colombia ii

manizales + neira

love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. want more
of everything ready-made. be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
and you will have a window in your head.
not even your future will be a mystery
any more. your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
when they want you to buy something
they will call you. when they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.


in las montañas we find solitude.


and so i learn two things:
how to commandeer a horse through the colombian andes,
and how to truly get away from it all.


so, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. love the lord.
love the world. work for nothing.
take all that you have and be poor.
love someone who does not deserve it.
denounce the government and embrace
the flag. hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
give your approval to all you cannot
understand. praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.


muchas arañas

i think of when i first held my own fear
not in manizales with spanish palabras floating in bonfire air
but in a time and a home less real than here.

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ask the questions that have no answers.
invest in the millennium. plant sequoias.
say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
call that profit. prophesy such returns.

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my best and truest spanish is spoken with
a nine-year-old girl in a sloping house
on the other side of la finca,
while we paint la cocina blanca with water and clay

her sister cries when we depart.

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crowded around the eight inch screen
we translated the shining for maryurí and andrés
but some things need no translation


put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
expect the end of the world. laugh.
laughter is immeasurable. be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
so long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
ask yourself: will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

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when chased by a herd of curious cows,
we forget all the bitter flavors
and remember that we’re just monkeys searching for monkeys.


it takes five years for an avocado seed to mature, and second:
the plant called victoria grows back thicker & stronger
when it is sliced by machete

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go with your love to the fields.
lie down in the shade. rest your head
in her lap. swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
as soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.


alone in the outhouse, examining my new wound
i must become my own blood spatter analyst.

practice resurrection.


credit: manifesto: the mad farmer liberation front by wendell berry

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