A little bit of irony here today, as I am at the end of the poems I have written to date and was going to announce this would be my ‘last post’ for the summer. This poem was inspired by our last visit to Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. On the previous occasions we had entered the castle grounds from the upper level. On this occasion, Sergio walked us past the monument to the child heroes of the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847. Here is the Wikipedia entry for them –

The Niños Héroes also known as the Heroic Cadets or Boy Soldiers, were six Mexican teenage military cadets. These cadets died defending Mexico at Mexico City‘s Chapultepec Castle (then serving as the Mexican Army‘s military academy) from invading U.S. forces in the 13 September 1847 Battle of Chapultepec, during the Mexican–American War. One of the cadets, Juan Escutia, wrapped himself with the Mexican flag and jumped from the roof of the castle to keep it from falling into enemy hands. The Niños Héroes are commemorated by a national holiday on September 13.

The Niños Héroes were:

  • Juan de la Barrera  (age 19)
  • Juan Escutia  (age 15–19) (?)
  • Francisco Márquez  (age 13)
  • Agustín Melgar  (age 15–19) (?)
  • Fernando Montes de Oca  (age 15–19) (?)
  • Vicente Suárez  (age 14)

And here is the monument –

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The irony here, is that on this day there were about 50 or 60 students from various schools who were visiting the castle, all dressed in their school uniforms!

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They inspired me to take a seat and write this poem honoring the memories of those ‘boy soldiers’!

 

Six Silent Sentinels

Countless children of various ages

Noisily pass through the halls and gardens

Of Chapultepec Castle this day,

Dressed in the uniforms of their schools –

Baseball caps, cameras, cellphones –

Aiming the latter two

At the magnificence of Spanish and French royalty

Of times past.

 

Below, on a low hill,

Six white marble columns –

The monument to “Niños Heroes” –

Six uniformed adolescents

Who made the ultimate sacrifice,

Defending this hill

Against the invading American soldiers –

Too young to ever comprehend,

That almost 130 years later,

Where once they were aiming their weapons,

The adolescents today would be aiming cameras

At yet another invading group of Americans –

Tourists from north of the Rio Grande,

Marveling at the magnificence of Spanish and French royalty.

While down below on the hill,

Six silent sentinels stand proudly,

Reminders of the glorious past of Mexico!

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With those images in your mind, I bid you ‘Hasta Luego mis amigos’. Thanks for following the blog this year. I hope to be back in the fall…

I am starting to realize that as we grow older we do look back, in spite of the fact that I am well aware of what happened to Lot’s wife in the Bible when she looked back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah…she turned to stone! Yikes! Nevertheless I know I am not the only one at my age who does this…is it useful? We are supposed to always live in the present aren’t we?

Yucatan Nights

 

Memories of my childhood on the farm

Come rushing back again,

As darkness descends on rural Yucatan.

Overhead brilliant stars and moonlit skies,

While darkness surrounds me –

As I wander the stone pathways of the posada.

 

Dogs bark, roosters crow, crickets chirp,

Unseen cars speed by on nearby highways.

Distant laughter and music can be heard from the village,

As I walk alone this night –

As I have felt on hundreds of similar nights.

 

Decades have passed,

As have thousands of moonlit nights,

And yet, while no longer physically alone,

There still are times no matter where I might be –

When come rushing back,

Memories of times like these –

Alone.

We have been attending weekly meditation sessions with a few friends. During one of the earlier sessions, our facilitator guided us to the place described in the story – a lively steam, grasslands up to our knees and a wonderful forest of tall trees. I was frustrated by the fact that I never left the rock. Mulling over the session later, I was given this explanation by my Spirit… –

Just One of the Boys

With pant legs rolled up,

The boys waded into the cool, clear stream.

Summer had begun;

The adventures would start anew,

As they had year after year

Since before they had become teenagers.

 

One by one they left the stream,

Walking ashore into the inviting woodlands,

Tall grasses rising up to their knees.

Lingering, he climbed upon a large rock

In the middle of the stream,

As he watched the others slowly disappear from his view.

 

Feeling  somewhat contented, he wondered about his future –

What would be his true path?

Tears began flowing down his cheeks

Into the cool, shimmering stream,

Reflecting his adolescent face.

 

He tightly closed his eyes-

Visions of layers of himself peeling away,

As the tears fell.

To which of his friends could he reveal

His secret – sacrificing their friendships?

For even at his young and tender age he knew –

Once the secret was out in the open,

There would be no more adventures –

Just loneliness, more hidden secrets

More layers waiting to be peeled away.

 

Looking up

His friends came around the corner of the woods,

Questioning his decision to remain behind,

Sitting on the rock in the middle of the stream.

This summer – perhaps his last with them,

He would continue to be –

Just one of the boys.

My mental train has left the station on this one! I can’t remember what precipitated it…

Hearts Full

When the last train leaves the station,

We are left with an emptiness,

A hole in our heart –

Spirit’s plan for those left behind…

A place for us to store up

All the tender memories of times past,

Sunrises and sunsets,

Good times and bad times together (In sickness and in health),

That we spent with those on board

Our journey – our train!

 

I like to believe that their journey,

Like ours, continues down the tracks,

Seeing new places, making new friends,

Forging new relationships,

Sharing days, hours, weeks, and years –

Seasons of joy and happiness,

Until it is OUR time to board that same train,

Joining them at last on the journey of a lifetime –

Hearts full!

 

Of course, this poem is inspired by the day to day observations here in the Yucatan This is definitely NOT Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo with its brilliant blue waters. Life is simpler here.

Coastal Town

The clouds grow darker and more billowy

With the approaching storm;

Warm southern winds send garbage flying;

Palm trees sway as the breeze increases.

Just another day in a coastal town,

In the northern Yucatan Peninsula.

To the north, the muddy waters of the Gulf –

Azure skies mark the horizon,

Fishing boats gird the beach,

Silent sentinels until the storm passes,

When once again they will set out

Anxious to fill their nets with fresh fish

And seafood.

Today’s catch will be tonight’s dinner –

At home and in the nearby restaurants

That line the beachfront – the Malecon.

Just maybe there will be enough to sell

To the “cooperativos”?

Providing more food on the family tables

Besides rice and beans;

Just another day in a coastal town!

Now that we are back at home, the blog will continue! The following semi-autobiographical poem was inspired by the end of the last calendar year. New Years is always a time for reflection and this poem is no exception.

Just as Always

The end of the world came and went

Just as always,

Time after time in the history of mankind,

Just as it has done

In the time of one man

Oh, so many times!

It ended the first time when he was 12 –

His parents separated; his father moved away

Only to be seen a few times,

Before his untimely death at age 41!

The second ending was when  he was 17 –

Before entering grade 12; he moved away –

Far from the only friends he had ever known.

A ‘new’ world began when he entered college –

Reuniting with his only girlfriend

Romance rekindled – marriage was

Inevitable – 1966.

The third ending occurred in 1973

When his great grandfather –

His only constant male figure and role model,

Died at the age of 93.

Upon retirement, he entered another ‘new’ world

Commercial sales for a “big box” company.

It was during this time that

He came to realize his world was coming undone;

His marriage ending;

His true identity unfolded;

He stepped out of the closet,

Leaving the world of family and friends,

Leaving his homeland after 58 years,

Starting a new in a foreign country –

That year was 2004!

Eight years later  – 2012

The Maya prophecized the end of the world.

Which came and went .

Just as always,

He survived,

Fearlessly moving forward,

Just as always

Until the next world ending event.

People often ask where I get inspirations for my poetry. If you follow me regularly, you know that I subscribe to the theory that I only write what is given to my by the Universe. Sitting here in the north on an exceptionally rainy day, thinking back over the years to the many friends we have met along the way, inspired the Universe to give me this work –

Waxing and Waning

Before the dawn of mankind,

The moon waxed and waned

Causing it to grow bigger and brighter,

Until it reached its ‘full’ potential,

At which point it started to wane again.

In each of our lives,

The same may be said of our friendships.

In our youth, friendships wax,

Growing stronger with each passing day,

Each passing month, Each passing year.

Lifelong friendships are not uncommon.

Sometimes and for a variety of reasons,

Friendships do wane – slowly fading,

Interests, time and distance change,

The friendships grow dimmer.

Some are lost forever.

True friendships wax and wane,

Not unlike the cycles of the moon.

They remain constant –

Despite the upheavals of our lives or the world

In which we may find ourselves,

On any passing day,

Any passing month or any passing year.

Some may be eclipsed,

But, if meant to be, they will reappear just as sure as the nightly moon.

According to my numbers, this poem is number 101 of what I have posted. (Some poems are only in the print volume). It seems very hard to believe that a Political Science major would now be a published poet, a blogger, and that I even have my own website now, thanks to my friend and pseudo-son, Alfonso.  I am always grateful for all of the comments I receive, and am inspired when you are touched by something I have written. As I tell most people, I do not create these poems; they are given to me by my Spirit to transcribe on its’ behalf. I am extremely fortunate in that I have a spouse who supports and encourages me in all of my endeavours even though he sometimes feels I spend way too much time at the computer…LOL. This poem’s inspiration was, of course, the recent time change, but I hope you might explore its’ deeper meaning in your own life! Thanks for hanging in there followers….

Spring Forward, Fall Back

 

Over the course of a year,

We chronologically

Spring forward and fall back –

So it is too with our lives, albeit emotionally.

 

In the springtime life is wondrous –

Grey winter skies brighten and everything comes alive.

Flowers in a rainbow of colors abound.

Trees develop their leaves in abundance.

Multicolor birds fly overhead or nestle in the trees,

The depth and depression of Winter fades.

 

Too soon

Spring becomes summer,

And we see things ever more vividly,

Enveloped by the warmth of the sun’s rays.

We flock to beaches and pools,

Immersing ourselves in the warm waters,

Intuitively, like returning to the warmth

Of our mother’s womb.

 

Too soon

Fall arrives –

Flowers fade, leaves fall to the ground, and birds migrate south.

Skies darken once again, as do our hearts,

Fearing that time when emotional Winter sets in again,

That cold, dreary season

Which sends us scrambling indoors –

Hibernating

Into the darkness of our being

Once again – clocks ticking away time.

Earlier this week I was reading my friend, Joanna’s blog about Frida Kahlo being an inspiration to many people. Twice this year we have visited Frida’s home in Coyocan (part of Mexico City). During the first visit, two of the group stayed behind at Casa Azul while the others walked to the central square. Karen was inspired to do some sketches in the courtyard, while I set about soaking up the atmosphere and writing the following Frida and Diego inspired poems – Homage and The Blue Princess. I hope you enjoy reading them…

For those not aware of Casa Azul, I am starting with this photo –

Casa Azul - Frida Kahlo's home

Casa Azul – Frida Kahlo’s home

Courtyard at Casa Azul

Courtyard at Casa Azul

And now, the poems….of which I think both Diego and Frida would approve…

The Blue Princess and the Toad

Once upon a time there was a blue princess

Who lived in a blue castle,

Her body encased in a steel cage,

Perpetually seated in a wheeled chair,

In front of an easel

Surrounded by various paints and brushes,

With which she recorded a visual journal

Of her life.

One day she encountered a very robust toad,

Who, like her, enjoyed painting,

But in a very robust, large scale style.

His canvases were ‘murales

Where he hopped from scaffold to scaffold,

Painting caricatures of the struggles of man

In a quickly changing world.

Neither was renown in the kingdom,

Neither the princess nor the toad –

Their lives were filled with challenges,

Misunderstood.

What could they possibly have in common?

He was certainly not princely material;

This was not a fairy tale existence.

Perseverance was the ‘key’ – not a kiss!

Yet, in spite of all odds,

He became her Prince Charming!

To hell with the rest of the world…

And the second poem…

Homage to Frida and Diego

In the gardens of Casa Azul,

Frida and Diego watch

As the world comes to pay homage

To two seemingly troubled souls –

Years apart chronologically,

United by their creativity –

Their fiery personalities,

Often disquieting love,

Mutual admiration and respect,

Often challenged physically and emotionally-

Misunderstood in their time.

In the gardens of Frida and Diego

One finds peace and tranquility

Often times illusive for them –

Lush tropical gardens,

Colorful foliage, prickly cacti,

Quiet fountains, majestic palms,

All of which must have given them

Moments of great peace and joy,

Amidst the sorrows

Reflected in her paintings,

Her tragic life.

Here, respite from the harsh realities

Of a world which didn’t quite understand

The depths of their love.

For more about Frida, check out this YouTube video link –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6skhQj5ZXc

At the end of October we took a group to Mexico City, Patzcuaro and Janitzio to observe Day of the Dead in Mexico. One of the most moving visits was to Tzintzuntzan Cemetery…the inspiration for this poem…. Continue all the way to the end to see the photos which caused me to write this!

Tzintzuntzan Cemetery

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Is a very special celebration in Mexico.

The days prior to All Saints’ Day

The Mexicans visiting the graves of their ancestors.

Decorating the gravesites

With brilliant orange marigolds

And offerings of food and drink

Displaying mementoes of their loved ones

And generally celebrating lives passed.

Graves are neatly attended to,

Candles are arranged and lit,

Lighting the way for the return of the souls

In some areas – as “mariposas monarcas

Monarch butterflies returning from the north at this time of year,

Every year.

Visitors are awestruck,

Not just by the abundant flowers and wreaths,

But by the devotion of the friends and families

As they tirelessly complete the decorations.

At one grave stands a four foot white floral horse,

Complete with rider –

Overhead a photograph of a sixteen year old boy,

Who passed way too soon.

On yet another tiny gravesite,

A wooden cross, a plaque, flowers

For a stillborn child –

The Barbie doll that was once to be hers standing vigil.

One cannot help  but to feel sombre

By the surroundings,

But yet joyous to see such love and remembrance

Of those here to remember –

Not without tears and prayers

Tzintzuntzan Cemetery.

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