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January 5, 2011 / johnoliversimon

CAMINANTE 4

Ángel chiapaenco, evidemente.

CAMINANTE

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What Gary Snyder blurbed:

This is a major poem, gritty and elegant…

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4

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Overview:

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This 8-line poem, the fourth octave in my travelling series, occurs in the rain in Chiapas in October 1995. Elva Macías, aluded to, is a well-known Chiapas poet, and was at that time First Lady of the state, married to Eriaclio Zepeda, a well-known leftist writer, poet and actor, who agreed to become governor in order to make peace between rancheros and Zapatistas, and in the eyes of many on the Left, thereby sold out. Elva. A great lady, a princess of the region, a good poet. We did lunch.

The poem goes upward with the local carved angels and down with the rain, out on the music of an accordion, away  past homeless and bodyguards, landing in the fire-wood an old woman labors to bear uphill. Her movement is parallel to that of the revolutionary corn. Alliteration choreographs: in the first six lines, B’s describing a jagged maneucver to exit stage right. Below that, the F and V of wife, viejita, firewood, flags and forest.

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4             LA LLUVIA

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Angels climb red clay branches of the world-tree
to bring down tiny glistening balls of rain.
Rain like a music-box on the just and the unjust,
on the bodyguards of the governor’s wife
alert to any movement, on the viejita bent
under her yellow firewood streaked wet-black,
on the many thirsty flags of corn advancing
up these limestone shoulders, once pine forest.

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Chiapas
10/13-14/95

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Comentario: the governor’s wife is the renowned Chiapas poet Elva Macías. The hunger of the milpas tenuously climbs 50-degree slopes with its green banderas, and old women carry what’s left of the forest home along the highway in the form of bundles of leña for family fires.

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