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The Four Faced Wind

Poetry by Valeria Castellanos

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The Glass Bead Game

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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?

1998

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

The Incurious Beatles

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

 

The End of March – 2015

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The End of March

Holi is over.
I have let my hair,
Go loose, like a goose, in the wind.
Now, it is a tangled mess,
And, a good expression of myself,
With no idea of where it wants to go.

Is the world not yet tired of being cold?
Everyone reluctant, going nowhere.
Everything static, black and white.

The azaleas are wilted and withered away.

Bewildered by my individuality.
Incomprehensible.
Moving in a dozen different directions,
I am unable to escape my own flaws.
Ageing.
Trapped in entropy.
Approaching absolute zero.
And, I think I have run out of coffee again.

The End of February – 2015

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The End of February

 

The afternoon is cold, and the moon is on the rise,
As transparent as my fingers and as empty as my eyes.
I am so far away the wind can no longer hear my words,
My breath is barely separate from the shadows of the birds.

I am self-contained.
I am inside of myself,
Inside of my shell,
Inside of this gloom in this room.

It is Tuesday afternoon,
And, I am pretty sure I will be alright,
If I can just hang on,
Until the dogwood starts to bloom.

Oh, but what if she does not bloom?
What if she decides to be like other dogs,
To bark instead of blossom?
What if she becomes a snake?
A grasshopper?
A possum?
What if she decides to never-more,
Be host to the beautiful, four heart flowers?
Then, never, would ever, this room contain another bloom,
And, my shell would lose all of its protective powers.

I am a creature, tied to the future.
I survive by looking ahead.
Tomorrow is always yet to come,
And, yesterday is long-gone, dead.
Sometimes hope is around the corner,
Somewhere up the staircase,
Somewhere under the bed,
Somewhere over my head.
But, sometimes the dogwood lets it go,
And, it falls to the ground instead.

The End of January – 2015

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The End of January

 

Let me have my illusions.
I don’t have anything else.
I am a romantic,
And, that’s all that I would be.

I am dressed up like a candy apple,
Like a bubble wizard,
Like a gazelle,
With a cute, pink smile,
And, everybody says they love me.

I am dressed up like a mermaid.
Not a Coney Island, Mermaid-Parade mermaid,
A real mermaid,
Cold blooded, with green scales on my eyelids,
With seaweed under my fingernails,
With flashing starfish in my hair,
Webbed fingers,
Grinding teeth,
A stabbing trident in my hand.
I know the mysteries of the deep,
I know who eats who,
But, I am also the masked, Venetian Carnival Queen,
Who keeps her mouth closed with a index finger,
And, mimics “Shush.”
I won’t tell a soul.
You just wait and see.
All the mysteries of the dark and the deep,
Are safe and silent inside of me.
No one else wants to know anyway.

I am dressed up like a Goat-Fish,
Like Capricorn and Aquarius,
But, without the Fertility of Rain.
I am bleeding out of the winter sky,
Before the world is ready.
No one can see who I really am.
My seeds have been planted everywhere,
But, none of them are growing.

All that matters now,
Is what has already been set in motion.
Nothing new under the sun.
You know, if you start a vibration,
You have to pay attention because,
You might set off some butterfly,
In Hong Kong.

And, nobody knows what will set off a wandlung,
That incomprehensible event which changes everything,
Ushers in an ice age, ends the reign of the dinosaurs,
Starts the human brain.
Ends the race.
I wouldn’t want to set off something like that.
I am just living my life,
Trying to avoid the waves of advancing history,
Which are crashing into society.
The costumes are not helping.

Dream of the Serpent

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Dream of the Serpent

The impossibility of resurrection has my ego instead seeking the echoes of cut glass mirrors and memories of the tingling reflections of my life. I find drifting clouds and fog falling like autumn leaves and abandoned kisses into ancient flower beds, the neon orange sky as bright as the eye of a serpent.

Serpents, they say, are already on their way to becoming angels, working for the gods, doing what no one else will, containing the cosmic lines of flowing rivers and the supernatural force of scales which have refused to turn into feathers, wings which refuse to sprout, muscles which refuse to turn into dragons and fly.

Remember, everything is here to eat everything else. Remember, everything is watching, watching, always watching. Me and you and the snake. I mention the snake only because of the magnitude of my dreams and the nervous system of the planet, the distance of the zodiac, the intentions of flowers which produce no fruits. I am also in tune with the electric impulses of the earth and the moisture of the mud.

Seeking the temperature of survival and the strength of constriction, I cannot say what the serpent was thinking, for even in dreams the reptilian mind exists, unlike my mind, unlike your mind, unlike the mind of birds, completely below the concept of words. No language to intercept and interpret emotions, only the expression of rattles and hisses, slithers between the grasses, petrified breath, geometric patterns, a forked tongue tasting the colors of the air, listening only to himself, belly against the ground, so close there is no space for a shadow, marks in the dust. Patience. Self-sufficient, with no interest in others, in right or wrong, in the complications of truth and falsehood, in understanding, in satisfaction, in the predictions of falling stars and comets, without obedience, without submission, without the benefits of love, just survival, sustenance and the ability to do what needs to be done. The reptilian eye, orange as the sky, staring right at you, is revealing nothing. Taking nothing. Giving nothing. Judging nothing. Going to the same place I am going.

Straight as an arrow, limber as a serpent, I am trapped inside of myself. No way to escape, to shed my skin, to break out of my limitations and constrictions, only to whisper warnings to myself to avoid the songs of sirens and to ignore the invitations of the Bolon Tiku, not to wrap myself in a soft, green, silk cocoon and sleep while the world crumbles and falls apart or begins anew. Carnival is as close as the Day of the Dead. The solstice is as far off as the equinox. This is today. It is all we have.

January 14, 2017

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.

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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