Peter On The Dhow Floating On Day Five and Six

Yesterday was a cold Mexican morning, wet mist in the trees, like it used to be.  I walked alone.  Passing a guy in the street washing his car, I told him, dust never sleeps.  Then the young woman in the little restaurant lugging a concrete umbrella base, and I asked, do you need help?  And she replied, not now, but maybe after work.  A woman up the alley, with the garage door wide open on her stationary bike, and I asked her, where are you going?  They all laughed.  Mexicans want to laugh even after everything that has happened, things we don’t understand.  Such a long history.  Greek tragedy with head crowns of feathers and claws. Could they live in a history even more violent than Greece?

Over the past six days, this is how I have lived.  The molecularity of my arms and legs and mouth moving through all that surrounds me.  The slow cadence, the smoke and the sounds somewhere on the mountain.  Horses’ hooves flashing in the streets.  Knowing only about the Mexicans and their laws and how they break them.  Violence is part of the scenery down here, but not in the way you might image.  No, it is worshipped and accepted.  Walls and memories absorb the blood.  Human patina.  Don’t get me wrong, they hate it, for the most part, but they must kneel before the lust for power and it is everywhere.  Mexicans are terribly patient and world weary.  Sighing is a national pastime and each sigh is a word, a feeling unto itself.  I don’t think I would be alive if not for my Mexican home and the Mexicans I know, the way they are, the way we talk and walk, how we measure our closed world.   It is as if they forgive me with every glance. 

Ignorant.  Happy to be ignorant.  Sick of politics and lies.  My reading of the old books and the writers who are dead and buried, people who have zero impact upon your life.  But I am still trying to give them a chance.  My outsized view of history drives me like a nervous sheepdog.  History is alive, running in my little study, where the fire burns and the dogs and cats sleep.  I read a review of Steppenwolf and I have to say I agree with it.  The author was an Iraq War vet and was in a graduate program of some sort and he wrote that Harry Haller was a wimp and a whiner, a guy who was having confused doubts about banging good looking woman and taking mind-altering drugs.  Are those problems, he wondered.  How true, I thought.  So, I stopped reading Steppenwolf on page 155, right before the poem “The Immortals”.  Maybe I’d outgrown the book and the frustration of sentences that changed their minds four or five times before crashing into the emaciated period.  Well directed words give sustenance to the grammar and without a poetic, enlightening flow, everything dies. 

There is a larger observation here: contradiction is our fate.  Chaos, pain, violence, lies, and doubt are not unusual, they are the norms.  We need to grasp the good times when they happen and like another author said, contemplate those moments and say silently, if this is not a good time, then I don’t know what is. 

As they mutter all day and all night down here, ni modo, nothing to be done.  Just wait, they say, someday all of this will end.     

Night train to Mombasa

Light plane to Mocoron

Sleepless in Maseru

Peter on the dhow

Just off Zanzibar

A weary sailor

Far from home

Astounding to me alone   


6 thoughts on “Peter On The Dhow Floating On Day Five and Six

    1. Hi Sterling,

      I am west of you. It is not so bad, but I find myself biting my tongue. I very much enjoyed your book. I take it you have written more. What are they about? Yes, that would be Living and Dying With Dogs. Dogs were always feeding on bodies back then. I’m on my fifth book now, mostly poetry, and they must be getting worse. I heard that your double, Chuck died. Don’t know if you two were close, but I remember our first meeting and thinking you were Chuck and we had a perfectly normal conversation. We talked about Mexicans. You were drinking tea. I sat with you, and when I walked away, I remember thinking, what a great guy Chuck is. Oh well, ni modo in these times. As I tell people, I am an emigre in Mexico and proud of it. Poor Texas. Awful tides of history. Duke


  1. The question now is: Did your incommunicado experiment produce empirical results, quantitative evidence that staying out of the loop provides some benefit?
    Or, perhaps upon return from the void, being inundated by a media deluge, you regret having tasted the silence?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chuck was the name my oldest friend, a black guy I grew up across the street fro. He died of reoccurring prostate cancer. You can see my blog at I’ve written a Mexican trilogy, and just now a sequel to Playing for Pancho Villa called Himari Likes Water which ought to be up on Amazon in a month.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Walls and memories absorb the destruction and blood. Human patina”. This tidbit blew me away, ‘human patina’, I can see it now on my tools, in my home- a more accurate and revealing biometric than fingerprints or the stomach contents of our resident dust mites.

    Liked by 1 person

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