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Here is a reprieve for you all fighting the good fight:

Ian Smith Goes Away

Owing to a proclivity for adventure,
Ian Smith bought a ticket, trans-oceanic, and stepped aboard the Santa Rosa
South America-bound, Brazil to be precise was the venture
He had heard it said that a country that could produce Ruy Barbosa,
Was good as any to wipe out the tears of his corporate misadventures
Ian Smith was not entirely sure of this,
But after two decades of toiling in corporate America’s abyss
Anything he reckoned was good as any to throw his lot upon
The deck of the Santa Rosa then, he stood thereupon

The Santa Rosa blasted her klaxon call
A slight wistfulness made Ian Smith turn back once to thrall
To gaze quite long and hard at that beacon
Lady Liberty towering majestically high, wind-borne
An astute observer would in Ian Smith’s hidden face see
That as he contemplated that venerable statue free
His eyes were cocked, strangely in fact
To avoid seeing his vanquisher quite—
That Manhattan skyline reclined lazily on the horizon

Aboard the Santa Rosa then and the open sea
That blue Atlantic, exercise in vastness bleak
Namesake of a primordial titan with shoulders enduring
Whom Vitalstatistix, like a true Gallic chieftain endearing
Would thank for not letting the sky fall upon his head

Embarking at Belem, Ian Smith inhaled the air and went about
One thing you’ll never encounter in Belem—a drought
It had rained before and the air labored in doubt,
Virile Heat searing Earth’s fat voluptuous thighs,
What lubricious sways! What lubricous surfaces! What fertile commingling!
Copious moisture, its only result
To the Ver O Peso then Ian Smith went
To buy a parasol in a tent
What funny imagery, a man a’carrying a parasol!
Ian Smith agreed and tossed aside the parasol slow,
To a slumbering, over-worked caboclo

Pausing to admire the Ver O Peso’s wares,
Ian Smith began to understand the power of Amazonia’s snares
How many fruits could Eden have possessed?
This place does it one better in zest!
Yumanasa, guarana, acai, aguaje, macambillo,
Cupuaçu, sapote, camu camu, macambo,
Pupunha, pitomba, tucumã, bacaba, maracuja,

Names that could only have been inspired,
By the forest, its winds, its animal calls, its frog belches, its entire musical scales
All these in addition to your usual mangoes and pineapples,
Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and guavas
Figs and bananas—here too dwell those two sugared divas
Better to rather put it this way,
“Know yee the fruits that adorn your plates today?”
“All come from that rich Amazonia rainforest.” so I say!
Many shapes, textures, colors and tastes—Nature’s pristine wrought!
All here, in Amazonia, are beautifully brought

Ian Smith is dazzled by the variety from upriver
Do all these fishes come from just one river?
Ian! Oh, restless Ian, quite frantic!
The Amazon has more species of fish than the entire Atlantic!
Tambaqui, pirarucu, piraña,
Tucuxi, Candirú, aruanã  

Would it be too far-fetched to think, Goodness!
That in this Ver O Peso’s boisterousness,
Lies even a boto’s penis being peddled?
A superstitious aphrodisiac now coddled
Relic of Homeric seductions unbridled
Between fabled boto and buxom maidens—
A rather non-angelic impetuous astride
Down by the mists of the mysterious riverside

Ian Smith is dazzled by the variety from upriver
What market is this that combines exotic fruits, a million nuts and a capybara’s liver?
Anteaters, crabs, toucans, turtles, anacondas and electric eels?
Why, on its dazzling trays, lies even the hides of manatees!
Ian! Oh, restless Ian, quite frantic!
Not a Jacaré’s skin, Alcione would have none of that antic

Ian Smith quite puzzled disappears up the Pará
With other intrepid adventurers on a river boat called the Teixeira
Up the Pará caboclos paddle their boats in perfect synchrony
As majestic water birds soar above in a dazzling symphony
In this perfumed paradise thus unveiled,
A water lily can only be described with Rabelais’ assay—
Rabelais! You learned, bawdy, fine creature, you are hailed!
Three metres in diameter this lily’s leaves and wider still
Than the widest of market trays such is it so well-tilled
Victoria amazonica flowering a Tupi-Guarani princess—
Pajé's daughter! Oh! What incense!

On the railing, a now overwhelmed Ian Smith lets out a sigh
That frustration pent up in the West is dissipating nigh
Slowly a face uncharacteristically uncouth gains in youth,
As deeper Ian Smith is pulled into the interior and to Truth

Together our intrepid passengers, strangers no more,
Gather ‘round a table and cachaça is poured
Strangers to remain when dallying ‘round the common table?
Strangers no more, our adventurers tipple around that table
An old wizened Indian from the market tells them a tale
A deep, sombre tale not to be recounted over glasses of ale
That ‘tis said that a man without roots is like the jaguar
Doomed to forever wander and roam like perennial aqua
Ian Smith takes this in with his salt
Holy deep blinding mystery!
That mystery in wizened One’s eyes must be cachaça’s fault
All these well in, Ian Smith takes with his salt
Though strikingly and strikingly his face gains more in youth,
And deeper and deeper, he is pulled into the interior and to Truth

Next stop, Manaus, and deeper still
Ian Smith is pulled into the Still, steeper and thrilled
Negro and Solimões meet, what have they wrought?
Well Manaus of course, city of mothers of gods quite sought
“Heart of the Amazon and city of the forest, who are you that dwells at the edges of the black river?”
“It is I Manaós, Manaus, mother of all gods abutting this intrepid black river.”
“Speak yee then one of the river with so much espirit! Who claimed you?”
The Cabanagem it was that claimed and wedded me, am I now well-construed?”
“Blacks, Indians and mestizos—all cabanos—were my suitors”
“Thus drenched in excellent blood was I wedded, fertile me, no hooters!”

Manaus now has Ian Smith’s eyes in thrall
Mothers, we all know are already excellent, their feat ne’er quite small
Difficult, strong, truculent men from them even have sprawled
But a mother of gods—a city—well, this over-enthralls
Ian Smith is over-enthralled quite
As his face becomes no longer contrite
Swirls from a cheek unencumbered fall, none to forestall
Him of the long face it had to eventually befall

“Why did they not tell us?” Ian Smith now shouts into the winds
“A million televisions, radios, smartphones and God knows what other winds
Scattering our brains in a million frantic directions
And turning us into decapitated fowls with a million predilections
Yet, none could see fit to tell us of such impulse,
This paradise that awakens even the heart’s very pulse?
This paradise, not hidden, a rejuvenation of spirits, a simple naturalness
Oh! What horror! That none mentioned this simple goodness
Did they perhaps know and keep it from us?
Like Plato’s cave, the prisoners prevented from seeing the entrance of the cave thus?”


What wonderful smiles! What lush vegetation! What vast wetlands!

Now leaning into the wind, Ian Smith speaks loud and clear,
“I paid a dozen mortgages!
And much of society’s wages!
For what?
Even when I did venture out,
Television was there promising me it was the sage
Working out, television was there telling me the important in the age
Eat this, eat that!
Don’t eat this, don’t eat that!
All in apparent concern for my health, some sage!
Were it it were here now,
I would kick it bloody down.
What false sage! What a puppeteer!
Why did it not tell me that such worlds existed?
That I could be naturally free, have a gift and Mastercard would not be requested?
Why was I not told that Life, us, naturalness is so big, so sprawling?
Why was I not told? Oh! How appalling!”

Ian Smith’s face gains more in youth
As deeper, and deeper still he is pulled into the interior and to Truth
To the agency then Ian Smith then went
To buy a ticket and ask to be taken deeper into the bent

Deep in the Amazon now, Ian Smith finds himself
Encountering a listless caboclos all by herself
“Come to rear cattle?”she asks with a born pessimism
“No!” Ian responds with a rather undisguised cynicism
“Is it to grow soybeans then?” inquires the caboclos seemingly misled
“No!” Ian responds, vigorously shaking his head
Reassured, the caboclos says, musically, in relief,
“Thank Olòrún you’re not coming to grow beef!”
She leads Ian by the arm and points out to him,
“Look! There the martyrs of the forest un-dim:
Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva, and wife—
Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva,
Francisco Alves Mendes and,
Obede Loyla Souza,
Adelino Ramos and Dorothy Stang,
a brave nun, 73 years old quite
Witness! Witness!
Over a thousand martyrs for the forest have been murdered
Over a thousand martyrs in aid of our collective interests, slaughtered
What would you give to protect the Earth’s delicate lungs?
They gave life, and none was of their choosing, what bung!
Witness! Witness!
Remember what their unequaled sacrifice was in aid of?
The Earth’s lungs, their blood and here we still stand
Witness! Witness! And carry their legacy forth with you.

Ian Smith’s face gains more in somber youth
As deeper, and deeper still he is drawn into the interior and to Truth

What is this contradictory thing called Brazil?
Could he answer well without seeing more of her in zeal?
Cutting a wide swathe across the Pantanal—what broad chest!
Ian Smith finds himself in Rio, no jest!

What city is this that mixes flute, samba and unusual bars?
Call-and-response singings, participatory claps and syncopated guitars?
“Rio indeed is the most sensuous city in the world!”
Says Ian Smith as he imbibes sun, samba and all that is good of the world
What beach is this that seems sculpted for breezy tropical amours?
Fleeting kisses to Quarteto Jobim singing Eu E O Meu Amor
Ian! Ian! Quite contrary and of blame,
You, the moth and I, Brazil, the shielded flame
Can any beach get as sensuous as that which is in Rio?
Firm and supple the skin, all colors, dental flosses, meu deus!
A million thongs, no brassieres, sprawled on the Copacabana!
Cachaça with caju, cachaça with lime, cachaça with coconut and passion fruit atop a cabana
Ian! Ian! Quite contrary and of blame,
You, the moth and I, Brazil, the shielded flame

Contemplating the fate of the many street children all about,
Ian Smith exclaims a wish that has his head all in a turnabout,
“Someday I’ll like to help these kids and build them a cultural center,”
“Teach them some skills that would take them from Poverty’s epicenter.”
Ian Smith had gotten to Youth,
As deeper he had been pulled into the interior and to Truth

One evening Ian Smith decides to take a stroll and dally
Come the witching hour, he finds himself stranded in an alley
“Give me all your money!” says the gangster with a gun to Ian Smith’s head
“Take all you can but leave me a note to return back to my stead.”
Years ago Ian had heard told of an encounter between hiker and bear,
This was much like that and Ian Smith could not afford to let go of its glare
Thickened the air and everything felt quite slow
The gangster held the gun but it was Ian Smith who was captivating so
Slow, slow, everything hung in that arresting arc of the moment
Slow, slow, everything felt as thick as treacle, and equally as potent
Like a dream in which you run but barely can move an inch,
The air was as thick with everything in its cinch

Ian barely looked at the gun shown
“Take all you can but leave me a note to return back home.”
In that dangerousness, Ian did not say hotel, he said home!
Ian Smith had gotten to Truth, and instinct had developed within him full-blown
The gangster is impressed with how Ian Smith is carrying himself
“Who is this gringo showing respect and admitting the boss is myself?”
“Who is this gringo who despite all these does not cower pathetically in fear?”
In silence and breathing hard, Ian hands over the bundle sincere
“Come have a drink,” the gangster orders, gun brandished carelessly aside
Ian Smith, breath still held, hypnotic, still slowed, follows beside
Over cans of beers bem gelado, the gangster confronts Ian Smith so
“What are you doing here? Where are you from? É você americano?”
Ian Smith would not recall what he said that night
Sitting on a pavement, reeling from being mugged and here, philosophy with his mugger’s plight!
Ian Smith reeled quite!

Many beers later and as the sun begins to rise on track,
Ian Smith wonders whether to ask about that note that would enable him to get back
Gun in pocket, the gangster is railing off on the ills of the streets,
Danger, ruthlessness, were still there, barely skin-deep, though it sometimes fleets
Bitterly, with the scorn curling his lip in a bitter frown
The gangster talks poverty, drugs, the streets; Life has him thoroughly worn
“Now is perhaps not the best time to rouse the beast.”
And Ian decided his spindly legs probably need the exercise, at least

Finally back at the hotel, and barely supporting himself,
Ian sat on the bed, peeled off his socks and retrieved the money itself
Ian Smith had gotten to Truth and learnt a few ways of the world
Ian Smith was cultivating survival and learning the ways of the world
After an invigorating shower—did Ian so steep!
He passed out on the bed and slept quite deep
Early next day, Ian Smith took the first plane out
Disappeared into the Northeast on what you would call a rout

Bahia, and Ian Smith had found his groove again
Engaging in culture of which you would approve fain
Bahia, home of Castro Alves, and Jorge Amado, great men of letters , ‘swear!
Bahia, home of Gilberto Gil, Dorival Caymmi, Tony Mola and Gal Costa dear
Do you, as I, wonder what dazzling flower is this Bahia?
Bahia is an African queen—a beautiful black dahlia!
Do you, as I, wonder what dazzling things, [are] Brazil and Bahia?
Brazil is a sultry dark-eyed maiden, hiding behind a screen in a harem
Bahia, its courtly troubadour singing poems to dispel your thoughts so barren
Together, they shall seduce you and you shall nary complain
Epitome of a civilized existence this, is this not? Not plain?

Bahia, and Ian Smith had found his groove again
Listening to Dorival Caymmi singing “Acontece Que Eu Sou Baiano”
Gilberto Gil crooning “Life Gods” with that soprano, Mônica Salmaso
Tony Mola making drums speak and they said “Na Colina Do Bomfim”
Gal Costa enjoining with “Voyeur” if one needs a furthermore.
O! Bahia! O! Salvador! You musical soul of Brazil, Brazil’s troubadour
O! Bahia! O! Salvador! You have me in your spirit and I am no longer dour

An elegant black queen fries in dendê acarajé—tasty bean whirls
Wearing a calico dress, headscarf, and displaying the whitest of pearls
Ian Smith thinks to himself, “Goodness!
Were Gilberto Freyre here with his ebullience,
He would, in this flourish of stately queen’s hand over pan
Deduce much sociology from Brazil’s past span.
What a wonderful place this Brazil is!
Filled with culture, history and revitalizing spirits.”

Bahia! Perfect marriage of relaxation and energy
Capoeira by the beach, abacaxi on Itacaré beach, such synergy!
Moqueca from Pernambuco, feijoada—caipirinhas too—with friends, such energy!
And when the night falls,
One is forgiven for stumbling into a Candomble hall
Manhattan may have its many clubs and dances tall
But dancing in a Candomble, twisting and sweating things out sure beats it all
In this Salvador wistfulness—sun, ocean, exotic black skins
Africa, just a stones throw away across ocean, mere skeins
One is almost forgiven for wishing one had a beloved so,
So one could go strolling arms locked in the Pelourinho
Ian! Ian! No longer frantic
Ian! Ian! Purveyor of such antics
If you should meet a folk singer carrying an accordion and wearing a strange hat,
Tell him, “Luiz Gonzaga, you son of Pernambuco, what a great musician you are at that!”

Ian Smith disappears into the rest of the Northeast
Wanting to see more of this revealed veritable feast
Apologies Italy but if Venice wanted to leave you stiff,
It would move to Brazil and have an affair with Recife
Lean men with faces like parchment, hats atop heads slumber by doorways
In the heat, the merciless heat, they only look at you sideways
The sun beats down mercilessly in the Northeast and only a small wind,
Would from that bell clanging atop that baroque church drift in the tinge
A donkey ambles lazily on the undulating streets
You are in the Northeast when the imagery, like the heat, fleets

Ian Smith disappears into a village in the Northeast
Hosted by a family with a daughter named Eurydice
Dark skin, beautiful like a freshly harvested brazil nut
Eurydice, a healthy dark beauty glinting in sunlight.
Her skin whispers soft coos of Ian Smith’s overdue twilight
But Eurydice disapproves of Ian Smith—are all men not beasts?—
And doesn’t mind showing this in the least
The weeks wear on, and life in the Northeast crawled along

One day—who knows why?—Eurydice softens and smiles at him
A sunny afternoon sees Eurydice inviting Ian Smith for a swim
A neighboring igarapé it was that gave her the whim
Ian Smith is surprised but goes with the sway,
Not that he could have refused, mind, for Ian was already smitten grey
And why refuse when one does not know what an igarapé is anyway?
The sun sang as Eurydice undressed and waded into the stream,
The sun was ecstatic and it glinted on Eurydice’s dark skin, what gleam!
A million shimmering rainbows conjured on that beautiful dark skin, what gleam!
Ian Smith saw this and quite froze
A gasp caught in his throat as he admired Eurydice so
That day, Ian Smith swam in an igarapé—t’was a worthy first try
And to this day the river still whispers, “Man! He took to it like a charm.”

The day for Ian to leave came and the village-folk were all saddened
He had been such a good guest so why should their idyll be abandoned?
Ian Smith is gracious and says his goodbyes with warmth and gentleness unheard
Eurydice stood back, hand clutched tightly in her aunt’s and uttered not a word
And as Ian rounded the bend and trudged up the road to the station,
Eurydice whispered under breath to none in particular—what adoration!—
“He’ll be back. You’ll see. He will be back before you even know it quite.”

On the Teixeira again, and our adventurers are now silent, each with a jewel left ashore
Together our intrepid adventurers, strangers no more,
Gather ‘round a table and cachaça is poured forth
Strangers to remain when dallying ‘round the common table?
Strangers no more, our adventurers tipple around that table
The old wizened Indian going to the market tells them a tale
A deep, sombre tale not to be recounted over glasses of ale
That ‘tis said that a man without roots is like the jaguar
Doomed to forever wander and roam like perennial aqua
But on some moonlit night he will discover this fact and be wise
Thus a jaguar is prized and one who knows this truth even thrice

Leaving the Teixeira, the Indian walks along with Ian
“I now understand. You are a shaman, aren’t you?” says Ian with much elan
The wizened one smiled, t’was all his face unveiled
Towards the Santa Rosa they walked as Ian unburdened his soul and told of his tale

The Santa Rosa blasted her first klaxon call

“Should I stay or should I go?” says Ian Smith with much gall
Touching Ian’s shoulder, the shaman says,
“Ian, you are a jaguar but your spirit has found its place here so stay.”
“A jaguar may roam but it knows the secrets of the earth
A jaguar may roam but it knows the secrets to hunting even fish, such worth!
Ian, you too are part of things, be still, trust in your own worth
Yours is a unique experience that ought to be shared
A unique perspective; ‘tis what you bring to things cared,
It may not be usual but it is good. You are good, be still! And stay.”

The Santa Rosa blasted her second klaxon call

Ian Smith looked to it and then back at the land sprawled
Ian Smith stood transfixed knowing not what to do
Torn between what he yearned for and Uncertainty’s derring-do
The wizened one spoke not another word
Suddenly, Ian Smith smiled
Ian Smith smiled,
Baffling so
Baffling so slow
Ian Smith smiled
In his mind, Eurydice’s skin shimmered
A dozen rainbows on her healthy dark skin were shimmering, calling
In the sunlight.
Ian Smith smiled as Eurydice’s skin shimmered in the sunlight
Ian Smith had found his beautiful twilight
Or perhaps his soul had heard that mystic light
And so it is told of that mighty tale
Chronicle of a frantic gent who went away and sailed
Chronicle of that day Ian Smith went away and bailed

Originally posted to Dr Know on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


Supposing you had all the time in the world and money too, where would you journey to? Which region would you betake off for your sojourn, your safari, your long journey?

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