Friday, January 30, 2004


In the recption area (read glorified guardhouse) for Palacio Miraflores. Day 3 of waiting for President Hugo Chavez' personal secretary.

Raven has the magical ability to make himself invisible. He's lucky. I, in my traditional black line A-line dress, could use either his invisibility or his feathers. Today he's invisible, so I have to be fairly discreet when I talk with him. I don't need to be labeled La Gringa Loca. Not yet, anyway.

There are 7 of us here waiting who were also here waiting yesterday. Eight, if you include Mr. Invisible. Of those of us who are visible, I am the only one smiling. The others all have their arms crossed and look decidedly grumpy. But they don't have Raven whispering in their ear.

"I'm trying to keep my feathers from ruffling:"

(You disn't have to be here.) I am talking without moving my lips. Like Joe--er--Charlie McCarthy.

"Yeah I do. The only part of my natural habitat that is here is you."

(Geez, Rave. I've never been called a habitat before. You make it sound like I have cooties or something.)

"Iwasn't trying to offend. I would just rather suffer here with you than hide from the chain-smoking chambermaid in the hotel."

(What do you mean, HIDE? You're invisible!)

"Keep your voice down. People are staring. I don't FEEL invisible in the hotel. I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb."

(So do I, guy, and I'm not a bird.)

"You might as well be. You don't look like these other folks."

(Rave, do I hear the tiniest tinkle of racism here? Shame on you!)

"No way. I'm just pointing out that you stick out like a sore thumb, too."

(So my solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution might appear suspect?)

"Probably. I don't know if it's always the case. I wasn't here with you last April in the Solidarity Event. I was chicken."

(Ouch. Now you're looking down on other birds?)

"Just a figure of speech. I have nothing against fowls. Well, maybe a little against their stupidity."

(I think we're going in circles here. I'm starting to feel dizzy.)

"You shouldn't have bleached your hair."

(Now you're slinging stereoptypes around.)

"Naw. I'm just trying to entertain myself. And you."

(Thanks. Maybe you could do something else: take a nap, for example.)

"I don't want to miss the action."

(Action? Waiting? The sound of one hand clapping?)


After a tour and a little wait in the chapel, a sweet mix of First and Second Empire, we finally meet our Godot. Raven even stays awake in the meeting, and doesn't use his invisible condition to pull any capers. I breathe a big sigh of relief that he doesn't send all the documents on the guy's desk into outer space.

(Thanks, Rave. I know you could have made a real mess in there.)

"My patience between tricks is legendary."

Then he leaves my shoulder to open the door in the outer office--that would have been a fun trick--and finds that we are locked in.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


Raven was feelilng out of his element here in Caracas, missing his fellow Ravens from the village in Mexico. Then he saw two Ravens on television--flying, playing, flipping acrobatically--and with snow-covered mountains in the background.

"Must have shot that footage in mating season," he commented. As the program's emphasis changed to Snake, he changed the channel.

The beautiful face of Robbie Robertson appeared on the screen.

Wow, Rave, it's "The Last Waltz"!

"Wouldn't be surprised."

No, guy--it's one of my favorite films. The Band, Dylan, Van Morrison, Neil Young, etcetera.

"It was the farewell aspect that I noticed."

Raven is very homesick, already. After only 2 days.


Raven is rocking
and rolling with "The Last Waltz"
on television.
He was watching himself fly,
changed channels when he saw Snake

and flapped his wings for
the joy of nostalgia
as The Band struck up
the end of the Seventies.
Raven can live eighty years;

if he looks backward,
and keeps flying straight forward,
he'll never get lost.
He will live in reflections
like the Hootchy Kootchy Man

of Muddy Waters,
dry his eyes remembering
both singer and song,
and further up the road no
one will give him trick for trick:

he is no prisoner
of white lines on the freeway.
This midnight rambler
is ready for his close-up;
he will stay forever young.