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[Poetics] Three Poems by Andrew Navarro

Riding a Chiva in Cartagena

The neon tubes shade

our skin a palpable green

while the back of your neck

is wet with salt;

is there anything more satisfyingly sufferable

than humid air?

All I mind are sex and death

as we enter the bus

and we’re off!

En una chiva


is how the Greeks should rewrite their myth

of the soul and its crossing over

I think

Homer, you blind fool, lead your people to modernity!

and pave your way into Hades instead

and take all the coins you’ve wasted resting on heads

and count them in your palm like a beggar with change

because chivas are cheap

I’d imagine

what soul wouldn’t rather crossover

with drinking and dancing

and drinking and dancing

while old men sing along with the rhythmic scratching

of sticks

and drumming of drums

while passengers drink coke and rum

and thumb the hands of someone they just met;

a bus rumbling with celebration alongside the dreaded river of Styx,

por que aqui en Colombia


And Charon? If that old bag of bones

refuses to drive

I know of a guy --- Chucho

big and strong

who’d take the job

if the money was right

he’ll keep the bus roaring

smiling all the way

toothpick in grin

all day and night

zipping past traffic

and running all the red lights!

Man I tell you

he’ll keep the bus swerving

all day and all night

cantando y cantando

as you crossover

bottle in hand singing

praise to the air

and to this beautiful life;


he’d scream

que bonita

es esta vida!


I would never want to die in Peru,

I think to myself as I chew chunks

of beef tomato (and

purple onion of course)

our guide says eating guinea pig was also

learned from the Inca whose bodies have made

good sediment for constructing the government buildings and

soccer stadiums and people mind little it seems

the contorted limbs of

the past that just

jut out at you as you pass through

the streets asking for change in fact some

find it a decent living for instance the

young girls who sprout from the grass covered

in dirt like russet

potatoes outside a church

on the outskirts of Cusco or the women

buried to their necks in mud in Yungay

Please they cry we can feel our children

tickling our toes while some here are just

mad obsessed with currency

a scar left by

the Spanish fortunately for you the fat police

officer says admitting he does in fact accept

bribes so we pay our way out of

prison and there’s the sun— there seems to

be a damn fascination

with the sun among

the people here who make a festival just

like their kings one day it will fall

from the sky they sing and until then

are content with what they can find rummaging

through the hills placing

ears to stone in the hope they hear

something once missed or

simply something new

Days pass

Days pass

without rain

and leave the tree

in the field

the writer

when abandoned

has only

the same

and the taste

of unbrushed teeth


rain and words

where all and is

is born

slushed together

the dirt puddles to mud

an image

which gives life

to the poem


the roots

of a tree dig

beneath its body

my fingers


thumb pages


no matter how you try

it will never be the same

go now and live

Andrew Navarro is a current MFA student at the UCR Palm Desert Low Residency program and a history teacher. He live in Southern California with his wife and two daughters

Photo By David M. Olsen


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