Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Northbound Journey’ and other poems

By: Lorraine Caputo


We climb above the
smog of Quito. Nieve dusts
higher mountain peaks.

~ ~

The fields of purple-
flowered potatoes, green corn.
Snow streaks Cayambe.

~ ~ ~

Through towns. Adobe
homes one with the earth. Cook fire
smoke seeps through roof tiles.

~ ~ ~ ~

Patchwork fields drape the
sierra. Landscape sculpts into
steep bluffs, deep ravines.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Slim eucalyptus
leaves sway on the breeze of a
brewing late-morn storm.



This rain falls steadily
on the roof, streaming
off tin & tejas,

low clouds slink
through empty streets

Will there be a dawn today –
even a faint wash
of colors seeping
through broken clouds?



A thousand & more people
sing & dance along
with the band
in the plaza below,
their voice resounding off
the white-washed monastery
& centuries-old stores.
Roasting shish kabobs
scent the smoke rising
into the cool, clear evening,
the waxing moon shimmying
to the western hills.

    From my window on the plaza’s corner,
    I watch the fiesta below,
    my hips & feet shuffling
    an Andean cumbia

A man with a tower
of magenta cotton candy
wends through those
thousand & more souls,
some scaling the locked gates
to the church’s atrium.
Cars snail through the streets
clogged with spilled-over revelers,
through this spring night spiced
with canelazo, whistles & song.



Today’s three-o-clock rain
comes nigh upon six,
presaged by throaty thunder
& deep-grey clouds
rolling from the jungle,
leaping over glaciered volcanoes

Hurriedly we
pull sheets & blankets
from the terrace lines,
seeking refuge below
just as the first drops fall

& in thin rivulets
the rain seeps through
my windows & unsealed panes,
forming a deepening
lagoon upon my floor

Nigh upon hidden sunset
the deluge begins to lessen …
& finally ceases
when scuttling clouds
reveals … & hides again
the mid-heaven full moon



On the Eastern horizon
clouds are low over the
green mountains & that further
deep blue-green range.
Rising sunlight gilds
bare rock faces.

Agave edges
farm fields & pastures.
Shaggy-needled pin,
eucalyptus & cedar boughs
sway on the wind.

I awaken to warmer lands.
Sere mountains
erode into deep wrinkles,
crumbling stone cliffs,
crumbled stone soil.

Sugar cane emeralds
this valley.
In one mature field
men machete,
long sleeves protecting them
from razor-sharp leaves,
scarves protecting necks
from this day’s strong sun.

Nodding through dry, dry landscape
of golden grasses & earth
leach-blond, leach-blood.

Awakening to sheened
carbon-steel scape,
soil charred, trees charred,
leaves fragile silver …

Awakening …
Donkeys & goats,
heads bowed in the heat of
this late morning.
Men stack adobe
bricks to dry.

Bottle kapok
people the hillsides
& flatlands.
Fattened bodies, many thick limbs
vibrant olive-green, smooth-barked.
Bent, twisted
dancing bodies
frozen in motion
ready to spring
back to life.

Now brittle-grey trees cover
the mountains.
A broken jade-colored ribbon
edges a swift
shallow river.
The earth a tarnished rainbow –
burnt orange, ochre red
& ochre yellow –
green, palest blue, pewter, white.

I lose altitude again,
or I am on a wetter
side of the cordillera,
much greener
& littered with
blooming trees.

& again I awaken
nearer my journey’s end
& to the verdure
of rice paddies.


Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 300 journals on six continents; and 19 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. Her writing has been honored by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011) and nominated for the Best of the Net. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.

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