Worlds Away

what the nomad brought home

Lamento della zingara

“Da due mesi o poco piu…” *

Summer’s green deception now unwinds itself with straw,
The daylight tips and tumbles in reverse,
And fireflies are fading where we fantasized we’d glow.
The grass we never set ablaze just cuts
Into my legs the imprint
Of a scene that never was,
The disconnected lines of names we hardly knew,
The lacerating echoes of our unborn shouts into the night,

And now,
While sterile sunlight spills its gold
Upon your back and turns
Its back
On me…
I wander sticky streets alone,
Instead of melting,
White-hot, liquid moon beneath
Your secret,
Silver tongue.



“Io non mi fidavo; era solo sesso. Ma il sesso e un’attitudine, come l’arte in genere. E forse l’ho capito. E sono qui. E scusa… ma se non urlo, muoio. Non so se sai…”
(“I wasn’t committing; it was only sex. But sex is an expression, a state of mind, like art in general. And maybe I’ve got it figured out. And here I am. And forgive me… but if I don’t shout this, it’ll kill me. I don’t know if you know…”)

Still not ready to return to WordPress, guys. I feel bad about being almost completely inactive, but it’s been a stressful sort of time. This isn’t quite the type of post I’d prefer to be dropping by to leave either (so gloomy!), but I’ve spent the last several days steeped in poetry and wracked by an Italian ballad I only somehow just discovered this week. It’s called “Imbranato” by Tiziano Ferro, and it’s been my soundtrack as I try to articulate some things that have been bugging me.




The title of my post is a tribute to the Italian ballad that gave voice to my unrest. It’s also something of a tribute to my own Italian heritage and my lifelong nickname, “zingarella.” The title evokes the dilemma that lies at the heart of this poem — there are pains attendant to being something of a “zingara.” My family began calling me “zingarella” (diminuitive form of “zingara” or “gypsy”) when I was very young. They had sensed, even then, my passion for the exotic. And the person I’ve become has lived up to her name. But gypsy travelers and free spirits move in transitory circles. And so a thousand laments are born of the way these sorts of people live and learn, love and lose.

So here I am with one of the poems I’ve been working on. It’s not “finished,” but the line from “Imbranato” about the passing months made me feel it was timely to post something now. Aside from tonight’s visit to WordPress, I’m not sure when I’ll be “back.” It’s difficult to stay away for so long, but it’s even more difficult to reconcile my love of writing and of the writing community with the less than poetic demands of my Ph.D. progress. Again, friends, I offer you my apologies and my sincerest hopes that we can be in touch again when I may finally make more of a lasting return. Peace and love to all of you.

July 31, 2010 Posted by | Memories, muse, Nostalgia, Poetry, Sex, Solitude, Time, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Invisible Tattoo

Revealed along the journey of a vernal, crescent moon,
He displays the backwards/forwards evolution
That brought him to the great meridian
Of the bed where we repose.

Like twin suns twisting ’round each other as we blaze
Our trail through the cosmos,
He and I go spinning off the sparks that glow with what we’re made of.
A crimson heat to speak for me, expansive…
My counterpart, a fuzzy, compact ball of fire,
Burning white and blue
And charging East
From here within my arms…
I reignite
For just a fleeting, cosmic moment;

My lover draws the same celestial banner I once twirled like a ribbon
As I spun from star to star.

With a crook of his poet fingers and laughter in his eyes,
He teases out the threads that weave forever
In the space-time fabric that envelops us this night,
And his incandescent flicker whispers on my skin
The tales he carries written on his own.
Shining brighter in his brilliance,
I burst with wonder
At his Red Giant reverie.




When the universe was new,
I too
Got lost like this.





So I beam as I incline my head over my renegade companion,
And here with tongue and fingertips,
I trace my silent prayer upon his back:


May his dreams not burn out red!…










*  Just as a brief explanation, despite the fact that I haven’t been too active on here in about half a year, this poem woke me up at dawn, and I felt compelled to post it here today.  It’s an autobiographical metaphor about, on the most basic level, discovering an unexpected affinity with someone during a casual encounter and remembering forgotten aspects of yourself.

I hope to get back to WordPress within the next few weeks.  Still very busy with my doctoral program, but I’m looking forward to reading what you’ve been up to, and I promise to answer the questions and respond to the comments you’ve left in my LONG absence.  Miss you all, and hope that everyone is well!

Cheers!
Laura

May 22, 2010 Posted by | Memories, Nostalgia, Poetry, Sex, Travel, Uncategorized, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Origins

Rendida a tus huellas
Despertando entre tus cerros
Amamantada de tus susurros
Caminando con tus fantasmas
Maldiciendo a tus muros
Venerando a tus alturas
Respirando tus nubes
Sudando tus temblores
Y llorando tu sangre

nací.

 

No pretendo escribir poemas en castellano, el cual no es mi idioma nativo.  En castellano, falto el ritmo, la rima, y la fluidez suficientes para ser poeta.  Por eso, no piense en estas líneas como poema.  No más fue mi intento de comemorar esta fecha — que tiene gran significado en mi vida — con un par de versos que expresaran el amor y respeto muy profundos que llevo en mi corazón por una tierra distante.  El lugar que ahora sólo visito en mis sueños.  El lugar donde encontré, donde se clavó, y donde permanece mi alma.

Tal vez, quién sabe, allá la dejé vidas atrás….

January 4, 2009 Posted by | Español, Memories, muse, Nostalgia, Obsession, Travel, Wanderlust | , , , , | 6 Comments

Conquista / “In Tongues”

I find you on the edge of dreams.
Your open arms receive me in the night.
So self-assured
You wrap me in a robe of southern stars,
Pull back the veil,
And vocalize a vow to claim me as the queen
Of this paradise you rule outside of time.
You take my hand and lead me down
Through swirling mists and emerald vales
Into a church whose taste of dripping gold
I find in blood and tears
Upon the wounds you make me lick.

And so I labor on my knees here while you watch,
Until I choke out prayers

In tongues.

 

Alright, so this isn’t a pleasant one.  This was originally the intro for a longer poem (not published here).  It’s tough to deconstruct in any concise manner, but the tags offer a decent explanation.  To get really simplistic though, it has to do with violence, churches built on blood, revelations of various kinds, the allure of the exotic, and a deep sense of pain for people other than yourself.  It’s also about finding your own spirituality at the breaking point, where prayers escape your lips in a language other than your own.

Ooooor…..you could disregard everything I just said, get a little creative, and read this through the perspective of different generations, centuries removed from one another.  😉

(la) Conquista = the Conquest
conquista (common noun) = conquest, or the endeavor of conquering
conquista = (in an interpersonal sense) a female you decide to seduce/overtake (or whom you’ve succeeded in seducing/overtaking)

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Memories, muse, Nostalgia, Poetry, Travel, Uncategorized, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Queens

This is who we are.
Our secret selves at bay,
Animal instincts tamed,
We walk as wolves sprung from the underbrush
Who bow their regal heads
Under spells never spoken.
The beast within us longs to lunge
To bite
To feast,
But instead, our eyes,
In fleeting glances on the street,
Avert to hide the savage self,
And so a thousand encounters never come to be.

In this festival of near-forgotten freedoms,
The darkness alight with neon life,
My pulse pounds with the memory of what never was.
And every breath I stole before this moment
Returns me to our animal intentions
As we play at human roles.

The words you long to say,
The miles you have challenged,
The locks that I have broken,
And the silent codes that save me
In the doorways,
By the train tracks,
On the corners,
Under streetlights,
Where I find myself reborn–
Dissolve here in the instant
That our bodies
Move apart.

And though we toe the fading line
Between the fairytale of civilization
And the enchanted forest of our own destructive drives,
I know where you come from
And you sense where I’ve been,
And one expectant look reveals that
Neither of us truly lives
In this world that falls away
Behind the shadows.

October 16, 2008 Posted by | muse, Poetry, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aqlla

So you sing to me again
That hollow, interminable lament
Which tears me from my sleep
To shackle me with dreams.
You always find new tricks to bring me home —
This stubbornly devoted concubine
Who finds privilege in the humble shadow
Of your fiercely glacial air,
And lingers with surrendered reverence
Around your volatile, smoldering depths.
Yes, I recognize your invocation;
It’s a breath,
A regal salutation,
And a kiss.

But tell me, love —
Do you remember our game?
Do you remember
How I once melted in your embrace?
How completely I surrendered to the searing pain?
How obediently I waited
As the flames of passion threatened to destroy me?
How I believed that I would suffocate
Before you let me go?

Do you remember
How I branded myself,
Playing with fire
To cauterize your wounds?

I will return
With a torch
To clear the shadows of your long, tormented night.

Just, please —
Don’t burn me now.

 

*A mentor told me years ago that she thought I was an aqlla in another life.  Kind of a random thing to say, but I resurrect the idea here.  This title, from Quechua, is a play on numerous levels of meaning.  I’ll break some of them down, should you be curious:

Aqllana/Aqllay = to select/choose — This poem was inspired by an opportunity and the need to make a decison.

Aqlla = (lit.) chosen one

Aqlla = (historically) a bride of the sun.  The aqllacuna (pl.) were taken from their homes, having been singled out (hence “aqlla”) for a life of political and spiritual service to the Inca Empire.  This decision, externally imposed, was based on physical appearance, and one could not refuse to be an aqlla.  Furthermore, as the state appropriated an aqlla’s sexuality, she lived under perpetual surveillance.  Owned by the empire, she could be given as a concubine — or sacrificed — for the greater glory of the state and the higher interests of the people.  Stakes were high; an aqlla was not free, and “transgressions” of the flesh, as well as any sign of disrespect toward the men she was ordered to serve (service), were punishable by death.

In this poem, I refer to fire not only for its simultaneously destructive and purifying effects, but also because tending to a hallowed fire was one of an aqlla’s sacred responsibilities.

A little pre-Columbian trivia for you  😉

October 7, 2008 Posted by | muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Manifesto

You can’t tame me.
These running legs have served me well.
Unruly curls in disarray,
Bare toes connecting with the earth,
I laugh too loud, play too hard,
And dance for no reason at all.
I’m not much for pretense or formality;
Every day is a flag to be captured,
And while I can strategize with the best of them,
Uncover every secret hideout —
While never letting on that you’ve been found —
I’d rather blaze my trail straight to the heart.

Sure, I stop and smell the flowers,
And I’ll gladly detour for a tumble in the brush,
But I don’t waste time on maps,
And the dangerous curves of this country I inhabit
Are surely beyond your control.

I only realized I was a woman
When they saw me for what I never was before,
And a thousand kisses,
Caresses,
And whispers in the darkest of the dark
Rained over me and washed clean all the
Grass stains of my youth.
But this refining
Only skimmed the satin surface;
I may dress the part now,
And you’d never find a single scar,
But I’d win every neighborhood game!
Because, now, I can run without running
And look without lifting my eyes.

Inside, those flames they fanned
Cannot be doused.
I’m a slow burn,
Alight with a deeper life
Than many women are willing to live,
And you’ll see it set ablaze
Through the window of these laughing eyes
When you grip these defiant hips,
Sink into these wild waves of hair,
And breathe over this now-unbroken skin.

In your hands, I am no tomboy;
This is the secret, feminine force incarnate. 
Nor am I a damsel in distress
Waiting to be rescued by the sword;
I can vanquish villains and
Escape from dungeons by myself,
But I’ll still join you
For this grand, uncharted adventure.

What I am is a child
Inviting you to play in the mud again,
Dance in the rain,
Stop watching the clock!
Dig through the sands of time,
And yell at the top of your lungs
For the sheer joy of living without limits.
I’m also a sage who already knows your answer.

You can’t tame me.
But why would you try?
I’m an animal out of the cage
Whose spirit has been distilled,
Drop by simmering drop,
Into the purest, primal essence of humanity.

 

Now, tell me…
What are you?

 

So, this is 20yearsfromnow!  I forgot that I’d written a self-portrait back in July, but I stumbled upon it again tonight and thought I’d share it here; it seemed fitting to segue into my tomboy manifesto from the childhood memories recently set out in “Woodworking.”  In fact….this, I suppose, is the result of the “adventure” (referenced therein) that I would go on to have years after waking up from that crazy dream.  🙂

September 21, 2008 Posted by | Memories, Nostalgia, Poetry, Sex, Travel, Woman | , , , , | Leave a comment

Vagabondage

I wasn’t so innocent when,
Sleeplessly rapt in the throes of
A virgin
Wanderlust,
I cried out to you
On instinct
From worlds away.

A shameless amateur
In the art of survival,
I confessed my desperate hunger
For the instant when you,
Laid bare of your own volition,
Would thrust me
Past the point of no return so that,
Indelibly marked by your tempestuous
Yesterday,
I could secure tomorrow’s consummate
Salvation.

Recklessly announcing my
Coming,
I pleaded that you impress upon
Your wide-eyed initiate
What only the chosen learn
And that you reveal that
Naked, primal self
I longed to know
With an abandon bordering on the
Predestined.

I came to you in the night,
A pilgrim unwittingly sacrificing
The flesh
To obtain transfiguration through
Your touch,
And you,
Wasting not a minute–
Though I fell damned by their abundance–
Anointed me with unbridled
Authenticity
As there in the fervor of my devotion,
You forced yourself
Ravenously into my
Soul.

Taken down by a spear you shot
Through centuries,
I was pinned
Like all the others who pray
In your bed
That with morning will
Come
Mercy.
Your brazen lust
Drove me to the edge
Of reason when,
Over and over,
You threw me
Breathless
To my knees
In a violent embrace that
My iron will
Refused to unbind.

My God,
You literally shook the ground
Beneath me!
And you rose to meet me at every
Unforgettable peak
Where you taught me
How hard
I could take it,
Satisfied
No less than I had asked for,
And provoked
Far more than I had ever expected.

My love, in truth,
It was not a novitiate but a mystic
Who designed the wager
Against her own self-preservation
That allowed you to
Find me inside,
Crush down upon me ever
Harder,
And press deeper

….Deeper!

Deeper….
Into my memory.

May 30, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Sex, Travel, Uncategorized, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aventura

Quick!
The future is upon us,
But we can still escape
If we’re already leaving.
Hey, there’s no time to pack!
What do you need anyway?
Just throw on your favorite daydreams,
Cash in your finest scars,
Dig out that old map you left buried
In the back of your soul,
Grab all your lessons,
And sneak through the crack you still see at the window,
Or, hell, it’s all the same–
Just open the door, and swagger on out in triumph.
There’s more than this,
Wake up!

This isn’t child’s play;
The fairytale was that we needed a plan–
Preposterous.
And every itinerary we’ve designed? —
An option,
Not a sentence.
The exotic calls
To what was always there within,
And I’m making my break for the gate.

Don’t drag your feet.
Right here, right now
Is the chance to check your baggage.
Turn in who you’ve become.
Claim who you always were.
Come morning, the alarm clock will sound its victory call,
And again, you’ll only think the battle lost.
Stand your ground.
Surrender yourself.
And run with me.
Novelty is made of forever.
And it starts tonight.

I was inspired to write this immediately after a conversation with a dear friend who just returned from a year in Argentina, no less racked by wanderlust now than before she set out.  As we talked, scheming up all manner of ways to appease our inner nomads, my friend chuckled as she noted, “We’re such romantics!”  Well, I write this in honor of that sentiment, that dream, and that reality.
Aventura (Spanish) serves as multiple conjugations of the verb aventurar — “to venture,” but its cognate, “adventure,” is perhaps the most obvious translation, and it can carry connotations of amorous ventures as well.

May 16, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Travel, Wanderlust | , , , | 2 Comments

Ahuac taita

Ahuac taitaTapestry
Hunched over your craft
Those calloused, twisted hands
So deftly scratching back and forth
Through the yet invisible landscape of your creation;
A thousand knives at your curving back
Strength, sight sacrificed for the power to
Build mountains
Forge rivers
And freeze flowers in paradise
With the simple tug of a thread.
Ahuac taita
Your wrinkled eyes, your grieving face,
Your fingers speak through the somber, silent figures that you build–
Those unmoving musicians,
Those vagrant porters
Those lonely peasants
And those wayward beasts of burden
Are far more powerful than the
Imposing cordilleras and the
Dazzling hillside pastures
That embrace your woolen outcasts.
Ahuac taita
Tell me more,
One humble fiber at a time;
I have nothing but to wait here in this place,
And I promise I will listen
To the colors, to the textures of your story.
I see the shapes emerge of
Four campesinas staring dejectedly into the distance as
The sun setting over the other side of their barren mountain
Illuminates someone else.
Ahuac taita, that someone else is me!
Where they fall to their knees in golden fields of failure,
Their heavy shawls ablaze with the jewel hues of yesterday’s abundance,
Their earthen jars….I know–
Their earthen jars are empty.
Ahuac taita
I will buy your tapestry,
This message in a bottle
That so few will ever dare to open,
This weaving, this world that you sell
For ten dollars.
But, oh, that I could give you so much more!….
To see your brightest visions come to life.

January 21, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Travel, Writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sugar

I collapsed

On fragrant afternoons of papaya and maduro,

Bathed in the light of a gentle sun

That danced off my weary, shimmering form—

A semi-conscious vision of golden rizos and bronze curvas,

Totally defenseless,

Wrapped in the scent of coco and piña

While my desperate panting sought the ever-thinner air,

Swimming in the oscuridad of my own sugary sea,

Wondering when I would surface

And if I would ever find the shore once I did.

Eventually, my caramelos would bring me back,

Melting justo a tiempo over a foreign lengua,

As music whispered its way back into my consciousness

And light trickled back in over my cama.

And with this newfound strength I left my rooftop refuge

To descend through the silver nubes

And explore the tantalizingly beautiful paraíso below,

Where no longer was I a prisoner of azúcar

But, alas, became a postre all myself

As I struggled to ford rivers of cerveza

Spilling off of sidewalks salty with the smell of chancho.

January 12, 2008 Posted by | Español, Memories, Poetry, Travel, Woman | | 2 Comments

The Virgins

I made a pilgrimage

To the land of eternal spring

Where the ancient mountains are burning

And the verdant fields are bleeding

And the youthful streets are screaming –

Cries of the ghosts of virgins

Whose daughters

Are harvested every day.

I walked in wonder

Through the pristine savagery of eternal spring

Averting my eyes from the wolves

Closing my ears to the snakes

And opening my soul to the carnage

That first claimed the virgins

Whose daughters

Are ravaged every day.

I stopped the advances

Of the conquistadores of eternal spring,

Appropriating boulevards for myself,

Walking, exposed on all sides,

To protect my body from their gunshots

While my spirit was penetrated

Like the virgins

Whose daughters

Are born every day.

“Everything’s resolved in bed later,”

Some laugh on balmy afternoons in eternal spring,

When, exhausted from running

And dreading the blows,

The helpless desperately seek refuge

And are cast aside by the sons of a virgin

Whose daughters

Are flogged every day.

“Why won’t you drink!” he screamed

Of the poison of eternal spring

As I told him, instead, to imbibe it,

Wrestled myself from his grip,

And became

Another refugee of the virgin

Whose daughters

Are sedated every day.

Deep in the lion’s den

Higher than the clouds,

The beasts were salivating at my side,

And I could truly see the tragic glory of eternal spring

While, smaller than ever,

I stood at the feet of a virgin

Whose daughters

Are falling to their knees every day.

Stealing into the heavens one night,

I passed into a new season —

More alive than ever before, and crying with relief,

Unscathed but not untouched,

And forever remembering the virgin

Whose daughters

Are saved every day.

  

*I’m not here to make any claims about religious affiliation or devotion, so it is with the utmost of respect that I am requesting you not focus on however it may be that I experience my own spirituality.  I will say, however, that I firmly believe that life is experienced in a deeply cultural context, which, by its very nature, can vary drastically from scenario to scenario.  I hope to inspire reflection on this latter aspect of the human experience.  Travel memories come in all varieties, and sometimes your souvenirs choose you rather than the other way around.  Thank you sincerely for reading, and I wish you kindness, love, and peace.*

December 28, 2007 Posted by | Memories, Poetry, Travel, Woman, Writing | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ch’aski

“Déjame mirarte por esa ventana que por las mañanas yo veo en tus ojos — el brillo de tu alma, ¡color solitario!  Déjame decirte que en mis pensamientos, yo llevo tus sueños y tus sentimientos — y mi alma siente morirse pequeña….”  Kjarkas–“La ventana”

A million miles, my footsteps pounding
Across the invisible stretch of sky,
Lighted by stars,
Dodging the cries of babies,
The slamming of car doors,
The music of neighbors,
And the sound of searing silence.
Every night, running, sprinting
Through time, through space, to your side
With my feet nailed to the floor
And the moon’s gaze turning each tear to liquid silver.
My heart racing,
I see you,
Lonelier than you know,
In an embrace you never felt.
Every night, I chased the stars—so close—
Up there
To touch,
Running with my peasant’s bag of magical whispers
To bring you a song
And go back again to my hell
Where I could burn the feelings out of myself with the same melodies.
I took flight into the night
Once I allowed myself to break the chains,
Carried safely back into a morning
That didn’t dawn over you.
For you, who traversed time, traversed space
With your child’s bouquet of magical promises
To bring me a kiss
Never met me where the stars meet the ground.

*Ch’aski, in the Quechua language, means “messenger” or “courier.”

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Poetry, Solitude, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Escape!

It’s summertime, and I’m feeling that familiar wanderlust. I put a list here about travel memories.  Feel free to add your own ideas!  I’m thinking of….

emerald mountains
train rides
stepping out your door into the Renaissance
houses of every color
vibrant gardens defiantly bursting out of their wrought-iron confines
sipping drinks with friends at a mellow cafe in Quito’s nightlife district
the simple pleasure of buying chocho salad
the Tuscan countryside
watching newborn llamas get introduced to their neighbors for the first time
cobblestone streets navigated by horse-drawn carriages
the future whispering through scattered coca leaves
knowing exactly where to go when you want steak, eggs, and rice at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning
watching from your post atop a bell tower as the dawn breaks over a stately, old city
ice-covered volcanoes on the horizon
being serenaded on Lake Titicaca under a sapphire sky
Christmas displays at St. Peter’s
waterfalls
waterfalls that are frozen
being able to browse through a shopping mall and people-watch while listening to the waves crash below you and feeling the ocean’s breeze warm your face
the sweet taste of the forbidden herbal mate, and its calming, medicinal smell
the sound of a language you don’t know
realizing that you could go anywhere in the country for $10
Florentine markets at night time
the crisp breeze blowing in from a historic harbor
the sound of panpipes driven by the beat of animal-skin drums
the excitement of finding yourself right next to a set of enormous chimes as they herald the birth of a new hour — on the arm of someone you love
cappucino and cannoli
a fresh, warm little yuca bun
knowing that you can find anything that you possibly could need right there on the street
the quaint sophistication of European cafes
the beautiful sight of the glowing Milky Way as it stretches itself over the glassy waters of an enormous, inland sea
ice cream in another country (It’s never the same!)
the exhilarating pain when you submerge yourself in a frigid mountain stream, immediately after a dip in a volcanic hot spring
sitting on a bench somewhere and contemplating all the history that has taken place around you
the fragrance of roses on the air
enjoying fried pork and beer in a cozy shop, while the flies tirelessly pursue one another in circles around the center of the room
and, most amazing of all, being able to share any of those things with someone special.

…..I suppose you’ve figured out by now that I’m feeling the urge to travel. Feel free to add your own haven to the list!

July 26, 2007 Posted by | Memories, Nostalgia, Travel, Wanderlust | 6 Comments