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Monday, August 13, 2012

La Ultima Obra

The Mirador

Meet me at the mirador. I’ll be there when the rain stops, looking for something I lost in the storm. Malleable men hustling tourists with swollen purses, jewelry-makers selling quartz crystals out of their rucksacks, en route to Bolivia, Argentinian lovers passing pipes before they blow on out of town. The artisan mats become confessionals: this is where wandering souls gather, says the craftsman, as the mangy street dogs curl up at his feet. Carved of wood and warm like copper, when he smiles sparks the world into action. He weaves the stars into jewelry but it isn’t enough, will never be enough. He stands against the rail, just a silhouette and then some, Inti’s mural staring back at him, with her button nose and book of chants, waving her boney finger back. He seeks to master the knots of the world so that he can tie it back together. I always ask too much, but teach me this, oh craftsman: teach me how to tie myself together again. He laughs and sings a song I will never forget, dancing away as the sun sets behind him.

Next I follow the music man. His songs feed him day-old bread and his ears pick up things I cannot. When we walk through the lamp-lit streets, his hands trace the mural walls and he tells me what they say: the stain of tragedy and dirty blood echo softly, infused in the paint.  We drink boxed wine with the man who makes metal beasts, and we talk of death and how in three hundred years we will be reunited as dogs, but we wish, really, to be reunited as astronomical kings and queens—royal constellations. I want to meet again before then, I say. If we do, he says, we will meet as we did tonight, on a bench, in a city that neither of us belong to, and we will share other peoples’ stories. If we don’t, you will meet someone else the same way, and you will drink wine with them and speak of stars and dogs and it will never be a shame.

The Wolf House

In the wolf house there was a healer. Projections flashed on the wall behind her, casting her face in red, yellow, green, blue. She watched people and said, They move and sway and dance and jerk, and they don’t know why. They kiss as if thrown together by marionette strings, but who is the puppeteer? Then there are wolves and then there are machines...But my baby, he’s something else: he’s a map. A map with blank territory, so much terrain, and his face is the key, though I cannot read it. And you? What are you?” We swim in yellow, blue, red, watching the people around us in different masks. All the puppeteers, all the cartographers, pioneers and playwrights, will soon be unleashed down the alleys left to write and dismantle their own narratives.

The Architect

I run rampant at last. Building fragile, towering things bound to break and shatter with the next tidal wave the next earthquake. I wish I could build better, for me and for you, wish I did not have to build a house that, at night I hold my breathe in, so that the foundation does not crumble and crush me in. I want a home tall enough to reach the moon and big enough to include you. I want and I devour and the world sings sad songs played by street-corner bluesmen. In the final moment of decay, a small child speaks words that demolish
I’ve made

And suddenly I want nothing more, I promise.
I want nothing more than to learn how to say these words back.
I would not need to build a thing, for those words would be my palace
if only I could speak them!

I haven’t much, I’ve a collection of sorts.
Kings and queens of the winding streets, they left me with these shards,
These broken things, and I wore them like a collar as I asked for direction. Which way to get lost at sea, which way to get found en la ciudad de perros románticos? It was not until you left that I unclasped the shards from around my neck, and realized they were to be worn as crown. Now I march into lost lands and let go of heavy hands. The meaningless I build shall be nothing less than beautiful for I built it for you, in order to replace those words I did not say.

Te echaré de menos.

A few doors more


Invisible Portraits

The last batch was supposed to include a batch of photos I took while in Viña and Valpo. For some unknown reason, the roll came back blank. Completely blank, not a single image survived. Only the following blank space can express this tragedy.

On the flipside, I remember every single portrait and shot I took, clear as day. If I took your portrait it's imprinted in my mind, and I promise I won't lose it until the Alzheimer's hits. These photos were supposed to be my contribution to all the wonderful people I met and the places I found. I wanted to give something back to you. But, once again, I am empty-handed. I guess, though, al fondo, all the words and all the photos are just a long-winded way to say that I won't forget.

Won't forget how regal my Chilean papa looks cracking jokes at the head of the table, with his kind eyes and his sad smile. My mama doing dishes and singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in the pale winter light of the kitchen or having a cigarette out the window. 

Ben in the subterranean, with light in his eyes and a road to catch and the world to meet. Leah in the sunset looking out at the urban sprawl, unsure if it rolls to or away from her, Imogen sipping box wine on the beach with the tide trying to reach her tranquila tranquila.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Scholar

You have learned so much. You have learned great and terrible lessons and you have found beautiful things, but you failed to learn the most important thing of all: that you have a home, and that I love you.

Friday, June 29, 2012

We Wanted More

Guess we can huddle the way strangers huddle,
Close, but never close enough.
We’ll chew on fruits that never satisfy,
And theorize that desire must have hints of citrus in it.
You will busy yourself making beasts of
Copper and acai seeds,
Spinning and twisting them
Between fingers that can never be still
And I will busy myself thinking of words
That struggle to take shape,
Spinning and twisting them
Til they make beasts out of me.
Guess we can stare the way strangers stare,
Hard, but never prying.
You have cheekbones that are high and etched of sandstone,
And when you smile it is sundrenched.
But here’s where you look most at home,
Starving beneath the light of a streetlamp and scrounging for a smoke.
‘I have seen Venus!’ you say. ‘She sweats when she hikes up the cerros and the side-street murals remind her that her shrines have been defaced.’
‘I have seen Van Gogh!’ I say. ‘He cut off his ear so that he could hear
the exhales of butterflies, he wants to know what they cry out before they die.”
When my hands fall beneath your gaze
They cease to be insatiable and become things worthy of creation:
Stop for a moment and I will make you something
Yes, a poem you will never read, but oh.
We shall drink the night in, the way strangers do
Untainted by a past or future,
Reveling in our skyline,
In our fragile collaboration
That has neither beginning nor ending.
We huddle, two well-kept secrets in each others’ arms.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

well i had a cool camera to use for a semester, it belongs to my chilean family. it is a Zenit Helios 44 M-5. Here are a few shots that I got the chance to develop. unfortunately they are pictures of pictures since the scanner is in valparaiso...


student protests on the 21s. I believe they were looking at a clown harassing the cops...


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ciudad de perros románticos

Ciudad de perros románticos

City of romantic dogs,
Frantic, dragging open ribcages through the gravel,
Up the steps of crumbling stairs, peaking out of doors that lead to nowhere,
Lapping up cigarette smoke,
sliding hands across the scars of breathing walls,
Chasing down an ugly heat,
Enraptured by the call of flesh and melted wings
What is peace for romantic dogs?

Are you one of them
Running breathlessly along the cerro circuits,
 buscando el fin de locura—
(The end of madness: it looks like you, sighed the urban sprawl)
Do you believe that this is it,
 sitting on a bed of ash and 40s left over from the graveyard shift
Staring out at purple buildings, sunken roofs
You still worry about damnation and eternity
Licking at the pomegranate seeds between your teeth.
But nothing here is permanent:
The ships at dock are all submerged
And the churches ringing noon have long been razed,
So when I hold you close and touch your jaw,
It’s because we’ve already parted ways

What is peace for beasts enamored by only buried things,
Who holds the leash—you? The starving arms of the city?
 Elbows torn from the endless fight and flight from cycles
Soles bruised by piss-soaked cobblestone,
From scouring the streetlight hours leaving spraypaint proof of life.
Have you hands or claws,
Are you man or dog when being torn apart at night?
When you and I lock eyes we take shape
and remember what it means to exhale,
Before we blink again,
and lose again,
And chase and chase and chase.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

more non-fiction

The things that have been mine tonight:

Sunset is most beautiful when it's the most grave--brightest light, sign of rising hope the closer it grows, when one is lost amidst the backroads. Hustle down the abandoned streets, past Jack Nicholson on a monster's body, past Colon. Hustle past a house of screeching parakeets: which is it--the purple house the orange with rainbow blankets in the windows? Oh, it's a wild cloud of sound in there, is there a woman in a Lay-Z-Boy sitting by those cages with eyes closed, sighing, ah, the sound of home?
Where to now? to the park with tear gas residue, making all the skaters sneeze, upa  dark alley and into the arms of famililar faces and your favorite poor-man's beer. Once you've said goodbyes, into the slopes of cerros once again. Sparkling lights wavering tot he sound of drums and frantic trombones. Now a man's voice rings, a ballad down the winding streets and I'm alone on dirty stairs an for a moment I'm at peace.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So juiced by the expansion of my Itunes library. People have excellent taste in music (except for the bus drivers who blast boston or adele at 8 in the morning).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wolves at the Door

Thank you for sunsets with mate and bread on the beach, thank you for palta and hot sipping cacao and Waking Life conversations, thank you for flaming shots and girls who wanna be DJs, thank you for live music and impromptu moshpits, thank you thank you thank you.


We put a leash on them.
On who?
On the wolves, we put a leash on our wolves, we tied ‘em up tight. Wrapped their claws and wrapped their jaws, and now they cannot get us. But oh, I feel them breathing sometimes, growling in my chest cavity—it makes me nervous! The trauma of their canines, I used to dream of that pain, twisting in my gut.
We a put a leash on them, and we don’t know how long it’ll last, and we don’t know if their submission is our chance at freedom or this is all a big mistake.
And what did you do once the wolves were subdued?
Well, instead of being chased, we could finally chase down anything and so

we did.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mo Betta

I've been thinking about the art of failure a lot. This is a piece by Tom Phillips, a painter, who used a Victorian novel and turned its pages into visual poetry. I Like.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Love Letter From the Desert to the moon

work in process. Thanks, Imogen, for sharing this place with me.


Love Letter From the Desert to the moon

What has become of us?
I awoke in the middle of the night
Cracked and frenzied
With fossils in my veins
And limestone beneath my nails.
I had dreamt of darkness:
I dreamt I’d lost you among the stars,
Shimmering beaded curtains
Filled with gemstone arthropods and diamond twins.
Had you dropped off the horizon?
Had you failed the night because you could not face me?
My spine stamped with the footsteps of so many travelers,
My tears dried to ancient riverbeds.
The vastness of your absence
gaped at me
My mouth tasted of ash
As my kingdom crumbled into clay.

But in my terror I awoke
And none of it was true.
You were there
Haggard crescent
Staring down from such a distance.

Now, I lie beneath your silver sheets
And shiver without solace.
I forget your scent:
Do you smell the way ice tastes
Did we fit together
The forget has deepened canyons in me:
They howl with the wind
And I cannot quiet them.
I sift the smoothest rocks between my fingers
And close my eyes
Trying to remember.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mi territorio es donde ponga mis pies

"It has been found again.
What has?--Eternity.
It is the sea gone off
With the sun."

(From the poem that is my present mantra: "Festivals of Patience," Arthur Rimbaud. go read it read it read it)

The moon rising over the fence around my back yard.

I have a deep fascination for bus drivers and the things they decorate their buses with. I hope that's not weird.

"Soul/Grow Eyes"

Our homes were skeletons we could not escape from, our skeletons were homes we could not escape from

beautiful sand patterns at playa negra, concon.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Honey (Two-Headed Boy), Won't You Let Me In

Impatient impatient, fear I will be fossilized alive by this place. Bought the next bus ticket out of town and jumped on . Sped past shanty-towns and rubble lands and fog, so much fog—-it will freeze you inside-out if you don’t hurry now. I get lost to get found—find me dancing wildly to Billy Idol, chase down kids who got a lust for life, got struck dead lucky, gonna have ash-filled lungs in the morning. Let’s be merry. Let’s be merry until sunrise. Let me get the gray and dead out of me, let me sit real close to you until I remember what it means to feel and forget to breathe. And if you’ve a tattoo on your arm, let me kiss your face so I can have something to hold on to, when I leave this all behind.


Birthday party. Beautiful people. Killer live music, killer dance music. ASADO! Pisco. At one point I sat on a couch with a bunch of great people, listening to the birthday boy and his band jam it out in a room filled with old mattresses. The person who owned the building used to sell fake glasses, so apparently there are cardboard boxes filled with glasses frames. Had one, lost it, obvio.

Also, if the following songs are in your playlist, I probably love you.

“Rebel Yell” Billy Idol
“Lust for Life” Iggy Pop
“Modern Love” David Bowie.

But actually. Never been to a party I was so musically in-tune with. SO MUCH LOVE.

In the real world

Feeling very down because of the shit-show that is the US and the violence inherent in our “colorblind” climate. Have very few words, have so much disappointment. This is a very good spoken word piece from the Million Hoodie March in Philadelphia.

'On Friday, March 23, [Geraldo] Rivera sparked outrage over his comments on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" regarding Martin's clothing. He said that "the hoodie is as much responsible" for the teen's death as George Zimmerman was.

Tracy Martin added his own thoughts on that part of Rivera's apology, thanking him for his words.

“Your apology is accepted," Martin said. "Let me just add one thing with the wearing of the hoodie. I don’t think America knows that, in fact, at the time of the incident when he initially made the call, it was raining. So Trayvon had every right to have on his hood. He was protecting himself from the rain. So if being suspicious, walking in the rain with your hoodie on is a crime, then I guess the world is doing something wrong.” [Via Huffington Post]

Not that any country I've experienced thus far is dealing with prejudices and hate with particular grace. Here in Chile, a 24 year-old homosexual young man was attacked and killed by neonazis, prompting public outcry over Chile's apparent lack of hate-crime legislation.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The last few days

get your ass kicked by ocean. get beat, get born. glide on the surfboard with torn up toes. pay later, thrive now. hike to class with a horrible limp and salt-water hair.

go to the cemetary, maze of mausoleums tombs and small wood crosses. if you have enough money you can buy yourself legacy, your name carved into marble, your bones encased. if you don't, you'll be wiped away by time--your cross will crumble, your remnants erased. watch out, you explorers, it's dangerous: vagabonds and looters and torn souls haunt this place

Stay out of the hospital if you can. If you must go, buy a pastry from the woman with the giant tupperware of baked goods, she circulates the waiting room. It will make you feel better, maybe, mostly because it's caked in powdered sugar.
Don't take the elevator, the one with broken, illegible buttons, the one that threatens to break beneath the weight of bad news--the stress scribbled madly along it's peeling walls.

Celebrate Friday again, celebrate because all your bones are intact. Go to Valpo sit in Cerro Concepción with good people and a couple 40s below a purple sky, trace the curve of her illuminated hills with your finger--they look like frozen, electric waves, or a piece of God's Light-Brite art. Fight off the fear that's been planted in you by surrounding yourself with strength. Eventually approaching silhouettes cease to be potential threats, and melt into possible companions--we're not the only ones out to soak the night in. With wonder in our eyes, we stare down at the spiraling night city. Mangled Spanish sounds better with every swig I promise.

Kings and queens of the sand dunes, hurdle ourselves as far as we'll fly, always wanted to fall without fear. Miss the desert like a mother, first time I ever saw myself was in her canyons. But I'm not there: I'm here by the coast, where I'm supposed to be.

Friday, March 16, 2012

First Impressions

soo i'm all sorts of lazy, and this aint finished but here it's for you


First Impressions
(The Dare)

Will I get lost at sea? Inevitably: I’m just trying to be more than a queen of debris--
Here atop waves do I beckon the universe to disturb me.
Don’t got my sea legs so I quiver with every lurch of the earth, staring down the spines of winding streets
where aerosol women watch from walls as the day crumbles to a break,
and smokestack lightening boys (ohso addicted to those Lucky Strikes!)
only vanish when you blink—
Fight off death and fear with a discotheque and a couple beers,
Track down life—it sounds like untameable laughter
or wanderers in the middle of the night—cachai?
On certain nights the marina speaks
with the rusting sonata spun from melodies of open sea,
and nightmares of being trapped at port—
damned to merely watch the world spin off,
And many nights the street dogs howl
and they don’t know why or what they’re looking for.
Look for me in the window of speeding busses,
I don’t know where they’re taking me,
never take the same route cause I’m afraid to find my footsteps,
just trying to trust the pulse of people who know her best,
I’m still timid, too soft to track her down, but fija:
Women like myself fall prey to solar flares and full moons—
this place took a bite of me when I had let my guard down.
Now I’m just trying to return the favor
Plan on breaking you down, painted impatient electric aggressive—
you hate people like me who tread too softly,
always preferred the threat of earthquakes.
Oh crazy city so colorful, so rabid and starving,
Mother of shipwrecks and father of blind men with insatiable hands.
I am here and you will take me.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Follow the girl through sandstorms. If you lose her, look for the glint of her porcelain skin beneath sunlight. Follow her up winding streets that lead to the edge of town, where the ocean shines like pulsing glass: hold your breath or the city will steal it. Follow the girl to the beach, and watch the silhouettes of children dancing against the dying sun. Drink in twilight, dream of all the sailors past your horizon, the ones who do not think of you when their eyes are closed. We are crepuscular creatures and we aren’t ashamed, pouring back glasses of red wine beneath moonlight and coming to life as the distant city lights grow. Sit with bare feet buried in the sand with the girl and a French Dharma bum. We’ve always demanded too much. But not now. Now, we want just this.

White Space

Arguably, a story is a story when it has tension, or plot. Inevitably In prose, it’s me who gets to decide if the story is the span of the day, week, or year. But in the story of my life, I don’t have complete control over the pulse of tension—-how long it will take for tension to escalate, to decrease. I can frame any anecdote into a story with tension for you, but that’s pure craft. That was purely for you, the reader. In reality, there are days and weeks, where I will perceive there to be tension and no tension and the days which I perceive to be a lack of tension, those days disappear into dust when I look back on them.
You know, like in a novel the narrator can say: “One week later…”
But I don't welcome that. In fact, I think that's what scares me the most--that white space. I don't want white space in my story, I want tension.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I believe that the adventure has finally begun.
It's like this: even if you've traveled geographically, you haven't really traveled to a place until you've caught its pulse. I think I'm finally catching the Viña/Valpo pulse. Ayer my brother Francisco taught me how to use the micro--the bus system--to get to my school from home. The micro confuses me, in that there are no route maps, and if you want to get off at a stop, you have to run to the door to make the driver pull over. Well, as we drove to and from the university, the sun was setting over the glossy blue waters, and Valpo's nightlife was beginning to bloom. Yes, the dream has finally come true: sunsets on the beach, anytime I want.
Also, I adore riding buses and going on drives with people beacuse it's a great way to get to know them. Poor Francisco: he thought he was only getting a housemate. Oh no, sir, you just got a sister and we're going to be the best of buddies. So we chatted the valpo twilight away, me in broken Spanish of course, as I stared out the windows with wide open eyes.

This morning I woke up and caught the micro to school, where I was surrounded by more gringos than I've been around since December--a tad overwhelming if I do say so myself. Then me and a couple other girls walked around Valpo before we had to head back. Imogen took us to this really cool hill, where all the buildings were painted with beautiful, beautiful murals. We sat in the shade, on a colorful mosaic bench, staring down at the rows of murals, at the sparkling ocean, and I thought to myself, yes: this is why I chose Valparaiso.

After a really wonderful nap, I spent the afternoon with my parents on the porch drinking coffee and talking. My mami is loca. I think she's in her late sixties or so, and she's this funky little woman who says whatever pops into her mind, which quite often has to do with the heat, or how I'm going to find a pololo (boyfriend) in Valparaiso very soon. (That's my favorite Chilean word so far. POLOLO! Kind of reminds me of pollo loco, not gonna lie.) At one point she told me that her favorite gift is soap, an she pulled out a ziplock bag filled to the rim with little soaps, which she would pull out over and over to take a whiff from. She said she collected them not to use them, but because she loved their smell. My Chilean dad is also really awesome. He's one of those very quiet men, who commands all the attention in the room, even though he speaks very, very softly. He also collects things. A lot of things. Like ships in glass bottles and electric train models: I could write a poem about him. He's my sage papa. So, we all ate chocolates that I brought from Infusions at home, drank coffee, and just talked for a few hours. I like that. I like that Chileans can just talk and be with eachother.
Tonight, I'll probably go to a gringo party thrown by one of the guys who's been here since last semester, so that should be fun. And Saturday, I am invited to attend a wedding! One of my friends needs a date, and who would pass up a chance to go to a Chilean boda?


Saturday, February 25, 2012

And All the (Wo)men Shall Be Sailors Until They Are Freed

I am terrified of rollercoasters. It's a dreadful feeling, being strapped into those seats, locked in with your legs or your arms dangling, watching as you climb up up up the tracks, listening to every slow, mechanical step of the climb and knowing that as soon as it slows to a stop at the very top, the descent begins and you will have no control over it. I usually cannot remember what the giant drop of the roller coaster feels like, i can never remember if it feels good, or horrible, I only remember screaming and laughing at the same time. I remember in middle school, standing in line for the Medusa at Six Flags theme park, my head going crazy and my stomach a box full of rabid butterflies. I remember knowing that backing out was simple and not simple, because I had to know what it was like to ride this thing through--had to. I mean, by stepping out of the line, I could easily cure myself, feel like a normal human being once again, as opposed to a bag of untameable electricity, about to explode into a million lost molecules. But I didn't step out of the line.

Rarely have I felt this feeling outside of theme parks. This strange, potent mix of terror and excitement that can only come from the absolute unknown. I felt it today. Days ago, saying goodbye to my parents, I didn't feel it. Even landing in Santiago, it hadn't come. Not until I was on the bus from Olmué and I looked out the window to see a sign reading "Viña del Mar" did I feel it. That terrible feeling of "Why am I doing this?!" mashed violently to it's own answer, "Because I must."
I can't explain it to you. I can't explain why the idea of living with a new family for 4 months makes me terrified me in this way, when backpacking alone with no sense of direction in Europe gave me no such waver.
I can't tell you, but I feel like the next four months will be an opportunity to figure that out.

Where I am

Oda a Valparaíso, Pablo Neruda

qué disparate
qué loco,
puerto loco,
qué cabeza
con cerros,
no acabas
de peinarte,
tiempo de vestirte,
te sorprendió
la vida,
te despertó la muerte,
en camisa,
en largos calzoncillos
con flecos de colores,
con un nombre
tatuado en la barriga,
y con sombrero,
te agarró el terremoto,
te quebraste las uñas,
se movieron
las aguas y las piedras,
las veredas,
el mar,
la noche,
tú dormías
en tierra,
de tus navegaciones,
y la tierra,
levantó su oleaje
más tempestuoso
que el vendaval marino,
el polvo
te cubría
los ojos,
las llamas
quemaban tus zapatos,
las sólidas
casas de los banqueros
como heridas ballenas,
mientras arriba
las casas de los pobres
al vacio
como aves
que probando las alas
se desploman.

te olvidas
de las lágrimas,
a colgar tus moradas,
a pintar puertas
lo transformas en nave,
la remendada proa
de un pequeño,
La tempestad corona
con espuma
tus cordeles que cantan
y la luz del océano
hace temblar camisas
y banderas
en tu vacilación indestructible.

de lejos,
en la altura de la costa
y pronto
tu escondido fuego,
el vaivén
de tus sordos callejones,
el desenfado
de tu movimiento,
la claridad
de tu marinería.
Aquí termino, es esta
tan pequeña
como una camiseta
en tus ventanas harapientas
en el viento
del océano,
de todos
los dolores
de tu suelo,
el rocío
de los mares, el beso
del ancho mar colérico
que con toda su fuerza
golpeándose en tu piedra
no pudo
porque en tu pecho austral
están tatuadas
la lucha,
la esperanza,
la solidaridad
y la alegría
como anclas
que resisten
las olas de la tierra.


This is the first post in my blog. It is worth revisiting as my newest travels begin.


We were anointed cartographers.
confused; pens and tools sprouted from our palms.
We cried out, 'but we've no eyes, we've shaky hands',
but still, they demanded maps.
How could we trace the things we'd seen,
how could we know the scale of the mountains-
we get altitude sickness from the size of our dreams.
The storms we've seen have washed away kings,
The terrain we've trekked has been forsaken.
How can we measure the depths of those rivers
that left currents in us, leading to what?
Charybdis-eternal starvation?

What can we make of the places that made us-
How can we explain to you of the paths we have taken?
We followed the glint of a golden spool that pulled us
From our minotaurs and from our mazes,
That is all that we can say.
And from this grew tracks,
But maps?
Perhaps we can hold you in our eyes until you
Get a glimpse of what you're looking for,
But we cannot show the way.