Friday, April 18, 2014

The Flow of Life


The Flow of Life
by Armando Ortiz

Art is the medium through which culture is diffused and exchanged. Culture may be suppressed, but the real story is being played out now.

I’ve paid to see beauty, I have touched great booty. I can say that I’ve traveled far, and had foreign conversations, alienated a few and sought by many.

Cultural, not civilized, the cabarets and street vendors, that let us relive our hungers of desert dreams. Waking up not knowing what’s ahead. The bridges to unexplored lands, oasis of thought, are still over there standing like granite pillars of memory.

Culture is language, a ying yang of theories, that reach our ear, painting a watercolor with sounds of thunder, and washes that streak on the canvas, a musical center of sounds.

How do you maintain sanity when beauty is everywhere?!

Time passes by, numerous crossroads, endless flow of people float, moving forward, toward unknowns, going down that eternal way, where the ashes are taken away, and like papier-mâché boats that aimlessly navigate; the widening current becomes our stay.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Roberto Bolano and Los Angeles


Roberto Bolano and Los Angeles
by Armando Ortiz

Bolano is meant to be read at the edge of the city, where the ocean meets land, and honey baked skinned birds flutter about, with locks of gold.

Where you see cinnamon women with floating feet, smelling of sweet navel oranges, and yellow lemon flavored, sweet and sour to the tongue.

On the coast of the city, where the sun dangles above the desert mirage, with waves of dizzying spells, and waters that sway like an old rocking chair, an endless roller coaster ride, a continuous ocean signal of distress, filtered with the conscious mind of bliss.

I'm happy with my L.A., lost in its wilderness of surprise, where short men with moon goddesses walk about, and her morning voice haunts these memories, with body reliving the times I bit down her areola.

Bolano lacks citrus in his writing, because he was happy with black bread, wine and cheese, but it’s as good as it gets.

The edge of Los Angeles, is where the West ends, and citrus auras envelop all where book and sun come alive. 


Monday, April 14, 2014

First Beijing Summer: A Poem


First Beijing Summer: A Poem
By Armando Ortiz

She is the song that reminds him of other songs, the first scent of a blooming rose.

He closes his eyes and remembers the purple plums they ate under the tree, beside the man-made lake.

Her heat and the sun’s rays made that hazy summer bearable.

His head lay on her thighs and her sandalwood fingers felt its contours.

Those eyes open, while sitting on a chair on the balcony, and traffic passes bye.

The melody that they heard with the scents that were felt are now only traces, but that mind still carries the moment within.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fire Keeper: Poem


Fire Keeper
by Armando Ortiz 

I am unable to contain fire or control spirits.

The knowledge to harness energy, I lack.

And the ability to keep the flame burning at night, I miss.

I fumble through life like a flying ember with no destiny.

But your light ignites a flicker that moves this body.

Energy pulls me towards you like a magnetic body.

I am under your spell and orbit around your force of gravity.

I offer myself as protection and envelop you with my warmth.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Muse: An Elusive Dream

 Muse: An Elusive Dream
by Armando Ortiz
From the stage where she performs she hears a sea of voices, I am just another set of eyes, but she moves for me. Though my body gets lost in the crowd, becoming invisible to her looks, the show is meant for one only.  Dancing, like the birth of water, moving across the stage, wrathful like an angry Hindu goddess, engulfed in a sea of purple light and green shadows, she gives an ecstatic performance that hypnotizes the senses. The right shoulder is decorated with the ancient Mayan hieroglyph of Ah-pook -she is a natural mystic, and moves with the music like a heron- in slow motion, with hips that sway left to right. Her dance; a passing mist, a remembered nightmare; is that of an ancient courtesan dressed in red silk, and with high pitched hollers that make you awake life. Her hourglass figure quickens the heart beats of passing life, making contact with the universal time clock. Her waist bends inward, melting into one sphere. I imagine her pale warm hands becoming a bed of powdered feathers and her black hair having the scent of jasmine flowers. She lowers herself as water, with the force of roaring rapids, every night being baptized by a million eyes, while their tongues explore the contours of her soul. I close my eyes, and imagine I am in her, creating an aura that protects her from other eyes, but wake up reaching for her thighs, only to find dead air within the blankets, smelling her scent, and the mind calls out her name.

I want her to see what my eyes have seen; orange cream sunsets that bring tears to the eyes, and take her to the edge of the city where the ocean meets land, and remove her from the sea of thirsty eyes. Happy with life, we lose ourselves in the wilderness of surprise, but her mourning voice haunts these memories. In my mind, we hold hands and stand by the coast of the city, where the sun dangles above the desert mirage. There we see waves of dizzying spells, with waters swaying to the language of our youth, like endless roller-coaster rides, with continuous ocean signals of distress, unfiltered with a mind of bliss. But I awake from my dream state and open my eyes to the now, and drown in the wine glass of time. Familiar and mysterious glares turn into dark caves of unknown silence, as we search into each other’s eyes only to discover that sweaty unions can save us, but we travel on single lane roads. Making it drizzle with the few papers I have, I bring her to me, but she is not here, but there, somewhere else, in shared mind.

With her, we can turn the pages of history, and with ease the war dead are read, but soothed by the song of her whispers and calmed by the warmth of her milk. Philosophical executioners climb the walls of our passions, and our actions are excused by the contradictions we live, as we make flickering lights that purify us in judgment. We find shelter in the divine grace of our encounters where nightmares turn into swan dreams, where agreements turn into sour promises, and flower arrangements wilt before our eyes. Her voice soothes away reason, as the world sinks into an ocean of chaos and yet she can only be there to listen to the haunting nightmares of the self and of the visionary travels of my mind. She transforms into the bird that flew beside my car on an Oklahoma highway, free to do what it pleases and floating away towards the wide fields. Our bodies are vehicles of chance encounters and each one is the captain of their vessel.

She dances, like a young and illusive iguana, shrieking at the sight of spiders; her feet appear to be touching hot embers, moving hither and thither from my seat. Her waist moves like a drunken hula-hoop dancer, and stops; quickly turning like a hen searching for her baby chickens, dropping down and covering them with her warmth. False promises float along the stream of time, and movements become permanently frozen in our memories. Childish games stay at the sandbox, while physical battles end in bed. Trust is laid bare on the hand of time, and every turn of the page reveals an untold truth. We pinky swear to be honest and true, but when truth appears glances become stares, and words become the hinge of the door to unknowns. We enter the dens of unseen dreams, and lived fantasies only to emerge with an unfettered hunger for the impossible. With every rise of the moon and with tired breath, I lay praying, to recall the sound of her breath, and clear away the tears of disappointment. The bite that poisons will heal and we will rise to another day still.

Like the moon, she hides behind grey clouds, and the blue sky is her backdrop. The lonely city is our playground. I try to grab hold of those memories, but like water, can never be contained.  We don’t deal with game pieces or meaningless games of chances, but with animate beings of action. All this pretentious talk of this and that is worth pennies, a bunch of frivolous thoughts, but I'm left with the lingering taste of her timeless performance where one sways and another dances. What are the chances of igniting romances with these illusive creatures that in dreams return and with every closing of my eyes relive their dances. Walking on the water of sleeping dreams, while sinking under the pressures of this living day, her presence is like a gentle stream that takes me down life like a piece of golden hay.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bus Stop: Sketch

Bus Stop
by Armando Ortiz

            It was a foggy morning, and the mocking birds were singing. Yolanda could hear their coos and tweets a few minutes before the alarm clock began to ring. The digital numbers looked like red matchsticks lined up and organized to read 5:30 am. She awoke and stretched her arms a bit as if she were a cat that’s been napping for hours under the warm sun. Her feet touched the hard wood floor and felt the chill of the long night. The bathroom was next door and there she took a shower. Steam engulfed the bathroom and clouded the windows and mirror. As the towel cleared her legs of water droplets she remembered his words.
Standing in front of the mirror and moving the towel around her body, his words echoed within the walls of the home, “Every time I look at you, I see the pouring maple syrup I’d put on my morning waffles.”
The long slow words with that deep voice brought a smile. After brushing her teeth and putting on some lotion, she made her way to the front door of the small bungalow home, opening the door and reaching for the newspaper. Dew blanketed the grass with beads of water, the car windows were covered with a thin layer of grey moisture, like the frost that would build on the windows of the school bus. She walked back inside, and across the living room where there was a bookshelf at one end that contained numerous books, along with a collection of photographs that had been taken in the past fifteen years.
            The routine was normal procedure and after a coffee and toast with raspberry jam, she would dress up, step outside once again to get in the car. The car was a simple sports sedan purchased a few years back when she’d decided to treat herself to something nice. Today though, the car wasn’t turning on. It wasn’t something new; it usually would start up on the third try and eventually stutter and warm up to a fine hum. The battery light on the dashboard flickered a pale red signal, the voltage gauge was very low. The keys kept being turned inside the ignition, but the only sound coming from the car was a tattering tat tatter that suggested that a different mode of transportation would have to be used. She returned to the adobe like house, and called her brother, Bryce. He was sleeping and lived about an hour away, so asking for a ride was out of the question, but she’d ask him to come check her car in the afternoon.
The phone call startled him awake, and as the eyes began to open and his head turned and peered out the window - a hummingbird was piercing a scarlet painted bristle brush plant. As the tiny bird found the sweet nectar it noticed a sudden movement from within the apartment room, and then a set of eyes began observing. The ruffled spec of feathers continued with its own routine.
“I’ll be there as soon as I have breakfast,” Jame’s voice soothed away any worries.
Now the main concern was getting to work. She walked out of her one story house again. It was barely 6:30 in the morning and the fog wouldn’t disappear till around 11am. The cool humid air caressed any one’s face and brought a slight shiver to all living beings, though by the afternoon the weather would warm up, so she decided not to take a sweater. Opting to take the bus to downtown Los Angeles, she walked three blocks south to Slauson and looked left and right to see where the nearest bus stop was. She turned right and walked towards La Brea noticing a black phoebe jumping on branches and making bird sounds. The trip downtown usually took 30 minutes driving on the street, but today it would probably take 45 minutes to one hour. Luckily before leaving the house for the last time, she had called the office and informed the head supervisor of Child Services of arriving late. It was ok with him and told her to take her time. She was always on time and the few times that she’d missed work she’d actually showed up but visibly sick, so she’d be sent back home to take a rest.
            Yolanda arrived at the bus stop and sat down on the wooden bench that had been painted a deep forest green. The morning traffic was picking up and with every red light more cars would make a unified stop. Traffic was heading east. Quick glances were taken of the people driving their cars or the passengers that were inside. She’d already seen a few kids that were being driven to school. Some didn’t look that excited to be heading there, while others leaned their heads on the glass that allowed spectators to see them dosing off with their eyes closed. Some of the parents driving the kids wore uniforms of all kinds, and she wondered if they too were going to work or coming back from a long night of work inside some air conditioned building that perpetually hummed. She hadn’t really put much thought to her attire and to standing at the bus stop, but soon began to hear whistles coming from indistinct places, and felt as if she were in that Dali film, being watched by a thousand eyes. She grabbed her bag and pulled it closer, and pressed it to the body as if it was a child’s safety blanket.
            The solid red light brought traffic to a stop.  Some of the faces inside turned to look at her, and despite the closed windows and all the different barriers separating the driver from where she was sitting it created uneasiness from within. She imagined her clothes being torn and thrown to the ground. She continued looking towards the East, and occasionally would turn to look West to see if the bus was coming, but none was in sight. She caught the glances of the stares and for some reason the image of a salivating creature with giant eyes crossed her mind, like a street cat creeping up on an innocent mouse. She tried to focus and decided to get up from the bench, and noticed the long wooden planks covered in dew. Now she stood behind the precarious bus stop bench. Her silver wristwatch read 6:48. Only 10 minutes had passed. Reaching into her leather bag, she pulled out a small booklet, opened it and wrote some lines, and quickly put it back inside. The thought of standing behind the back rest and covering herself would bring a temporary halt to the sounds and eyes that were disrobing her would immediately disappear, but from the other side of the intersection there were occasional honks.  Maybe it was a person late to work and trying to maneuver through the slow cars.
            A grey conservative suit clothed the body, and her finger nails along with lips were covered in a deep strawberry, his favorite color. He’d call her his chocolate covered strawberry when wearing anything that was a deep red. Her eyes were like those found in the mosaics of Pompeii  Being of medium height, with additional 3 inch heels gave people the impression that she was much taller, which brought unwarranted attention. 
Suddenly the rasp of a broom made her turn around to see who was there. The gas station attendant was sweeping the ground and picking up wrappers and receipts left over from the night’s customers. They both made eye contact. He briefly stopped and waved after he recognized her. He’d been working at that station for 4 years and knew all the regular customers of the neighborhood.
“Good morning! How are you today?,” he said.
“I’m fine, just running a bit late to work,” Yolanda replied.
“What happened to your car?,” he inquired while walking towards her. He wore a blue work suit with an orange traffic vest.
“Aw, it wouldn’t start up, so I called Bryce to take a look at the thing. It had been giving me some problems for the last few months, but I never thought it would die on me,” she seemed a bit resigned to the fact now.
“Well, all problems have a solution maa’m. Look, the bus is coming,” he said as he pointed to approaching bus.
“Thanks Pedro, I’ll see you around,” she turned around and stepped inside the bus, but not before waving good bye. As she turned around to face the driver, and boarded the bus, her booklet fell out of the purse landing on the sidewalk. Some days start of slow, but end up being long journeys.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hoover Elementary School: Sketch

Hoover Elementary School: Sketch
By Armando Ortiz
            The events detailed here will sound somewhat fantastic and unreal because the picture that many people have of Los Angeles is of Hollywood and all the electrons that orbit its center. In this story, Hollywood only represents a sketch, a backdrop, a giant prop studio of noises. The lives and hardships of the people that were a part of Repuesto’s were outside that orbit. He grew up in what is now considered Koreatown. Even as he was growing up the only traces of Koreans were those that did their grocery shopping at the local supermarket. Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guetemalans and some Hondurans made up the majority of his social exchanges. It was during the mid-1980s though a steady change was happening, mainly with the small businesses that proliferated Vermont and Olympic. Slowly people were replacing shop owners who’d been there for years and setting up business signs that could only be read if one were versed in hangul.
            One day, his fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Kim, told the classroom that she wanted every student to bring a picture of “lenscaip.” No one in the whole class, especially those that spoke only English or Spanish knew what “lenscaip” meant. For days on end, as he recalled, she went on and on, like a scratched vinyl record with her “lenscaip” but to no avail. It turned out, years later, as an adult he recalled, that what the teacher wanted was a landscape photograph or picture, but all that Repuesto could do at that time was come up with a pig. So, instead of bringing a picture of “lenscaip” he brought a little toothpick holder shaped like a cute little piglet. It was Repuesto’s unconscious giving the message that the hollow ceramic represented what was not there, the living trees instead of toothpicks. The wealth of life in the forests, represented by the little pig, and the silence contained in the hollow body of the ceramic creature. Nature’s loud silence was kept inside the belly of a porcelain animal.
But then again it might have been his attempt at giving her a gift because when she sat behind that brown desk she would spend a good part of the day picking the inside of her mouth with a tooth pick, and with one hand making an ill attempt at covering the meticulous digging. She wore braces, and from his chair he saw the aqua blue ligatures and the infamous white rubber band that held them in place. She was a short version of 007’s arch nemesis, the steel toothed Jaws, but with the unique appearance of a bobbing head toy with jet black, short hair that curled up wards slightly 3 inches above the shoulders. A mirror was used to look at her reflection the other half of the time, which was constantly. Mrs. Kim apparently had a huge house somewhere in some nice place that was not anywhere near the school or the neighborhood we lived. That year, he learned the word “pabo seki” and “pali pali,” from his classmates, and discovered that “kim” was also seaweed, and that with rice and vegies one could make “kimbap.”