Author expressionsHere I Stand, in Exile

Here I Stand, in Exile

© 2018 · Author: William Castaño-Bedoya

Many of my exiles mirror the exiles of Gilberto in “Flores para María Sucel,” a novel I penned to endure my melancholy and frustration. A debut pursuit, with pale characters, meager prose, and pages that weren’t well-regarded by self-proclaimed intellectuals. Flores, a literary pretense scrutinized by readers well-versed in consuming the lives of my characters. To these readers, I extend my apologies for my profound ignorance and omissions, involuntary missteps that reference me and my perceived identity.
This post was penned in 2018, a response to an invitation extended to Colombian authors residing in the United States to discuss the impact of violence, in all its manifestations, on writers and consequently on their writing. Violence is present in Flores, set against a backdrop of a violent Colombia. Though this composition wasn’t included in that publication, I present it today, as it gathers mildew in the shadows without the illumination from the readers I crafted it for.

Here I Stand: In Exile

Here I am,
in exile,
floating in the universe of my circumstances,
conjuring borrowed lives,
accepting that I don’t deserve to be from whence heroes have been left
behind living unsung lives and consuming their days
while attempting to mitigate the siege of evil;
heroes who do not yearn to reconcile their lives
because they settled for that.

Here I am,
a fugitive from myself,
playing that eternal coward searching for relief
from the bitterness that made him an immigrant.

Here I am,
peacefully enjoying the Wars I do not wage
and which I mediate as if I had the right,
far from my birthplace and where I no longer
deserve to belong.

Here I am,
experiencing the surrealism of the discontented,
deluded into thinking that exile would mean
I should no longer witness such misfortune,
as if draining the Caribbean from the imagination
would drown out our people’s woes.

Here I am,
unable to find my own peace and not understanding
the peace that was invented there. Peace that hides the blood
used by the deceased to paint the canvas of our history.

Here I am,
enjoying an exile’s contentment,
a scarcity of happiness inherent to conformity,
half-measures of enjoyment,
pleasure often described but not felt,
surly bliss more contemplated than experienced.
Contentment? Not much of it in exile.
Lots of longing,
same as over there.

Here I am,
in absurdity,
attempting to cope with distant events,
news I refuse to accept as my own,
though it pertains to me.

Here I am,
being patriotic in isolation or in a crowd;
a homeland of consciousness,
born in complicit corners to provide an internal exile
that never forsakes me,
that indulges me for years while I exorcise the loss
of them that gave birth to me.

There they are,
the ones I left behind one day atop the waterwheel
of a society that chooses the helpless in order to feed despair.
Piles of delicacies devoured by corruption,
that circumstance surrounded by swindling monsters
hiding in the fog,
sniffing everything out.

There they are,
most usually self-censored,
guarding their silence in exchange for their lives,
orphaned of their will,
their consciences kidnapped and forced to lie;
consciences intimidated by brutal cowardice.
Hapless paupers,
insignificant in a society in which they are invisible,
forced into complicity,
to witnessing massacres they cannot report,
outbursts transformed into memories saturated with resentment.

There they are,

the innocents heroes aging as do I,
heroes giving birth to new lives;
lives for whom savagery becomes inherent.
Children of sultry nations remaining stoically erect
despite the lashes inflicted by so much violence.
Homelands managed from the façade of information groups
created to anesthetize the minds of those left in my wake.
Groups spawning new monsters from catastrophe,
new innocents,
new guileless fools,
new culprits,
new losers kindling the grandeur of those systematically denying
all the victims their right to justice.

There they are,
the corrupted,
blended into the background of society.
Empowering outrage and expelling an unbearable
and deathly impertinent stench.
Breath stinking of spiritual decomposition
and the total absence of love;
the corrupted walking about keeping their heads down
and a low profile,
mixed up in the flow of decent people
moving through town and country;
thugs lurking along the same paths
on which my peers walk.
Peers who understand,
horrified, that their streets
no longer belong to them
but to the noisome spawn stalking you;
the stink can never be removed,
it sticks to them after the first crime.
In my country, death stares you
in the face impudently,
challenging you,
terrifying you,
intimidating you,
foreshadowing who will be next.

There they are,
the violent, ubiquitous.
The ones specializing in the transference of life into death.
Old and tired of so much murdering.
Decrepit old men forced into retirement by time,
it is their only executioner;
retired from turpitude,
spiritual accomplices of iniquity and depravity.
Owners of expropriated lands,
boasting of morals,
honor,
decorum;
flatulent with social wisdom,
masters of effrontery,
eternal imbeciles;
gambling with their peoples’ fates.

There they are,
in the Caribbean,
where the enemies of Western culture, of democracy,
take shelter.
Preachers of peace,
murdered by their own butchers,
dark doves signing peace treaties burying hundreds of thousands
in anonymity together with millions of mourners.

There they are,
the same ilk as the others or worse,
the vulgar white-collared gods.
The repugnant reeking,
even more fetid,
shameless ones that never held a weapon even in defense,
but have killed thousands;
who haven’t retired yet because they are stewarding a fortune
for their heirs;
who receive family handouts,
because they thrive on unseen crimes;
surprised by sudden murders they knew would take place,
untold yet well-known vile,
massive, recurring rape;
premeditated manslaughter,
patricide never solved but yet imagined,
fratricide of the nation’s brothers and sisters.

There they are,
evildoers abetting the Master of Iniquity,
graduating with honors from the university of evil;
organizational chameleons,
infiltrated in institutions,
turkeys strutting along the hallways and columns
of official headquarters,
wasting the power their victims afforded them in exchange
for meager snacks and favors.

There they are,
they prevail,
for ever and ever,
legitimizing ill-gotten gains;
professional brutes,
gurus of eyesores,
masterminds of mystery,
sitting on their thrones,
camouflaged,
vested in dignity,
heading government agencies,
imparting injustice and inequality,
running for president,
with cheeky sly smiles and Machiavellian reasoning.
Judases to our own passions,
our own history.
They’ve never left,
they never will.

There it is,

violence cheerfully coming and going.
Forever the queen and matron;
tsarina of poverty and abandonment;
avenger of displaced persons;
ancient as the earth and its creatures;
mankind’s ethical transgressor;
savage and cruel.

There it is,
waiting to strike a blow;
ready to detonate;
to sacrifice itself to appease the beasts;
to emphasize that the mandate of shame is a law invented
by mankind for their own destruction;
frivolous and virulent;
the worst of plagues in existence;
evil majesty of the deprived.

There it is,
furtive corruption,
from the day some thug invented it,
in times immemorial;
thieving unnoticed;
disguising what is noble,
philanthropic; spoiling trust.

There it is,
corruption ever younger;
most popular in our time;
most accepted by conformity;
most socialized.
Jet-set of modern times;
fueling all the evils of every country;
rampant locusts governing my people.
Raison d’être of modern power;
of a democracy welcomed by leaders and idealists.

There it is,
damned corruption,
reigning over monarchies of impunity;
corrupting advocates;
accusing innocents;
pillaging;
fabricating proof and proving falsehoods;
mocking trust and groping it;
lending itself to laundering,
and then laundering;
disguising ill-gotten gains;
governing by pilferage;
evilly squandering treasuries;
mutating in the revolving doors
of tribunals,
courts,
ministries;
confidently exhibiting itself,
its existence,
its essence of recidivist power.

There they are,
the ones ushering savagery with their indifference;
the ones crying “God willing”;
the weak-willed wanderers;
the apathetic ignoring of kindred suffering;
the passive creatures believing that,
from where they stand,
it’s someone else’s problem.

“Ahhh… lay-gzy cogn-tengt-megnt,” Ludovico would gurgle in one of his monologues which I wrote.

William is a Colombian-American writer who captivates readers with his ability to depict both the unique experiences and universal struggles of humanity. Hailing from Colombia’s Coffee Axis, he was born in Armenia and spent his youth in Bogotá, where he studied Marketing and Advertising at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University. In the 1980s, he immigrated to the United States, where he naturalized as a U.S. citizen and held prominent roles as a creative and image leader for projects with major corporations. After a successful career in the marketing world, William decided to fully dedicate himself to his true passion: literature. He began writing at the turn of the century, but it was in 2018 when he made the decision to make writing his primary occupation. He currently resides in Coral Gables, Florida, where he finds inspiration for his works. William’s writing style is distinguished by its depth, humanity, and authenticity. Among his most notable works are ‘The Beggars of Mercury’s Light: We the Other People’, ‘The Galpon’, ‘Flowers for María Sucel’, ‘ Ludovico’, and ‘We’ll meet in Stockholm”.

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