Friday, November 18, 2005


Raven is cackling hysterically in front of the computer, crumbs of pan de dulce spewing out of his beak.

Mind your manners, Rave. You aren’t the one sweeping the floor around here.

Raven glances down at the less-than-pristine floor.

“Seems like I am not the only one. The latest blunder by New York Times reporters will ring your ears with deja-vu. On CommonDreams, John McGlynn writes:

‘On November 13, 2005, the Times published a report by William J. Broad and David E. Sanger headlined, “Relying on Computer, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran's Nuclear Aims”. The report contains allegations of secret Iranian plans to obtain a nuclear warhead based on information contained in a stolen laptop computer. The allegations are made by anonymous US “officials”, in the mode of former Times reporter Judith Miller, whose fabulously wrong pre-Iraq invasion September 2002 report on Iraq’s quest for aluminum tubes for use in a clandestine nuclear weapons program set the stage for Bush administration heavies Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice to start talking about tubes + Saddam Hussein x 9-11 = mushroom clouds over America.

‘Like Miller before them, in their story Broad-Sanger rely heavily on anonymous “American officials”, “American intelligence officials”, “officials” in the Bush administration, etc. to roll out the “strongest evidence yet that, despite Iran's insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful, the country is trying to develop a compact warhead.”

‘What is the evidence found in the laptop? “More than a thousand pages of Iranian computer simulations and accounts of experiments” that show “a long effort to design a nuclear warhead.” Where did the laptop come from? “American officials have said little. . . about the origins of the laptop, other than that they obtained it in mid-2004 from a source in Iran who they said had received it from a second person, now believed to be dead.” Is the evidence (or intelligence) convincing? “[W]hile the intelligence has sold well among countries like Britain, France and Germany, which reviewed the documents as long as a year ago, it has been a tougher sell with countries outside the inner circle.” What is Iran’s response? Not in the Broad-Sanger article but in a Reuters article, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said: “The baseless claim made us laugh. We do not use laptops to keep our classified documents.''
‘Returning to Judith Miller, the beauty of her articles is that they had a thumping insistence that something had to be done to stop Iraq. That insistence managed to live on long after the reported facts themselves were disproved or shown to lack credibility or logic.
‘The Broad-Sanger story also has a thumping insistence, but bad as Miller’s articles were on the facts, the Iranian laptop story appears to be a real stinker. Within 24 hours of the appearance of the Broad-Sanger piece, David Albright, a nuclear arms expert and president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), weighed in to say that Broad-Sanger got the basic facts seriously wrong. In fact, Albright went so far as to accuse Broad of journalistic malpractice. Here's what Albright had to say:
“William J. Broad and David E. Sanger repeatedly characterize the contents of computer files as containing information about a nuclear warhead design when the information actually describes a reentry vehicle for a missile. This distinction is not minor, and Broad should understand the difference between the two objects, particularly when the information does not contain any words such as nuclear or nuclear warhead.”

You’re right, Rave. It reminds me very much of the Graham Greene novel, Our Man in Havana, where the guy recruited by British intelligence almost sent their entire operation into the toilet forever by passing off the schematic diagram of one of the vacuum cleaners he was selling as one for Soviet weaponry!

“Didn’t read the book, but the movie was a riot. Where is Alec Guiness when we need him? Maybe they’ll make a remake with some third rate silly actor.”

Save us from silly actors, Rave. And from third rate silly journalists.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Yikes, Rave, supposedly it's 93 degrees here in Cuautla today! Sure could have fooled me.

"It doesn't seem that hot to you--although I note that you are wearing shorts and a tee shirt--because the normal weather in Bahrain was at least 10 degrees hotter. But, yes, it is rather hot--that's why I was buzzing around by the river all morning."

Well, now that you are back to business, what's your take on the latest news? I see that President Mugabe of Zimbawbwe called Bush and Blair the "two unholy men of our millennium" at the FAO meeting in Rome.

"Good for him! Although the US has pretty well mediatized away any credibility that the guy had. Can you believe that they managed to have travel sanctions applied to him because of--get this--vote rigging? I guess the Creepy Cretin Bush doesn't appreciate anyone giving him competition in that quarter. And Chavez?"

Chavez said, among other things: "The FAO gets 900 million dollars a year, not even one billion. Compare that to what developed countries devote to their agricultural production: One billion a day!"

"In one day they are investing in subsidies what FAO can allocate in one year," said Chavez.

"In Washington, they've just announced their defence budget for the coming year: 500 billion dollars. That's enough to finance FAO for 500 years!"

As usual, he pointed out the obviously skewed priorities of the US government. Too bad folks in the States are so brain-dead that it isn't even obvious to them.

"He's been busy. First he managed to organize the troops in Salmanca at the Cumbre to call a spade a spade in regard to the US blockade of Cuba, and got everyone behind him in regard to the extradiction of Posadas--the "Osama bin Laden of Latin America", as some have called him--for blowing up that Cuban airliner in 1976. By the way, do you remember how much Libya's government had to pay in "reparations" for supposedly blowing up that Pan Am plane over Scotland?"

No, but why isn't the US having to pay reparations for Posadas' bombing--given that he was on the CIA payroll at the time?

"Those cynical bastards--they would probably say that at one time or another just about everybody has been on their payroll."

I haven't, for one.

"Nor has this bird. But, speaking of extraditions, Chavez has turned up the heat by saying that he is going to ask for the extradition of Pat Robertson for terrorism because he called for Chavez' assassination."

Good move, and at a great time, as it seems like the Bush Gang has its dirty hands pretty full these days--what with Rove and Libby and now Cheney, aka Mad Dog, under the eyes of the special prosecutor--on top of the Katrina scandal, the Iraq mess, et cetera.

"Not to mention that afro-americans were demonstrating in Washington. And neo-nazi skinheads created such a ruckus in Toledo, Ohio, with their "criminalization of blacks" that martial law had to be declared in the state where Bush rigged the vote in 2004 and stole his second presidential election....And you tell me that we are going to the States next week?! Maybe I will pass. It will be rainy and cold and I don't have an umbrella. Better that I stay here in 93 degrees--which, I see on Yahoo Weather feels like 101 degrees.
Nothing like life in the tropics!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Rave, I am really hot under the collar this morning.

"I'm not surprised. This is not exactly the temperate zone we are living in. I suppose that's why this rye bread is dried out?" Raven holds up a torn piece of bread in one claw.

It is probably stale. And I am not hot from the weather, I am angry.

"Oh oh. This wouldn't have anything to do with a bible-thumping rabble rouser calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez on US airwaves, would it?"

Of course it does! Things are getting wilder and wilder and more and more violence is the order of the day. The fact that the Snickering Cretin's spokesperson simply passes off an action against international and federal laws--including against the Patriot Act--as merely "inappropriate" is beyond outrageous, and it indicates that Venezuelan Vice President Rangel was absolutely correct when he said that mounting an anti-terrorism campaign all over the world, while supporting and advocating terrorist acts from the heart of the US itself was beyond hypocrisy and was, in fact, simply criminal.

"Sounds criminal to me, all right."

Raven rejects his breakfast bread.

"Would you mind nuking a small bit of leftover lasagna for me?"

Whatever Raven wants, he gets.

Of course I will microwave the lasagna for you. I am getting tired of looking at it, anyway. But back to the assassination caper, why isn't Robertson in jail--with both due process and the key thrown away?

"Beats me. Any muslim cleric, for example, who called for the assassination of the Creepy Cretin undoubtedly would be."

And Rumsfeld--Mr. War, as Chavez calls him--or Mr. Mothballs, which I prefer--said that Robertson was a private citizen and that private citizens say all kinds of things all the time. As if every private citizen had a license from the FCC to operate a broadcasting network to say all kinds of things all the time! I am sure those other private citizens would be in hot water even suggesting an assassination of the Crosseyed Cretin on a ham radio set.

Raven opens his beak to coincide with the DING of the microwave.

"Actually, I wonder how much the Corrupt Cretin donated to Robertson's network to insure that he would call for the killing of a president who is NOT a cretin, nor a war-mongering scoundrel taking refuge in false patriotism, and who happens to control both OPEC and the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves. That's what I wonder. And although I expect to live to 84--if those same warmongerers have not blown the planet to bits by then--I do not expect my question to be answered."

Raven tucks into his lasagna.

"A little dry. But beats stale rye bread. Or Soylent Green."

Amen, brother Raven.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Raven and I are kicking back in Manama, Bahrain, as the average daily temperature this time of year is around 106 degrees fahrenheit.

"Lots of sand here", Raven nods approvingly. "It's been awhile since we lived at the beach."

We are not exactly living at the beach, Rave. I don't call a fifth floor apartment beach digs. Admittedly, it's close for you to buzz over to the beach, but this is not Puerto Angel, Oaxaca.

"I noticed that. A marina of expensive boats yields far less in the traditional Raven scavenging goodies department that those little fishing boats in the bay did."

But food in general is pretty good here. Much better than it was in Jordan.

"Speaking of which, there was an attempt to blow up a US ship in the harbor of Aqaba a few days ago. The missile missed, though."

I am glad to see you are keeping abreast of the news as well as the activity at the Marina Club, Rave.

"Yep, in spirit I am right there in Crawford, Texas, with Cindy Sheehan. Dotting the i and crossing the t, calling a liar a liar and a bastard a bastard. Burning the ears of redneck America."

Meanwhile, back in the Middle East....

"Meanwhile we are riding the shifting sands of tenuous allegiances, I think. The way I see it, the leaders of these Middle East countries are NOT representative of their people."

Are we going to see a sea of revolutionaries on the horizon soon?

"We are not in Latin America anymore, my dear. A missile exploding in the Red Sea is not the same as a sea of red berets in Caracas. I am not making any predictions, only commenting that there is a stink of instability hanging about the region."

No film at 11, then?

"Maybe yes. Probably no."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Raven is reading the Jordan Times--hard copy version.

"Well, they buried King Fahd. Seems he went from being a live root vegetable to a dead one--and life goes on. For the rest of us."

Speak for yourself, Rave. Three months of traveling has pretty well done me in.

Raven looks up from the paper.

"Well, it sure could be worse. We could still be in Quito waiting for your new passport."

True. Three months of waiting for that would definitely be worse. Still, it's been wearying: Mexico, Seattle, Mexico again, Amman--and next week, Bahrain.

"The hops are getting shorter, anyway. We birds are pretty used to flying around all the time, you know."

So. Any news besides the royal funeral?

Raven leaves the paper on the coffee table and parks himself in front of the computer screen.

"A coup in Mauritania. The president is in Niger--cashing in on deliveries by the World Food Organization, I suppose. Hijinks from W--who defends an Oriole baseballer's use of steroids. Well, who insists he didn't use them. That was the two of the one-two punch of his appointing John Big Mouth Bully Bolton Ambassador to the UN over the objections of the Senate. Maybe it should be the three as John Rogers gets ready to mow down abortionists from the bench of the Supreme Court."

How would Bush know if the guy used steroids?

"Moving past rhetorical questions...bombs exploding in Iraq and Turkey, police in London waiting for bombs to explode. Iran has a new president. Sudan has a new vice-president after John Garang died in a helicopter accident in bad weather."

Sounds like a Latin American tradition of rigged helicopter assassinations has moved to Africa.

"Probably. Torrijos has not been forgotten. The CIA has to keep the civil war in Sudan going somehow. Nothing gums up the US agenda faster than peace."

Apparently. Any news on when Dick Mad Dog Cheney is planning to parachute into Tehran with the Special Forces and take on Iran's nuclear program?

"No. But it shouldn't be too long now. Watch this space."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

ANDEAN DANCE II (At the Manuela Saenz Museum)

Raven lurks in the
shadows of the patio
muttering over
framed letters from Bolivar
to his lover and others

from Manuela Saenz,
assembling chronology
from chaos: letters
that break off, continue on
the second floor landing and

are either missing
forever, or live only
in fog moving down
from the Pichincha. Warming
in the Andean sunlight,

the little saddle
Manuela used in battle
squats in a window,
its old leather blooming
with echoes of snow flowers.

Her evening bag,
latched with an enamel clasp
the blue of lapiz
lazuli, opens to show
a mirror: an oval eye

where Raven's own stares
back at him like a hat pin.
Raven wriggles loose
from a limping minuet,
arches his wings, tries to fly--

but he is the crown
of laurel and olive leaves
thrown by Manuela
that encircles the heart of
Simon, the Liberator.

Too much memory
beats in that melancholy
heart, and Raven breaks
free. Winging toward the future,
he disappears from the past.

Without the presence
of Raven, the patio
is still. Mildew creeps across
the love letters, swallowing
their words into history.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

BANANALANDIA (Comic Interlude)

Raven is pecking at a croissant.

"That loco, Bucaram, really gets around. Maybe he was a crazy bird in a past lifetime."

Oh, where is he now?

"Remember that on the weekend he was insisting that he was phoning from the eastern sector of Caracas? And then the Peruvian government reported that he had crossed the border into Peru and was in Lima...."

Since when does Venezuela share a border with Peru?

"Well, the loco's sense of geography is probably as off base as the rest of his aspects. Anyway, now I see that he arrived last night in Panama and is asking for political asylum."

Here I think we have to assume that he flew--there's the matter of the Darien Gap to contend with.

And speaking of contending, the new president, Palacio, met with the US ambassador and then announced that there would be no revision of the agreement for the Manta military base.

"Geez, digging his grave already, isn't he? I think I will give this new guy 6 months, top."

Very generous of you, Rave.

"I am known for my largesse."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

BANANALANDIA (Intermission)

Raven and I are breakfasting on leftover chicken curry and rice, along with croissants with orange marmalade. Well, it IS Sunday.

"Well, Gutiérrez is gone. Left the Brazilian Embassy at 4:15 this morning for Brazil."

So, the shadow of a golpe de estado has passed over us?

"For the moment. And, on they say that Bucaram is in the east part of Caracas with cronies. What a phony! He came back to Ecuador from his Panamanian hideout waving his open shirt and insisting that he was going to run for president Of Ecuador again as a Chavista, and now he's hiding out in the territory of the 'escualidos, the oligarchy that plotted against Chavez."

What's he doing there? I thought he went back to Panama.

"It's not 100% certain that he IS there. There was a phone call patched through Panama from him, saying that he was in Caracas waiting for Gutierrez to go to Brazil. Then he was supposed to go to Brasilia and hatch a plan with him."

They were right, the Ecuadorian people, when they booted his butt from the presidency for loco. Nine presidents in nine years.

"A Venezuelan commentator referred to Gutierrez as a 'crónica de una muerte anunciada'."

A chronicle of a death foretold--like the Garcia Marquez novel. Nicely put, as we are after all, living in Macondo.

"In the very heart of its energy field. Only one thing to do about it at the moment."

What's that?

"Go across the street for some more curry."

Saturday, April 23, 2005


"Wow, get this: 'The Washington Post Fears Chávez May Take Advantage of Ecuadorian Crisis'".

You're kidding, Rave. Just HOW is he going to take advantage of the Ecuadorian crisis?

"This is what was quoted in Caracas in El Universal:

In its editorial published Friday, The Washington Post regretted the fact that the United States does not have any strategy regarding Latin America. The newspaper also claimed it fears that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez may attempt to take advantage of the Ecuadorian crisis, news agency AFP reported.

According to the daily, "Chávez, who considers Ecuador as part of the 'Bolivarian' territory, may try to promote fresh populist riots as the one in Bolivia."

"The Bush administration lacks a strategy to curb Latin American wild spring," The Post said. It added that "a growing number of countries" in the region "are badly in need of assistance to support their democratic institutions."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and El Salvador next week "will provide for the opportunity to approach Washington's democratic allies in the region."

Well, the Bush Gang is getting desperate. Let's look at the current situation that has unfolded around the Ecuador regime change:

1. The Free Trade Agreement talks have been suspended. Because the newly appointed president, Alfredo Palacio, has apparently appointed a Minister of Economy who is against the Free Trade Agreement, the US has pulled the plug on the talks.

2. Gutierrez was Washington's second main man in South America--after Colombia's Uribe--so they have not recognized the new government. He cowtowed to the FMI, and he allowed for more US military penetration--more bases--in Ecuador, and he agreed to give immunity to US soldiers--which the new government says it will not do.

"Have to interrupt here--other news involving Chavez is that he cancelled a military exchange agreement with the US--and that 4 officers and 1 student who were working with the Venezuelan military were told to go home."

That underlines my point that the Bush Gang is getting desperate. They want to maintain the colonial mandate here and it is slipping through their fingers. And of course they point the finger at Chavez because he has the most influence in the region. Let's move on to

3. Gutierrez is still in the Brazilian Embassy here in Quito. Yesterday he violated the rules of political asylum by making his case by telephone, and at least a couple of the t.v. channels broadcast his harangue. He has not accepted his asylum.

4. In Bogota yesterday Uribe tried, on the behalf of the US, to get visiting chilean president Lagos to join him en exhorting that the OAS--which was meeting at the same time in Washington--apply the Carta Democratica against Ecuador. Lagos refused. The OAS apparently is half-heartedly applying the Carta and sending a delegation to Ecuador.

5. Top military were removed from their commands here yesterday by the new president. There had been rumors of a golpe de estado on their part to restore Gutierrez to the power. The US is pushing hard for that, and Gutierrez' brother is agitating the military but an imposition of Gutierrez would undoubtedly result in civil war here.

6. The US staged an evacuation of its embassy here yesterday afternoon--arguing that protestors outside made for an unsafe situation.

"I don't remember seeing anybody protesting there yesterday." Raven scratches his head.

Apparently there weren't any. It was a media caper, so they could say they were forced to evacuate because conditions of anarchy prevailed in Quito. The same old b.s. of disinformation.

"Well, sounds like the epilogue to this drama could be longer than the five acts we witnessed."

Yep--the US--er Gutierrez-- isn't going to give up easily and go "gentle into that good night". In the words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over till it's over."

"On it says that the Ecuadorian military may issue a statement of support for Gutierrez in a few hours. So a golpe de estado is a apparently a real possibility. And radio stations are calling for mobilizations in the street. I guess we expect the honking to begin any time."

I'm going out to look for earplugs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Wow, Rave, it's really raining out there!

"It's a hard rain that's falling on the now ex-president of Ecuador."

I see you've been glued to the computer and the t.v. So, where's he going--Panama or the Dominican Republic?

"On a couple of channels they said Panama."

Hmm. Well, the honking has petered out, so I thought you'd want to celebrate with a piece of chocolate cake.

"I'm definitely ready for that. I thought you were going to bring me leftovers from your lunch. What happened to you?"

They sent someone to tell me that classes had been cancelled. One of our students was killed this morning. So I took a walk. Then I stopped in an Internet cafe to see if there was commentary on the web from other countries. When I read in aporrea that the armed forces had withdrawn their support of the president, I figured it was over, that the government had fallen. So I went for the cake and some cheese. Couldn't get any bread. All of the shops around here are either closed or are closing. So what's the situation now?

"There are a lot of folks calling for the congress to go out, too. It seems the vice-president is being sworn in, and elections are up in the air."

Well, it's been the only excitement since we got here. And we couldn't even participate. But at least the Quiteños decided to throw the bum out.

"Time to turn our attention to other problems, if you ask me. Oops, just a minute. Did you hear someone just mention the possibilityof his going to Venezuela?"

On the t.v. screen a helicopter approaches a small white military plane on a rain-soaked airstrip.

If he goes to Venezuela there will be no doubt that he is no Hugo Chavez, but my money's on Panama. It's a tradition, after all. And ex-president Bucaram just got back from about 9 years of exile there.

"It doesn't matter. What matters is whether the indigenous people will really have a place in the NEXT government here in Bananalandia."

While you're working on that, Rave, give some thought to what to do about the election of The Grand Inquisitor as pope.

"Ratzinger--er pope Benedict XVI? The nazi who silenced Leonardo Boff, Hans Kung, your friend Matthew Fox and others? What to do is hope he dies quickly. He's 78, after all. There's a real hue and cry in this hemisphere against him. Even THE SEATTLE TIMES, not exactly a leftist paper, editorialized against him today. Both Boff and Kung indicated their disappointment. I didn't see anything from Matt Fox. In Africa and South America a pall has fallen over the scene."

I'm sure the Opus Dei types are cheering, though.

"You bet. In Foxilandia--er Mexico--Fox is sending Martita to the Vatican to be a cheerleader."

On t.v., the shout of "Que se vayan todos" (Everybody, get out) continue in the streets of Quito. But the rain is letting up.

"Que se vayan todos a la chingada: Gutierrez, Vicente Fox, Martita, Pope Ratzo, the Bush Gang...."

Very optimistic scenario, Rave.

"Hey, I want to live into my eighties. Do you think the place where you bought the cake is still open?"

Governments come and go, but Raven's stomach soldiers on.

When I come in Raven is lying on his back on the table with is eyes closed and his feet in the air.

Rave, what's going on? Is this a new meditation technique?

He opens one beady eye.

"I should be so lucky as to be transported to an ashram in rural India--where the cows poop impunely and there are NO cars!"

I noticed that they began honking again a few hours ago when I was going to the bakery.

"Did you happen to stop at a travel agency?"

No, Rave. I'm sorry. I was just trying to get a few provisions before I went to class.

"Don't these folks know that between noise pollution and an incompetent president there is very little to choose?"

It's pretty low consciousness, I'll grant you that. But they did put up a pretty nice website to protest. Probably nobody here is visiting it, though. I saw the link on the Venezuela site.

"Of course they're not visiting it! If they were visiting the website, they wouldn't all be in the streets burning up fossil fuel and HONKING!"

Raven rolls over and inches toward the computer.

"Did you write down the site?"

I hand him my notebook, open to the correct page, and turn on the t.v.

Protestors are barely visible behind the clouds of tear gas.

In the Congress, several guys are demanding that the president be tried politically for incompetent.

"For being no Hugo Chávez", Rave opines.

Indigenous men and women in hats speak to the reporter in halting Spanish. One very articulate leader indicates the need for indigenous representation in the Supreme Court.

Raven is cackling to himself in front of the screen.

"The photo of Gutierrez with Botame (Kick me out) is great."

Outside, the honking continues.

A reporter from Chile who was covering the protest march died from a heart attack after being tear-gassed.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Raven was up early this morning fiddling with the radio.

"It's definitely gone, Radio La Luna", he informs me as I head to the shower.

What do you mean, gone?

"The government jammed it with interference, and now it's entirely gone. It was the station that was transmitting all the protests."

Check in Venezuela--they are more on top of things in Quito than anyone here.

When I come out of the shower, Raven is listening to a scratchy transmission on the computer.

"They're back, retransmitting through another site."

Great. What's the news?

"Gutierrez says he won't resign. We heard that yesterday. And now the Congress has to start the process to designate another Supreme Court."

So they approved the dissolution.

"Finally, yeah. Wonder how many more Supreme Courts they're going to install while we're here."

And how many more times the president will refuse to resign.

"And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Rave, do you notice anything different this morning?

"I love the sound of car alarms in the morning. Cars being broken into all over Quito. A return to normalcy. And no more of that damned honking!"

I appreciate it, too. That "beepbeep, beepbeepbeep" nearly pushed me over the edge yeserday. It must have got to the president of Bananalandia, too. When I was eating chicken curry across the street and re-reading "La eternidad por fin empieza un lunes", he appeared on the t.v. mumbling something about God and consensus, and his ears looked decidedly droopy.

"It would have been easier to buy a pair of earplugs and spare us the Lord's name in vain. And the warhorse of consensus looks like one of the horses of the Apocalypse. By the way, the chicken curry you brought me was tasty, but skimpy."

I know. I felt sorry for those guys opening a new restaurant. I mean we've been here less than 3 weeks, and that location has already seen one die and the nameless Indian open. I told them their portions were too big.

"Next time you get an urge to be noble, remember the hungry Raven waiting for take-out, will you?"

Sorry; Rave. It's this goofy place. I am sure on the Hierarchy of Political Goofiness, Ecuador is in first place--with Panama and the Dominican Republic--hideouts for expresidents who don't want to try Miami--hot on its heels.

"The Latin American Hierarchy, you mean. Some of those African countries that change their names every 20 minutes are right up there on the Goofymeter, too."

Well, we're not there. The thing that really puzzles me most, Rave, is....

"You want to know where they get all those judges to be able to fire the Supreme Court every couple of months. Maybe they aren't judges at all, but winos off the street."

Actually, no. I wonder, with all the honking and beating on pots and pans and waving the flag in the street and calling for the president's resignation, how this place still manages to be so boring.

"Uh oh, trouble. Do I see a Boeing 757 in our immediate future?"

Maybe. I dunno, Rave. Wouldn't you rather be in Caracas?

"Where I'd honestly like to be is in my normal habitat--somewhere above 10 degrees north latitude--instead of roosting on the equator."

Just north of here is a spot where you can put one foot in each hemisphere. We could go there next weekend.

"Big deal. I don't want to be humored. I am just tired of being one of a kind here."

If we go back to Foxilandia--er, Mexico--you'll be spitting nails in your coffee every morning because your candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, probably won't get to run for president next year.

"Those dirty bastards who are subverting the law to eliminate him have given almost as big a black eye to democracy as Bush has."

"True. And Fox at the pope's funeral in Rome telling everybody that Mexico has set an example for the world.

"An example of shameless skullduggery. That Fox makes a bigger fool of himself every time he goes to Europe. It must be a requirement of his frequent flyer plan."

So, which is it, Rave--Bananalandia, Venezuela or Foxilandia?

"Let me sleep on it. If I wake up to 'beepbeep, beepbeepbeep', I may want to wave adios to Bananalandia from a window over the wing."

Or e-mail Acme Products for a heat-seeking hand grenade?

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Rave, I smell tear gas!

Raven cocks his head in the directionof the window.

“Good nose. Must be your memeories of the People’s Park in Berkeley coming back to you?”

Or Chicago 68. My welcome to Illinois was watching Daley’s finiest beat the crap out of folks in Lincoln Park.

“I don’t smell it now. Must have been carried in on the wind. I don’t think it’s close to here.”

Check Internet and see if it says anything.

Raven scrolls down the computer screen, hits “Refresh”.

“Yep, it says here on Venezuela’s news site that they’re gassing folks in Parque Ejido.”

That’s not that far from here, Rave.

“Less than a mile, as the Raven flies.”

Hmm. Why did we come to this banana republic?

“It was your idea. Ecuador is a goofy place—politically, anyway. And my species is not even represented here. Talk about feeling like a fish out of water!”

From what I can tell all this fuss is focused on two things: the Supreme Court, who recently annulled the charges against 3 ex-presidents who were hiding out in other countries in the region, and the people wanting to get rid of the current president. I am surprised he’s lasted two years already, since he betrayed the indigenous coalition that put him in office and they almost immediately pulled out of the government.

“Window-dressing, that’s what they were. All the better because they wear those fedoras. I remember at his first international press conference as president Gutierrez said that he was no Hugo Chavez.”

Most people probably realized right there that they had been suckered.

“While all this monkey business goes on here in Bananalandia, Chavez is celebrating the third anniversary of the people returning him to power. He’s stronger than ever, and according to most international surveys, is more influential than George W. Bush.”

That’s kind of misleading, Rave, as Bush’s influence is only negative. I fact, he’s the single most negative force in the world.

“You’ll get no argument from me on that. Even the people in the US—those sheep to the slaughter—are giving him an acceptance rate that’s the lowest of any second-term president since World War II.”

Nixon must be chuckling in his grace about that. And Bush isn’t even telling everyone that he isn’t a crook.

“Doesn’t have the brains. I think he truly believes he’s going to go from the Oval Office to the Pearly Gates in a round of applause.”

I’m starting to feel depressed, Rave.

“Close the window. The tear gas is flattening your affect.”

I can’t smell it anymore. I smell something burning, though.

“My brain cells?”

No, Rave. I think there’s a fire in the wastebasket. Did you put the paper out that you used to light the stove?

Rave peers into the wastebasket.

“By gum, you’re right. There is a bit of a smolder in there.”

He hovers over the basket.

Rave, I can’t believe you did that!

“The Feathered Fire Extinguisher, that’s me.”

Maybe you could drift over to Parque Ejido and see what you can do about the tear gas.

“Naw, don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.”

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Raven is dicing
the Quito afternoon in
pieces of sunlight,
chasing clouds across the sky
and over the bold mountains,

and opening his
greedy beak in the doorway
of the Syrian
restaurant. His eyes follow
the movements of the waiter

serving spicy plates
of eggplant and zucchini,
and he makes his move:
diving into the kitchen,
snatching a whole pita bread

with the expertise
he used to steal the sun and
put it in the sky.
Raven flies fast on his own
broken road to Damascus,

never falling from
his speed to be converted.
Raven's religion
is his belief in a full
belly and a cloudless sky.

Saturday, February 26, 2005



At the water’s edge,
Raven, breathing in and out,
watches the sun rise
like a carnelian stone
over the violet waves.

On the beach silence
rivals the breeze, and rustling
palm trees sweep the sky
free of sleep, dust the cobwebs
from the back of Raven’s brain

as he greets the day,
meets his hunger on the sand.
A vague memory
of fish causes him to lift
his wings in expectation

as a boat passes
between Raven and the sun;
fishermen carving
the now radiant surface
of morning in Pez Maya.


The sky is clear as
an eye, as Raven walking
slowly in the sand;
a morning rain that washed down
the turquoise stone of the sea

left him shivering
in feathers like the petals
of a deep black rose.
Raven is not a swimmer;
he skims the waves looking for

white bellies of fish
driven toward dunes by the moon’s
clockwork synergy,
swoops—beak poised to pinch a tail
of liquid silver and pitch

his salted treasure
on the sand. His appetite
opens like the mouth
of Whale, his pale comrade, as
Raven swallows his own life.


Raven is waiting
on the top of a temple—
one more stone in this
archaeological site.
We have come in a boat through

the mangroves to see
this castle and that temple
left by the Mayans
to remind us that the end
of the game is drawing near.

Only Raven knows
the precise moment when he
will take down the sun,
the moon and the Stars, one by
one, put them back in the box

just like he found them,
and return to being white
as these limestone rocks.
His resignation rises
in the light of the full moon.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Rave, why are you picking at those scrambled eggs? Too dry for you?

“Not at all. They’re nice and soft. Actually, I am tempted to smear them on the computer screen. Reading these news bits is like watching a soap opera called ‘As the Stomach Turns’.”

Anything in particular turning yours today?

“The twin towers of belligerence and cowardice. here we have Condolences Rice in Germany exercising her ‘diplomatic language’, saying that the US has no plans to attack Iran FOR NOW.”

For now…por ahora. Interesting that she used that phrase on the anniversary of Chavez using it in 1992 after his failed coup in Caracas.

“Hadn’t thought about that. Well, Here’s Chavez meditating with some of his coup associates.”


“That’s what the headline says. And speaking of stomachs turning, Colombia’s president Uribe is apparently turning his in a naval hospital in Cartageña, instead of meeting with Chavez about the Granda kidnapping in Caracas.”

I read several stories about that. First he said an ear condition had caused his stomach problems. Then they said it was food poisoning and that he needed at least 4 days of bedrest.

“The leg bone is connected to the collarbone? His grasp of anatomy is pretty fluid, isn’t it? He just didn’t have the nerve to meet one-on-one behind closed doors with Chavez. A fine example of cowardice.”

You have a point, Rave. When the kidnapping caper blew up in his face, he wanted to have a summit of presidents discuss the incident. But Chavez said it was a bilateral matter, and that he would only deal with it one-on-one.

“Then Lula got in the act. And somebody from Peru prevailed upon Fidel to mediate the crisis—whatever that means.”

The long and the short of it is that Uribe is a pip squeak and a US puppet—the Bush Gang will try anything to get Chavez.

“I just read an interview with a CIA-DISIP agent who said that the CIA started scheming against Chavez in 1994 when he got out of prison. Interesting interview—the woman talked about brainstorming sessions to determine Chavez’ weakness.”

What did they come up with?

“Nothing. She said he was ‘invulnerable’. That he was completely congruent from when he got out of prison until now.”

That IS interesting. In 1999 Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote an article called “The Enigma of Hugo Chavez”, in which he said that what first struck him about Chavez was his “body of reinforced concrete”.

“This CIA woman wasn’t talking about him in physical terms.”

I understood that. But the physical appears to be congruent with the psychological and political.

“No wonder Uribe doesn’t want to meet up with him in a dark office in Miraflores.”

Well, I wouldn’t mind meeting up with him there….

“Oh oh. I think we’ve entered waters that are over my head.”

Sorry Rave, but we don’t all have the same reaction to the crisis of conscience in the world. Some of us smear eggs on their computer screens. And some of us indulge in moments of fantasy.

“Yeah. And some blow themselves—or others—up with car bombs. And others blow women and children to bits in Iraq.”

And others have to resign their department chair positions in universities in Colorado because the US had 9/11 coming to it for its policies of genocide and interventionism. Which is what I said on Mexican t.v. on 9/11, come to think of it.

“And others snarl in their Senate confirmation hearings, and sneer hypocritically about using diplomacy.”

While others are cashing in on being ethnic minorities who conveniently don’t remember recommending 150 plus lethal injections in Texas and God only knows how many broom handles up the butt in Baghdad prisons. We could continue with this litany till the end of the Thirteenth Baktun, Rave. Right now I prefer my moments of fantasy.

Raven rolls his eyes and pours himself an espresso.


Thursday, February 03, 2005


Raven is dancing on the keyboard.

Writing something, are we?

"Translating a poem--or maybe it's part of a poem, as I found it in the introduction to a Rabindranath Tagore novel and it doesn't have a title."

You're translating from which language--Sanskrit?

"It's in Spanish translation and I am hacking it into English."

Let's hear it.


Now they are there--
new times in which the weak
will dare, impassibly,
to confront armies.

That day's victory
will not belong to the one who kills,
but to the one who accepts death.

The one who causes suffering will disappear.
The one who knows how to suffer
will gain the final victory.

The force of the spirit will collide
one day with the brute force,
and only then will man be able to say
that he is not an error of Creation."

When was that written, Rave?

It doesn't say. He died in 1941 at 80--after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

It could have been written tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Raven is scratching his head, which entails standing on one foot and balancing precariously on top on the newspaper.

Something puzzling you, Rave?

“Yeah. The headline of this article. Supposedly 72% of registered voters voted in Iraq. Are they implying that the high turnout means that democracy is settling down on its haunches in Iraq, or what?”

You got me. I vote for “or what”. The Sunnites boycotted the election, and since they are 20% of the population….

“That means that 92% of Shiite and Kurd voters voted. And 0% of Sunnites. Now, unless I miss my guess, that also means that the Sunnites will not be represented in the National Assembly, nor included in the drawing up of a constitution. Which means that democracy is NOT settling down on its haunches in Iraq.”

It seems not. Maybe they should have headlined the article: 20% of Iraqi Voters in Favor of Civil War?

Raven starts pulling apart a chocolate donut.

“Considering that most of the resisting folks are Sunnites, that sounds about right.”

Well, the Bush Gang can pat themselves on the back—not because they brought democracy to the Cradle of Civilization, but because they stirred up the political tectonics and created another “tsunami”. Apparently the natural one in Indonesia wasn’t enough. You know, after the earthquake and subsequent “tsunami” in Lisbon in November of 1755—well, they didn’t call it a tsunami, but it was the same deal—Voltaire published a long poem, of which probably nothing remains in historical/literary consciousness except his comment: “While Lisbon lies in ruins, we are dancing in Paris.”

“Dancing on someone’s grave has apparently passed into the confines of acceptability. Bush never considered cancelling even one of his inaugural balls.”

I suspect those are the only kind he has, Rave.

“Ouch. Glad you aimed that low blow at him, and not at me.”

Do birds have balls, Rave?

“Is that a rhetorical question? Let’s put it this way: this bird doesn’t have to stuff a sweat sock under his tailfeathers.”

Kind of a peculiar image, that.

“Not nearly as peculiar as that of Alfred E. Newman on an aircraft carrier wearing a strategically stuffed flight suit and holding a plastic turkey.”

The turkey came later, Rave.

Raven mashes the donut crumbs together and pops them in his beak.

“The turkey always comes later.”

Sort of like backdraft. Or civil war.

“Or radioactive fallout.”

Right. The things we can feel thankful for next November.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Raven is peering at the map of the World on the wall.

“Have you noticed that even the respective size of the land masses in the northern hemisphere has been distorted to appear larger in comparison to those in the southern hemisphere?”

I suppose it reflects the north’s self-aggrandizement and its depreciation of the south.

“It also reminds me of Che Guevara’s description of subdesarrollo—underdevelopment: A dwarf with an enormous head and thorax, underdeveloped in its weak legs and its short arms don’t articulate with the rest of its body.”

Raven pours himself another espresso.

Coffee and geopolitical analysis. Is this post-tsunami depression, Rave?

“Maybe. Scientists said that the earthquake caused the earth’s axis to shift. If it could do that, it could certainly bring down my spirits a notch or two.”

I suspect it has had that effect on the survivors in Southeast Asia, too. No food, no water, no home, no family—that would get to most people. And I was thinking about making meatballs, a creamy tomato sauce and red chile spaghetti. Now I feel guilty.

“Sort of like fiddling while Rome burns?”

Maybe not quite THAT callous. For that we’ll have to look to the US Usurper—who was fiddling, or doing SOMETHING frivolous, on his Texas ranch when the disaster struck—and who had to be scolded and humiliated into pledging more than chickenfeed in aid.

“The chickens—and some of us other species of aves—do pretty well in these natural disasters. I suppose you know why.”

Not at all sure that I do, Rave.

“It’s because just about everything becomes chickenfeed. Or Ravenfeed. Or buzzard bait.”

Kind of a grim image.

“Sorry. But when the so-called higher species take it in the shorts for their lack of connection to Nature, that turns them into victims and the normal hierarchy of the food chain is reversed. Literally.”

Turned upside down. Like the planet. Or part of it.

“The question is: If the earth’s axis continues to shift as a result of the earthquakes as we get closer to the end of the “baktun”, do you think the land masses in the north will end up being in the south?”

I don’t know. That would probably presuppose that the shifts are always in the same direction. I suppose it could happen.

“And if it does, will the maps show the land masses that used to be in the southern hemisphere disproportionately larger than those that used to be in the northern?”

If the conventional explanations—which say that in the Mercator projection the distortions increase as you move away from the equator, but clearly doesn’t reflect only that—turn out to be right—or at least consistent, then yes. If not, the distortion will continue only with the now southern land masses being bigger.

“I think it’ll all depend on who makes the maps. Just like History is relative to who writes the history books.”

We’ll just have to wait and see.

“Yeah. In the meantime, you were talking about meatballs. And spaghetti?”

Don’t you feel guilty?

“All the time. But thinking about all those hungry people….”

I know—now you’re hungry. You sound a little bit like the US Usurper, I have to say.

“We birds at the beggars’ banquet have been accused of callousness before. What can I say? Hey, the planet acting up like this is like a cough from the wings
in the middle of the last act to remind SOME of us to say our lines right. And I have a feeling that the species for whom the cougher coughed wasn’t mine.”

Nor for whom that bell is tolling, either.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


The road to the ranch:
Tunnel of dusty branches
and afternoon air
puddling above clumps of cows,
closing the dark eyes of mares

dreaming of spring foals,
sucked dry in whoops by the kids
in the pickup’s back.
The truck hops from one pothole
to another, flushes snakes

from the underbrush,
rattles across dry washboards,
and waits for the boy
to open the barbed wire gate.
Escorted by young plum trees

that may bloom this spring,
we rumble toward the corral
riding the waves of
hummocks, and stop to dump corn-
stalk fodder for the horses.

Yellow bees drinking
from the water tank attract
the kids like magnets;
silent in a small tree: twelve
impeccable white herons.

(Rancho “Las Pericas”, Villa de Ayala, Morelos)