Friday, January 12, 2007

Four Poems from the Mantaro Vallley of Peru

1) The Old Sheep Hearder
(Cajas, Peru)) Mantaro Valley))

He roams the hillside, the old man—
Thin and bowed—arched like a tower
Donkey by his side:
Goats and sheep, leaping up the side of the hill
By the Old Inca Wall;

He roams the hillside, the old man—
Stops to talk to me
(It’s a way of life you see))
In the Mantaro Valley)).

Not sure if he likes strangers—
But he smiles nonetheless.
(His wool sweater tight against his thin chest.)
He looks up, up into the atmosphere, says
(As if measuring the slow moving air) says:
“Rain, it will rain late this afternoon!”
And right he is.

(It’s a way of life here you see))
In the Mantaro Valley; that’s all it is;
Roaming the hillside, donkey’s and all,
A few strangers, now and then,
And a tight sweater between
Him and the cool air.))

#1568 (12/13/2006)

Note: The old sheep headers, the ones that are left in the Mantaro Valley of Peru, bring their own food and water usually with them as they go daily up the hillsides with their sheep, and other animals (in this case, Cajas, a city of less than 10,000-inhabidents). I kind of think their days are fading; moderation is filling up their bellies nowadays (in the Valley, and nearby towns, such as Huancayo); I feel fortunate to be able to be one of the witnesses (perhaps one of the last, and one of the few who is writing this period down) to an end of an era; or, this old way of life that is, simple as it is, nonetheless, its nature will be buried with me I since.

2) A Dusty Day in Cajas
(Part One: the poem)

I couldn’t see clearly
down the old Inca Road—
in Cajas, (Huancayo) by the
old prison ruins—El Obraje,
(on Puna Mountain)
but I knew it was long—I
Said I,
“There are perhaps old bones
or spirits at its end,”
the how or why of it all
who knows, the Spanish took
many prisoners back then.
I had to reach it (reach the end)
for the thrill of it, I

and when I did
(did reach its end),
it was as I thought:
with so much unknown.

The Prison Cell
(Part Two)

(The Crescendo) I stood in those ancient prison cells where the Spanish incarcerated the rebellious Wanka and Inca populace of the Mantaro Valley (in the 1500s), and here is what I felt:

I was drifting into my own grave, descending, is more like it, into the upper bowels of the earth, into a past darkness that was so dense, it constricted my breathing. I stumbled a bit, from wall to wall; saw hard black eyes (they moaned)—.

The decay that took place among the living of its day, were huddled in darkness: they were to die here, and they knew it.

(11-30-06)) 1554 & 1557)) Dedicated to Mauro Rosales and Karina Rojas, who live in Cajas; for they took me on a Saturday morning and afternoon into its wondrous hillsides, in November of 2006; took me I say, trekking the mountain side (Puna Mountain, as they called it); we explored the Inca Road and old Wanka prison cells, along with the geological landscape.

3) The Wild Chicha
(Of the Mantaro Valley)) El Tambo))

The Wild Chicha—
At a years age, is old (so I am told)
But no one cares, nor really knows
(in the Mantaro Valley of Peru);
The inhabidents just drink it down:
From town to town, to town
(with their many, many fiestas)—
And it seems to me
At times (easing about)—
If I had one more Chicha drink
I’d be a roasted trout..!

Written while in El Tambo, Huancayo, at the El Caserio Café (1556 ((12-3-06)); dedicated to Joseito Arrieta, and his son Rey Enrique, whom had breakfast with my wife and I, and provided me with the background of the drink, Chicha; although I’ve had it twice myself.


Godfather of the Haircut

There’s an old tradition
Called: Godfather
Of the cut hair…

I really didn’t believe it,
Until I was asked
To be a Godfather!

“What are my duties?” I asked,
(Gazing, gawking on, dumfounded).

“Oh, to cut a lock of hair:
Here and there,” so they said…
(“from the child’s head…”).

((I wondered what then?))

I learned in Huancayo,
There are Godfathers
—for most any and everything;

I get the feeling,
The more Godfathers
The more spoiled the Child gets…

The child
Even asks for them nowadays
(at any old age).

Note: #1498 (11:43 PM). Inspired by Alfonso, a cab driver in Huancayo, and his grandson; being an American, or half Peruvian, since I am Married to one, some of these Wanka traditions are unusual to me (as with the Godfather of the Hair), but it is not my intentions to make fun of them, but to have fun with some of them, as I learn and enjoy the culture and customs of Peru, and the Mantaro Valley in particular.


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