October 12 1992 at Yaxchilan

yaxchitlanresizedOctober 12 1992 at Yaxchilan[1]

five hundred years after Columbus’  landing on the “New” continent


Swallowed by vine, the labyrinth,

Deep in the forest

Swallowed by vine,

Surrounded by a river

Surrounded by indios

– On market days, the women

Cross the Usumacinta on frail boats

Trading vibrant plumage colors

For tin coins,

Camouflage cloth,

Deep in the forest,

Swallowed by vine

Chameleons against foliage and rock.


Tonight on the temple steps

The moon will draw

A serpent

Offering the red fruit

Of knowledge

To those who live

With the taste of fear.


Tonight the monkeys will scream

From top branches and scorpions

Will hide under rocks.


Tonight Mauro, the Christian

Lacandon, guardian of the Mayan temple

Will erect a small shrine

To a nameless god

And cry for drunken forgiveness

To a wife he’s betrayed.


Then, machete in hand

Brandishing revenge

He will howl with the forest

A curse,

Lingering echo

Of a festering wound.




A grain of time

In the hourglass of history

Runs the gauntlet

Of memory








October 13 1992 at Yaxchilan

the day after the five hundred years of Columbus landing

The Morning After glow

Of the forest

Who survives

The foolishness

Of civilizations,

Regenerates herself

From disturbances

At ground level


Witnesses species

Aglitter and extinguish

Proud organisms shrivel up

In a combustion of arrogance.


Yes, she was affected,

Her tears of mourning

Mistaken for dew,

Her sighs of disapproval

Thought to be wind.

Yet her deep roots

Still gripped the earth,

Temple stones

Corroded by moss

Became sand

Transported by ants.

Even the poisons

Floating on the water

Were purified


Mile after mile

On rocks

Nature trying to

Wash off a stain.


Forest, now, we pull


Off your spreading body,

A demented weather

Dries your wells,

Nasty kids

Playing god,

Tug at your

Apron strings.



No longer waiting

For discoverers or messiahs

You stand attached to the soil

And bend,

Bowing to the wind,

Breathe life

Into an uncertain planet.


[1] Yaxchilan was an ancient Mayan city, now an archaeological site, in the Lacandon forest, in the state of Chiapas (Mexico), near the border with Guatemala. The site is known for its well preserved stelae and lintels, some of which depict rituals connected with the seers’ initiation ceremonies.