Susan Castillo





Within the furnace
hair hisses pale effulgent sparks.
My eyes gleam liquid gold,
my legs, bold arching torches.

There’s something to be said for Faith.
Now I’m immune
to nearly everything.

No glowing coals can scorch my feet.
No flickering tongues can penetrate my flesh.
A halo of black silent air
shimmers cold around my head.
I have emerged intact, though at some cost.

And yet at times I long for what
the crucible has burned away

once more to feel the ardent white-hot sweetness.







After the hurricane, things were different.
Grandmother’s frame outbuildings had collapsed,
The lights were off, so we burned candles.

When the roads opened, we went for a drive
to Cameron, down on the coast.  It used to be a town,
A tidal wave slammed in, dragged houses out into the Gulf,

left rotting bodies dotted through the swamps.
Not many people left.  Mosquitoes, though, were rife.
I put an arm outside and suddenly

it pulsed black with teeming insect life.  The snakes
came out as well. I had to watch out
where I walked.  But I was nine years old and loved the candlelight,

the dark, the fright, the flickering parlour, full of mud and silt.
I drew stick figures with grinning faces on the wall
wondered why my aunt was weeping.






TAQUILE (Lake Titicaca 2004)

The night is a black screen,
a sieve to sift cascades
of incandescent stars.
Reflected in the surface of the lake,
I see the Pleiades, Orion,

the blazing Southern Cross.
What does it mean, I muse,
this dazzling hieroglyph,
this celestial tease?

Stars shimmering above me
Stars rippling below me
Light all around forever.







Our upstairs neighbors lived
in noisy sin.  We thought,
“Ain’t love grand!”

until the rhythmic mattress creaks
crescendoed several times a night
amid howls of ecstasy,

banging headboards
for a whole year.

Enough to make one contemplate
homicide or vows of chastity.







I bless the plains
………….for without them there could be no mountains.

I bless the shadows
………….for they have made me feel the warmth of sunlight.

I bless want
…………..for it has taught me how to share abundance.

I bless fear
………….for without it courage would mean nothing.

I bless the moments of grief and loss
for they have made me learn to cherish joy.

I bless the Universe.

All passes
I bless it in its passing.

All endures
I bless it in its oneness.