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A Soul's Cartography.

 Spread throughout rivers, forests,
towns, cities, zoos, and even desert cantinas, it's possible to
find reptiles telling strange stories of odd fish that once were, and of
birds that have yet to be ...
Those legible traces which our tails leave in the hot dust are soul
maps. From them we discover joy, sadness, love and lovelessness, and our
voyage across the earth.
My life has suffered several changes of skin. Each new change: a
love-scar, an ache of absence enduring beneath the skin.
I can lose a lover, my footing, or a battle, even a body part ... for my
antediluvian blood ensures my survival.
At times dreaming beneath the sun, I relive my previous state: gills,
lidless eyes and fins; upon awakening, a taste of salt remains on this
tongue so accustomed to ants, butterflies and grasshoppers.
From this ancestral rock I enter the landscape, full of movement. Am I
perhaps the image some primeval reptile dreamt while perched upon this
very rock?
Sometimes I hunker into the scenery in order to blend; other times, in
order to grant it movement.
On sweltering summer nights, while my lizards sleep, I ponder the danger
of stones, feathered death plummeting from the air, and the snake, that
distant cousin who has no memory, and attacks with human
Stillness is another lizard strategy. It's apparent only us
reptiles perceive the perpetual movement of blood.
Each hardened scale on my skin, a sunflower-like medal won during my
battles against abandonment, sadness, and the stalking claws of
feathered death.
I always live on the border where ocean-waves fuse with land, (an
intermediate step between fish and bird), between life and death, thus,
one condition for surviving: be a reptile forever dozing.
I am the crust of a rock, a piece of the landscape, sometimes at rest.
I am the crust of vegetation, a small piece of cactus which emerges in
To my beloveds, I leave behind: blood always on alert, the electrifying
experience when sighting the stalking enemy or the feathered threat, as
well as the advantages of mimicry, the pleasure in keeping still, and
the effectiveness in flitting off. 

Translation from the Spanish

By Anthony Seidman

Editorial note: To read--and hear-an additional Castillo poem, visit our website,

Roberto Castillo Udiarte is one of Mexico's most important and controversial contemporarypoets; he was also the first to translate Charles Bukowski's workinto Spanish. His poetry unflinchingly reflects the landscape andlanguage of the border, specifically Tijuana. He is the author of half adozen collections of poetry, including his selected poems,Nuestras vidas son otras, published in Spain by Aullido Libros. He currently resides in PlayasTijuana.

Anthony Seidman's most recent book is The Motel Insomnia (AdeLeo Editions,Paris). His poetry, essays, and translations have been published in suchjournals as The Bitter Oleander, Nimrod, Borderlands: TexasPoetry Review, and the cultural supplement to Mexico's major newspaper,La jornada.

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Title Annotation:POETRY
Author:Udiarte, Robert Castillo
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Poem
Date:May 1, 2013
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