the louderARTS Project

Luis Cartagena

Growing up in an orphanage in Colombia, Luis Cartagena, already knew he wanted to be a poet. Writing with a flashlight under white sheets, sitting, like sun on cathedral walls.

Then, an old man wearing a beaded gown kidnapped and sent Luis to live in Paterson, New Jersey- where he watched a lot of television, read teen magazines, drank cheap soda and danced to corny pop songs with a lamp shade on his head.

Luis learned the gesture of writing as the only student of the late Jonathan Sanchez- who was a member of Andy Warhol's factory. Luis internalized the artist as a porn star, with the romanticism that makes orchids sweat in his never ending search for genitalia.





after i pulled the trigger

wooden sounds move through his charcoal lips.
as he leans over a balcony across a half lit cemetery.
i sit in my cadillac with a busted headlight--
wondering, if he'll see the flies with tiny hairs around my mouth.




putumayo
for carlos rojas

as the sun goes down,
the river bank plunges stones into snakes.
a condor soars over yucca plants, moves into a corner, cursing at the night.

as i throw my fishnet into rio putumayo     i see then,
amazonian dolphins pushing fish.
good fishing means i can dance for him.

from the other side of putumayo, he calls out my name, Colombia.
Peru's face is red rain over a forest,
night hangs from the curve of his shoulders,
rattlesnakes around his boots create music.

i love how he bends coco leaves and bonefeather--
pressing sugarcane into medicine.

i take off my shirt,
shades of dust follow rhythmic hands,
accordion sound begins in my ankles, leaves through fingernails.
shoulders flow as i move side to side,
my waist moves to the drum beat.
i am a skin drawn flat.

i watch his face,
smiles as he stomps his foot twice.
shells sprawls into pink parrots.
the pan flute explodes from his chest as he jumps to the slow rhythm,
decomposing dry air, bones, with his whip.

he stretches both arms and calls out our names.

sunlight stops saliva in my mouth.

he ruffles the grass and walks away.



© Luis Cartagena



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