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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.