Just Poetry and Prose, I Suppose

Poetry from Bolivia

I found another delightful bit of writing last night. This is a poem I wrote in 2007. I remember writing it and reading it to friends late one night in Oruro. It was cold that night. I must have used a flashlight to be able to see the page. It’s also possible the moon was so bright, I could use it for light. 

My hair fros out when the snare goes out
and the kick drum kicks like a flare shot out
Sandals flipping’ and floppin’, bodies always droppin’
A veces me pareces in my movies at night just might help the bodies be
Come back to life and chase me someday I’ll be painted
while I sit or while I sat. Displayed in
a gallery for Mallory for only twice than less than half of her salary
plus one calorie
burned from her hypodermic intake
insulin pancake.

Mix that shit up put it in a cup then throw in a one-way sender
all into the blender. 
Lose the love of your life thrice, think twice and go on a bender.
Mind closed off, men working here.
Peers peer well into the well and smell
shiny, twinkly, sparkly, glistening darts of refracted light during lite diets
and flying sideways.
Get a grip.
Not manual – E – Manuel from the Bible.
A grip of friends?
It all depends
if those feet can dig deep when they’re bare
and your ribs rise and fall without a care.

I want to die running away from someone, anyone, preferable a law-
enforcement agent of some brand. I’ll be running slow motion-like
when their pistols open fire and catch me mid-stride.
My path to glory and supposed destiny will only be a few visible feet in
front of my divide.
I’ll reach out for it with my dying breath,
but will be unable to grasp what is left,
what I wanted to achieve for no more than a few escaping minutes. The love of life will of course
bear witness to this entire tragic affair. Tears will be streaming
down her cheeks – her ragged cheeks that are simply exhausted
from loving a man that loves her only second to the worthy cause
for which he has been fighting for decades. She’s been there since
the beginning though
and she knows
she is integral
to the fight that he selflessly continues despite his small family’s best
interest. The tears flow while she tries wholeheartedly, yet
it is indescribably futile and she knows mere moments remain
before everything,
everything they’ve both dedicated their lives to ends in a cacophony of gunshots
and a symphony of deep-seated tragedy and what nots.
She’ll press her hand to the gaping, spurting wound. 
Her face to his to hear his final struggled breaths. She’ll swoon. Her hand 
finds his and interlocks with ease. He is strong, but not as strong 
as once before.

Once before
on a bright, sun drenched day he won her back on a 
stroll around an algae-encrusted pond in an obscure park tucked away 
in a functional – at least it seemed to them at the time – suburban 
neighborhood. They’d been through the wash and had each taken a 
turn in the dryer – mangling and testing each other’s feelings.
Sending one another reeling
through space and rhymes
for various expanses of time.
But they always came back. Sitting together on cylindrical pylons 
of cement watching parents watching their kids play they would feel deep within that that would be them on some distant day.

So they fought each other tooth and nail. Resorted to tactics un-
becoming of one another until one day in 2015 everything 
settled into place. It seemed that the race was finally over.
The crowd that for so long had played a part in off-track betting 
and wagering and proselytizing and hedging and interfering had up and left.
They were each deaf
from the silence that surrounded them without a sound.
Finally they were alone.
Just one not-so-bright light shone
down illuminating their faces that were already known 
and written – more likely grooved into their bones
and DNA strands. The scents and smells or the other was like a sixth sense –
their very own clone.

Tragically they would not and could not touch.
They tried at first thinking it a cruel joke to be so close.
Finally physically, visibly within reach
with no contracts to breach.
All the saints dead and alive tried through prayer
to clear the air
that stood defiantly by and between

Let them know peace a voice said.
And it was mine.
I narrowed my eyes
and focused my concentration.
I beamed thought rays from my forehead to hers.
I lost every single one of my nerves.
I blathered and sputtered.
I couldn’t accept the end lying there in the unconscious 
eyes, ears, and arms of my long lost best friend.

But just then
I heard the sound of a cricket chirp
which assured me that the Earth
was still passing by while the universe 
expanded. I’m nothing I thought and exhaled seeing my love above 
me smile back and recede into sounds of rustling branches and shaking leaves.

Since then
I’ve just been
leaving the sink on to let the water run. 
Brush my teeth and get ready for bed.
Try to silence the thought marathon currently running through my head.
Other people fuck and make love sounds in the rooms down the way.
Can’t stop ‘em though.
Feelings on the sidelines are never allowed to play.

Walking a line
drying clothes all at the same time.
Wandering outside, taking it in.
Mars has tracks on it from landing craft,
but I can’t keep track of expanding paths
and synapse math.
There’s something surrounded by bone up there
that wants to go home down there, 
but where?
I can’t stay here anymore?
I can’t stay here anymore.
Can’t you just stop?
But where does it end?
I have to keep going.
My homing signal has been assumed missing
and while you keep guessing
I’m out here in the clear totally tamped down and flattened.
Sometimes I’m re-animated you see by free wit, will and stimulation.
But it doesn’t come without proper accreditation.
Change the laws please and just.
I’ve written my name a lot.

Distance Learning Resources

On April 15th of this year, I received an email from Mercedes Bell. She identified herself as a writer who had a piece published to http://www.onlineuniversities.com entitled EdTech in the Third World: Distance Learning. She asked me to read her piece and share my thoughts with you, dear reader. I asked for her patience. I had, and continue to have, a lot on my plate as I recover from the TBI that I sustained last September. 


She granted me my wish, but this did not stop her from following up five times over the next six days to ask me how I was coming along with the piece. I finally had time to get around to it this weekend since I’m staying home to rest while I wear an ambulatory EEG device. 

 I went to the site via the link which Ms. Bell provided and the article contains the byline “Staff Writers,” which to me indicates Ms. Bell is on staff for this website. However, her email address remains anonymously sent from gmail so this remains but a suspicion. I suspected that this was a sales pitch, but I was confused because my blog certainly doesn’t have the kind of circulation that a more noteworthy website has. Perhaps Ms. Bell has been denied by other, more mainstream blogs though so she’s feels this is the only viable option left on the table. 

 I will say that many of my readers are folks with strong educational backgrounds and admirable social status so maybe Ms. Bell is targeting quality readers over quantity. This is an trait that indicates decency in my book so I went ahead and gave the article a once over. 

 As I suspected, the article ends with a call to action to help make distance learning a more viable option for young people straddled by poverty in developing nations. While I think this is certainly a noble effort and one that I could have utilized during my service in Bolivia as a US Peace Corps volunteer, I think the focus is off. Many young people in the US – myself included – are burdened with financial debt from pursuing college and grad school degrees. This is financially crippling to us personally and it has a palpable effect on the national economy. If young people are still paying off hefty loans they took out to enable themselves to become educated, how are we to expect them to buy other things like houses and cars to infuse the economy with capital? I submit to you, dear readers that this is an impossible task. 

The bottom line here is that while I think Ms. Bell’s efforts are noble, I wish she and her colleagues would first focus on trying to alleviate the crippling debt of recent American collegiate grads. Once that problem is fixed, I’d be happy to turn my attention to the needs of the world’s poor.

Peace Corps Service in Retrospect

Well drilling in the Altiplano

S 19º00.05 W 066º46.97

That’s roughly the GPS location of where this well currently resides in the middle of the Bolivian Altiplano. If you plug it into Google Earth it will take you directly to the place where I spent more than a year of my life living and working with my sitemate, Tiffany and my Bolivian friends and counterparts.

It’s hard to believe that I left the country three years ago. The experience and lessons learned left such an impact that the memories are still clear and vivid.

I’ve tried to honor the people I met and the work I did by continuing to work for causes that I believe in here in the U.S. Those causes- non-profit institutions that support international exchange, climate change education programs like 350.org, self-exploration and artful expression through documentary– have helped sustain my artistic endeavors.

I hope that one day soon I can return to Bolivia to check in on my wells and the Arias Family, my hosts for my tenure in the great city of Santiago de Huari and of course my invaluable counterpart Jose Luis Castro (pictured here kneeling with me on the right next to a newly minted well).