Made of words

Once upon a time,

there was a girl made of words-

in their intimacy

he expected her to be soft, an old book

with the pages turned a thousand times

but his hands came away with paper cuts

and splinters of things

half said.

The letters stuck out of his fingertips,

stained glass glimpses of the forgotten chapel of her heart.

I’m sorry

she said

the words bubbling over like a pot left too long on the back burner

or a glass very far from half full.

He hid his hands behind his back, wounds oozing poetry at a pace

he was a bit uncomfortable with sharing.

Pale blue dot

Pale Blue Dot

Perhaps I am a little bit behind on my lamentations of what is going on in our world, but I’ll just tell myself that it’s better later than never.

In the past month: Paris suffered 7 integrated terrorist attacks. Beirut and Baghdad were bombed as well, although that is a lesser known fact in the popular media. I’ve only seen the three-striped red white and blue flag indicating solidarity. France, in the wake of the Friday’s bombings, bombed Syria that Sunday. Francois Hollande declared without ambiguity that his country is at war. Yesterday, hundreds of tourists were held as hostages by an extremist group in Mali, in southern Africa.

These are just a few salient examples of the tragedy that is Planet Earth. If I wanted to be completely equal-opportunity I could talk about the earthquakes in Japan and Mexico, I could talk about little boys washing up on the beach like driftwood, I could talk about centuries of racial inequality in what is supposed to be the ‘best country’ in the world, I could talk about young women being sold for their bodies, I could talk about millions without food or clean water.

I think that, oddly enough, the answer to these problems comes not from civil engineers or well-intentioned young protesters or presidents or prime ministers, but a well known astronomer from the United States.

Carl Sagan says, “The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

“The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.”

We are very, very small. However, our relative size does not mean that we are a waste of space. We get one planet, and one life. Maybe if we all decide to live our lives with a little bit more conscientiousness and awareness that everything with a beating heart is at least a little bit like us, we could make our home a better place.

El metro


smell of wine on warm breath

will always remind me of you.

now, whiffs of vapor

metro car, seven am

city is asleep

not me.

thinking about your rib cage

all it holds inside

your tar lungs

i stuck like a fly

your deep red heart

how to say goodbye?

i don’t remember the word

in english.

The Flash

Three weeks and change in Santiago, Chile. My roller coaster disposition continues to take me to new highs and lows, just as it always has. One would think that by now I’d be used to the feeling of my stomach bottoming out or my head in the clouds, but every day brings a new curve in the tracks. Even one simple fact, like that I’ve already eaten up nearly a month of my time here, can be a drop or a climb, depending on when you ask me.

Last night I left my host family’s house at 12:30 am. Destination? A carrete that boasted the unlikely theme of Popeye, the ancient cartoon character with upsetting forearms and the apparent superhuman ability to obtain energy from canned spinach. I scrambled into the three-door car, nearly spilling a water bottle full of piscola. After a second of the mild discomfort that goes along with introducing oneself, I was like part of the family. ‘The family’ referring to two gay guys several years older than I, and my friend from the metro. No one spoke English. The guy who I was sitting next to started talking to me a mile a minute, jabbering about this and that, TV shows, movies. After ten minutes or so he said something along the lines of, “wait, you can understand me, right? tell me to talk slower if you don’t. we chilenos can be a handful.”

I guess I should back up. The story of how exactly I got to Club Burbujas is too good to not share with the internet.

About a week ago I was I was reading my book on the way home when a camera’s flash shattered the banality of the metro car. Without a doubt, it was targeted at me. It’s hard to say exactly what I felt upon realizing I was the star of this random act of documentation. Offended, definitely. I thought it might have something to do with me looking like a gringa. Curious, definitely. Despite the weirdness, I was at least a little bit flattered that someone thought I was worth capturing on film.

It took me several metro stops to get up the courage to ask what, exactly, the deal was. When I finally sat down next to her, my Spanish sounded awkward and foreign, even to my own ears. I asked her why she was taking photos, and she responded with something general about ‘la gente linda.’ I took a breath and asked, more directly, why she took a photo of me. Although I can’t remember what she said, I do remember that she handed me the small Polaroid that her camera had spit out moments before. In it I look remarkably tranquil. My backpack is slung over the front half of my body, my fat book is laying wide open, my hair and my beanie blend together in a mass of shadow above my face. The picture is now tucked safely in a folder with my other paper memories of Santiago so far. Bus tickets, receipts, the occasional sketch.

We both stayed on the metro until the end of the line. While I had to cut things short because my micro was about to round the corner, we at least had time to exchange Facebook information and a friendly farewell.

Less than a week later, here I am, recovering from my first all nighter since I-don’t-know-when. The party turned out to be a little bit less than riveting (Facebook is a great liar when it comes to attendance) so we left around 3 am and went to her house. For the next five hours I drank piscola and listened to the unique collection of modismos that make up the Chilean dialect. Every once in a while I would offer my two cents, absolutely butchering the thoughts I was trying to express, but I consider it a start. Rome wasn’t built in a day, weon. Despite my terrible grammar and funny accent, it would appear that I have made myself a few new friends.

As for where I’ll find myself next, I can’t quite say. What I do know is that anything, even the innocuous flash of a camera, can be the start to a beautiful, unlikely adventure.

What to say-po?

About a week ago I began my life’s first epic journey (or so it seems). I said goodbye to the people I’ve gotten to know over the past two years and began the long grueling plane ride to the southern hemisphere, where it is (surprise, surprise) winter.

I have wanted to study abroad since I knew that this concept was one that existed… WAIT, you can just go LIVE in another country while you’re in college? Um, sign me up now, please.

Since getting here I have seen the Andes in their stark unbelievable elegance, marveled at la Virgen at the top of el Cerro San Cristóbal, lost myself almost completely in the Museum of Contemporary Art (no, literally, where were the exhibits), and struggled endlessly to express myself.

I guess I’ve always identified myself as someone who speaks well- or writes well, at the very least. So much for that identity in this country, where I found myself incapable of saying my knee was bent. Doblado, for anyone who was wondering. Just having this experience makes my heart go out to anyone who has ever been in the United States and not had a perfect mastery of the language. The looks, the patience, the struggle, the constant checking of a dictionary and/or translator… Let’s just get one thing clear- speech, eloquence? Those don’t necessarily indicate intelligence.

Aside from that, I find that Santiago, a large-ish city that has largely hidden itself from international attention of any kind, has quite a bit to offer. From Las Condes to Renca, there is something for nearly everyone. Of course I’m already making plans to go to Peru, to Valparaíso, to Mendoza, to Patagonia. But for now this place has my attention… at least until I figure out exactly what everyone is saying to me… Cachai?

Hasta pronto,

ciao ciao.

Being that which you are not

words chase meaning.

freedom is a cultivated thing

the surprise underside of a rose

It is too late at night to be poetic-

instead of sleep I drink peach tea

choosing to ignore mortality.

I can sleep when I’m dead.

endings chase finality.

the last arrives when you least expect it

softly sweating someone else’s sheets

It is too late at night to be prophetic-

the only words on my tongue are

hollow vowels

fatalistic guttural utterances.

Nobody’s here to hear them.

speech chases communication.

apologies to empty doors

and to the ones who won’t believe them