Arcilla y tintes color del universo
en tus pies descalzos, dando vida 
a la jarapa en la que pasaras nuestros momentos..

olor a sandalo y copa
tierra, agua, fuego

ojos de cielo y musgo, azabache, que abandonaron la ciudad
ojos de fuego por la ira de no saber estar
ojos tiernos mirando la ola, nadando en la hoguera, meciendo la luna..

                                                                                                     Jesús Más


I wanted to teach my chimp to rhyme; 
it may sound easy,
 but preparations took some time

First he seemed disinterested. Maybe, I thought, he doesn't quite grasp the concept of verse. But I have this idea stuck in my mind, that primates can be inspired versifiers, if given an opportunity. Anyway, I knew we could do it.

Teasing him with ice-cream 
appeared to be a good scheme, 

yet my chimp put on some weight before he could make the simplest verse. We used software I designed specially for him. Yambo could hit on-screen drawings with his fingers and hear the word pronounced. In the first stages, the drawings were arranged in such a way that when a word was hit, the little icons of other rhyming words flashed, and the pair of words were sounded in sequence. When he touched two rhyming words in a row, I hugged him dearly. I used to feed him peanuts, but he was getting so good, just imagine the expense. And besides, poetry should stem from sheer inspiration. How good can be a poem written while just thinking on material rewards?

We made some progress 
I almost cried the morning he hit "bananas"
 next to "pajamas", 

and looked at me seeking his hug. Good, I thought, in rapture, next step is rhythm.

It seemed logical to me that rhythm was of primal importance, so I started singing songs to him. Lots of them. I took the utmost care in choosing simple songs with clear and obvious rhymes, first. They were not my type, but one has to compromise sometimes, in science. Yambo seemed more inclined to listen to me for pleasure, and not with the task in mind. Sometimes he clapped vigorously at my song or demanded an encore. Cute Yambo, I love him.

At some point through the song, I would stop singing, and wait for him to complete the sentence with a rhyme. The software was adapted so that Yambo could choose the appropriate word from a short list of options, only one of them being the correct one. I bursted into tears when he masterfully ended my line:

"you're the top/you're Mahatma Gandhi
you're the top/you're Napoleon..." "BRANDY!", 

the screen voiced after Yambo touched the drawn bottle with his almost human finger. We joined in a mutually respectful embrace, and kept on dancing to the rest of the song, this time sang by Ella Fitzgerald. One needs to relax from time to time. And celebrate, too.

You're the top was our turning point, for some reason. The thing is, after that success, everything rolled smoothly. And I found even more reasons to love Yambo. I tend to like those who love Cole Porter.

I will save you the details, but when I look back to those hard days of training, I feel a natural satisfaction. Of course, Yambo's unbeatable series of books and awards made my career (and his) skyrocket. My fellow  scientists around the world invited me to talk about my findings as a primate researcher, and the international magazines paid us handsomely to place our picture on their covers. As for him, he's teaching seminars on comparative literature in several leading African universities. Not bad at all, uh?

But I should say I don't seek that celebrity. All I want these days is to sit near my loving chimp and enjoy the quiet for a while. He reads a lot, and so do I. I have been trying to help, suggesting appropriate readings at each step, but now he seems a more  independent judge and loves picking up volumes from our library by himself. The advantage: he doesn't need the stool to reach the higher shelves. 

He just read all the symbolists in French, while listening to Debussy. He loved them, right now he's going bananas about Rimbaud.



Sweet intelligence at bay
gentle or mocking, I dare not say
you sandy slippery jewel

When on my boat I sail away
Felipe sails along with me
you sleek splashy joker 

King of the ever rippling surface
under my ship
you fairy-tailed, self-flipper soul

Take me to that place you know
inside me. With your song please,
lull me into our shared mermaid dream



Ask a polar bear
any available polar bear
how does he chase
his maddening shadow,
his bear conscience pumping fast
numbed by hunger

Make him answer
to your satisfaction

Then ask him
about his polar dreams
the nothingness
the wilderness
ice holes
and peeking seals
the glacier skating
the babies, the worries
the spring

Finally, ask him
about the permafrost nightmare
his very final act
ice cracks
and suddenly
the ice as a boat
the ice as a grave



The sun is down and my mind (not my head) aches. It feels too long a journey. I realize I've been following my steps all along, without ever asking the owner what he wants.

I'm a weary walker. My head turns back in search for signs: "where have you been so far?"... "could you even guess where you go?"..."was it so all-important?"... Hey, have you moved at all?

I just see the dusty road ahead, and suddenly want to become the road, to stop walking and rather be walked, to open myself into tributary roads, rather than having to decide which one to take. I long to become my own way, to merge into my own path, to be me. From that moment on I am certain all my walking will be serene and happy.

One of these days, I'll wait until the sun is well up there. Then I'll be quiet and still. There will be something like and eclipse, only it will happen within me and nobody will see it, not even with special sunglasses. I'm not sure how it will be, so I hardly can describe it. But I know there will be a clash of light and dark, a shadowy area that will be flooded with light. I know I will feel the warmth I miss now.

I know I will be smiling, vibrating, radiant. As if rescued by myself, the Former Castaway.  



Que pena 
não poder bifurcar
como o caminho


I walked cheerily
along the lawn of dreamers

So many wondrous creatures
walking towards me in slo-mo
wanting to be my friends
: )

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