Seeing The Inca Trail

By JLSchneider

The high places, holding our human beginnings

— Pablo Neruda

“The Heights of Machu Picchu”

I’m watching Inca and pre-Inca walls that have been standing for a thousand years get torn apart in a day.  They were built carefully, with a purpose, by hands whose descendants now carry our water, chop our wood, and backfill our sites when we leave.  They were homes and courtyards and places of worship.  And we’re joking and tearing everything apart like clowns.

There’s less than a week  left on the Cusichaca Project, a British-run archeological excavation in southern Peru, and the pressure is showing.  The crew on this part of Cusichaca, known as Fort I, is made up of mostly students from the Institute of Archeology at the University of London.  They’ve dubbed themselves the A-Team, not because they’re the best or even good, and certainly not after the ridiculous T.V. series.  Rather, they’ve taken their name from the unique trapezoidal arch of Inca architecture, which looks like a flat-topped “A” and which the Incas are said to have invented.  Gill, the supervisor of Fort I, once told me that archeology is a pseudo-science.  “We use scientific methods, but we can never repeat what we do.  Once we uncover something, that’s it.  There’s no repeating the experiment again and again to show the world consistent results.  All is conjecture.”

The Earthwatchers have forged their own group, a clique, a pasty horde that seems abnormally isolationist in this grand, open country.

Gill has a lot of clerical work to do before we finish for the season, so she’s off cataloguing Finds, the thousands of artifacts we’ve uncovered at the Fort.  We’ve been working for two days in a row without supervision or much sleep, and even though everyone on site is experienced by now, no one has the confidence to make decisions about new contexts, features, etc.  So we’re hacking through the strata that should be carefully planned out, drawn up, leveled, and categorized.  We throw pieces of pot and bone over the side of a nearby cliff, and make a mess out of the orderly sequence of context numbers Gill has carefully planned and left for us.  It’s slapdash archeology, the only record of which will be catalogued by our bare attention and faulty memories.  I feel the need to see absolutely everything.  But this seems futile.

The Incas were fond of straight lines.  Their Empire was cut up into four, evenly divided sections called suyus, which converged in Cuzco, the Inca capital: Chinchaysuyu to the north, Antisuyu to the west, Collasuyu to the south, and Contisuyu to the east.  Collectively they were called Tawantinsuyu, “The Land of Four Corners,” the center of which united at the sacred confluence, the tincuy, of the Saphi and Tullu rivers.  Geometry defining psychology.  The four cardinal directions, the four primary elements.  Large, settled societies, and the dictatorial, usually male mythologies that go with them (as opposed to the looser, less hierarchal bands of the basal and proto-Neolithic ages) require rigidity of not only planning but thought.

It was necessary that the Inca kings do this, that is, shape their environment.  As semi-divine rulers, their power was associated with how much they could conquer and how much they could alter the landscape.  The king had to show, first, that he was better and more powerful than those he ruled by altering as much of the physical world as possible, and second, that he had some connection to the gods and their power, which resided in the natural world.  He ruled the land in order to rule the people.

The Inca trail is something everyone else has done, like kissing the Blarney Stone or getting your hair braided during a two-week, all-inclusive trip to Jamaica.

More significantly for the Inca, lines always led somewhere else, usually sacred places.  Cuzco was organized along forty-one straight lines called ceques that originated from the sun temple at Coricancha, the most sacred temple in the Empire, and radiated outward up to twelve kilometers from the city.  Most of the royal estates of the Incas, their summer homes, so to speak, had some relationship to the Urubamba River Valley nearby, the Urubamba being a major huaca (spirit), a source of life and intimately connected to the Inca cult of water.  All of the royal estates at Quispihuanca, Ollantaytambo, and certainly at Machu Picchu “honor” the river and its valley by being lined up to it.  In addition, many of the sight lines of these palaces offered direct views through windows and doorways to other powerful huacas, like mountains, so that the mountain spirits could be worshipped directly from one’s living room while listening to the roar of the Urubamba river spirit rising up from the valley floor.  Huacas were everywhere, and anything — bridges, trees, buildings, caves, battlefields, lakes, unusual rocks, even oddly shaped potatoes — could be a huaca.  Both the object and the sight to it were sacred.  It’s said that the Spanish recorded over 350 huacas in and around Cuzco when they arrived.  Like a laser field in a museum, if smoke could be blown into the Urubamba Valley to illuminate those huaca lines, the valley would appear to be enmeshed in webs upon webs of sacred seeing.  It’d be impossible to walk ten meters without getting zapped by some holy sight to somewhere.

Yesterday afternoon Estella, our Peruvian cook, moved the Project’s stash of Pisco Puro rum into her tent.  Too many people were taking bottles for their own private fiestas.  So Victor and I (Victor is the campesino foreman of the half-dozen locals hired to do maintenance work for the Project) go into the kitchen tent, which is considered Estella’s and off limits, and steal a couple of bottles.  I give one to Brit-Rob, my neighbor up in the tent city known as Residential, and take the other one up to Sara and Gill’s tent.

Nic, one of the other dig supervisors, is with Gill and Sara when I arrive, and we sit around gabbing and passing the bottle in one of the big British army tents used by the Project elite.  Sara is the dig’s pottery expert and in charge of all the Cusichaca Finds.  Nic is an ex-hippie with a partial black beard and passionate black eyes.  He’s wearing a leather poncho, sandals, and baggy pants, and has a caustic wit.  On my first night here Nic said to me as he was drinking Pisco like it was water, “With twenty serious archeologists I could finish this site in a month.”  Instead, he has to contend with flabby, complaining, Earthwatch people, a group of volunteers that has come from the States to help out on the dig.  Americans.  He doesn’t like Americans.  They’re pushy.  They think they own the world.  They’re self-indulgent.  Nic had no problem saying this to my American face as he pounded down the rum.

I knew what he meant.  When I was bartending in London, Americans were the easiest tourists to spot.  They were loud and imperious, and they’d pout when I said we didn’t carry Budweiser, even as they were surrounded by an abundant selection of some of the finest ales in the world.  And now that I’ve had a daily chance to see my fellow Americans out of the context of their own culture, my disdain has reached Nic’s height.  The Earthwatchers (who didn’t know each other before arriving at Cusichaca) have forged their own group, a clique, a pasty horde that seems abnormally isolationist in this grand, open country.  They’re all white (pink, at this elevation), middle-class Americans.  Their attitude is light, breezy, what I’d call queerly American, though I’m not quite sure I can define this except as a combination of oblivion and entitlement.  Their smiles come a little too easily.  Their movements are a little too facetious; their bodies don’t seem to have the “talent,” let’s say, the stamina, either mentally or physically, to give off the confidence they do.  I want to be gracious, but Dickens’ description of Americans from an 1842 letter keeps swirling in my head: “They are heavy, dull, and ignorant.”  Exactly what I came here to get away from.

Nic has no desire to go to Machu Picchu, he announces to the tent, raising the bottle of nicked Pisco, even though it’s one of the most famous archeological sites on earth and only 40 kilometers away.  Too much a “tourist thing to do,” he says.  He echoes my own feelings, as I’ve had no impulse to travel the same trail I’ve seen hundreds of others walk since I arrived.  Part of the Inca Trail runs right along the Cusichaca ravine, crosses over the small Cusichaca River, barely more than a rivulet, then rises up into the mountains, and while digging I’ve watched hundreds of hikers and their porters, some serious, some not, huffing and puffing their way to Machu Picchu.  I’ve never had any desire to join them.  I know I should go — Hey, I’m in the Andes.  But I’ve always felt that there’s something repellent about being a tourist.  I know that’s probably what I am anyway; at the same time, living at Cusichaca, making the 1400-foot vertical commute to the Fort every morning, maybe not quite.  The idea of going somewhere, especially to a foreign country, and staying for a week or two smacks of a kind of insular, postcard travel that’s shallow and reductive.  The Inca trail is something everyone else has done, which means it’s common, like kissing the Blarney Stone or going to Times Square on New Year’s Eve or getting your hair braided during a two-week, all-inclusive trip to Jamaica.  They’re clichés.  And a cliché carries all the thought-provoking power of a cotton ball.  It’s impossible to really know about a place unless you live there, get dirty, feel the subtle, invisible dictatorship of culture.  I toast Nic’s sentiments across the tent with a swig from the bottle.  Then another.  The bottle goes around late into the night.

The next day I hazily go to work — the agonizing vertical commute to what we call the Office — and the A-team chatter this morning is about doing the Inca Trail before the dig ends.  Emily, Brit-Rob, and Morag are going to Machu Picchu, and they want a fourth.  They’ve been badgering me to go with them for a week, though I suspect they’re more interested in my compact cookstove than my companionship.  Tomorrow is Friday, they coax me, so we can get a quick start after work.  Also, the Director of the Project, a stern, authoritarian woman, is away, so we won’t be missed on Saturday, which is a short work day anyway.  And the last justification: Hey, we’re in the middle of the Andes.  This has become the running answer, which has turned into a gag-line, to almost every question preceding tepid decisions and imminent stupidity.  By the end of the day I reluctantly agree.

Like their Inca ayllu ancestors, (allyus are similar to clans, groups connected by family or geography, sometimes both), each local community up and down the Urubamba Valley is responsible for the upkeep of the infrastructure in their area, including the bridges.  Bridges were essential to keep the impressive Inca highway system functioning, a labyrinth of roads that covered more than 40,000 kilometers of the Empire and connected nearly 10 million people.  It’s said that messages and sometimes small goods could be carried by relay runners, chasqui, 240 kilometers a day over these roads.

Last week several Inca-trailers were attacked by rateros with guns.

Last week Domingo, the Cusichaca Valley President, gathered together all the males of the Valley and cut down several large eucalyptus trees from Domingo’s property.  Five huge logs, about 18″ across in diameter, were laid across the small Cusichaca River and lashed tightly together.  Then fresh, broom-like retama branches were laid perpendicular to the logs, forming a thick, nearly impenetrable thatch.  Dirt was spread over the top of the retama from end to end and tamped down until there was a smooth continuation of trail from one side of the river’s embankment to the other.  The retama is in bloom now, so the edges of the bridge are lined with a yellow fringe of soft, buttery flowers.  The bridge, which is a part of the official Inca Trail, looks like a bridal path at a wedding, and crossing over it feels like a psychic tollbooth….

We’re on the ascent.

We’ve gotten a late start, leaving camp with full packs around five p.m.  By dusk we’ve walked only two-and-a half hours, but I’m already sick.  A cold coming on.  We stay at an Inca Trail campsite and have biscuits and hot coffee for dinner.

As we break camp the next morning an American named Mike appears out of nowhere.  He was at our site last night around six, before we arrived.  He’s hiking the trail alone.  Shortly after he arrived a local campesino named Paulino came down out of the hills and took Mike back to his house.  Last week several Inca-trailers were attacked by rateros (thieves) with guns.  Maybe the horse thieves rumored to live up around Mount Salcantay, whose name comes from the Quechua sallqa, meaning “uncivilized,” or “savage.”  Or perhaps the Marxist group Sendero Luminoso, “Shining Path,” which has pockets of sympathizers all over this valley.  The local police put Paulino in charge of this campsite, and he didn’t think it safe for a lone hiker on the trail.  Mike suggests that we travel together, at least over the first pass, Wayllabamba (3,000 meters above sea level), after which it’s supposed to be safer.

It’s easy going in the beginning, only about two kilometers to Wayllabamba.  Even though there are five of us, we feel better once we’ve traversed it.  Between Wayllabamba and Tres Piedras, a few huamanquero trees appear amidst the retama bushes and tuna cactus.  Their shiny green, droplet-shaped leaves glisten and shimmer, even in the gray light of an impending storm-cloud day.  These trees are rare, almost extinct, having been wiped out for their wood used in finer furniture and cabinets.  We push on to Llucllucha Pampa.

Beyond Llucllucha Pampa, our short-term goal is Abra Warmiwañusqa, “Dead Woman’s Pass,” the highest point of the trail at 4,200 m (13,779 ft.) a. s. l.  It’s begun to rain, which turns to snow when we get above 3,500 meters, into the jalca, the eco-zone above the tree line, then back to rain when we dip into the valleys.  The chamana bushes leave off and are replaced by the higher altitude colle and queuña trees.

As an incentive to go on this trek I’ve tried to imagine all the rare and unusual plants and animals I might see.  The Inca Trail is said to be strewn with the most varied and beautiful orchids in the world.  Perhaps I’ll see the giant hummingbird, Patagona gigas, which is supposed to nest in these parts.  Or maybe an Andean condor, the largest vulture in the world.  But beyond the flora, fauna, and remote Inca ruins (after digging in them all day, I’ve adopted Nic’s indifferent attitude), I’ve decided to keep an eye out for the dullest plant on earth.  The yaretta.  It’s a moss-like growth, more scab than plant, that clings to rocks above 3,500 meters.  It grows one millimeter a year, and some plants are said to be over 3,000 years old.  I like the idea of seeing something that the Inca, or the Wari they conquered or the Chavín the Wari conquered, saw.

After two months at Cusichaca, after all the hours of digging and painstaking observations, I’m not so sure I agree anymore with any aspect of this science, pseudo or real.  After knowing so much about the Inca and their predecessors, having almost absorbed their daily lives by sifting their common, everyday objects — the very dust of their existence — through my fingers, I’d rather not know.  Better, I’ve begun to think, to just let it be.  Let the sand and soil rise up and cover it all.  Let it disappear and become only the faint vibrations of ancestry beneath your feet, a kind of low tremor that makes you stop, just for a moment, and look around without knowing why.  Raise your nose and sniff, or look at a distant mountain, and you suddenly see it a little more clearly — snow-capped Verónica in the northeast or Salcantay in the southwest — than you did before, feeling the sight between you and it still strung across the valley.

Seeing is a different type of archeology.  I can imagine two sets of eyes, ancient and modern, separated by hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, looking at the same object.  A filament of sight threaded through the ancient’s eyeball, through the object, through mine, then pulled taut by a pillow of moss or Verónica’s peak.  Instead of going down through time, as I do with my trowel, I’m moving across it.  With a mere glance I can remove a thousand years of weathers and light, and he’s here, Inca man occupying this same space, seeing.  I know he’s seen that stone in the corner of the wall where I’ve been digging at the Fort, because he built it, touched it, eyed it into place, then stepped back and admired its fit.

I imagine that the sight lines through the valley, the huaca lines, still exist, and they are at the same time strong yet fragile, like spider filaments.  No, there are no more gods.  We’ve killed them.  But sight still exists.  There’s something there, something to see, and each sight is powerful in its stark beauty.  I feel it up through my spine and know it as the action — performed in the past and resurrected in the present — of seeing.  Another’s sight, another’s clarity of vision, a re-manifestation of life by sight that once existed at this very spot, killed by the absence of eyes then reanimated by my presence.  Then, looking away, fallen to the ground like a rope of sand.

What am I seeing?  That object, yes — Verónica, the qolqas (granaries) at Patallacta, a stone in an elbow of the Cusichaca stream.  But I’m also seeing seeing.  Maybe this is what the Buddhists call “bare attention” and Thomas Merton explains as seeing what is there without “any comment, any interpretation, any judgment, any conclusion.”  It feels like feeling seeing.

We do phosphate tests to find the amount of organic matter in the soil, that which was once alive then decays at a predictable rate.  Such tests don’t exist for seeing.  However, the energy, the fermentation of seeing, seems susceptible to decay, also.

The Inca man who once stood looking out over the Urubamba Valley from within the buried walls I’ve again brought to free-standing once saw the crescent moon descend over Verónica’s left shoulder, as I see it now for the first time.  How much does time matter, the meters of soil I’ve dug down through, if the sight is the same?  Who cares if he used the Lucre or K’illke style of pottery to make his aryballo vessel in which to store his chicha?  The repeated experience of seeing makes the sight continuous, eternal, and cannot be buried beneath tons of dirt to be dug up by hungover kids a thousand years later.  Sight exists as surely as, because of, the things it sees.  It is constant, malleable, has life, and, while it can decay, it cannot be worn out.  Sight just hangs around, waiting for another pair of eyes, and there it is, alive, the silver thread to Verónica, Patallacta, the Urubamba River — taut again.

And I imagine the object collecting being seen.  Over the millennia, that strange, vicuña-shaped outcrop I come upon trailside, probably a huaca, has become filled with chance shards of sight and thousands of fragment glances — larger pieces of staring — like a giant bucket of sight Finds.  The same formation of rock having been looked at by two different consciousnesses, two different phyla of mind that can’t possibly be compared, yet are connected by at least some small piece of humanity that sends each into the mountains.  A dull little pad of stone I sit on and rest, the same one that a chasqui might have rested on during his run to Machu Picchu with King Huayna Capac’s urgent message to have fish ready for dinner.

The altitude has given me two pains along the back of my head, starting at the junction where my spine attaches to the base of my skull, then splitting into a V and moving forward over the top of my skull and terminating above my eyebrows.  The pain breathes as I do, exploding when I inhale, dissipating as I exhale.  A bellows of pain.

Rising through these mountains feels like a different type of digging — out of a grave.  The soil is thin, and gets thinner with each breath.  I’m clawing my way upward like an interred body toward the surface of the sky.  The digging is agony, almost desperate.  I’m acutely conscious of my body in space, in two-fold awareness: Of this physical thing moving through Andean air.  And inside, aware of the body’s disappointment upon the mind, the physical causing the mental to disintegrate.  Step, breathe, rise…  Step, breathe, rise…

All of us are chewing coca leaves for the altitude, and they help, but not my cold.  I put about 30-40 leaves, each the size of a small bay leaf and just as dry and brittle, into my mouth, wad up two separate packs with my saliva, then tongue them up between my cheek and gums.  Then I take a small chunk of lime, about the size of a pea and the dark brown color of hashish, and put it in the center of each wad of coca.  This helps activate the essential properties of the coca.  Then chew.  Over the course of hours, as we’re ascending the at times vertical path to Dead Woman’s Pass, I grind the edges of the two pulpy wads of coca into a mush, swallowing small bits until it’s gone.  The taste is dull and leafy, as if I’m chewing very old hay.

Gradually, the coca takes effect, and we make it to the top of Dead Woman’s Pass.  Mike and I come in last, I because of my increasingly enervating cold turning into the flu, Mike because of bad knee cartilage.

It’s freezing.  Cold wind and blowing snow.  I’m wearing every piece of clothing I brought with me.

Then down.  The snow changes back to rain.  We leave Mike at a campsite at the bottom of Pacaymayo, and we push on to Runkuracay at 3,950 meters, over it, down again, and on up to Sayaqmarca at the relatively comfortable height of 3,600 meters.

We arrive at the Sayaqmarca ruins around 4 p.m., and rising up to it, after the tomb-like disquiet of the jungle trail below, is like coming upon Neruda’s “permanence: the rock that abides and the word: / the city upraised like a cup in our fingers.”  We decide to stay.  We’ve covered 23 kilometers of the hardest part of the trail, twice what the tourists cover with the trekking companies.  We’re not masochists or heroic.  We promised Gill we’d be back on site by Monday morning, which means only two days to cover what ordinarily takes four.

The sun comes out briefly, like a Governor’s reprieve.  The light, like the air, is thin up here — skinny crimson and orange bands slicing across every near and far horizon.  Everything is wet, and sparkles in the late-day sun, as if iced.  At this height the clouds are at eye level, and cut across the distant mountains like fuzzy brushstrokes decapitating the peaks.  Absolute silence, thin-air silence, silence that can carry a whisper a hundred miles.

Sayaqmarca, “Inaccessible Town,” is an Inca ruin set in a cramped outcrop of mountain bedrock.  Most of the taller trees are gone and have been replaced by thorny-branched tancar bushes and checche, which look like holly with their glossy, dentate leaves.  We set up camp in one of the rare circular, probably ceremonial buildings made of polygonal stone, which was used in the more prestigious Inca buildings.

Our campsite feels familiar, protective, despite the missing roof.  A temenos, the sacred enclosure, a sanctuary of square or ovular space.  A starlit dome of infinite black sky is above us, the granite walls, circling infinity, around us.  The overall effect is one of solemnity and ceremony, silent and purposeless.  No liturgies, no oppressive meanings.  Just that ethereal digging through time in coeval space.

We have a meal of sausage, cheese, and soup as the sun sets just to the left of Warmiwañusqa, where we’d been shivering and exhausted a couple hours ago.  Rob and I share a half-bottle of rum, celebrating the completion of the hardest part of the trail and the fact that from now on it’s pretty much, literally, downhill to Machu Picchu.  The rum wipes out all my symptoms, at least for the night.

The next day dawns beautiful and bright, cloudless.  All the distant peaks are covered in fresh snow, and it truly feels like being, as the cliché goes, on top of the world.  “It’s like being in a stationary airplane,” Rob says.

We’re all nackered, moving slowly around the site with leaden legs and cloudy heads.  My cold has gotten worse, and now I’m sure it’s the full-blown flu.  I’m feverish and my thinking is truncated, as if I’ve lost 50 points of IQ.  I don’t know if I can make the rest of the trek, which I don’t tell my trailmates.

We finally break camp around nine a.m., at which time Mike shows up full of cheer and howdy-do’s.  Again, all the way out here, a blaring neon voice of American bluster, so intrusive in any environment other than its own.  The four of us, by unspoken bond — we just feel it, see it in each other’s eyes as we’re striking the tents, brief nods across the campsite — have coalesced into a single unit of purpose and intent, and Mike’s appearance feels like an infliction, a splinter in a warm sock.  Selfishly, we leave Mike behind and start the last leg of the journey.

All of us are chewing coca leaves for the altitude, and they help, but not my cold.

Most of this part is true Inca Trail.  At the more precarious spots the path is cut into the sides of the mountains, called the “eyebrow of the jungle.”  The flatter portions, as we move down toward Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna, are the best kept and the clearest examples of Inca road technology.  These portions are laid with uniform blocks of stone about two meters wide, built for speed.  We make good progress, dropping out of the densely vegetated high sierra and then abruptly, at around five p.m., through the “Gate of the Sun” to Machu Picchu.

From above, which is why people take the trail instead arriving at Machu Picchu by rail or bus from below, the sacred city doesn’t look real.  It doesn’t seem possible that anyone could have built such a meticulously laid out city in such a remote spot, nestled into a little hip of mountains.  Inside the city, all the open spaces are filled in with bright green grass, smooth and evenly mowed right up to the incomplete walls of the Temple of the Three Windows, the House of the High Priest, and the Temple of the Condor.  It looks like an Inca-themed Putt-Putt golf course.  In the distant west, the mountains are dark, ominous, sharp as sickles enveloped by storms and lightning.

Twisting up to Machu Picchu from its lower side is a tourist road that looks like a white scar against the mountainside, switchbacking up to an obtrusive modern hotel which might as well be a McDonalds for its architectural incongruity.  “The ruin of height,” Neruda said before this hotel was ever built.

We rush down to the Hotel as it starts to rain again, and duck onto the porch just as the rain falls from the sky in a torrent.  Ten minutes later the rain stops, and a rainbow appears, thick and luminous with wide bands of laser-clear color, like a fountain of crayons.

Under the porch roof Rob, Emily, Morag and I look at each other.  We smile and nod silently.  We’ve done the Inca Trail in two days, though that wasn’t necessarily our goal.  We endured, which is all we’re acknowledging.  Adversity conquered, a trial which at times I didn’t think I was going to survive.  If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have.

At one point on the trail I’d lagged behind.  Everyone was shrinking to dots in the distance ahead of me, and I felt like quitting.  I was done, exhausted.  But in those small, faraway figures I recognized the simple gestures of turned heads in my direction, looking at me, their concern keeping me tethered to them.  At other times, when we stopped for lunch or when we had to rest because of me, I caught them secretly watching me.  After they quickly turned away, the only thing I saw in the soft edges of receding periphery were the fragments of their compassion.  I was in their sights.  I could feel their sympathetic glances, slim yet strong filaments of seeing stitched through me, and they were pulling me along.  Hazy and exhausted and dumb with fever under the hotel’s eave, looking at their young, beautiful faces covered with trail-grime and fatigue, I have an overwhelming, holy devotion to every one of them.

There are no buses running down to the train terminus at Km 112, so we silently walk the two kilometers to the station, then another two to Aguas Calientes.  By this time I’m completely spent.  I’m dazed and enervated, in the strange “sick cloud” of flu that floats to the precarious edges of hallucination.  I can barely stumble into Aguas in a drizzling rain.

We find a place to stay, the Hotel Machu Picchu, four to a room, 16,000 soles ($1) apiece.

I didn’t see a single orchid, the old yaretta moss-man, the giant hummingbird, or a single condor.  And after all the grueling miles and arduous intent, we didn’t step foot inside Machu Picchu.  We laugh like monkeys at this until we fall asleep.

Works Consulted/Referenced

  • McEwan, Gordon F.  The Incas: New Perspectives.  New York, W. W. Norton & Co, 2006.
  • Merton, Thomas.  Zen and the Birds of Appetite.  New York, New Directions, 1968.
  • Neruda, Pablo.  “The Heights of Macchu Picchu,” General Song.  In Ben Belitt (ed. & trans.), Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda.  New York, Grove Press, 1950, 1961.
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About JLSchneider

JLSchneider is a carpenter and an adjunct professor of English at a small community college in upstate New York. His essays have appeared in Solstice Magazine, The Southeast Review, The Mochila Review, New Millennium Writings, and Trajectory. His short story collection, Objects of Desire, was awarded the 2012 Sol Books Prose Prize.

One Comment

  1. Gayle
    Posted January 2014 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    What an utter pleasure to read. Thank you.

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