By Richard Helmling As the ash piled up on the sixth day, they finally decided to head south. “Por favor,” they made their son practice as they drove. They avoided El Paso because the last radio broadcasts they had received said it was impossible to cross there. So they found a seemingly desolate stretch of […]
2 most excellent poems from Burning House Press that I highly recommend everyone read!
Shadow I’m an optimist with a shadow who pops in now and then Just to let me know he’s still around. He lies dormant like a bindweed vein in winter, Waiting, Watching for that glimmer of light Always looming, Anticipating his chance to make an entrance
Yes, it’s okay to play with the ball in the house; we won’t break anything and mom will never know; look you broke it, mom’s gonna be so mad; let’s play cops and robbers, you be the robber and I’ll be the cop; don’t worry I won’t leave you tied up here all day; I’ll be right back to look for you, it’s part of the game stupid; I see you managed to get yourself loose from that rope, I knew I should have tied it tighter; don’t tattle you little baby; yes there are monsters in your closet; I can’t believe you fell for that you stupid baby; when will you ever learn?
In August 2011 I visited my father’s home country of Ecuador for the first time. I remember my excitement when I booked the airplane tickets for my dad, my mom, and me. Then the day came and boarding the plane to leave the country for the first time turned my stomach in the best way possible. As we approached the green mountains of Quito and flew in between the peaks to get to the city’s airport, the rain drops drizzled down the open plane window and I stopped breathing, our aircraft tilting to fit in the middle and avoid the most turbulence.
We were picked up by an old family member whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 20 years and suddenly I remembered the way he used to make me laugh at family holiday parties. My first time in my father’s country and I felt like I’d come home, my heart recognizing right away that the air I breathed and soil I walked on flowed through my veins. My father’s first time back in his home country in over 30 years and the part of his soul he’d thought long dormant came alive once more.
As we weaved our way through rain and traffic, in and out of road lanes, up and down hills, I realized why Miami drivers act the way they do. The lanes were more like guidelines. Cars honked and motorists yelled at one another just like in any other big city. Buses and taxis ruled the roadways, knowing their public status gave them the most leeway in erratic navigation.
The first day we took the bus around the city, I watched an old man, old enough to be my grandfather, hop off the public transit as it decreased speed to a slow cruise down an asphalt hill but never stopping. I gasped as I saw him stumble and fall on his backside, but he immediately popped back up and went on his way as if nothing had happened. I was glad we were getting off at their Port Authority so that the bus would actually stop, but I’ll admit, when we’d hopped on, I literally mean we’d hopped on. The buses barely slow down enough for passengers to get on and disembark, so anyone planning on taking a trip to Quito better be ready to hit the ground running.
For those who love to travel for the food, be ready to have a healthy serving of soup before every savory meal (lunch and dinner). It’s more than enough soup to serve as a meal itself, but save room for the rice and beans, plantains, and meats. The amount of food I ate never stuffed me for long though, as I did enough walking up and down hills throughout the city and at sites on the outskirts that I was always ravenous by the time the next meal came around. Recommended: start off the day with a bowl of cereal with yogurt, not milk. My personal favorite was the guanabana (soursop) with fruit loops, as its sweet and tart mix made for a refreshing morning start.
We visited sites like Pululahua, a crater left over from a volcano that had erupted many years before, and now housed a valley with a village of locals that made their lives there. Over in Baños, in the distance stands the Tungurahua, a still-active volcano that has destroyed the village at its edge that no matter how many times it crumbles is always rebuilt and the people go on living in their home. At the Mitad del Mundo we straddled the equator and for a moment stood in two places at once.
There’s too many words and memories of my time in Ecuador, and although it’s been six years since I saw it, I still see the waterfalls and green mountains so clearly, with the view of Cotopaxi’s peak the first image that greeted me every morning. Since the moment I boarded the plane that took me back home to Florida, I’ve been dying to step back on my father’s land. I imagine the longing I have is only a fraction of what he’s felt every day since he left, and I can’t wait until the day we both return.
I’ve started contributing to my cousin’s blog. Here’s my first post on her site!
Hi everyone! I’m a new contributor to Chronicles of a Music Journalist, as requested by my cousin. My name’s Meagan and I’ll start my debut here with a review of Roxane Gay’s Hunger: A Memoir of (my) Body. Gay is an author known for her sharp and insightful thoughts on feminism and pop culture, as […]
By Keith Hoerner I stand at the kitchen sink washing the one thing I took from home after you died: The Madonna and Child statue I meditated on kneeling before you being beaten, traumatized, loving you, year after year. I wash it gently, remembering the time you unknowingly soaked a statue of St. Joseph carved […]
Another old assignment from my undergrad years as a creative writing major at UCF.
“Again Daddy, again,” Susie laughed as her father, Frank, finished waltzing her around their private garden. The array of flowers changed from side to side, surrounding the father and his daughter with pink and red roses, white and purple carnations, aromatic white gardenias, and orange and yellow chrysanthemums, their sweet aroma dancing around them.
“Again?” he chuckled, bestowing his beloved daughter with a tender smile. “We’ve already danced through two songs.”
“But this one is my favorite.” She giggled, clasping her hands in front of her, bending forward in urgency, pleading for another dance with her father.
“That’s what you said about the last two.” He winked at her, a mirthful glint in his eyes. He was teasing her, pretending to sit down on the gray marble bench near the garden’s arch entrance, watching as she anxiously awaited him to join her again. Of course, he would not deny his little girl another dance.
The next song began, a delicate melody being plucked lightly on an acoustic guitar. The sun floated in the sky, a brilliant, golden orb. Susie never stopped laughing and smiling, her happiness contagious. A cool summer breeze ruffled their clothes and hair, and the sun warmed them inside out. The flowers’ fragrance in the air was sweet on their lips.
“This one is my absolute favorite,” Susie chimed, tilting her head back as her father held onto her, keeping her from falling.
“This one is my favorite too.” Frank took Susie’s hand and twirled her gracefully, so content with that small, soft hand clinging to his. The music began to fade to an end just as the sun was almost finished setting, leaving a perfect line of gold on the horizon. Susie’s head nodded and Frank picked her up, bringing her inside, keeping time to the fading waltz.