Sunday, February 26, 2012

Time Has a Centipede’s Fear of Clocks

                                                                         — César Vallejo

Lystrophis semicinctus, ringed hognose snake, falsa coral

Time is a snake 
run over streetside
drilled, scaled 
by beetles & flies.

The corpse coral red
inside black inside
cream, head to tail
a loop of road schooling
spasmed to mime
a Paleolithic blade.

I carry the kill
to gravel’s shoulder
lease more snake time
for carrion hawks
to raise snake bits 
aloft at noon’s breeze.

With time I string
snake ribs & spine 
to wear as a totem
of petro-vehicle mind.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fondo los Ruiles, Pencahue, Chile

Mike & I spent much of February 18th-19th at Fondo los Ruiles, an 1,100 acre farm recently purchased by Simon Black of Sovereign Man.

entry to Simon's farm

The property is a working farm that produces & markets crops of blueberry, plum, tomato, & wine grapes. Simon plans to sell lots — 36 in total, that includes one for him — & hoping to create an amicable community of freedom-loving people.

Mike walks up the road next to the plum orchard

The land reminds me of Napa Valley — brown soil on rolling hills, in some places quite steep, covered with oaks, scrub, & long grass that yellows in summer & greens in the winter rains. The previous owner took advantage of a Chilean government pine tree giveaway by planting plenty. The pines add shade & offer privacy between lots.

an irrigation canal

The farm has plenty of water & is on the electric grid, three hours from Santiago, & fifteen minutes from Talca — a city of 200,000 with car dealers, multiple supermarkets, a gorgeous river. The weather was cloudy & pleasantly warm until late morning on Sunday when the sun burst through & sunburned quite a few of us. We & many others hiked as much of the farm as we could manage. My legs are finally recovering from the unaccustomed ups & downs.

one of the large views, possibly from lot 16

Master planner Kimberly sited lots so that nearly all have views, many of them spectacular to ridges & land below. She classifies them as forest, orchard, & view lots. All are at least 5,000 square meters, which maintains their agriculture zoning (for low property taxes). A residence (or two) can utilize up to 15% of the lot area.

splendid rock

Simon put together a first class weekend of interesting people, talks, tours, snacks, & meals during which I & many others naturally ate & drank to excess. I sense that I've gained back the weight I lost during my gastrointestinal miseries last fall. Eating food — plant & animal — produced on the farm was a special treat. Saturday afternoon a saunter through the mixed-fruit orchard & farm garden left me sugar-sticky on my face & arms up to the elbows with pear, peach, nectarine, fig, almond, persimmon, blueberry, cantaloupe, & whatever I've forgotten. Sunday lunch was farm food — chicken, lamb, salad, squash, fruit, wine, watermelon.


Above & beyond Simon's farm, we loved Talca & Santiago, clean accessible cities where items you look for — organic peanut butter, quality tea, brand-name socks — are for sale no matter where they were manufactured. Oh to live without Argentine import regulations. Talca also has gyms, playgrounds, good hotels, excellent restaurants. During our six days in Chile we ate seafood & more seafood, including sushi, shrimp, octopus, eel, corvina, salmon. Let's not forget the Pisco Sours — I ordered one every chance I got.

I saw a very large rabbit sprint through the pines

I suppose Simon's project is not for the faint of heart. The roads aren't all in. The lots aren't platted. Purchasing details are TBA. But we're in, we hope to buy a lot, we've already met with architects about the house we'd put up — custom pre-fab, ultra-modern, metallic red . . .

looking back at the walkable-only road to the 30-number lots

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

System Failure

    That’s it for the pump, for which — sunshine
hours — the solar panels made lots of power.
Now there is no fountain unleashing the force,
no water play, pond more stagnant than fresh.

    That’s it for concentrics of splash:
light alchemized to aeration & turbulence,
tickled by sun’s energy tadpoles
amusing us by no more than wriggling.

    That’s it for planning ahead: the eco meme,
sizing of gallons per minute, the system
ready to go for over six months.

    That’s it for the well-tempered pond, for
the burning smell of the circuit board,
for failure in under thirty days.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Cafayateños say so much rain is unusual. Nearly every day dark clouds build behind the mountains to the southwest, spill across the sky. Lightning streaks, thunder booms. It’s a fluke or it’s global warming, but no one here mentions climate change. Instead, people wonder how the grapes will do with this much rain, they go down to the river to stand & sprawl — children doggy-paddle — in tumbling brown water.

water enters like an unexpected guest
                                                    we welcome
               with curses, sponges, rags

water as a pool on the windowsill
               spots & a puddle on the floor
       showers spill from the tops of the window frames
plaster crumples on walls

floods in the thyme
            the cactus garden
             the orange grove

after hard rain the desert greens
                                             teru-terus skip like randy children

early morning after hard rain
the earth breathes
                         the air is softer

hard rain collapses the sand pits of antlions

Our garden guzzles every drop. Plants unloaded from a truck in mid-October grow bigger every day, except for daylilies, whose leaves the ants prune & haul away no matter that we spray. Dozens of tuna (prickly pear) — a monster crop — fall to the ground daily  & lure more ants. We shovel tuna into the compost or kick them into the acequia. Yes, we could eat them, but the few I gathered filled my gloved hands with dozens of tiny yellow spines that called for a soaking in Epsom salts, the purchase of tweezers, a loupe to pull. My cloth gloves required two runs through the washing machine & Mike’s meticulous de-spining before I could wear them again.

sand, organics, ripe tuna
                                 gather in the pool
         I angle rocks for circulation
sand drifts
              tuna whirl

green grass grows in the acequia
         blades long & horizontal
                                           like mermaid hair
streaming in running water

Andean snowmelt warm as blood in noon heat

next to the acequia pool a garden floods
due to a break in the concrete
                                         that once made stones a wall
are grass roots rotting?

maybe I could learn proportion
                                          water to gravel to sand
mix up a bucket of hormigón

Late today in the large pond we spot a slick of bubbly — toad eggs, transparent, each carrying a black speck — surrounded by thousands of wrigglers. Tadpoles eating toad eggs. Will birds arrive to eat the tadpoles? Which birds?

long red legs of a teru-teru next to the water
        red feet wade
                            belly floats

wings lift to splash, to fly, white & black chevrons beating

touch-&-go, touch-&-go
                                wasps skim the pond
               red, black, gold
dip too low
               the weight of water swamps one

the damselfly’s wings are transparent where they are not electric blue

After dark the rain falls constant & soft. Plants grow visibly in this summer of extra rain. The palan-palan makes a forest. Carolina bristlemallow swells from tiny stragglers to a dense green mat. Every day another pineapple sage plant raises red fingers. The Portulaca gilliessii flowers — orange, red, pink, yellow — shine like jewels. What all blooms? Pineapple sage, portulaca, basil, thyme, oregano, curry plant, mint, daylilies, palan-palan, broom, anise, begonia, bristlemallow, cactus, rose. No masses of color, only bright spots here & there.

in town the donkeys sleep at night
                                               at river’s edge
                          on sand & stones

the river normally dry or nearly
bicycles & walkers traverse the arched metal bridge

cars must ford the riverbed
                                     wet or dry
                                                   except in floods

Mike says,
              “I just washed my car”
Yakeen says,
                  “Go slowly, go very slowly.”