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 ©


l. Turning away from her was never easy. The heart calling for closeness; reason was supporting a more guarded position. Extending a hand of kindness could have been misconstrued as a pitch for more familiar territories – perhaps an artificial intimacy uncalled for. It was clear then that my lover’s journeys – in a manner of speaking – were taking her to higher pursuits; my best season was over. New headlines on the dailies, followed by the clarifications spinners had already prepared; boisterously – for some, all too familiar, borderline apocalyptic – injuries of egos, roughed-up skins.

Why bother I kept telling myself; I am after all a rather dull human being – nothing but a series of random thoughts, intel not worth sharing when the plaintiff had archives of evidence and a squad of inquisitors to pound me, successfully. There was nothing to pursuit then; this is not an actionable story, but rather epitaphs in the mail – I cannot continue, I heard a voice saying, trying to recycle these fraudulent bubbles – something my therapist had said to me earlier. I may be excused for being so dumb; have I looked in the mirror lately?

ll. Toiling for too long takes an incredible amount of energy; then what you see before you is a heap of wasted time; a sludge of scatological fertilizers nobody would dare come near – the character is rarely noteworthy – a cut-out of rare creatures collecting footage of expired balances and unshipped postcards. Could he become a source of sociological studies? Would his brief demarche deemed valuable enough to merit even a mention? It was at that point when the thought of running for public office crossed his mind – another of those self-indulging shortcuts, with the accompanying soundtrack, naturally.

The mirror was staring back that morning of a fortuitous encounter, yet, there was nothing musical about it, he was simply too scrupulous to voice such thought; many years of hoping for a new outcome had altered each turn; delusions always attractive – consciousness aloof, an inhabitant of troubled times.

lll. Place, time and geography had seemingly pre-determined the outcome this time; no way he would be reiterating the obvious – for whether his residence was on the ground or in the clouds there was nobody there to answer his calling. Personal choices; individual responsibility; teachings according to our essential values; echoes of a mystical life left untouched. How about the sixties? Surely there were learnings to carry you trough; and the seventies? Roots of resistance, fire, water and brainy companions – what you need is a good haircut brother, another voice whispered – that should do it; get you out of the morass and do some cursing – that’s right, swear from time to time – Fuck! See? Feel much better already.

lV. If I hear one more time “everything happens for a reason” I’ll scream. Of course, the orthodoxy of the unfolding conversations with his regular muse – not his personal trainer by the way – had many layers, some meditative, others contemplative, others, right down venal – but, what he really loved about her was her brain, really. And; their conversations. Exuding an almost perpetual state of empathy, no matter how challenging and uphill the battle or circumstances; looking at her portray, he knew there was a core worthiness just being there, no matter his mental, emotional, physical or even financial state.

For her luminosity was the light he needed to be guided through unchartered waters; this was not a love affair, but rather a political romance novel, with an unknown ending. He concluded that everything was mysteriously interwoven; there was not rationality to explain it, but the “signs” were all there. And, if success was to be had in the long run, he had to start believing, again.

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Theme: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

© 1972 Al Green /


Sponsors have left; Jordan pilot murdered; men and women are grateful for Obamacare; you found the truth? What truth? – forget my gender, I am who I am; mental illness is not a choice, deal with it! – Argentinian president deep in troubles; are you a reputable business? – Plotting a secret defence; stop projecting your fears on us! – You are nothing but a shallow creature, nobody cares what you think! – Talk to me about vision man; give us something to work with! – The plane went down; they are all dead, you hear? Dead! – Geologists solve tectonic problem; people will die! – Learn to conquer your fears dammed! – Antivaxers are running amok; mumbo-jumbo coming through – Civilizations are clashing, again – Que senos mas deliciosos; quiero mas! – Life is like a camera? – How to build a brand in 3 easy steps; just $29.99 + tax – Cook for your man; impress him with your culinary talents – Are you trying to seduce me? Well; it is not working! – Never underestimate a person with a gun – Five steps to lose some serious weight; only $39.99 + tax – Raising resilient children priority number one – Greece is basically bankrupt; next!? – Sarkozy is back; amazing! – Your brain is shrinking? Shit! How come? – The ingredients on your organic tea? Basically mud and fecal excretion – Stop cheering me up! – Farmer admits to cruelty after pig’s eaten alive – Who’s in charge of the shit? – Stop pushing us around! – No to rape culture! – Inequality is not inevitable – Love is not about mating and fornicating; it is about creating a new revolutionary society – Target Canada has a BIG SALE! – Corporate Tax Reform? Over my dead body! – Having a baby while white and with a black police officer; never reported it, until now! – Marijuana can be helpful for some medical conditions; sounds good to me – US pledges weapons to Ukraine; here we go again! – Abundant living and plenty of fornicating; that’s the way! – Another refugee settlement is open in Uganda – Get a room already for Pete’s Sake! – 50 ways to age-proof your BRAIN; only $24.00 + tax – Cezanne masterpiece sold for $20.5 million – Harper must go!

– ISIS, nothing but a repugnant bunch of demented beings! –Knife attacker says he ‘hates the military and Jews too’ – Expect nothing from anybody; it is better to be surprised than disappointed – Scotland says NO to FRACKING – You are what you eat; and what you wear too – Are you dating anyone? – Strangest deaths revealed – We’re talking ORCA around here! – Being a perfectionist is not HELPFUL – Have a look at this catalogue of horrors – Mañana continuaran las nevadas, heladeras ,vientos fuertes y mas depresiones – Corporate taxes should be increased – Africa losing millions to tax dodging – Good Night and Good Luck.

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)


I Don’t Want to Know, by John Martyn ©


Openings – The evening Palomino Molinari learned about his fate was calm; fresh snow had just landed on his front porch and the bitter memories of an unhappy anniversary were gradually fading away. The neighbourhood was thankfully subdued; even the constant noise from the near highway was muffled and looking at the valley below induced the sights and flavours of hot chocolate and cookies. He had good schooling; certainly by any measure an excellent job and a privileged position within the community. He was pleased with that; how could he not? Escaping the misery of early years, was indeed a blessing.

Character Matters – Only 10 years earlier he was nothing but a struggling contractor barely getting by; his construction company invisible. Few among his peers gave him the slightest chance of success – in fact, they said – you’ll be declaring bankruptcy in no time … That was then. Yet, he persisted, got a terrific team together and a chance to demonstrate what he could do; and that, he did, while in the process meeting various shades of humanity and a tall woman – Sofia Montessori – that irreversibly changed his life of loneliness.

Focus & Anchor – At 48 Molinari was in good shape; well-built and active, if not sporty, one could say the fellow was sharp and attractive. So was Sofia Montessori; they made a good couple, and plans for a long life together unfolded without much fanfare. She was a professional in her own right, financially independent; and 15 years older. There were not impediments or conflictual boundaries to overcome in their union; both single, unattached and with a burning desire to reach new plateaus – what could possibly go wrong?

Reviews – After the weeding; the honeymoon and other expected accoutrements, their life settled into a sceptic and remarkably bland series of couches, beds, furniture of all kinds and a ceiling that for Palomino Molinari was getting awfully close to his skin. The first inkling that something wasn’t working came in the form of a letter from a law firm of some repute; it was basically a notice of filing for divorce. A few days later, a lengthy conversation ensued and Molinari understood that his tall wife wanted out, irremediably. The divorce was quick; uncontested and, generally speaking, cordial. Bonus; there were not children in this union.

Wonderland – It started to snow again; it has been 3 years since Sofia Montessori was no longer in his life. Now, it wasn’t the ceiling bothering him but rather the walls which seemed to get closer and closer with the passing of time. How odd, he thought, most houses are of similar sizes in suburbia and there was nothing derelict on his. He was a reasonably happy man; but, his health had been deteriorating in the past year or so – friends had suggested a wellness-vacation somewhere in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, Molinari was obsessed with work and producing; money was not his driving force, rather seeing his buildings standing proudly was.

Beyond Miasma – Then, the call from his family doctor changed everything; Palomino, I have bad news (…) we need to talk. Humans have a way of absorbing disturbing news, especially when his about their own mortality and Palomino was no different. The house was clean; no unpleasant odors emanating from anywhere and the pictures on the walls still shining. Gravity pulled him deeper into the big leather couch, just recently acquired – he could never resist a good sale.

“Pull-yourself-together” he told himself; you’re not dead yet – decades of travails passed through his field of vision – a warm comforting reminder of a life well-lived, give or take. Something moved in the room; an uneasy feeling of doom washed over. Outside, the snow was blanketing further the streets of his wintery city; the trees felt the brunt of it.

Closing Time – The evening Palomino Molinari learned his fate was calm; fresh snow had just landed on his front porch and the bitter memories of an unhappy anniversary were gradually fading. Maybe, he thought, that original Caribbean vacation and its offerings of cascades of joy was called for now. Indeed, sunshine; a good drink in hand; perhaps the last carnival of dance/passion with a tall woman on the friendly boardwalk. Then he heard the voice of a dear and long deceased friend whispering; you’re too young to go, so, anything to keep the ultimate freeze at bay for a little longer is worth doing.

PS. I recently got a lovely postcard from Palomino; he’s still breathing. Notwithstanding his declining health, he has managed to have some fun in San Juan del Sur, a quaint fishing community on the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. He signed the card “Forces of Chaos Vade-Retro” – I always liked his dry, yet, biting sense of humour; a good Catholic boy no doubts. I shall visit him before his time is up.

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Music: San Juan Sin Ti, Luis Enrique

© 1989


Llegó con los vinos y los vientos del Sur; me apareció majestuosa, plena de aventuras, manifestando palabras emotivas y constantes evocaciones. La recibí con flores amarillas, indicando – pensé – amistades arcanas, pasajeros momentos de una edad mágica e irrecuperable. En un grato restaurante latino, conversamos del pasado, de los amigos y amigas que fueron y los que aún lo son; de nuestro compartido dormitorio; de las artes culinarias de nuestra gente; de las pasiones políticas de una generación rebelde; de cómo hicimos frente al terror dictatorial militar; de las llamadas de medianoche; del saber que todos nuestros sueños se derrumbaban como un penoso castillo de naipes y de las tragedias y pérdidas irreversibles. Nos supimos mensajeros, escapando de una gran pesadilla; multiplicándonos como soldados de papel; resistencia inútil, renegados a ser perpetuos fantasmas. Al cabo de un rato de silencio, de ojos húmedos, de gentilmente acariciadas arrugas, nos dimos la tarea de entender nuestra historia.

– ¿Recuerdas quién estaba al mando? – Claro; ¡el sastre de la esquina! Gran tipo, con alguna formación paramilitar… Absurdo; lo que ocurrió quizás fue inevitable, ¿no lo crees así? – Quizás, – dijo ella – hay una cierta dosis de leyenda en este cuento, claro. ¿Recuerdas los rumores del general libertador que nunca llegó? – Sí; ¿cómo no? …

La imaginación desatada; creando líderes a diestro y siniestro, sumando leyendas urbanas para darnos alguna valentía. Fue todo brutal, impensable… De súbito un mundo de extraños y sospechosos. Sueños atrapados en una primavera ensangrentada. Sí, – nos dijimos suavemente – se hizo muy difícil amarnos, ¿verdad? Incluso los mensajes en las paredes perdieron sentido, se transformaron en diversiones cuasi-místicas; y nuestras herramientas de “educación popular”, en meros artefactos arqueológicos. Nos llenamos de héroes y heroínas de cartón. Sin embargo, durante un tiempo, continuamos nuestros fortuitos encuentros; nuestras intenciones aún honorables; la piel nos llamaba, (bueno,) por un tiempo desesperado, sin sol … y mudos.

– ¿Y qué fue de la “Chavelita? – pregunté… – Bueno, eventualmente se fue a España; está bien, aún mantengo algún contacto esporádico con ella. – Y “Manolito”, ¿dónde está este compadre? – Él se marchó a Cuba; lo recibieron muy bien allá. Terminó sus estudios médicos en La Habana y se casó con una Cubana muy guapa: tienen tres hijos; ya adultos, claro… – ¿Y “Carlitos”, el de la permanente sonrisa amistosa? – A él le dieron duro: desapareció de nuestras secretas tertulias y al cabo de un tiempo su cadáver apareció flotando en el Mapocho…

Así fue; penas oscuras, llantos, susurros, lamentaciones, se nos hizo cada día mas difícil el amarnos, ¿verdad? Meses y luego años; las reglas cambiaron y también los personajes. Ambos tuvimos que asumir una nueva plataforma, nuevos directores, otros guionistas – incluso la música cambió de escena. – ¿Eres feliz?… – Estoy contenta. – ¿Feliz? – Han habido momentos de dicha; la felicidad pareciera ser siempre elusiva… – ¿Y tú? – Igualmente, – respondí amablemente, mirando una vez más nuestros secretos en sus ojos asombrados.

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Theme: Cristofori’s Dream @ David Lanz, 1988

Narada Collection:

Things We Never Say

1. I know who you are; the woman in the green dress staring through the big windows of the downtown café lost in some deep thoughts about what was, should have been, may have been; perhaps it will be. Listen! You say; we’re ready to begin, here’s the Bible, take it and smile, but leave no tracks to its source. Forget the paper! She remarks aloud – what do they know? That’s why I am here and what I say to you remains with you, understood? I must say, watching her fervour was in some odd ways comforting, making me feel a man of the world without a need for directory assistance at all.

2. Three cappuccinos later I noticed a new presence; he seemed to have the aura of a “new God” – I keep an attentive eye while the entire room goes on stand-by. He exchanged a few words with the woman in green, brochures were placed on a colourful display, and donations rang somewhere on a web account – the tally would come later. Mid-afternoon rain fell, walkers scattered and a dark cloud sat on top of us all.

3. Wooden tables were the trademark of this particular venue; on the walls, some evidence of bullets, and red stain. Who the killers were, it was never fully explained. And the dead? Well, they were obviously gone, remaining faceless, nameless, and speechless for eternity. What we do know is that on that tragic evening, the sirens were a many, laud and the emergency rooms at the inner city hospital were full finishing their deadly shift.

4. It is hard to explain; the man keeps saying he’s was a monster; that he must be forgiven as he has known of no other life. His argument was that on his way to an annual ritual, he was terrified and just looking for a safe house. No one bough it; he was guilty, no matter what, period. The police kept interrogating the fellow and I must say I kept interpreting with some disgust – that was my job; advocacy was far from it.

5. It was a time of war, you know? Said my interlocutor; whether you belonged to the “organization” it didn’t matter. If you had guns, say, AK-47, plus heavy armory, preferably tanks, the job got done, often under five minutes. What about women and children? I asked … Hey! We were not amateurs on a blind rampage – we followed the code, give or take. How long have you been in counselling? 3 years now, he said – it’s helping, I can, after a long time, look myself in the mirror – I am not proud of what I did, I can tell you that; but, it’s done. Time for me to atone, don’t you think?

6. Kids are playing on the square now; what a cheerful scene – some having fun with a basketball; others on a ping-pong table; yet, others plotting strategy on a super-sized chessboard. No killings today; I see nothing but clean clothes, heavy breathing, sweet names being called by wondering parents. The rain has long passed; friendly police officers walk by smiling. The woman in green and her strange companion have left the room, so has the walking dead in recovery, may he atone with justice. That is how it should be.

© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)

Album: Al Di Meola Plays Piazzolla © 1990

Theme: Oblivion /