♦ Chacaltaya ♦


Ageless chola of glaciers and scuttling roaches

Your Andean splendors awaken my heart.

Still seeking a summit, your coldness reproaches;

So little I know you—in whole or in part.

Now that winter recedes as the springtime encroaches

I hope for a greening of sorcery’s art.

Lighten up, dark enchantress of icy approaches;

Let the ice-caps melt and the warming start . . .

Will another bad sonnet addressed to her highness

Allow for a thaw to begin in her soul?

Get over your winter of taciturn shyness!

Or is frozen entombment your element, witch?

This old necrophile waits for a smile (or a twitch).

I would marry your corpse—but mere friendship’s my goal.


Andanzas Andinas

Ah, beautiful and pitiful! ah, last
And fairest of the daughters of the Past
Born out of time and in most grievous days
When unto beauty men mete out no praise !
Lone Gothic princess, all your line is dead:
The glory of your race is vanished: fled
Is that high faith that should have found in you
Its meet delight and its expression true…


Salomón de la Selva

from: Ode to the Woolworth Building, 1918



José Santos Chocano (1875-1934)

Soy el cantor de América autóctono y salvaje:
mi lira tiene un alma, mi canto un ideal.
Mi verso no se mece colgado de un ramaje
con vaivén pausado de hamaca tropical…

Cuando me siento inca, le rindo vasallaje
al Sol, que me da el cetro de su poder real;
cuando me siento hispano y evoco el coloniaje
parecen mis estrofas trompetas de cristal.

Mi fantasía viene de un abolengo moro:
los Andes son de plata, pero el león, de oro,
y las dos castas fundo con épico fragor.

La sangre es española e incaico es el latido;
y de no ser Poeta, quizá yo hubiera sido
un blanco aventurero o un indio emperador.

Coat of Arms

 I am the untamed voice of native America, 
my lyre has a soul, my song an ideal.
 My verse is not cradled and hung in the foliage
with the paused to-and-fro of a tropical hammock…
 When I’m feeling Inca, I pledge my vassalage
to the Sun, who offers the scepter of his royal power
 when I feel Hispanic and evoke colonial slavery
my verses sound like crystal trumpets.
My fantasy hails from Moorish lineage:
the Andes are of silver, but the Lion – of gold,
and the two are alloyed with an epic roar.
The blood is Spanish and the pulse is Inca;
and if not a Poet, I might well have been
A white adventurer or an Indian emperor.

Indio Profesional

Wife-beater, drum player
blower of holy pan-pipes
Plumed, bejeweled in gringo plastic
Inca priest, mestizo beast
multi-kulti prophet
(who chooses to live in the USA)
where liberals kow-tow
while you show them how
to adulate indigenous
crypto misogynous
eager to pay eager to please
diversity’s devotees buy your CDs

a perfect idiot from the mythic Sierra
naming your brood after Andean peaks
pre-Columbian pachamama freaks
eat it up: your Inca schtick
(but ask the battered gringa-chick
about your unsustainable ways:
who hits who smiles who beats who pays ?)

(based on a true story)