth under my feet,
Full of memories and reverberations.

I did not want to be struck by the wild delirium,
Caused by the rattlesnake’s bite.
I did not want to taste the overly ripe apples,
To smell the odor of stinging, alkaline springs,
To feel salt crystals grow on my skin.
I did not want to see how quickly my blood would dry,
And, disappear into the soil when I die.

But, in the end, it was none of these things.
In the end, I did not return,
Because I feared to hear,
The sighs of the setting sun,
Welcoming the throbbing whimpers,
Which rise with the first, faint star,
The piercing sound of unforgiving tears,
And, the lonely banshee cries,
From the broken heart of the Wailing Woman,
Infusing the lightning and the thunder,
With the expression of extinction,
And, the oppression of oblivion,
Bemoaning the demise of a people,
The end of a civilization,
Ghosts of sons and daughters,
Filling the omnipresent sky,
Between the rolling dunes,
And, the scratching thorns,
With the moans of failing rituals,
And, a forgotten past, falling gods,
Flowing out of yesterday’s darkness,
From the Mayan shore,
To the center of the world.



The rain is over and the forest is full of silver light
Symmetry and reflections, but, nowhere do I see myself
I only see green-eyed spiders, under the shadows
Dreaming in far off dances

The birdsongs have been carried away by the breeze
And, the lingering fog
Has become the color of
Perfume and promises
Radiant clouds, cobweb thick, are racing towards the horizon

I am trying
With eyes shut
To follow them
To catch the green eyed dances
Trying to sing the lost birdsongs
Trying to ride on the cobwebed clouds
Trying to hide in the cobwebed clouds

I am trying to breathe with the snakes
But, they refuse to take my hand
Because they have outgrown themselves
And, are busy shedding their skin –
Something beyond all my experience

I am trying to breathe with the lizards
Who are wrapped in one another’s arms
And, ignoring me
Because they are regrowing their tails –
Something beyond all my expectations

I am trying to breathe
With the dark-winged butterflies
Avoiding the cobwebed clouds
Rings around the rainbows
But, they are living in another time
Too fast for me
And, radiant with the accomplishment of metamorphosis –
Something beyond all my understanding

So, I breathe, instead
With mountains and valleys
With igneous stones and soft sand
With rocks and gullys
With myself
And, with the crystalline colors of the solid earth
Because I am planted
In the logic of words
In faith in thoughts
The tyranny of emotions
The restrictions of entropy
I am planted
Without the breath of after life
Without the bliss of transformation
Without the kiss of reincarnation
In the simplicity of death and birth
For whatever it’s worth
I have the ability to be nothing but myself –
Everything else is beyond my reach



I would with holi colors paint the clouds that float on high.
I would with absinthe paint my garden and my sky,
And there, without a thought or care,
I would get drunk with Baudelaire.

But, nowhere would I go with him.
He thinks perfection’s never there.

I stay at home instead,
And, brush my hair.

I think the world’s most wondrous lair,
Is mine,
And, therein,
Every speck of sand,
Does shine.

And, mine,
Each glass of wine,
So, too, the root of every vine.

And, through the heart,
Of, each and every,
Lovely columbine,
On me, and mine,
And, also thine,
The beauteous earth,
Doth shine.

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