Lorraine Caputo

Wandering troubadour Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 250 journals on six continents; and 18 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. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful travel companion Rocinante (that is, her knapsack), listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.s.

A Xela Day

(Quetzaltenango, Guatemala)

In the dark of night, the mountains
are shrouded in clouds. Their earth trembles.


Come light of dawn, those clouds slowly
rise, revealing already-awakened homes in the
foothills. A parish church clangs its bells
for morning mass.
Someone practices Para Elisa. The strains of
piano music weave through patios & traffic,
through birdsong & children arriving to school.

* *

The clear sun climbs, the clouds lift
slowly, revealing trucks descending the windy roads,
revealing the forests.
Stalls are slipped together, tarps strung, net-bound baskets
unloaded from pick-ups, massive bundles upon dollies
pulled by men running through the market
streets. Rainbow umbrellas shade flower-laden tables
& women dressed in a rainbow of
village clothing.
On one side street, young boys pass
tiles, hand to hand, from truck to

* * *

The siesta ends. Shop shutters rattle up
& traffic again clogs the streets with
suffocating fumes.
The afternoon ages. The strains of that
piano begin weaving again. Church bells ring.

* * * *

Long ago Santa María volcano faded beyond
those clouds descending over the mountains, filling
the valleys, before even the golden sun
sets on a Xela day.


Best of the Net Nominee 2022

I float in the blue-green sea

       watching the pelicans

               soar overhead

One lands near me

I cautiously swim towards it

              water streaming from my arms

                     with each stroke          the drops

                               reflecting the golden sun

It turns to face me

        then flies off

Again I float

Fish brush against

        my legs       & toes

I watch them school

       in the clear water

             skimming the pale

                             rippled-sand bottom

& I float             I float

          in this warm

                  sparkling sea

North Coast Trilogy

I. To Riohacha

A goat wanders through
dense thickets of thorn trees &
cardoon cactus, its
hooves imprinting the pale sand.

Morning hot under
a dense-clouded bleached-blue sky.
Five Wayuu boys walk
down a path, loose clothes hanging
between sun-dark legs.

A group of Wayuu
women sit at the side of
the road. Long, loose frocks
flurry ‘round their full bodies.

II. Ciénaga de Santa Marta

Shacks sit close to the
ciénaga carved into
shrimp farms, deep rose in
past-noon sun. Beyond
the sandbar, the Carib Sea
rolls in broken waves.

III. Cartagena

Vallenato songs
drift out open doors of homes
where families sit
to enjoy this cool evening.

The sea breeze through palm
trees sound like rain a-falling.

Under a Gilded Mango Sky

Capybara emerge from hiding
dark shapes against
fading-green llanos

Ponds speckled with
white herons, roseate
spoonbills & black ibis

On the banks babos*
bathe in the dying
light of this day

*babos – spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus crocodiles)

This Other Day

The new sun seeps through
the narrow streets & alleys
of the Old City.
From the Chinese laundry
the radio plays
boleros & cha-cha-chas.

                   Like every day
The pigeons begin amassing
on the electrical lines & railings
of one cream-colored building.
Soon a shirtless husband walks
out onto his balcony
& broadcasts yellow corn seed.
The birds rise in flight
to him then rise away.

A family strolls up worn-
brick streets to church the children
all in light Sunday best.

In that cream-white building,
a young man rests
on a window seat.
He leans against the
wrought-iron balustrade
in the cool shade.
His woman brings him coffee.
They embrace, watching
the street below.

On that balcony above,
in full morning light,

           & like every day
The wife comes, psst-ing
& tossing shreds of mortadela
to the cats below.


Church doors are closed
against the growing heat
of early afternoon.

In a plaza
abuelitos sit in the shade
of an ancient flamboyán tree,
three boys play tag
around the monuments.

In a sala of windows
open to the
tempering sea breeze,
a man watches the
lottery drawings on TV
His multitude of losing tickets
spread before him.
On the way back to his room
he stops before the Virgin.
He prays & tosses a coin
into her glass altar.

* * *

This other day fades.
The dulled sky, the dulled sea merge.
Shadows deepen
down the streets,
down alleys,
& catch in the worn bricks
of a ruined building
curtained with vines
from whence escapes a
bird’s evening song.