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America From South to North


With the sky over the sand,
Where sea-weary waves mourned
The matter and collapse of their freedom


A white angel coming from the sky
Is throwing us away from paradise
Should our civilization also disappear?
I memorized new names against my will
In vain, I swallowed salt and water

The world as a whirlwind
Was the curse we met, we fought
An uncertainty that Shakespeare and Strindberg
Were unable to grasp before the stage
At its locus the advocates of fortune remain

Seeing unseen a superstitious crowd remind us
That the fathers that we all elected once
Have brought us to this torrent, this struggle,
A survival test, never resistance,
Will all my members be with me? Will my mouth
Utter the names of ill-prepared economists?

You must see we are but infinite whirlwinds
Madness that made desolation out of a vast empire
Disdaining languages, victimizing evil
Enduring a destruction we inflict on ourselves


My deprived aunt - I remember her well,
From Palm Valley dried skirts
She caressed her arthritic hands
Over the face of her beloved ones

An illiterate peasant, as most of men today
Struggling to survive
In Colombia - a remote field
Where living is a crime

Pity the offender and forgive your wound

On her journeys she used to carry a penny-purse
And a yellow plastic bag
One of her four sons gave to her
As a birthday present, as a need

Along highways her calves feel sad the earth
Her husband was her rock
Banks had overflowed her farm
As a serpent and a god the Eden

Pity the offender and forgive your wound

Rivers' waters blackened and violence spread out
(Violence, our disguise of war)
Land farms devaluated
And Pachita returned home

One year passed as any year, days and nights
And a tabloid announced her death
We saw her pictures, her agony
And a note justifying her slay

Pity the offender and forgive your wound

"A vandal", but her frayed soles
Outsized her hempen sandals
And her tresses, buried in the dust
Were the sawed roots of a burnt tree

A murder written on heaven, known to earth
A lad saw her niece murdered by his back
Her husband's skull crushed on the ground
Her piteous unheard shrills - Oh, God!

Pity the offender and forgive your wound

They placed deadly weapons on her empty hands
My 85-year old aunt
A hump of fragile nerves
Shattered by an army medal

A niece of Pachita, a lawyer, asked for her remains
To a captain, to a judge, to a colonel
Who pled impunity in return
Her niece cleansed her lashed limps

Pity the offender and forgive your wound
Double chin slashed, heart pierced by campaign-knifes
Neck tampered by a starving hand
Breasts chopped from a broken rip
(Breasts that suckle your offspring)

Mum went to Palm Valley and inquired the authorities
But she was warned to leave at dusk
We buried her, her husband and her nice
In silence, with shame, with fear

Pity the offender and forgive your wound

A never-told story that grows in soul's wrathful pit
In another Mountain, in another age
Blood that claims patiently her blood
Pity the offender and forgive your wound

Heaven and Earth

Mum was pregnant once again
When Dad announced he lost his job
Lacking any influence, banned,
He struggle against earthly ghosts

Months before he had opened a store
We sold rice, corn, carrots, beans
An offence to his title-in-hand chief
For he intended to prosper, they said

Mum began to teach starving girls
She used to take a crowded minibus
Or to walk ten miles a day. At that time
We often endured union strikes

She still sees the sewage waters
Overflowing her school
And the brick-house nearby
That burnt with her best students in

Dad, so used to scorn and hardship
He bought an old pick-up
A sea green lemon Chevrolet
That he fixed with cans and ropes

We saw him day and night
Carrying sacks of charcoal
To repack them in tiny plastic bags
He made our living from door to door

On Fridays he used to leave our town
To smuggle meat from the frontier
He passed a lofty abysm
Of hoarfrost, cliffs and custom guards

On Sunday morning he returned
To sell fresh double-yolk eggs
An illegal import from the other side
His affairs were so perilous

We went to mass on Sundays
To entreat God our protection
Each year he did better than before
We owe our fates to heaven

Our parents worked,
They always worked
To make our life smoother that theirs
A sacrifice as irrational as life itself


On foot over dusty hills
Granny used to come home
Once or twice per year
The happiest days of a marred age

To her glimpse from the terrace
We run outside over the sidewalk
To bury our heads beneath her arms
Like hatching wounded cubs

A breeze from a warm prairie
Caressed her graceful crimp
Her gladiolus-stamped dress
Her lacquered worn-out purse

On Christmas
She used to cook mush cakes
A smell of boiled corn leaves
That every delight brews

Her gestures were contagious
Always laughing, never crying
She used to cherish up our housemaid
A one-pound-a-day spinster

Once when she was about to leave
  - Don't go - , I asked her.  - Why not? -
A hesitation and my soul woke up:
  - Because I love you -

Happy, yet so unhappy,
Out of eighteen pregnancies
Only eight babies survived
A battered wife and Mum

She had to cook, to polish and to serve
Sewing the pants of her neighbours
She paid Mum's school
So Mum could read and bring me up


Upon his Greatgrandmother this clay wonders
Death is not unknown to him, but she has perished
And her errand ghost wanders through the night
Whether by ancient superstition, or by brain illness
He expects to meet her protected by the shadows:
Her venerated mien, her broken voice
A flow of verses that she recalled and he forgot
Songs of mountains, love, chastity and suicide
"I have suffered", was her hymn, words that caly shared in silence
When unwatchful relatives left him, a 12-year lad, with her alone
Her 104-year-old postrated Greatgrandmother
Their blood was their pretext; their affinity the pain


Mother deleted his teenager diary
A monologue, poems, pages
Matter of sadness and love
Carved on the carcass of a tree;
Bark tainted by his idle fist


Going ahead the torturous path claims
Triumphs and struggles with wayward fortune
His life unravels itself in ambiguities and lies;
Yet if defeated he looks back at his errors
No blossoms stay, the waters all have changed
Without falsehood everlasting infancy fades away


He left Colombia, and mankind
(The world-map a rounded pool)
When a football player died--fie on it, oh, fie!
They mumbled; his tongue will be his tool,
And enduring stupor, silence and defeat
Without pledge, credit or support
He found her love, her temporary love
Certain night se moved to another bedroom
When leaving just an empty space remained.

In Love

The city was unfinished,
Unfinished was the night
And her sight, dear to all
Remote went by her own will
Scornful of her past,
Afraid of our future
Suspicious of her happiness
Blessed by am early youth

Through narrow bridges,
Marred by ugly posters
In dormant buildings and forgotten lots
We shared our shadows with the night

Embraced by casual acts
Your finger caressed my cold eyes
Joy for so many tears to come
Joy that kept my deadly earth awake

Kisses that preserve all memories
Promises that defeat the course of time
New heavens, heavens born
Beyond the illusion of this wide sky


Purpose is but the slave to memory,
Of violent birth, but poor validity

He could never live alone
He deemed women all alike
An unwilling forfeiter of his will

A child under the influence
Of a portrait-obsessed woman
Unseen character I never loved

Passion kept in colours, ink and lines
To illustrate our company to places
And faces unknown to our affect

My friends referred to him
As a would-be green-card holder
How far they were from our love
My wounded with my pain
He dismissed my mind, my  hands
My unfeigned mysterious silence

Nation that sank my faith in love,
Flesh stripped from youth
From the insecurities of lust,

For he had finally mistaken me
Months later years perhaps hours days none
An erotic sigh, another fad or whim

Dormant suicide,
As any man or woman
Unable to associate disloyalty to love

Amidst two women,
I completed your upbringing
With stories of ambiguous-gender men

My son

Cursed be the night loaded with brief pleasure,
When I conceived the scorn of my sad husband

Cursed be the night loaded with brief pleasure,
When I conceived the scorn of my sad husband
My flesh despises his own blood,
And nomadic wonders by the roads
Singing made-up tribulation's deeds

My artist - how do you expect to survive?
Your works being but injures - depending

On your misery, boasting, claiming in solitude
Humankind's discontent according to your traits:

A trifle to be sang by non-material voices
Hard work that pays off after your death

You were normal as any other baby
You kicked my matrix, you cried at birth

But how painful, how painful your delivery was
You, your father and I, three slaves of life

Will she clutch you in your arms as a thick log?
Will a woman nurture you after our affection's wreck?

I also was mistreated by the tide of love
Unable to match my beauty to my woe

I rewrote my past, erasing sadness and decay
I wish her to be a woman with a lawless care

Here her absent photograph takes over my sight
The unfamiliar walls of this, my nursing home

America from North to South

I was as old as his mother when she begot him
I loved him, for I was lonely at twenty-four,

My body trembled at his fingers' touch
As a declawn cat before his victim's flight

Language raised a gap between we both
A mutual emptiness that kisses cured

Our hopes changed with the world we chose
In schools with no concern for love

I felt the need to betray his marriage
Institution that no one else defends

Lover from a continent I rarely saw
A fragile woman from the Ohio valley,

Did I ever mention that our past was gone?
I was wrong, for every past survives

Will the Oaks' renew its leaves this fall?
Come back my love, Thanksgiving's day returns

America from North to South, without east or west,
Without the uplifting view of an slanting field

Memory of Love

When his beloved walks through the streets,
Sunlight doesn't deaden his arduous wait

A dense willow outstretches all its leaves,
And wind, dapper, comes to her

But ache he feels
His profound love awakes on him

Summer lacks grace and love still remains,
He deems, with elated thougths:

He and Her upon the strand,
When seagulls ate both from their hands

Today they fly,
They fly away with her to remote lands

Your silence

Where pain of inextinguishable fire
Must exercise us without hope of end

When I meet you an old feeling rises
Although it is dead, it brings back

The furious snow against our window -
You and I taken away by the night

More torrential that the water,
Your silence

Lover's Joy

She left our airy mount
Steps over a snow, a kiss, a cry to come
The fragrance of twenty two at our rendezvous

How compelling the fretting of her dress
My hands over her fading breasts
Godeess conceived by warlike dreams

I saw in her the centre of the earth
Kindness that did not hide her sacrifice
Tears that healed the wounds of love

Vanquisher and vanquished, each of us
Departed from Mount Airy in 1996
How white the sun that burnt the torrid zone

We shared the fate of every couple
Images from previous love affairs
Mirages reserved to lovers' joys

Rainless days followed our leave
Without us, men and objects all
Recovered their vulgar shape


It's appealing to realize
That this summer's weather

Is closer to the rainforest's
Than to Bucaramanga's

Around Philadelphia,
The bushes wrap what they can

Slow sunsets
Suspend the sun in agonising fire,
Covered by a thick humidity

That allows my eyes
To look directly At Heaven's eye


Certain night you will hear of me
Alone you will meet me, Setting eternity and death

Candelario Obeso

How sad the night goes on,
The night, how sad it goes,
There are no stars in the sky,
and my boat wading goes...
Candelario Obeso

After his beloved one ranked him not the first
And in distant motels he left talent pass away,
Candelario experienced history was wrong,
Favourite of the muses, son of dusk and dawn
With a tawny complexion able to brand his heart in fire
He traced thoughts amongst rank, affliction, moderation,
Forgiveness, shame, pity, envy, oblivion and desire
A translator of Othello, lonely cry forgotten
He spare her, following the Moors' tragic fate
The air was too wide, how wide to grasp affection


Rome has buried time and perished
As many men, as many empires
But his raise and fall has been taught
By poets and ever-sinking reigns
He reads: "Whole legions were buried
In these religious sanctuaries",
And a desire of monastic life
Meets his own history; a tale of wants
From many lives he wished to be


He has read books written by the wise
And solved the adequacy of philosophy,
Mathematician riddles, grammatical turns
Which seduce ancient languages to translation
He has mastered novels, haunted time
Hovered words, exaggerated nature,
Praised and despised many a disregarded god

Brought up amongst sly merchants and tutors
He learnt the exploitation of sons, women and brothers
Distracting his body with procrastinated lust

As the divine and selfishness Racine, chanting lies
That echoed truth in an uncertain life,
Wishing dim relatives to seek him


Mum expected all the best of me
When corrected
I used to reply to her in a sweet voice
(Nervous words she never heard)
I should be strong, I heard,
Since then I talk in a harsh voice

Dad expected all the best of me
He worked very hard to bring me up
One day he saw me on the street
Being beaten by a foe
He rescued me , as still he does

A butcher's daughter
Mum used to burn my writings
She was aware that all writers starve,
Her voice was the voice of common sense
And yet, the voice of a hurting knife

Dad was beautiful, a swift goalkeeper
Each Sunday on a tennis court
He had to endure my poor performance
Theater is a thankless profession, he told me once
As he lost hope in my success

Mum wanted all the best of me
Her Dad used to knock her on her head
Murdered poet buried in her bossom
She loved me as her slowest son
Your work must be a hobby, she used to repeat
Announcing tenebrous days to come

Dad made a living out of eleven cents
I followed off his way
Unable to tell a single lie
He sent me at last to succeed abroad

Mum and Dad
They hardly made the best of me
And yet I love them more than they believe
Now that I wean from them
And the shadow of maturity opens its wings
I tell them that all worries are but castles of the past

The Death of a Saint

Saint Jaime modelled his heart
With sunbeams and clay before his birth

His household was so wide, wider his grasp
Forsaken children dwelled inside

In Charal -  he served the peasants
His acquaintances had ere enslaved

In Bogot -  he taught murderers
The art of carpentry and forgiveness

He inhabited the roughest world
Where journalists deviated tender pity

From loneliness, poverty and hunger
To the whims and vices of celebrities

Manati chose him: a dusty town
Sheltering the weakest and the sad

Beaten, prosecuted and imprisoned
He was acquitted, his cause was known

Tracks of land were granted to the poor
Fishermen that became landholders

Peasants that enslaved new peasants
Cured illness that burst up in many limbs

He began a university on the sand
As the kibbutz of the Jordan shores

A challenge his students soon deserted
(From Jesus he learnt to face rejection)

His exhausted heart at forty-nine
Had caressed eternity and love

His struggle done he was recalled
Out of a remote hospital
Every pain, every grief retreated

And whereas Onassis died in Greece
Mourned by the nations of the world
Jaime delivered his soul in a forsaken room

North Park

Out of tribulation I unveiled my sore
You invited me, then, to step onto your glamorous ships
I had lost my country, my race, my sea
Only my Lord, my living love, my Lord

I gathered my scanty forces on your port
The cross of the Moon and the scythe of Saint George
The perseverance of Spain, the forgiveness of the saints
Flags of the world I waved over abandoned roads

For five months and four days I expected
To hear a welcoming voice, a greeting
An illusion dear to my hopes, Alas,
A breath of bigotry was your herald, your adieu

Stranded on the port my forces lost courage
Many wished our defeat were blunt
A would-be victory gnaws the soul
Clamour of a child slaughter at his birth

North Park, a tranquil place in America
Earth that gleams an instant and then fades
In the current of the lakes and rivers
That nurtured a spring in Holy Land


She was the water, the air, the fire,
A rock under the furious wind
Misguided by the ill-fated love,
I was a Sailor taken ashore by her stream

On a tree she carved the happiest days
Of a sordid life led by deceit
My eyes dismissed her beauteous face;
But my thoughts were simply absorbed by hers

My whispers echoed in her ears
She recoiled: candid and ambiguous smile
That appeased a hardened heart
How innocent she was of the vices of my time

We used to drink a cup of coffee
On Wednesdays; for hours
I admired the bright metal of her soul
Out of her smile songs for children I composed

Michelle, from France, landscape from the past
That pregnant ancestors built and left
We walked on the clay of Pine Street
Two languages in the promise of the night


I never went to Manati, I never went
There were their inhabitants that came to me
Like the placid fisherman of the Guajaro's lagoon
When the waves send them back
Safely to their shores' retreat

 The Red

On the morrow he will leave me,
As my Hopes have flown before -

When our hopes are gone
How dispirited the night can fall
We, downhearted, turn round our eyes
In search (perhaps for a last time)
Of strange faces: gestures of villains or sluts

Next day new hopes beneath the blue
Unfold a ferocious shapeless faunae
And we sense the aromas of this summer
Through a window - s cleft, beneath the stove

Distracted we mixed sweets and tobacco
With thoughts of meadows and sea-gulls
Until a color clots our mind in a dense haze
Alas! The red! You must mourn, before the night, the red


Stop thy circle, Oh, continuous heavens
Hold the sun yonder this terrain of peace

And keep the starts motionless over the sea
Retain the waters, annihilate the thorns

Of events frustrated by becoming days,
And let us delay this solitary encounter

When my beloved so happy over my lap sleeps
Sharing few days after so long an absence,

A simple night drown by many a night to come
And if numbers lie, then allow us lie in death

Stop thy circle, Oh, continuous heavens
Let us become forever one in and out of this land

For today the universe can claim
That history and creation is all justified by our single kiss

I have a woman to take care of

I have a woman to take care of
She was given to me from early on
I say she is tender, sweet and gentle
Though she often feels world-weary, as the earth at dawn

It is only up to me to cheer her up
When the sleep flees from our quiet nights
Or when the slings of jealousy betray us
Taking away the concord we yearn for

Before love we are committed to each other
For her body is mine, and I mine is hers
For she was given to me from the creation
To bear the certainty of the love and death

Hugo Santander Ferreira © First Film Productions 2011