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The Four Faced Wind

Poetry by Valeria Castellanos

The End of December – 2014

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The End of December

There is a tornado warning in the air.
A strong wind has come up from the south,
Although I don’t know why it bothered,
Because all the leaves have already blown away.
Uranus is exactly square to Pluto,
And, there is bad ju-ju in the stars.
It almost feels as though some foolish person,
Forgot to seek permission from Chango,
Before cutting down a tree.
But, who would do such a foolish thing?

I am beginning to have serious doubts about myself.
I am questioning my beliefs and my choices.
And then, I wonder if it is possible for me to be anything else,
Anything other than what I am?
The world pressures me, impresses me,
Stresses me and, streches me,
Distorts me and, distresses me,
But, I don’t seem to change.

I no longer believe anyone.

I have forgotten how to sleep,
And so, I can no longer escape into dreams.
I am pretty sure my lover has gone insane,
And, he knows all of my secrets.

Sooner or later we will all be sacrificial victims,
To the gods of struggle,
Of destruction, of betrayal,
Distrust and dust,
Of our own ideas of romance or beauty.
Darkness can be very deep,
A long, downhill slope,
Into the arms of a serial killer.
Nobody is getting out of this alive.

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Teotihuacan

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Teotihuacan

City of Giants, built in the time before time, shadows falling neither north nor south and nowhere to hide. Mathematical rigidity. Darkness within darkness. Mountains within mountains. Massive stones of gray, heavier than the earth, abandoned long before my birth. A thousand steps into the sky, haunted by ceremony, flint knives and dread. Songs of sacrifice, copal clouds, and rivers of blood, bright red.

Images with feathers made of rocks and gaping mouths, the taste of the unseen Otherworld still on the tongue, wide eyed, sun centered, galactic, huge, infinite, eternal, all seeing images, watching through the souls of the stones, seeking destroyed alters, the bones of ancient shaman, worshipping words, the wisdom of the stars, rooms powerful and grotesque, full of nameless, forgotten gods, thirsting for blood, as dark as death, as the doom of the final black hole, filled with smoke instead of air, the sound of copper bells, the ghost flash of blue-black quetzel feathers, serpent’s scales and the rattlesnake’s tails, the Pleiades bright in the night sky, wondering why, escaping my dreams, ceremonial screams, ancestors underground, dancing around, painted, white bone skeletons, devoid of sorrow, influencing tomorrow, the future, the cosmos, the fullness of space, the pace of the human race, the place of witchcraft and clouds of archaic ecstasy, elation, transformation, above the center of the earth, under the center of heaven, under the Fifth Sun.

Water will burn, turn into fire. The serpent of the river, the earth, the heart of matter, will awaken at dawn, shed its skin, sprout wings and learn to fly. Take up residence in the sky. And, maybe I, will go there too, and try. Shame or blame? Still searching for fame? Let’s play the game. Admit or deny. Are you wondering why? Why else would I go to Teotihuacan?

December 2017

Every Star had its Own Name

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Every Star had its Own Name

Every star had its own name,
And, long ago,
When campfires burned above the Everglades,
Although the stars were far away,
The sky was full of stories,
And, was carried by constellations.
But, like the residue of dinosaur’s shadows,
They have been distorted by yesterday’s memories,
Erased by today, forgotten by tomorrow,
Fallen into the fields,
And, carried away in the grasshopper’s skirts.

I once had a name of my own,
Before time began sliding away.
I had my own story then,
And, now I am sliding after it,
Because time has disconnected itself,
From the speed of light,
From the solar system,
From the beat of my heart.

Time has expanded,
Sped up,
Curled in on itself,
As smooth and hard and colorfully cold,
As an snail’s shell.
My memories, once as sharp as the spines,
Of the purple thistles.
And, now tease the way a promising summer rain does.
Sting like sandspurs or sand in the wind.

The lines of time,
Which once stretched straight,
Through my life,
Through the Everglades,
Through the black, mangrove smoke,
Over the campfires, into the night,
From here to infinity,
They have gotten away,
Have forgotten me,
Have forgotten themselves.
They have become confused between my fingers,
Have become jangled and tangled up.
They are interchanging the matrix of my childhood thoughts,
With the labyrinthine, interference patterns of old age.

Time has become unstable, elastic,
Has tricked my mind,
Made me blind,
And, wound around my wrists,
Taken me captive and turned me around,
Stolen my memories,
Tied me to the zodiac.

It lets me loose only between the seasons,
In unpredictable weather,
Or when the earth wobbles,
When days and nights are unequal,
When the polar stars change position,
When the names of stars are silently forgotten.

Under tonight’s nameless stars,
I again taste moonshine and turpentine,
Twisted time,
The smell of black, mangrove smoke,
Brings tears to my eyes.

The stars above the campfires have gone out,
And, I have forgotten the mangrove smoke,
The grasshoppers and the dinosaur’s shadows,
And, the spines of the purple thistles,
Because all of this was so long ago,
And, long ago is as far away,

As the constellations and the stars.

Cafe

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Cafe

Tonight I ventured out and made my midnight way
To my favorite, little, friendly, shadowed, dark cafe
Perchance to meet a poet there, with nothing left to say
Perchance to meet an angel, who is lost and gone astray
A seer who knows tomorrow won’t be just another day

But, everyone here is in disguise
Unwilling to meet one another’s eyes

The couple in the corner have been to see a movie
Neither one of them liked it
But, for reasons completely different
They are arguing and will not stay together for long

More intriguing is the couple by the front door
Her back is to me but she wears her hair like mine
It is the same color as mine
His face is handsome and lively
He seems very pleased
Their hands meet across the table
They speak in low tones, like secret lovers

The two men by the window
Wearing suits and neckties
Are much more animated
One of them believes
Women should never have been given the vote
The other believes the aliens
Who have been sending us crop-circles since 1675
Are poised to rescue us at any moment
They’re voices keep getting louder

The cat in the alley has begun to wail
Louder than the necktied men
She is howling to announce
She has accepted a mate

There is a young man in the corner
Who has been sitting alone
Quiet as a ghost
Shuffling cards
He looks up suddenly and meets my eyes
I look away quickly
It strikes me as odd that he looks so much
Like the older man by the door
Holding his lady’s hand

I suddenly wish I had not put on perfume
I wish the room was not so bright
Was lit instead by candles
And, I could hide in their shadows
I wish my thoughts were strong enough to blow the candles out
And, I could hide in the dark
I wish the taste of bitter-sweet chocolate did not remind me of love

I am surprised by the clatter of my spoon
Falling to the floor, when I reach for my purse, to pay
The necktied men have fallen silent
After agreeing we never could have gone to the moon
The young man, quiet as a ghost
Has put away his cards
And, is reaching for his wallet
The woman whose hair is just like mine
Turns around and looks right at me
She looks like I might look
Twenty years from now

I am finding this very odd
I turn toward the door
The quiet, young man is already there
He is smiling and holds the door open for me

We pass the alley cat
Purring now, beside the door

The young man walks with me down the street

As though it were the most natural thing in the world
Because we are going in the same direction

At the corner he pauses
And, turns toward me
But, even before he says a word
I realize everything in my life has changed

The End of November – 2014

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The End of November

I have become fascinated by my own,
Anatomically accurate inefficiency and boredom,
My ability to write inarticulate poetry,
To paint hieroglyphics in excruciating colors,
And, to believe in things unproven by science.

Fire has pretty much devastated earth,
The end of the Age of Pisces is upon us,
And, materialism has been conquered,
Matter has been transformed,
Particles outlived and overthrown,
Force fields overgrown.
Now, there is nothing left to do.
I’ve gone about as far as I can,
But, I still have to stay up,
Because, sooner or later, the fireworks will begin.

So, what are you going to do,
Between now and then?
Let’s face it, fellow poets,
Words are a pretty poor substitute for life.
At least with a martini, you can dance.

Dark Alley Rain

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Dark Alley Rain

Footsteps echo dark alley rain
Splashes in neon reflections of street light’s circles
Sidewalks of cold cement which breath cannot break
Rough brick walls which hands cannot tear down

Seeking in the shadows for a lost yesterday
For cracks in the exoskeleton of the city
Streams of cold air that smell like you

The Nightingale has fled into blue eyed nightshade dreams
Where rain no longer reaches
Life is full where they have gone
Beyond the reality of rainstorms

Here the wet night rains are still alive
They stretch my skin as taught as empty moonlight
Consumed by the intensity of clouds underfoot
Boiling smoke, smelling like dim sum
And, air conditioning, powered by thunder
Trying to not forget anything about you

Maple leaves, as red as my heart
Have sunk into thick, black mud
Where you and I used to walk
Holding hands

A wet, bedraggled pigeon feather
Stuck to hexagonal, sidewalk blocks
On a lonely corner that once was ours

Starlight is pushing against the cloud
A wet shadow glides by
A perfumed breeze brushes my shoulder
And, everything is just as it was
Suddenly you are mine again
Beside a swirl of rainbow oil in the gutter
Just like it used to be
The taste of rain in my mouth is real
And, I am satisfied for days

Coba

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Coba

In the ruined cities
Of my mythology
Coba reigns as a king
As many as fifty-five thousand
Left
City bereft

Ceased to thrive
No longer alive
Didn’t survive
Took all the colors away
Except for the cold, stone gray
And, the spider web roads of white scabay
Tying up the world

No one left now to be the hosts
Except the Aluxob
Who are not even ghosts
They are the red eyed
Dwarf-spirits
Turf-spirits
Earth-spirits
Tied
Foot and hand
To the land
Dancing on the old mounds
Listening to the long gone sounds
Flaunting their invisibility
Just counting the days between the risings of Venus
Not even thinking about the past

While Coba, the City of Ruffled Waters
Is caressed by the winds of the sea
Today we could just pay a fee
To visit your grass filled lakes
And, run on your limestone roads
Climb your temples
Towering over tree tops
Trek beneath your green, jungle breeze
Over your newly mowed
Sunken plazas
Over your shaded, leaf-litter floors
Down your corbelled hallways
Under your sharp, arched doors
Watched by steep, stone staircases
Embellished by hieroglyphic faces
Carved out of meanings which never change
Or, change in the ways the never-changing ocean changes
The way the ever-changing moon is always the same

Together we could pass by hidden cenotes
Deep, blue waters, without waves
We could pass by hidden caves
We could search for long, lost jades
And, earrings made of ornamental flowers
We could call the Aluxob
Who don’t even exist any more
Out of temple towers
Out of dark, half buried vaults
Out of abandoned halls
Out of unbearably ornamented, geometric walls
But, they won’t come
They are busy romping on pyramids
Listening to stones no longer containing music
Drenched in sunlight but devoid of incense
Teeth clenched, humid and hotter than Hell
Cracking rocks
And, tearing down the mountains
To release the ancestors
From the grip
Of Meru Witz

I would be happy to meet you there
Even at noon
At Nohoch Mul
Where the roads originate
Radiate
Straight
From weathered monuments
Decorated with temples as heavy as mountains
Covered with snake skins
Under the auspices of Muluc and the Moan bird
And, memories of bells
Of quetzel feathers
Of obsidian knives
Ceremonial footsteps and God food
Cactus thorns, stingray’s tails
And, a flood of sacred blood

And, in every direction
Spreading perfection
Absolutely white roads
Absolutely straight, straight, straight
Absolutely, I can’t wait
Absolutely, right through the jungle
Straight on ’till morning
Straight on to Yaxun
On to Xcaret
On to intrigue
Forget about fatigue
Running on to here to there
From Coba you can go almost
Anywhere

We could sit together in the shadows
You could be my heart throb
We could watch the Aluxob
The ones nobody knows
Running by the rubble heaps of buried treasures
Stomping in ceremonies without measures
Painted murals
Glowing, hidden
So forbidden
Grotesque, indeed, in their descriptions
Inexplicable in their strange inscriptions
Which even the Aluxob don’t understand
Pyramid climbing
Give me your hand
And, sculptures, inscrutable, unfamiliar
Wonderful, wise, they will bewilder
With fangs and wild, galactic eyes
Oppressive size
Stoic, in full sight of everyone
Washed by the numbing sun

I could meet you right by the steale
Of the Wayob women
Hyenas on the rampage
Waving feathers and clubs
And, jumping on captives
A terrific, honorific, witchcraft dance of
Conquest for commerce
For competition
For corruption
Celebrating that the world is not yet at its end
Summoning the collapse to come

We could just keep going
As fast as you like
Or as slow
Maybe as far as Xibalbabe
Next thing you know
Where did the time go?

Nothing left to show
Everything
Buried under the Pleiades
Under layers of limestone
Under endless cycles of 52 years

But, you are never ready to go
You say the things still there
Are way too slow
Everything
There has already happened
There is nothing soft left in Coba
And, everything is humid and hotter than Hell
All of the plates are broken
All of the smoke is gone
Neither laughter there, nor tears
Neither dreams nor fears
Everything
Gone for eleven hundred years

You say
Even Dante
Would have been impressed
Had he found this new sort of
Dripping with heat, Hell
This pre-Columbian, scorching Hell
This starlight torching Hell
This blinding, grotesque, empty Hell
Where the tallest temple
Had to reach the stars
And, the ballcourt was a confrontation with death

Of course, you are right, as always
We don’t need the abandoned hallways
It doesn’t matter where we go
Or even what we do
I’ll still be waking up later than you
I’ll still be holding your hand
In my hand
And, writing down things
Which I don’t understand

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

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.

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