Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Lobatera is a municipality in the Táchira State of Venezuela, located 29 kilometres east of Cúcuta, Colombia. With a population of approximately 6,500 people, the town hosts historical sites, such as the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary Chiquinquirá (a magnificent neo-Romanesque building), the Chapel of Humilladero, the Plaza Bolívar (home of the bronze statue of El Libertador Simón Bolívar) and the falls of Pozo Bravo.

On February 26, 1849, 40 people were killed in the Earthquake of Lobatera.

From my Dad’s book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental).


When Dositeo used to say “The air smells like Lobatera”,
he exercised a prophetic gift.

He came from the earthquake of his town
which blinded his eyes.

He used to see with his sense of smell
more than with his sense of touch.

He did not live in the city. Nor he knew
for a long time, the identity of days and nights.

His blind-man symphony used to sound with
the sweetness of that distant humming music
that tends to travel with the wind, without the
chance of being identified.

Each time he received a donation
he insisted on his premonition.

The air smelled like Lobatera. It was evident.

They pictured him as a prophet and
did not listen to him. He had started to do his thing
in a foreign land.

They believed in his prophecy later,
between the remains of the destroyed city
and the madness of the moving earth.

The air smells like Lobatera!

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