Valladolid

Updated: Oct 6, 2021



1.

The road not taken passes

over a freshly cracked walkway

flanked by terracotta walls

dappled in the whites of eyes.

A hammock’s shadow sprawls,

shot full of holes, a ragged net

to catch dreams before

they crater the Earth.

At the crossroads,

the guardia civil stand erect

as trees, muscles unflinching,

gaze focused just beyond

the black line of their

pencil mustaches.

Bandoliers bulge with shiny

new bullets, stage props

of authority and intimidation

wrapped in leather ringlets.


2.

We eat our tamales in the cool

arcade of shadows, the open-air

cantina as sizzling as its infernal

kitchen. The owner eyes us

as if we were aliens. We are,

but not from other planets.

Tip or no tip? Only stoic soldiers

know the drill. The Maya populated

this jungle with civilization’s

finest, save for human

sacrifice. Blood for rain.

Blood for grain. Blood for life

beyond life. A painted parrot

spits out, “Especial, especial,”

but wayward feathers

clog his beak.

The silhouette of the pyramid

sways before my eyes.


3.

Ghosts from the underworld

bubble up to taste our flesh.

Though unhappy, the eaten

please the gods, a savory

respite from millennia of judging,

coddling, then judging again.

If high priests knew their role,

they would roast the heart,

carry it to the top of Chichen Itza,

then wait as lightning strikes

the pinnacle and the smell

of charred meat burns their

nostrils. I have climbed

the infinite steps to heaven,

towering over the forest canopy,

tottering in vertigo on the edge

of freedom. Make the leap. No,

I’ll take the road less traveled.

It never ends.

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