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)