1. It was a strange visit, summoning the voices of the past for a gathering of the perpetually vain. Was there a particular communion among its participants? A superior order deeply embedded in our own subconscious minds leading us towards a new holiness of all things? Doubtfully. For Jerry O’Connor, it was just another photo opportunity to announce what was already there, a bit more self-gratifying, and a few extra claims about how “we have taken the place to new highs” – new and old club members clapping, and naturally, the selfies that came along with it. It was all going to be on the front pages tomorrow; some going straight to influential positions, others right to hell, or some compassionate limbo until the next call for a revival of their political souls. At that juncture, however, O’Connor saw no reason to change, but to retain some self-respect and make plans for his winter holidays in Bora-Bora.

2. Mary received the text inquiring about special deals to sunny destinations; in the old days it would have been a regular voice call or a fax, now, everything was fast & furious through the digital landscape – efficiency was essential; not mystical actions from the “guardians of tradition” – she replied there were same sales for Bora Bora, was he interested? Yes; O’Connor said back; terms and conditions? Please see for details, and select the package most suitable for your needs, thank you.

3. Taking a vacation was something recommended by one of his most trusted advisors; McCoy, the fellow who had maintained law and order within the ranks – had one motto and one motto only – while reclaiming our natural territory, keep repeating the following; they brought havoc to our economy, nothing but pain and we are the cure, a confident team ready to serve … Ah; what would we be do without McCoy, redefining our constituencies with a large and multivolume new flag of renewal – would the masses buy it? Indeed; a holiday in Bora Bora was a refreshing breather …

4. Meanwhile, in the midst of a serious economic collapse, the general conversation gravitated towards entertaining general elections somewhere else, mostly in the US where militants of various kinds, guided by populist doctrinaires and “homegrown-demagogues” where having a field day telling working people everything is “rigged” and the “elites are weak and deeply corrupt” – their most outspoken fellow? Enter Malarkey man, a strange entity with no history or experience in public service, but apparently rapacious sexual appetites. This “model citizen” had managed to tap into some people’s fears however misguided, and with ferocity along the lines of “the public square is full of undesirables; we are no longer the shining city on the hill” – the punch line being; but do not worry kids, I am the one to fix this debacle and bring our country back to its former glories. We shall be great; again.

5. Back on our country, federal and a few provincial elections in the bag, we faced new paradoxes – wanted to be authentic to the values and callings of progressive world-views; managing a tanking economy and its painful human costs, with no end in sight, although, some modest signs of recovery had begun to show. On my bulletin board, I see the picture of little Aylan Kurdi reminding me the shores of a forsaken land; and how much remains to be done to reclaim our humanity. New arrivals on our borders now; doors opening and kitchen tables are enlarged to receive them with generosity.

6. While the wildfires were burning, solidarity heard the calling – kindness emerged from unexpected places; a friend on a parallel journey, at times a ghost from another era reappeared and his company become somewhat comforting, reassuring, as it were. Then I heard some other voices I have been missing for a while – we’re here too, they whispered. Embraces ensued, a gentle touch; the company of good men manifested; live another day brother, let the fog disappear. –

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Track: Sailor, Sailor | © Aqua Tarta Music

Gaye Delorme |


MEN on the VERGE

He should have known better; the extended mid-life crisis knocking at the door, this time announcing catastrophe – beyond riverbanks, he could see the graveyards waiting. Retirement plans? Nope. Up in smoke, like breakfast this morning – a small fire burning and grieving. How old are you? 100th and counting. Depression? How are you? I wasn’t sure you were coming. I see children playing in wondrous abandon – sticks and stones, and bikes in the back alleys.

Should I be panicking now? Aging is a heavy burden to carry, more so when one feels rightly or wrongly dejected, somebody’s problem, a tiresome entity seeking refuge at the sunset of a life soon to be exhausted. He wishes to dance still, around the earth, perhaps surrounded by his closest friends and companions. I should bring my guitar … Who has he become? What shall we call him? Certainly not an Italian supermodel, or a hardworking farm boy, or an illegal immigrant.

Falling, and falling, life was becoming a strange curiosity, finding himself between conflicting claims, survival instincts, and rare abstractions to be buried or at least disguised as “normal” – he has been unseen for a while, but to his closest friends, he was still a person – our brother’s keepers, in a manner of speaking. The pain was raw; he wasn’t as smart as he once thought of himself; there was no road to paradise, only a constant path to Babylon.

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton (AB) Canada

Song: Down to the River to Pray

By Sonya Isaacs – Alison Krauss

American Folk Songbook ©


A few weeks ago, and over drinks at Manifesto, a close friend, letting his guarded nature down for a moment or two, told me his partner of many years had left him for good. It was predictable, he said, in fact I saw it coming. There was no physical harm, he said, but deep emotional scars, adding; who knows how long it will take for all go into a massive oblivion.

Take it easy, I said, these are universal matters; the social “order” you and I grew up under is irremediably disappearing – I can appreciate the regrets and the departing emotions for sure, but, watch out for excessive drinking patterns, losing your dignity is the last thing you want to do …

Remember that time when life felt safe, at ease? A decorum prevailed – we always thought of others with much empathy, little self-aggrandisement; for a moment we assumed we had reached some sort of cultural ideal, and were less afraid of expressing our emotions, sharing our memories – man or woman? as if character mattered; honoring the self was the main driver, even when dying there was a sense of deep consideration – notwithstanding the dangers of actually engaging with another person at a deeper level.

Why did she leave? I asked … Not sure; several reasons perhaps, and maybe the most important one was all the things we said we do, and never acted upon. How about in the bedroom? No worries there, he replied – we enjoyed each other’s company; the gestures of desires and the laughter that followed.

Do you still see her? Rarely. I remember her sounds though; the tones of her voice – funny, we were both shifting, by night embracing, at daytime, becoming ghosts. It happens, I muttered, everything changes, our friends, our jobs, our views, our skin – our places of geography even – I know you’ll find your balance again, a place of belonging if you will …

Tell me, I asked my friend, what is worth noting from the many years you were together? He looked at me sensitively, then he said; too much self-restrain, too fearful of taking risks, and too much hesitation of being surprised. Yes; I responded, there are times when such feelings overwhelm our natural state of grace – detachment often follows, then we fall.

Where do you see yourself at in the next year or so? Hard to say, he replied – I met someone already, yet, there’s something too technical at play, as if invisible social forces were guiding an encounter to nowhere; more work related than anything else – I fell I have lost spontaneity, it is a bland plateau of bureaucratic jargons – can I be faithful once again?

I see – but, you are after all embarked on an important social and political endeavour, right? Sure, my friend said – and yet, something is in reverse, my former quality of life breaking down, habitual friends vanishing …

I can appreciate that, I said – there will be nightmares to overcome; new authorities to lead our doings, and new lovers to surrender our wants – don’t despair too much; no laws have been broken. Something will be shining for you soon; my advice?

Take it slow, a deep breath as it were, get use to uncertainty, the new “normal” countdown to expiration date – summon deep courage, and take a new project in the meantime, don’t let depression drown you; our journey is precarious brother, constant nostalgia unhelpful; let’s celebrate the magic of still being here, slowly coming out of the shadows.

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Music: Shape of my Heart

Album: Ten Summoner’s Tales

Sting © 1993 |


I was conceived on a trip between a provincial town and the capital city; 60 years ago. Indeed, my parents were traveling first class on a night train, enjoying themselves in the privacy (and quality) I am told, of a sleeping coach + the prompt and discreet room service, courtesy of our (then) national railways. This may explain my fascination with trains of all kinds. It all happened sometime in 1954; a year or so later, I was born. Memory is a fragile now, but I believe my parents were elated; they certainly got value for their pleasure – sure, there is no ideal site for conception but in the universe of the time, a train coach was as good a place as any. Papa was a travelling salesman, or so the story goes; Mama, a well-trained and loving housewife – their orbit deeply interwoven, imprinting their son with a strong genetic code usable at the time of his own calling.

In the capital city, my parents circulated freely and blended well; unhampered by certain conventions of that era. For instance, they were not married, nor officially engaged, nor facing a perpetual crisis of morality in an eminently Catholic land. For what I can deduce looking in the rear mirror, there was an ongoing complicity among their friends, acquaintances and some “key” relatives on both sides. Which was most suitable for a little creature called Leonardo, ensuring not only his safety and endurance, but a reasonable bright future – in a way, it was, as a loving untie told me in my teens a “perfect birth of pure love” – poetically speaking. Of course all families have a range of mythologies; fairy-tales so deeply engrained in their memories and historical language in ways that defy reason – mine was not different. Revelations and facts would come later; much later.

I remember Mama telling me as a grew older, that while the perpetuation of the species was not exactly on their minds during their many escapades to the capital – her pregnancy was a biological fact that eventually was bound to happen; passions unleashed, an incandescent love of mutual acceleration; the rule of abstinence and propriety was simply laughable. Son, she said once, the universe was unfolding indelibly. Mama was joyful with my birth; for her, becoming a mother made her no longer invisible. Dad told me many moons later that he was proud of me; I appreciated hearing that. For many years I believed he held some obscure resentment with my existence – receiving his blessings, notwithstanding sparingly, was life-reaffirming; I could circulate publically on my way to become human.

Common-law was not exactly a well-defined cultural statute in my country of birth in those years; but my parents were not bound by the morality of neither church or state – as for the law, they couldn’t care less – well, for a time. There were other conventions at play; certain “values” guiding what was acceptable, or censurable. They were brave my parents – they defied the “norms” and created for a period of time their own “accommodation” of sorts. During his many memorable visits to the capital, dad was a remarkable gentleman; full of praise, kindness, support, sincere encouragement – mama took it all for what it was worth – and if my fragile memory serves me well, enjoyed a good life during their long relationship.

Son, she would confide in my adulthood, your dad and I had many insightful moment; passionate lovemaking journeys, splendid trips to the ocean, delightful storytelling and poetry running though the sheets. Which explain why mama had a large collection of Neruda’s works in her bedroom; “You father was a great lover,” she said to me on another occasion; you know, she would reveal, our preludes always included savouring a sweet Merlot, Charles Aznavour romancing us in the background, intensely embracing ourselves before surrounding our love to the judgement of our own God.

I must say feeling deeply moved by mom’s narrative; more so, when my dad in one of my last visit to my country of origin in the early 90’s, corroborated it word for word; son, he will say, play me a song of love and I’ll tell you a story – it was as if we were devolving one another a long hidden artificial “secret” from the provenance of the “illicit” which both wanted it to illuminate forever. God was on our side my beloved son; the universe beating with its own motion – know that I am glad you’re here.

I was remembering this whole story a while back during a day of irrationality; failings, self-pity, nihilism and the desire to disappear in a rather unsophisticated way. Fortunately sanity prevailed, and the gentle voice of my now deceased parents restored a refreshed mythology of pure love, unjudged, unrepentant. Romanticism was still pulsing in my veins; no evil dogmas dragging me into the abysm – I heard a dear friend saying … “you can be kinder, gentler, not only to others, but to yourself too.”

Later that day, my friend and I took a walk in the river valley – one of my “third places” of comfort and solace if you must know. You know, I said to her, I was conceived on a trip between a provincial town and the capital city; over 60 years ago. I have been in this land for more than half of my adult life now. It’s good to have a friend who is a great listener; indeed, my friend and I were both born in distant homelands and with unique rearranged memories. Her company was sweet, her presence in my life deeply valued; as we continued our demarche, in slow motion I looked up the clear skies above – miraculously, I felt my parents’ blessings once again, and Aznavour’s La Boheme playing in my ears.

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Music: Maxime Le Forestier

Né Quelque Part © 1988

El Calzon de la Madrugada

Su breve compañia; electrificante. De presencia y aura; embriagadora. El sabor de sus besos; manjares que no resistian descripcion alguna. Su perfume? De exquisita sensualidad, abrazador. Selvushka, amazona indomable se ofrecio toda; sin reservas. Alli, entre sabanas, inciensos y la ocasional tizanita, la seduccion con matices de jasmines, toronjil y matecitos desayunescos fue completa.

Recibieron la madrugada con besos jugosos; apasionados y gentiles mordidas sin aliento. Sus manos recorrieron dulcemente, amorosamente, geografias exaltadas, valles y colinas descubiertas. Palpitaciones aceleradas; besos sin pudor, lenguas de grandes recorridos celestiales – ambos encendidos en sus notas, rendidos, sin armaduras, se amaron.

El alba trajo consigo cantatas; nombres gentiles; foneticas singulares, labios irremediablemente deseables. Despertaron bajo una ligera llovisna de primavera – mirandose a los ojos supieron en ese momento que su compañia les resultaria siempre indispensable.

De partida anunciada, indomable amazona, retorna un buen dia a su pais de origen. Visita amorosa concluida; capitulos cerrados y abiertos, abanderada guerrera no deja aparentemente evidencia de su escapada historica. Al cabo de algunos dias, el recupera sus aturdidos sentidos y recalibra el Norte de su inseparable brujula, entendiendo tambien el compas de las ausencias irrevocables.

Una mañana como otras, descrubre una prenda muy intima de su amazona amada; colgando en el lienzo de la ropa seca, he alli el calzon rosado de su Selvushka entrañable – entre sus manos, atesora la suavidad de sus fibras y con ciclicas remembranzas, siente una vez mas la piel amada e inolvidable de su guerrera abanderada.

Han transcurrido muchos años de esta humeda historia. Lejos, rodeada de jardines y familiares criaturas, amazona maravillosa continua su inenterrumpida longevidad, con algun achaque temporal de la tercera edad e imaginandose la carroza a la vuelta de la esquina. En la comoda de los objetos y sueños inolvidables, a una distancia planetaria implacable, torpemente resignado, el guarda su rosado fetiche, venerandola, como esperando una nueva primavera. –

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Musica: Como Esperando Abril

Autor: Silvio Rodriguez © 1975


1. What you are reading is not about me; but echoes of a moment of grace in a long journey to avert the announced apocalypse. You will forgive me if I don’t bother you with [all] the details of the claims, the pointless allegations, and the random expansive spaces of silence; but, for context’s sake, some reconstruction of events leading to this moment is probably appropriate. On the path to self-realization one encounters a variety of humans, coming in many shapes and forms. At a molecular level we know we are somehow connected, irremediably interwoven with original equipment, gifts, fragilities, questions and a dose of sins.

2. For instance the woman at the table next to me is a perfect stranger; she’s talking about her career, how exciting is to “close-the-deal” [she is apparently a realtor] and how important longevity is for her family plans. Nobody but the people in her singular world would give a care whether she lives to be 100 or drops death around the corner due to a nutritional mishap; too much Zumba dancing, or, whether she goes deaf because of the blasting megaphones from the preacher at this unique intersection. Yet, there was something incredibly alluring from this female creature – the way she graciously moved her hands while talking; her rather sensuous regard and her shining rosy lips could trigger the imagination to new plateaus. Who is she, really? And why is she staring at her shoes?

3. As I enjoyed my cappuccino, I noticed the street-cleaner going about his business. Marcus is his name; a very efficient fellow I must say – he also moves graciously keeping our public square very clean. I am told he is part of a crew hired by the city to keep the grounds proper – formerly homeless, they are earning their daily lives with dignity, paid decently and supported in various ways, driven by kindness and compassion. There’s something almost heroic about him – he may blame his parents, society-at-large for his downfall, but, when he looks at me waving with a smile, I know he has been punished enough – redemption is his path. This is one of the common-sense decency that my city can be rightly proud of – fellow humans whose well-being matter. He has a name, a story – yet, for most passersby, he is a stranger.

4. Excuse me – she said – I see you come here with some regularity … and you usually sit by the windows, as if needed an unobstructed view of the plaza – are you a writer? Perhaps a filmmaker? Indeed, I replied – I enjoy reading and the view, it maximizes the bubble and seeing the gaps is easier. And who may you be? My name is Katrina, I am originally from Russia – I am a foreign student. Really? What are you studying? Environmental Sciences, she said with a big smile. I see; fascinating – you mean waste disposal, recycling and the likes? Exactly, she replied in a proud tone – saving ‘mother earth’ is my calling she added playfully. Indeed, I observed – the horror! Are you following the unfolding events in Europe? Of course, said Katrina; who wouldn’t? I appreciated her company; her soothing voice and friendly smile was somehow a spiritual fertilizer and I felt safe chatting with her. I suggested going for a walk around the square – find something noteworthy along the way – she said, yes.

5. Winding through the downtown river valley in the fall is a wondrous pastime; the great equalizer let the mind flow freely – no longer concerned with the GDP, or the latest bad news from the oil patch or some upcoming environmental catastrophe – in the nature of river valley there is nothing phony that I can see – one can even feel reverential. An additional beauty is to observe the intergenerational fellow-walkers, some holding hands, on in tender embrace, even kissing in public – marvellous! Of course, now that we have a Primer Minister that is quite demonstrative with his loving spouse – it feels that permission has been granted on a large scale – to hug everyone along the way – splendid! For a natural hugger like me, it’s simply paradise. Are you enjoying the walk Katrina? Very much she said – you know, I added, you are very tall – are all Russian women as tall as you are? Well, many, especially the ones from Estonia, she replied, with sparkling eyes. Nice, I said, I like that …

Leo Campos Aldunez © Edmonton, AB Canada /

Music: Mare Nostrum © 2014


1. J. K. Looming had been pondering whether society as we know it, and specifically within the borders of his domain was strong enough to withstand the upcoming round of “austerity measures” loudly announced daily by the Supreme New Leader of Gundylandia. For, J. K. Looming has been following discreetly the many conversations on this very topic unfolding among “civil society actors” – sectoral dialogues, groupings online and naturally the focus groups and surveys du jour. Indeed, the “austerity measures” people were talking about had an eerie resemblance to previous “austerity measures” experienced by – more or less – the same people in decades past.

It all begun – if memory served him well – with a clever messaging around a somewhat messianic Supreme New Leader with sharp charisma to sell it. And, as in times past, it all had to do with the disturbing reality that Gundylandia, a decent place to live, play, work, and raise a family, was, according to “experts” way too dependent on one single commodity; manure.

2. That’s right; when the price of this commodity was high, well, everyone was having a good time – spend with no restrain; shop till you drop; borrow if you must; keep the economic engine roaring – no matter what. Should the world markets be overwhelmed by manure and its price collapse, dramatically as it has, well, that was an entirely different story. Now, as in previous reruns, critics were saying; “we must diversify our economy; it’s unwise to depend so much on the world price of manure; there has to be another way to sustain our prosperity,” etc. Economist of various world-views, think-tanks of academia and most thinking, common-sense people would agree, as they have over the years of living through this cyclical dance of good times with high prices of manure, and depressing times with low prices of manure.

Sadly, though, manure had become so entrenched in people’s economic well-being, so pervasive in people’s daily doings, that for the leadership of Gundylandia, many of whom had close ties to the powerful and influential producers of manure, it was simply inconceivably to contemplate any other economic development beacon, but, to reinforce its dependency on this essential commodity to maintain our way of life, and enrich further a selected few.

3. J.K. Looming, thought that – perhaps – the new round of “austerity measures” could be the “spark” – figuratively speaking – to ignite a seemingly dormant and divided “social movement” that maybe had become too complacent with its own comfortable life-styles for, as long as the price of manure was good, they had very little to complaint about, and conversations about social and economic justice were better had either in the abstract, the confines of academia or privately in someone’s basement. But, the question was then – could the “social movements” of Gundylandia, its leaders/organizers connect at a deeper level, go beyond petty partisanship politics or professional class-divides and come together under a united and well-articulated banner of strength and solidarity? Could the “social movements” of Gundylandia raise the stakes and no just resist the “austerity measures” but, reimagine a new societal project and mobilise accordingly? Would the “social movements” of Gundylandia be inspired to do so?

4. As the Supreme Leader of Gundylandia continued to instill fear on his subjects, prepared to present his austere budget and the masses flocked to the film premiere of 50 Shades of Blue, in search of some kind of fix, it was also expected that a general election was coming soon, so that the Supreme Leader could ask and get the “mandate from the people” to hung themselves by approving his austerity package. See? The Supreme Leader could say then – “I asked the populace to tight their belts and, alas, so well-trained that they are, the answer was a resounding yes! I heard nothing but; Give to us Supremo, we’re not worth it!”

5. A worrisome reality though was that few voices have been heard from the “social movements” – with some notable exceptions, say the Gundylandia Centre for the Public Good, the Gundylandia Institute for Intelligent Public Policy, other “usual suspects” and the perennial “liberal elites” (whatever that means these days) – one could assume that at a fundamental level, and by and large, most inhabitants of this domain were OK with it, or were they? Meanwhile, the price of manure continued to fluctuate, and at the pace things are going, a citizen’s revolt was not totally out of the question, a sort of “Gundylandia Spring” – yes, it would be out-of-character as the citizens of this manure kingdom are known around the world for being “nice” – notwithstanding the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, or the G20 Protests in Toronto in 2010.

6. But, it has happened in other latitudes, some of which are heavily dependent on manure for their economic fantasies as well. And just the other day, the President of Gundylandia University dared to say to some media outlets; “We’re living in a fantasy world if we think we can continue life as usual by cutting every time the price of manure go down and investing only when manure prices go up; who the hell can run a kingdom like that and be considered competent managers of the economy or truly empathic to the well-being of our citizens for Pete’s Sake!?” – red pill or blue pill still, most recently, Greece/Spain have been dealing with “austerity measures” too, although dependent on manure to fuel their economies, their commodity of choice is olive oil, fish + an assortment of industrial endeavours – J. K. Looming told himself – could such uprisings happen here? Doubtfully, concluded Looming, but, we’ll know soon enough. –

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Theme: Dreaming in Orange

Faro ©