Monthly Archives: October 2014

October Poems

Here are some October poems from Cajón. Enjoy!

I didn’t have a bug poem, but this photo is too fun to pass up.


Weeding the coffee

Early morning
four men
wielding machetes
work their way
across the rows
of the coffee patch
hacking weeds.


Day 1

The trade winds arrive
early morning untimely
combing the pines
howling the eaves blowing
northeast to southwest.

Day 2

Alisios according to
Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.
Late in November
early December they blow
over the mountains
drop warm dry and fast
leaving their moisture
on the Atlantic side
los abuelos would say
rompieron los Nortes
the north winds broke —
bring la temporada navideña
and a long season, no rain.

Day 3

Three days now hardly a drop
drought already parching
northwest of the country
Guanacoste, Puntarenas
y la meseta central —
Atenas, Orotina, San Mateo.
Afternoon spent on the balcony
summer clothes in the sunshine
friends from San Luis, San Isidro
dine early on braised rabbit
kitchen-made sausage sauced
creamy and thick with natilla
wine from Argentina.
Sun set the stage rare
rainy season light show
oranges yellows pinks reds
foreground clouds scattered
gray penciled and black.

Day 4

Dry and warm the day
begins shorts a light shirt.
Over San Luis clouds
stream the ridge line
riding the trade winds
Póas to the Pacific.
Prognóstico — one last day
before October rains resume.

Day 5

Doors screened left open
to fresh morning air.
Well before noon
the line of clouds
drifting the ridge
slows, stops.
The sky darkens.
The air moistens
turns to mist
then to drumming
drumming on roof metal
beat broken by bouts of sun.
Yard work already done
planting, pruning, clippings
left for the gardener.

Through the night

Paraque call
pierces the blackness
a heart beating
through the night.
Dawn —
parakeets screech.

pizza 1

Pizza on the barbie

First roll out the dough
leave skins to dry
a bit well-floured while
you prep the toppings
onions mushrooms olives
tomatoes squeeze them
dry with a paper towel
don’t want soggy pizza
cured ham salami from Spain
chorizo anchovies
Dave loves anchovies
grate cheese low-moisture
mozzarella parmesan made
right here in Costa Rica
sprinkle make-up board
with corn meal polenta
is coarse acts like
little ball bearings
lay out a skin brush
with olive oil sprinkle
with basil add what you will
slide onto a hot stone
on the barbie when crisp
cut & serve say goodbye
to friends moving back.

 Pizza & beer

The doldrums

Zona de convergencia intertropical
wanders near they say
bringing with it
Rain yesterday
hundred millimeters plus
afternoon, evening
tormentas eléctricas
y ráfagas de viento
blowing this way, that.
Today they say
more of the same.

Afternoon thunder

A hundred chattering
crimson-fronted parakeets
flock erratic
one way another
for a moment settle high
green of feathers
melding with leaves
emerge as one
and again off
down canyon screeching.
Growing thunder.
Caw, caw of a brown jay.

The moth

People come here to see mariposas, three thousand species dancing brightly with the flowers. Moth species dwarf the butterflies, more than twelve thousand, mostly nocturnal. Field guides are available for butterflies. Regarding moths, information is scant. Some moths are huge and breathtakingly beautiful.

To dawn-plastered wall
Copaxa rufinans clings
last breath in the light.



Tree-like bananas
dot yard and the coffee
female flowers bloom
swelling to dados
clustered in manos
male flowers hang
low and dangling
great purple dick.

Fruits plumpen green
as male bracts drop
one machete hack
right at the ground
a blemish-free fall
hang the whole bunch
safe from squirrels
a week or three.

First blush of yellow
then ripen all at once
cut off a hand
eat what you can
give them away
infuse with guaro
that’s a lot of liqueur
give that away too.


The walk

Mid-morning sun
before rains begin
a walk up the hill
and talk with a buddy
of plays and poetry
of lives and wives
of frogs and whales
and how they might feel
and how light it is free
of the need to be
and how unexpected
in Cajón to discover
the fellowship of men.

Jack’s veranda

Jack’s veranda stretches
beyond hogback splitting canyon
past houses perched simple
above two creeks jungled one
past tomato patch
past chicken ranch
stretch ridges in cloud forest
and restless above all
Poás breathes her tart breath.

Jack's view

September Poems

Here are some “green season” poems. Green days of October still to come.

Dog days

Rain softly falling
roof gentle drumming
fog silent drifting
veiling quilted green
of hillside beyond
blue puff hortensia
red splash hibiscus
black lab la gordita
sprawled on the sofa
keeping company.


September real rains
begin planting time
La Garita viveros
left and right
of the autopista
half way más o menos
airport to Grecia
can’t miss the interchange
landscaped lush and colorful.

On the road to Alajuela
off the exit to the right
Vivero Central biggest
fanciest you might think
pricey you’d be wrong
palms orchids exotics
up north indoors only
coleus all hues gracing
gravel of the parking lot.

Can’t find what you’re looking
La Llama del Bosque
couple kilometers up the road
Antonio behind the counter
reading a newspaper
young Tomás speaks English
matas three hundred colones
maybe five six or eight
that’s sixty cents couple a bucks
or three ones really special
they’ll give you a deal
you can fill your garden.


Afternoon thunder
cracking flash blast
in the trees
in the coffee
at the ground
just beyond
the caña fence.

Next morning
walking the dogs
a huge eucalyptus
standing still green
bark blasted to shreds
trunk blackened and split.

A half century ago
bright government men
university fresh
considering the plight
of coffee growers
in the countryside
conceived eucalyptus
growing fast slick straight
providing coffee trees
just the right shade
wood for posts, cooking
cash too charcoal and lumber
prompted growers to plant.
Turns out eucalypts suck
too much water
too many nutrients
and native creatures
find them distasteful
except for the termites.

Beetles ants wasps spiders
frogs toads salamanders snakes
possums porcupines shrews bats
birds innumerable
the native forest teems.
Laurel pumps nitrogen
back into the soil
epiphyte orchids
bromeliads ferns
cling to spongy bark
of guitite.

On the hillside
eucalypts stand
tall and alone
above the canopy
rainy season lightening
one by one
picking them off.


Scrolling landscape

Mist drifts
up the canyon
brushing black
ink on silk
trees gnarl
rough stones rise
bamboo rustles
a thatched hut
humble pagoda smile
mountain contours
fade into distance
a river runs unseen
waterfalls heard
in the mind.

Spanish lessons

1. Saturday

Flunked a final today
Spanish Basic unit 37
bastard instructor
retest tomorrow
console myself
with a drink.

2. Sunday

Pass this morning
colors flying.
tomorrow begin
unit 38 text and tape
esta tarde celebro
con un cóctel.

The road to Zarcero

Dolores looking
for a place
cheaper cooler
more authentic
found a glass house
in Zarcero the road
from Naranjo winding
just twenty kilometers
exhausting, slow
behind a tanker truck
full of gasoline
leche Dos Pinos
north and up over
seventeen hundred meters
almost to the top
of the divide
Caribbean on
the other side
above the rain
into the clouds
cheese country cows
grazing green hillsides
fresh cashews honey
queso palmito.

The road passes
a park in Zarcero
Don Evangelisto Blanco
gardener touched by god
carves wavy arches
from conifer sculpts
a cypress menagerie
abstract bizarre
birds rabbits dance
green elephants waltz
with a dinosaur
monkey rides a motorcycle
ox pulls a cart of course
bullfight ringed
with spectators
Christ carries a cross
before a pretty little church
Iglesia de San Rafael
brick made of metal
columns painted marble.

Warming the glass house
snacks, wine, taste of rum
leave early to avoid
driving in the dark
not the rain a deluge
brown water sweeping
out of the ditches
over the road
oncoming truck
throws a brown wave
a few seconds drowning
passengers hold breath
driver holds on.


Los ladrónes

A caña fence rooted
barbed wire bound
wire cutter snip
pull the canes back
and slip through
hole in the dark
creep up on a casita
empty unlighted
¡qué chiva! unlocked?
slither in grab
what you can quick
microwave boombox
¡manda güevo! no TV?
dogs bark running
monitor abandoned
draped in a towel
high-tail it down
leaving door open
the hill in the mud
out melt away
into the coffee
a little thrill
in the heart
few thousands colones’
worth of booty
under arm.

Next day
fix fence
replace lock
install alarm
from Radio Shack
in Escazu.


Down the canyon road
up other side steep
past the chicken farm
at the San Luis road turn
left down the hill
by the coffee recibos
up a rough gravel road
Pamela lives fixed
in a little green house
bad luck in the States
couple of burglaries
left with little.

Invited a few friends
for dinner simple
salchichón stew
grilled chorizo & peppers.
Sitting at the table
¡hola! at the open door
Jose, Maria much younger
Noeli, little Sophie
greet all with kisses
Pamela pulls gifts
out of thin air
mamá a scarf
papá a hat
the girls little purses
seats surrendered
clean plates set
they eat what’s left.

Jose asks leave
the girls to stay
visit while he walks
in the dark
in the rain
down the hill
to the pulperia
pay a bill
a few colones
sweets for the niñas
give him a ride
couple kilometers
there and back.

Kiss goodbye
they walk home
up the ridge
down the canyon
down the chicken farm road
lucky it has stopped raining.


Roasting bones

Sunday morning
filled with nothing
oven still hot
from baking bread.

Bones from the freezer
pork and lamb
roast with carrot &
onion ’til browned
add water wine
parsley celery
oregano bay
star anise cloves
simmer for hours
strain and save
for soup or sauce.

Tonight’s dinner
chicken grilled whole
tomorrow broth
hen carcass
cold quail bones
first roasted


September morning

Late in September
five in the morning
blackness of night fades
first hint of light.

Cerros beyond Palmares
a string of streetlights
marks the ridgeline.
A red light flashes
atop a tower in Atenas.
A line of white dots
threads el desfiladero
old path leading
San Jose to the sea.

Bluing sky whitening
cirrus whiff hinting
thunderstorms coming
afternoon aguaceros.

La Feria

Friday afternoon feria
arrive early not to miss
fresh heuvos de pato
and friends half the fun
catching up make plans
who’s meeting tonight
at Isabel’s.

Lechuga for Caesar
big heads go fast
herbs albahaca
cilantro for salsa.
tomates pimientos
picantes hard to find.
Frutas for mornings
papaya sandia
bananas piña
fraises from Poás.
Evening manzanas
highland grown
Santa Maria del Dota.
Papas zanahorias
choyote cebollas
espárragos alcachofa
maíz en mazorca
tiny steamed eaten whole.
Fresh a whole pollo
and marlin cut thick.
Salchichon for the pups.
Sometimes a special
plant from vivero stall.

When the wheeled cart
is full up lift it standing
in the back of the fourby
hoping not to get soaked.
Parking five hundred colones
pay on the way out.