Sunday, January 01, 2006

notes from Colombia

montserre looming in the background

all the writers I enjoy
with the flavors and scents of travel
in their sentences

Bogotta spilling out
run on sentence to the horizon

on calle 15 there's a bearded man
and the stray dog company he keeps

olive complexions and dark hair

the squealing of the pulleys
on the rising cablecars

latic churches
and clay roof tiles
white plaster

Bogota, altitude sickness, beers again, guard dogs, glass cemented to the tops of walls, the color of these girls skin, leather and wicker, reflections in airport bathrooms, coffee

the concern with appearance
in these girls cheeks
a child tries to sell
me something on the street
following and mumbling spanish

the awkwardness
of a Dunkin Donuts coffee
in my hands
down calle 84

I expected another Lima
and horror story fear
but the high rises
and malls and designer
jeans had more of
New Yoek to whisper

in Bogota
the mountains
are to the East

the train,
then following Jesus' suffering
to the summit

behind the alter
a powerful sculpture
Jesus half nailed
you could make out
the deep cuts
left by the flail

Latin Americans
place huge
monuments to faith
on their mountains
enough to compel belief
in moments

a white plaster church
above Bogota
a room of thank yous
for practical miracles
like operations and visas

courting another piece of the Pan American highway
taking it under the Devil's Nose

and there we were
drunk in a Columbia
and cousins or sisters
drinking beers
marked with bulls or eagles
eating half cooked
dancing salsa
and I never even
saw the stars
but I did dance
and speak spanish
and dream at night

bedside minutes
in between
collecting bits of my head
with the South American morning
whirling around me
and the aroma of coffee and rolled r's

on the back of the one thousand peso bill
Jorge claiming,
"I am not a man, I am a town"
and I guess we all are

my sister
the phrase so strange
in long slow besos
with a latin man
techno and salsa
agua diente and cigarillos

and the way it resurrects
a memory of all five senses

getting lost somewhere over the world
paradise islands
out windows
and no way of knowing
any way back
the pilot reassuring
he'll try to find "smooth air"

with my hand in the curve
of a creme skinned woman's torso
swaying to merengue

strange beauty
the wonder and awe
and the wide eyes

I still taste
the revolutions and gold
in my cigarette inhales

swarming street vendors
the way they stop and stare
at gringos
or my hair
automatic weapons
offers of cocaine
the dust
and the horse drawn wagons
the way Bogotta
stretches out
spilled water in the night

their spanish-
so rapid
their movements-
so calm

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