Summer Poems out of Peru: 2006 [English and Spanish]
She was on an airplane, she told me, when she first met him, my friend, I will call him Pablo, Pablo of Lima, it is not his name of course his real name of course, but then what kind of friend would I be, should I give his real name—indeed, not a friend at all.
Her name, Teresa, somebody. I met her at a house party, Pablo of Lima, a house with no name, Pablo of Lima, I should announce before hand. She was mad, as Pablo walked around greeting his friends, rich and poor alike. I asked her,
“Ms Teresa, why are you so mad at Pablo?” even Pablo was not aware of it at this time.
“We were on the plane, he sat next to me, second class, and he talked briefly, told me about himself, what he wanted to tell that is, where he came from, grew up, his family, he did leave out how rich he was. And he talked about his friends, so many friends and so forth and on. He invited me to this party, where of course I met you. And before I met you, I sat over there (she’s pointing now at a chair), and a woman came in, laid down on the rug, right in front of me, flirted like a lesbian, and I asked her ‘Are you flirting with me, are you a lesbian, why are you checking me out from the side of your eyes? The girl didn’t say a word, just moved away from me, that’s all, no more. I said to myself, Teresa: now what kind of party is this? Then realized how rich he was.”
That is what Teresa told me, now she’s looking at me for an answer (but she was not telling me something, she kept glancing over to a picture of Pablo on the mantel, one of his youth with his mother: Pablo of Lima), as other guests arrive, many I knew, like Juan and his brother from the “Favorite Café,” in Lima; and Carmen, owner of the Travel Agency [Cuarzo] I often use, as does Pablo, her husband tried to sell me an office for my writing downtown in Lima, it didn’t work out though; Pablo had introduced her to me six-years ago. And I notice Manuel, he is a preacher from the same church Pablo, my wife and I go to, in Miraflores.
Hernan, from the Café ‘El Parquetito’ is here now at the party, and so is Ms Cecilia from Bancode Crediato, and Efrain Saavedra, Consul General of Peru, are all here, along with Martina Gomez Garibay, Cosmiatra; A. Alexis Garcia, owner of the Cafe Habana, a painter equally, a rich painter in a way; and Chusty a poor painter from the streets; Jessica Avalos LL, Abogada, my lawyer in Lima. Dr. Philip M. Ramp (and his wife), professor at the University of Minnesota of Economics, showed up also, he was Pablo professor too, for a while that is, until he got rich. Enrique, my brother-in-law showed up along the mayor of San Jeronimo Jesus Vargas, and Jose Luis from the Radio; Claudia from Colombia, Bogotá, a guide tour, both myself, wife and Pablo got to know quite well.
And there were many more, like the Bread man of Miraflores, and the Papaya man, and the Negrito and his son, little Negrito: yes, the rich, poor and not so rich and poor, like me, were all invited, and here was this young lady mad at Pablo, looking at me for some kind of answer. I looked Teresa in the eyeballs, stern and steady, “What is it?” I asked, “…what, what do you want, expect out of Pablo? I mean he invited you to his party, you were simply someone he met, liked, invited to a party, I think?”
I had to add those last two words in because I was becoming doubtful about this situation.
“No,” said Teresa, “there is more too it than that,” then added, “when I was thirteen, I was poor; I’ve not reached much higher since. Pablo was from my neighborhood in Lima he and his family were poor also, we were all poor, he had sex with me, he was nineteen-years old then—about five years older than me; when you are young, five years is a long time; anyhow, I was just a kid, he was a little more than that. Oh, I don’t necessarily think he took advantage of me, no more than anyone in the neighborhood at the time, we all liked him. All us girls, he was the neighborhood hero, everyone looked up to him, wanted to touch him. He sang on the guitar, and we all dreamed of going to bed with him, or at least I did, and a few of my friends; then one day he disappeared. I hadn’t seen him for…until the plane… that is! Life is unfair, it is just unfair; anyhow, it’s been of course, twenty-years or so, I’m 33-years old, and he’s got to be at least 40-or a little less. And he became successful, and I know I’ve been used quite a lot, had a lot of boyfriends, not very pretty anymore, heavy I suppose, I had two children, they are gone on their own now, none by him of course, but why can’t he take me now, why should I not have him as a rich man—he could marry me—he loves God, and I could learn; he once took me as a poor girl? I don’t understand, life is unfair; He doesn’t even recognize me.”
Just then, I noticed Pablo behind her, he was there all the time, heard everything she said, Teresa turned around, seeing I was staring at something, I looked dumbfound for sure; he said calmly, in his smooth and worldly way:
“If only you knew what my life was like, you’d not be so harsh on me; it was not all riches after I left the neighborhood, as you may think, as you seem to have presented here in your monologue to my friend; it all came at a price, much heavier than your idioms and thinking; your resentments, your feeling cheated in life—a heavy price indeed. While you were doing whatever you were doing, I was in a war—killed people, as people tried to kill me; I was on the streets of the world drunk trying to find my way back home, whatever way it was I can’t remember it all, I didn’t find it for a decade or two; and there were many ways, painful ways—roads I took; I ended up in whorehouses, sick in the hospitals, dying once, or was it twice, can’t remember so well, much of it was hell; all, it all wasn’t so nice.
I had four children, lost three of them; many times I was hungry, wanted to steal but I didn’t: drunk in the grass, was much of my past. I paid a dear price for my experience, nothing is free, not even dying, and we must even pay the morgue, oftentimes before the taxman comes.
I have been in court a hundred times, yes, indeed, all at a dear price; a weak heart, and an eye for the greedy willing to take it all away at the clap of an eye, at any price: the robber always wants what you have. You can sleep and not worry about him, I cannot. Being poor is not a good thing, nor being rich, perhaps in-between like our mutual friend here, and his wife (meaning me). But if you should want my money—because it is my money you want, not me, if it was me you wanted, I kept the same name, I’m not hard to find, so it is money we are talking about not old times—you then must go back and live my life: and that I doubt you are willing to do.”
Having said all that, he just turned away, and walked back to his guests, greeted them, and I bid the lady goodbye.
A Poetic Prose Story: #1288 3/26/2006 (provoked by a dream, part real)
2) Pigeons at La Favorita Cafe (A Poem)
Faintly, a scene of effects unfolds, awakens the eyes
And is soon forgotten, as it dies: the pigeons prance
Around parked cars, by the Café Favorita’s tables
in Lima, Peru!
Then they take off in flight, some remain, and prance under cars,
Out of sight: as they move in and out (the café is boarding
the street in Miraflores).
They prance, prance: pecking at crumbs on the ground,
Slowly winged, unhastening (as zooming cars pass by).
I watch these pigeons melt into the scene
nobody really notices them, but me…!
#1307 Written at the La Favorita Café, in Lima, Peru 4/8/06, while I was having coffee during the evening outside, with several tables full of Peruvians talking, drinking, eating; a TV in the Café going on, sports, news, etc. A mellow evening, and the I got focused on the pigeons for some reason. Perhaps something no one really notices, or if they do, it is almost subconsciously. And so I noticed life buzzing around me, the cars, at the tables of the café, the pigeons, it all makes for a complete package to a closing evening. The cool breeze, for it is fall in Lima now and the ocean is but a half mile away, the winds from the ocean seep up the streets, and impose their presence upon everyone. Sometimes I wonder why people eat or drink coffee inside cafes if they can go outside, it is perhaps one of the pleasures I have living here in Peru; after living in Minnesota most all my life, and having to eat inside seven months out of the year, it is a treat to breath in real air, instead of shifted air from the facility.
3) Last Triumph in Cajamarca (A Poem)
Weep for the one you slay today! The one you found at last. Mourn for Atahualpa, for war has come and passed—; It was he who flamed the hearts so deep, with heroic
Breath, and now—
Now Pizarro’s sword is laid and armor hangs in the house
Of Cajamarca…. Weep for the one so swift to slay, whom they shall hang
#1305 4/8/06 Note: Atahualpa, was king of the Incas, perhaps the most noted one in Inca history, or one of the most famous Incas at least. He was killed in Cajamarca, Peru, in the 16th Century, and of course there are many legends that surround his last days; those days in a Spanish Prison, in this Northern Peruvian city. I suppose, if the city is famous for anything, it is famous more for the death and incarceration of Atahualpa, than anything else. I am not here to judge history, or to say how bad the Spanish were, or how cruel the Incas were. And I’m sure we could point fingers at both of them for their atrocities, for the Inca Empire did not acquire its grand conquering status (likened to the Romans) by being less cruel than the Spanish, but it was Atahualpa, who was the headlines of the day, and all the gold the Inca world could gather, did not save him.
See Dennis' web site: http://dennissiluk.tripod.com Poeta Laureado de la ciudad de San Jeronimo en Peru
4) The Papaya Man, He carts his fruits and vegetables around with an antique motorcycle-drawn-cart: papayas, grapes, oranges, this and that, so forth and on. He broadcasts his coming from house to house by way of a loudspeaker: up and down and around my casa [my house], in San Juan Miraflores (Lima, Peru): he looks up at me, as I’m looking down at him, from my second story window, he stops…got my attention, he is better than a security guard, knows what is happening around him.
He wears a blue rosary around his thick brown neck, short in stature, broad and robust; he looks kindly at my wife, now looking at the fruit and vegetables: he picks out the biggest and most yellowish-green papaya—weights it, he is smiling; ah! he made the sale, blessed be to the rosary.
He then starts his motor-cart back up again (it is 11:30 AM); not sure how it stirs, no handlebars, but nonetheless, he stirs it away, and down the street he sways, hands on the side of the cart…! The moment has passed, God has feed, both him and my wife, and perhaps me tonight!
#1287 3/24/2006 Note by the author. The nice thing about Peru, and Lima, is the old traditions are still alive, especially if you live here; the Papaya Man, the Bread Man, the Soda man, and so for and so on, come around and sell their goods, like it used to be back in the United States in the 50s.
5) Negrito, Little Negrito (In English and Spanish)
Negrito, and his son, little Negrito (and often with his wife) walk the streets, collect trash; not sure what they do with it: bike-wheel attached to a cart behind its back, up and down the streets of Miraflores they walk, sound a horn, let folks know they’re coming, put trash scraps in their cart—move on.
He is a simple man I see, plain, small, three children I have learned, a wife that cares. He, like me came out of a mother naked, and both of us will be naked when we return: the main difference, my mother was born in America, I suppose. Other than that, I don’t know.
All around him are brown people, he is black I am white. I hired him today, in the middle of the heat, he and his children to clean, to clean up the garbage behind our home. Gave him water and a coke, a hat for his child, a towel, and twenty-soles. He said he didn’t need it, the towel, he was black already: looking at his dirt covered hands.
He will come back Monday, this prideful man, a man of God, to sweat some more, to make a few more dollars: cut the branches off our tree, it is almost hanging over our doorframe. There is no black silo inside of him; he is pure man, with a shadow, lean, like so many in Peru, just trying to make a living.
#1282 3/18/06 Prose Poetry. Negrito, of Miraflores, so he is known, his real name is Mark, not sure if he knows he is called Negrito, but no one seems to hide the nick name, yet, he is called Mark to his face. He seems pleasant enough, and being black is not a bourdon to him, like it seems to be to so many in the United States; he seems to go along with God’s calling, and does not give off that ore of: intolerance, as so many blacks in America do today. And so I thought this little sketch of a man I met once and will meet again, would be of interest to my readers.
Translated by: by Rosa Peñaloza de Siluk
Negrito, Pequeño Negrito
(San Juan de Miraflores; Lima, Peru)
Negrito, y su hijo, pequeño Negrito (y a veces con su esposa) caminan las calles, recogen basura; no estoy seguro que hacen con esto: carruaje atado detrás de este con una bicicleta con ruedas, arriba y debajo de las calles de Miraflores ellos andan, sonido de una bocina, hacen saber a la gente que ellos están viniendo, poner restos de basura en su carruaje—continuar yendo.
El es un hombre simple yo veo, plano, pequeño, tres hijos me entere, una esposa que se preocupa. El, como yo vino desnudo de una madre, y ambos estaremos desnudos cuando volvamos: la mayor diferencia, mi madre nació en América, me imagino. Otra cosa aparte de esta, no lo se.
Todos alrededor de el son personas bronceadas, el es Negro y yo soy blanco. Lo contrate hoy día, en el medio del calor, a el y su hijo para limpiar, para limpiar la basura detrás de nuestra casa. Le di a el agua y Coca Cola, un sombrero para su hijo, una toalla, y veinte-soles. El dijo que el no necesitaba esto, la toalla, dijo que ya era negro: mirando a sus manos cubiertas con suciedad.
El volverá el lunes, este orgulloso hombre, un hombre de Dios, para sudar algo más, ganar unos cuantos dólares más: cortar las ramas de nuestro árbol, que esta casi colgándose encima del marco de nuestra puerta. No hay rasgos de negro dentro de el; el es un hombre puro, con una sombra, delgado, como muchos en Perú, solo tratando de ganarse la vida.
#1282 18/Marzo/2006 Poema en Prosa. Negrito, de Miraflores, así el es conocido, su nombre verdadero es Marco, no estoy seguro si el sabe que lo llaman Negrito, nadie parece ocultar este apodo, sin embargo, el es llamado Marco en su cara. El parece suficientemente agradable, y ser negro no es un problema para el, como parece ser para muchos en los Estados Unidos; el parece que va de acuerdo con los llamados de Dios, y no da muestras de: intolerancia, como muchos de los negros en América lo hacen hoy. Y por eso pensé que este sketch pequeño de un hombre que conocí una vez y lo volveré a ver de nuevo, seria interesante para mis lectores.
6) The Kuelap Bum (of the Amazonas) - A Poem
Come; share a wild Kuelap Bum’s sunny afternoon—
I sit here, sipping my coffee and coke waiting for my pollo saltado
[Chicken with potatoes and rice),
And hear voices, cars pass: sounds, coming from iron motors Like purring cats and roaring mice, with squeaky feet for tires, race
Racing around the café (El Parquetito, in Miraflores)) Lima)), Around the streets and park—; the sun boiling overhead, as I’m
Reading Jack Kerouac’s: “The Dharma Bums,”—I feel like one.
My date to return back into the Amazonian region—this time to the
Andean-jungle—is in five days. My mind is excited, here is Where come my beautiful visions of grassy slopes, by the Nevados,
And there ahead in front of me, are the ancient ruins of Kuelap I can even see the wild warriors of antiquity: the Chachapoyas,
Fight the Incas in the wild deep, deep Andean-jungles of Peru.
I like the incredible peace here, lost in a maze of thoughts, looking for
No certain highway I can sweat, drink my coke and coffee in peace, while I write and dream…and get ready for my next journey.
#1283 3/23/2006 Note by the author: I have been to the Andes and to the Amazon, and even to the Amazonas as they are known for their sections, ranging from Equator to Peru, and Brazil and Venezuela, of which I have been to all these regions or sections except one, the one I am dreaming about, and will go in five days to, to what is known as the Andean-Amazonian region, where elevation is part of the jungle equation, not so in the other regions. Thus, here is where the “Forgotten Fortress,” is located, similar to the ‘Great Enclosure,’ in Zimbabwe. The Forgotten Fortress dates back to about 800 AD.
7)The Chachapoyas (a poem)
[And the ‘Forgotten Fortress´]
Advance: I don’t even know these people I talk about, I’ve seen the landscape they’ve lived on, rushed through, gritting their ivory teeth before they warred with the Inca’s in the 16th century (this pre-Inca civilization). But the more one studies this great civilization, the more one admires its fantastic powers of visualization, its psychic rulers, and wild bull like hearts, and the great fortress (labyrinth) they built in the middle of the Andean-jungles of Peru (walking through it one can only hold their breath in awe: breath in its life-death patriarchal society.
Today, the Chachapoya still carry on in this area, with its pottery, and tapestry, garments, all highly prized; at onetime they worked for the Incas, and like today, gave them high quality.
In the Andean-jungle—the Chachapoya’s (the tree-cloud people) Of the ‘Forgotten Fortress,’ of Kuelap (Amazonas de Peru) once
lived here—twelve-hundred years ago—perhaps 2000- or more Lived in this straddled low-land jungle citadel —; bold and free:
cadaverous war like people, spirit filled: more fierce than the Inca.
Here is where they lived—in Kuelap, in limestone houses: under
conical thatched roofs—; Houses of limestone masonry, in mud mortar plaster like tombs:
painted in rainbow colors; few if any windows.
The ravages of time have sadly, seen the looting of the detailed:
elaborate funerary architecture of the Chachapoya race—; Once decorated in rainbow shades, zigzag friezes, in cliff like caves.
8)A Simple Day in Lima
The mist is seeping off the ocean coast in Lima—seeping I say, seeping up and into Milaflores Park, by the café: El Parquetito this sunny, Tuesday afternoon, where I am having my coffee and coke, sitting back absorbing the moment, writing this down for you. Other than that, doing nothing, nothing, I say, nothing at all.
Somewhere in the background the nation’s song is being played, and what really is going through my mind on this sunny day is: who will ever remember this one simple day.
My wife is reading the book: “Last Autumn and Winter,” poems out of Minnesota, and all around her the world seems busy, hot, sounds with entities of life. No potholes, like in Minnesota to worry about, or eleven inches of snow overnight, just an ocean a few blocks away, and sunny days.
The park is green, the fog has reached it now, it is also reaching me, in El Parquetito, but it will fade with the heat of the day, it always does. Romina is serving us today (she is young and happy, always smiling, goes to school in the evenings); Rosa will have Cebiche, for me, Lasagna.
I like the watching, listening, smells of the surrounding actions and motions of the café, I feel like I am underwater, watching everything, like an invisible alien. Ah! but who will remember a simple day like this, if I don’t write about it?