You make your altar wherever you go
twenty-four inch candles in beer and soda bottles
set on a rough-hewn table
in a room with straw-filled mattresses

Outside the wooden shutters
through the glassless window
there are voices and laughter in the narrow street
people in their traje stand at the cantina counter
drinking Quetzalteca and beer

near the top of the world in Central America
after dinner at Tres Olgitas with the other gringos
I come back to light the wicks
of golden hand-dipped tapered candles
and begin my evening prayers 

La vida es muy extraña y hermosa
Life is very strange and beautiful
estoy agradecido
I am grateful
para las sorpresas que vienen a nosotros
for the surprises that come to us

Here at this moment
at the top of one of the worlds
I think of other worlds
through candlelight
here at this moment
the eagle flies on words

Now I am one with other birds
who fly the night

... ... ...

There are times when I say
I will never go back to the States
because I know clearly
that even if I do return there
it will never be "going back"
there are times when I say
that if I do return there
how long will it be
before I fly back to this

In another room Alvaro stumbles to his bed
his teaching job forgotten for a week
somewhere Miguel is courting Petra
his medical studies at bay for twice that
and all day long
up on the mountainside
women hand-weave cloth for their families
colorful, intricate, beautiful

A tourist asked a woman the cost
of buying the huipil she was making
the woman said it was not to be sold
it was for her family

You see
this is the difference:
we in the States live to work
while here in Todos Santos
the people work to live

Here at my altar
the candles burn
and I write to live the dream I sense
here in the candlelight of Hospedaje La Paz
I write to keep that sense alive

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