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The Four Faced Wind

Poetry by Valeria Castellanos

Afternoon in the Everglades

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Afternoon in the Everglades
After lunch of frog’s legs,
‘Coon stew and craw daddies,
‘Gator tails and catfish, fried,
Beside banana sinkholes, wide,
Bopping with mosquitoes,
Which I brush aside,
Before I hide, beside,
My glass of frozen lemonade,
Behind the buzzing-lizard promenade.

Here I hesitate, I wait,
Inside the merry, tropic shade,
Where turtles swim and heron wade,
I wait for you, to have some fun,
For, better you than anyone.

So, let’s hold hands and let’s play pirate.
Let’s go look for Peter Pan.
Let’s sail across the streams and rivers,
Made of pale-green glass,
Down criss-crossed trails,
Of dark cat’s tails,
Under sweet-green grass,
Through red-brown seas, brown-golden tweeds,
And, yellow-shot, dry ochre weeds,
That wave in the low and slanted rays,
Of the winter-hot, burnt-orange sun.

Set sail, I say. Let’s seek our way.
Let’s follow the paths of fairy tales.
You raise the anchor, I’ll set the sails.
Let’s search for sunken galleons,
Filled with myths and gold doubloons,
Lost in rainbow’s golden tunes.

Let’s search between the hollow reeds,
And, inside air-plant’s golden seeds.
Let’s search beneath the secret echoes,
Bounding off of the dark, brown fur,
Of chocolate-velvet, cat tail canes,
That fringe the hidden-heron lanes,
With bamboo swaying overhead,
In towers ten feet tall.

Oh, here in the pastel fields of grass,
We, in our ships, are Kings and Queens.
Adventure waits on every hand,
Where the saw-grass kisses the wet, white land.

The prow of our boat is a gumbo-limbo,
The riggings are ropes of the strangler-fig,
And the spiny-tall, palmetto trunks,
All gray and struck like sun-stained glass,
Are the sails of our ship,
Are the masts of our ship,
And, we sail through the saw-grass sea.

We beach on the floors of the forest-ferns.
We follow the wiggles of lizard’s turns.
We swing on the green vines with never a care.
May the snakes, and the scorpions and crocodiles beware.

Let’s adorn one another with lichen-lace gowns.
Let’s crown one another with red, persimmon crowns.
Arm one another with cactus spine swords,
Hung from our waists by green, liana cords.
Let’s wear cloaks of skink-skin reflecting back the sun.
And tell the shadows, dark and gray,
They must be on the run.

Hark! Ahead! The Jolly Roger!
Manned by raptor scallywags,
Ruffians and rag-a-muffins,
Dressed in bedraggled rags,
Long feathered, sharp billed,
Their pugnacious schooner filled,
With bowl legged, bully birds,
Screeching such contemptuous words,
Man the cannons! They won’t stay!
Fire! And they’ve all flown away!

Grab the spy glass, be the outlook!
Off the bow rides Captain Hook!
If a snout pops out, give a hearty shout,
For we don’t want a shock, from the tick-tock, crock.

We have no wish to be pirate’s captives.
We did not want to walk the plank.
So we turned and we rammed the wicked ship,
And we laughed when she buckled,
And she broke and she sank.
So we never had to swim,
With the Fakahatchee mermaids.
Instead we dance at pow-wows,
With the Micasukee Indians.
We have dinner pick-nicks,
With the Payhayokee Lost Boys,
Tell each other stories in their tree-house nests,
And laugh beneath the moonflowers
When the rain clouds rest.

The coming evening’s yawning, lazy.
Let’s jump up, do something crazy.
Let’s go capture all the tree-snails,
Painted-candy colors, swirling,
On their twirling, porcelain shells.
Let’s put them with the curl-tipped ferns,
And, give them to the clouds.

Oh, let’s not go to sleep tonight,
Let’s stay out all night long,
Let’s stay, you and me,
Let’s go live in a tree,
Oh, let’s stay,
In the saw-grass sea.

But, after the shadows,
Were stretched out longer,
Than anyone ever thought they would,
Than anyone ever thought they could,
The story book folk all went off to their beds,
And, the fairy folk pirates,
Shied away and shook their heads.

The ragged band of raptor birds,
Went home to nests in cypress trees.
Behind the red sun, mangrove seas.
With the turn of the wind,
With the change of the breeze,
And, without us aboard,
At the end of the day,
Our ship raised her anchor,
And, just sailed away.
Just left us behind and so what can I say?

We will have to go home now,
It’s time now for bed.

But, I wish that,
Forever the Everglades dance,
In your soul, in your life,
In your heart and your head.
V. Castellanos – 1999
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Call me Nomad

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Call me Nomad

Call me nomad.
Call me wanderer.
Call me woman without a home.
My home is in my hand.
My home is in my heart.
My home is in a piece of cloth,
Embroidered with a bird.

I wander,
With the ghosts of the tree,
Over the earth’s green, neglected bones.
I do not follow the urgent calls,
And, the feet of marching men.
I follow the flowers of desert rains.
I follow the halos and rainbows,
Dissolving into invisible sands.

The world is going its own way,
But, I am going mine.

Call me nomad.
Call me dreamer.
Call me woman on the loose.
My home is in your arms.
My home is in your thoughts.
My home is in a perfumed poem,
You gave me long ago.

I am dreaming,
With the fluid sky,
Into the stone’s neglected breath.
I do not follow the nightmares,
That others call their own.
I follow the footsteps of changing tides.
I follow the echoes of fire in the sea,
Dissolving into invisible lands.

Call me nomad.
Call me foolish.
Call me woman without fear.
My home is neither far nor near.
My home is wherever you happen to be,
With the bones of the earth,
With the ghosts of the tree,
With the rain in the desert,
The fire in the sea.
My home is beside you,
And, no matter where,
If that’s where you are,

I am going to be there.

Hormiga Wars

 

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Hormiga Wars

The Hormigas have started invading
The Hormigas are everywhere
They are swarming into the kitchen
They’re climbing into my hair

You get the matches and bullets
I’ll get the guns and the knives
Run and tell all of the neighbor
To protect all their children and wives

Look out they are stealing the sugar
Some are marching away with the toast
A garrisons gotten the rice and the beans
A battalion is eating the roast

I’ve set up bazookas
The bombs and alarms
I’ve cocked all the triggers
On all the firearms

I have primed all the missile
Shot holes in the floor
Oh, I dare them to open
This booby-trapped door

Now they have gotten
The strawberry jam
They’ve taken the herring
They’re stealing the ham

I’ll get explosives
And, camouflage gear
You bomb that squadron
Before it gets here

They are stealing the towels
They are taking my shoes
Quick get machine guns
We must save the booze

They’re clogging the plumbing
They’re stealing the lamps
They’ve eaten your toothpaste
The sheets and the stamps

Poison gas is effective
Get gas masks and spray
Machetes and rifles
Oh, we’ll make them pay

The goldfish are safe
But, they’ve gotten your hat
They can have all the mice
But, let’s rescue the cat

They’ve gotten the curtains
Pot holders and chairs
Now they’re taking the sink
And, the windows and stairs

Set up the ambush
Put traps in the hall
Let’s blow up the toaster
They’ll die when they fall

They are crossing the clothesline
They’re climbing the trees
Agent Orange will work
If we get a good breeze

I will use atom bombs
It is fair to, I say
Just think what will happen
If they get away

They will multiply, multiply
Multiply more
They will cart off the car
And, the road
And, the store

The golf clubs, the babies
The sea and the shore
We must kill everyone!
This is war! This is war!

I think we are winning
They’ve called a retreat
There are only a thousand now
Under my feet

They are dying by hundreds
By millions perhaps
Their lungs filled with acid
Their feet caught in traps

Get grenades! Shoot the rockets!
Now, they’re on the run
And, the piles of their carcasses
Say we have won!!

Scurry back to your holes
In the walls in the ground!!
Bet you figured out now
We don’t want you around!!

The survivors are scampering
They’ll not be back soon
Oh, I think we’re safe now
Well, at least until noon

Hormiga is the Spanish word for ant

V. Castellanos – March 2002

Wonder

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Wonder

 

So, into the wide, wild world I would go.

There were so many things that I wanted to know,
About stones, about clouds, about dragonfly’s feet,
About why the sun rises, and what wizards eat,
About roots and rainbows and red birds in flight,
Why teddy bears snuggle and toy soldiers fight,
Why angels smile brightly and why spiders bite,
About fire and ashes and passion and snow,
Melodies, symphonies, magnetic flow,
To places with faces I wanted to go.
With a laugh and a teardrop, a smile and a cry,
A wedding, a bedding, a child and a sigh,
My kisses were given, my messages sent,
My heart throbs were broken, my appetites spent.

Now, I wonder where all of my wondering went.

A Disciple of Zarathustra

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A Discipline of Zarathustra

She came with empty hands,
Without a gift but, with curious eyes,
To watch the unfolding of a great potential.
She followed the roads not taken,
Since Zarathustra’s days.
She climbed into the tallest tree,
And, would have chosen to hammer gold,
Into the likeness of gods,
But, instead,
She found the circus was still playing.

Dare devils chasing fame on a tightrope,
The audience eagerly following the trapeze artist,
Swinging from one illusion to the next,
Always with better lights, more sequins,
New and improved.
Everyone wishing they could be so high.
The magician pickpockets, with a disappearing act,
Worked the crowd,
Composed of slaves and cowards,
Because all the free and the brave,
Had been shipped out to the front,
To fight for the Robber Barons and the Banksters.

But, the clowns kept everyone laughing,
So, no one had time to think.

In town all the unemployed were playing dominoes,
While those with jobs played politics.
The cities were full of citizens and civilization,
Boundaries and limitations,
Order and disorder, discord and illusions.
Overflowing with immigrants,
Kept under control,
With licenses, trade agreements, taxes and jails,
Or, not kept under control at all.
In the capital, everyone playing democracy,
And, lining their pockets as quick as can be,
Because, you never know when the music will stop.
The LGBT have escaped from the closet and stolen the rainbow.
The wavering, nihilistic phantoms are engulfed in their own pity,
Waving their handkerchiefs,
But, at a loss of what to do.
They have nothing to say.

The fight has moved from survival to control.
It has gone from hand-in-hand to every-man-for-himself.
Unerring instincts giving way to words which turn to lies.
What man can understand himself with words,
When we are all propelled by the ebb and flow of wild emotions,
And, our dark and deep desires remain submerged?
Yet, by them we are urged.
Unconsciously, inevitable.
Nothing has changed,
Except the cast and the complications.
We will act the same.
No cosmic awakening,
Trinity shaking,
Fukushima shuddering realization.

V. Castellanos – November 2014

The Center of the Galaxy

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The Center of the Galaxy

I am on the lookout for the center of the galaxy,
Because, I know, that is where I am going.

I have come and gone this way before.
So many times,
I have become disoriented.
I have refused to become confused.
But, I have heard voices,
And, I have had to made choices.
It has been a very long day,
And, I am still on my way.

I suppose this is because,
I am spinning and revolving,
And, evolving, all at once.

I have discovered that,
Besides being vibrant,
I am vibrating,
I am filled with dust.
I am filled with desires and color.
My desires are sometimes filled,
And, sometimes not.
My dust grows slowly,
Changes only year to year,
But, I have seen my colors change,
Quick as a chameleon’s wink,
Depending on if I am holding hands,
With iguanas or piranhas,
And, whether I am walking,
On the counter-clockwise trails,
With wise, left-handed lizard boys,
Or, with right-handed, painted snails.

But, when I try to follow,
The universe’s spiral ways,
Once again, I find myself,
Dancing in a haze.
Dancing in a daze.
Lost and dizzy in the maze,
Filled with alamanda flowers.

And, I am, just like the flowers,
Just like the iguanas,
Just like the piranhas,
Just like the universe,
Propelled by cycles, by reflections,
By attitudes and intentions,
By all sorts of revolutions,
By resolutions,
And, by the transformation of opposites.

I am a yin-yang, on-off electric being,
Squeezed in between a limitless infinity of light and dark,
Made of in-out tints and shades of gray,
Here-there infrared,
Devil-may-care ultraviolet,
Spinning, sputtering, neon pinwheels,
Water spouts and sand storms,
And, nearly impossible invisibility.
I am made of so many colors,
I can’t keep count.
Some of my colors have not yet,
Even been recognized.
Some do not yet have names.

In the sooner-or-later tomorrow,
My colors will change and find themselves new signatures.
Then I will be filled with smoke instead of colors.
I will be amazing and I will start my own maze,
Filled with alamanda flowers.

In those days,
I will live like an iguana,
Like a piranha,
Like a pinwheel.
I will think like the lizards think,
Like the snails blink,
Like a chameleon’s wink.

I will die like a butterfly.
I will burn like a sunset,
Caring neither where I go, nor what I get.
I will be rearranged, reassembled and regenerated.
Revolutions, without resolutions, will continue,
And, I will too.
I will come and go, again,
Still dizzy and confused.
I will search for a way,
Beyond the haze,
Beyond left and right-handed days,
Beyond the dust,
Beyond desires,
Beyond the burning sunset fires,
Beyond all the crazy tints and shades,
Beyond the colors of the world,
Because, my destiny is a black hole.

I am always on the lookout for the center of the galaxy,
Because, I know, that is where I am going.

How Will I Know?

The sky is covered with sleeping stars
The thick leaves are moon-shadow filled
I will be up and will walk the fields
As soon as the dew fills the spider’s webs
But tonight I am lost in this dream
I am following the footprints the winds left behind
When they stole all the flowers that fell from the sky
I am sitting on stilled clouds and asking
How does the fisherman know, in his bones
Where he should cast out his fishing net?
I am asking how will I know
When I’m old
In which garden the lillies
Will first come to bloom?

 

by V. Castellanos – 2001

Everglades by the Sea

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Everglades by the Sea

Have you heard the oyster’s
Paleolithic songs?
Have you heard the callings,
Of the blue whelks on the beach?
Have you heard the quite poems,
Of the salty, green-glass sea?
Have they said to you,
The things they say to me?
Or, have they whispered mysteries,
Only to your ears?

Neither the sea nor the Everglades,
Are ready to answer my questions.
The sea is forever restless,
And, the Everglades have no voice.

The swamp mud carries dark, magic spells,
And, the Everglades carry curses,
But, wherever you go, there are no caves,
With wind rushing out of their mouths.
They issue no warnings, no premonitions,
They sing no prophetic songs,
They will not tell me the future,
Nor give me a reason to be.
So, how do I know where to go,
To hear the voice of my Sybil?

I am beginning to think,
The questions I ask,
Do not have answers, yet.
Tomorrow, perhaps, they will no longer matter.
But, when I am in the Everglades,
Although there’s darkness in the shades,
The heron’s eyes are very jolly,
And, I am away from melancholy.
The wind is made of merry laughter.
Now, it seems, I can’t remember,
What it was that I came here after.

But, some time in the future,
All my questions will be answered.

by V. Castellanos – January 10, 1999

Beauty

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Beauty – Digital Art by V. Castellanos

Oh, dark Soothsayer
Who visits me in dreams
I ask you to tell me
The secrets of coming time
Tell me how long we have to wait
For the break up of the image

Only reality works
So, when will it stop being possible
For us to pretend
We are something else?

Are machine thoughts taking us over?
Electric power in the air
Microwaves in our hair
Radio waves, x-rays
Wi-fi, open your eyes
Revelations filling the skies
Reverberations throughout the earth
To what are they giving birth?

Tell me, how will beauty
Which cannot be taken apart
Survive?
Everything in my life
Is really, intuition or inspiration
And, half of everything I know
Is my imagination

Thales of Miletus
Who kissed his own muses
Said everything is made out of water
And, everything is filled with chaos
That is the nature of things

And, so, I am wet
Because I am alive
And, I kiss my muses

I swallow water
I swallow chaos

I open my mouth to speak
And, I eat up the chaos of clouds
I eat up the rain with what I say
Words wash out of my mouth
And, stream into the rivers

All of the rivers flow into the sea
And, the sea is speaking back to me
Overflowing with chaos and words

I am the opposite of chaos
I restore order
My enemy is entropy
Using my energy
Gives me more
It dies if I let it lie still

I am harmonic
And, a part of harmony itself
My greatest belief is in beauty
Poems are how I bestow my kisses
And, why I am still in possession
Of all of my certainty

This is how I know that my spine
Is the spatial curve of the universe
My sacred body is the structure
And, the basis of all of the world

And, I have a precious knowledge
That beauty is a God

I prefer beauty to everything
To ambition and to appetite
To advantage, adventure and habit
To satisfaction and to opinion
To luxury, ease and inertia

And, the words that are flowing
Out of the ocean
Are proclaiming
Loud and clear
Announcing to everyone
Far and near
To anyone who wants to hear

Beauty has its own meaning
And, beauty is not an accident

V. Castellanos 1999

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