Dancing a Whirlwind
A morning shower
barely has left a
print on dry earth
& now a bright breeze
around us, around
Mónico playing mandolin
his aged-mahogany face
wrinkled in a tranquil smile
Around cuatro & guitar
caja drum & maracas
A bottle of cocuy passes ’round
an anciana sings, her
cinnamon hands clapping
Women chat, adjusting costumes
a child cries
& is comforted
Rosa the singer & Luis
begin to dance amidst us
Fine soil billows ’round
their steps & twirls
joropo – traditional music & dance of Venezuela, originating in the llanos region
cuatro – a four-string instrument like a small guitar
caja – box
cocuy – an alcoholic brew of a cactus plant
anciana – old woman
Golfo de Morrosquillo
Full moon rises above
tejas & thatch roofs
The gulf rolls evenly
around the breakwaters
onto the grey sand
A crab flees from
the rising tide
Families take a dip
in the night-darkened waters
stroll on the seawall, the beach
Three boys play kickball
with a plastic bottle
Along the malecón
scented by grilled foods
people eat & drink
Bicycle taxis pass &
horse-drawn carriages, the
clop of hooves lost to
Music blaring from
restaurants & discos
Vendors spread their cloths
with jewellery, incense
Women yet corn-row
hair with quick molasses-
Sunglass salesmen walk
café to bar
& the musicians still wander
accordion ’round neck, caja
drum, guarachaca stick in hand
Waterlilies float swiftly by on the river’s current.
Bells clang for mass at Santa Bárbara church.
In front of a colonial house on the river walk
speakers blare music, Inside, amidst balloons
& streamers children sing a birthday.
Dressed in vivid paisley, shoulders stooped with
passed generations, doña Julia sits on the steps
to the río, talking to herself.
Two Scottie dogs laze in a window niche of their
ochre home trimmed melon & jade. One rests
his muzzle on the wrought-iron grill.
With a splash of water, a man jumps from the jetty.
Dulled light of almost-evening sheens on his tanned skin.
The boats have abandoned this narrow channel
of the Magdalena & this terminal stained white
concrete & brick flaking, vacant windows staring.
In the cool evening sung by gecko, toad & cricket, a boy
sends his kite aloft. Families chat outside in caned chairs,
a foursome plays Parcheesi on an iglesia patio.
The disappeared sun paints loud indigo & purple
reflecting in the swift water. Shadow-treed banks
reflecting waterlilies still floating by.
& some other church clangs its bells for mass.
Enter Iris and Luna, Stage Front
In a momento
the town is plunged
in inky darkness.
Scattered whistles & cheers
echo down the streets,
echo the groans
of men, their TV soccer
before their eyes.
These lanes fill with
families & couples
who watch the
Stars emerge, now freed
from the glare
brightened by the
A chubby-cheeked boy
points at her,
Look, la Luna has an Arco Iris!
a moonbow paints
this chill night,
before the dawn.
La Boca Summer Day
I. On the Caminito
Corrugated tin of ex-convetillos
is painted in a circus of colors.
Artisan stalls umbrellaed beneath
the clouded sun.
Tourists sip wine at café tables.
A couple is packing their jambox & CDs.
Slight wind flutters high split skirt, caresses
her legs, fishnet stockings.
II. Behind the Façade
Along the cobbled streets the tin of shacks is anemic.
Crumbled balconies, rickety steps, eaten bannisters.
Doors with missing slats open to the breeze off the
rotted Riachuelo. Glimpses of cramped rooms
Upon littered walks sit families at card tables,
bottles of beer & mates at hand.
In an empty niche of the Bombonera, a man
sleeps on a broken vinyl couch, zipper open
below his bloated paunch.
A caked glass set on a crooked table.
Across a high-weed lot, boys kick a soccer ball
& there yonder a group plays volleyball
over a frayed net.
On this humid summer day in La Boca …
La Boca – a working-class neighborhood of Buenos Aires; birthplace of the tango
Caminito – “the little street,” name bestowed by a tango song; now a tourist hub, frequently portrayed in photos of Buenos Aires
conventillos – tenements with small, cell-like rooms in which late-19th / early-20th century immigrants lived
mates – a mate is the container (often made from a gourd) from which yerba mate (Paraguayan tea) is sipped through a bombilla (a metal straw with a strainer)
Bombonera – “the candy box,” the nickname of the home stadium of Bocas Juniors, the world-renowned soccer team of LaBoca
Wandering troubadour Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 250 journals on six continents; and 18 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful travel companion, Rocinante (that is, her knapsack), listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.