Speak Out - Drive Out the Bush Regime

Statements from a wide array of individuals and organizations about why they are taking up the Call for November 2nd.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Martin Espada - 2 poems

Martin Espada submitted the following two anti-war poems to World Can't Wait upon adding his name to the call for November 2, to drive out the Bush Regime.

Blues for the Soldiers Who Told You
"I¹m like a country who can¹t remember the last war."
Doug Anderson
They told you that the enemy and the liberated throng
swaddle themselves in the same robes and rags,
wear the same masks with eyes that follow you,
pray in the same bewildering tongue, until your rifle
trembles to rake the faces at every checkpoint.
They told you about the corpse of a boy or girl
rolled at your feet, hair gray with the powder
of rubble and bombardment, flies a whirlpool blackening both eyes,
said you¹ll learn the words for apology too late to join
the ceremony, as flies become the chorus of your nightmares.
They told you about the double amputee from your town,
legs lopped off by the blast, his basketball friend
bumping home in a flag-draped coffin
the cameras will not film anymore,
about veterans who drench themselves in liquor
like monks pouring gasoline on their heads.

They told you in poems and stories
you did not read, or stopped reading
as your cheeks scorched with inexplicable fever,
and because they spoke with a clarity that burned your face,
because they saw with the vision of a telescope
revolving around the earth, they spent years wandering
through jails and bars, exiled to roads after midnight
where gas stations snap their lights off one by one,
seers unseen at the coffee shop waiting for bacon and eggs,
calling at 3 AM to say I can¹t stop writing and you have to hear this.

You will not hear this, even after the war is over
and the troops drown in a monsoon of desert flowers
tossed by the crowd, blooming in their mouths
to stop their tongues with the sweetness of it.

The God of the Weatherbeaten Face
For Camilo Mejia, conscientious objector

The gods gathered:
the crusader god took off his helmet,
the desert warrior god stood his shield in the corner,
the sword-maker god sat between them sharpening blades,
the bombardier god spread his maps on the table,
the god who collects infidel heads traded trophies
with the god who collects heathen scalps,
the god of gold opened his handkerchief
for the god of oil to wipe his dripping chin,
the god who punishes sin with boils scratched his boils
and called the meeting to order.

And the gods said: War.
Sergeant Mejia heard the prisoner moan under the hood
as the guards shoved him into a steel closet, then pounded
with a sledgehammer on the door until the moaning stopped;
heard machine gun fire slicing heads from necks
with a roar that would be the envy of swords;
heard a soldier sobbing in the toilet for the headless boy
who would open his eyes every time the soldier closed his own.

Sometimes a song drifts up
through the moaning and sledgehammers,
machineguns and sobbing.
Sometimes a voice floats above pandemonium
the way a seagull floats over burning ships.

Sergeant Mejia heard his father¹s song,
the peasant mass of Nicaragua:
Vos sos el Dios de los pobres,
el Dios humano y sencillo,
el Dios que suda en la calle,
el Dios de rostro curtido.
You are the God of the poor,
the human and simple God,
the God who sweats in the street,
the God of the weatherbeaten face.

Iraq was crowded with the faces of this God.
They watched as Sergeant Mejia said no to the other gods,
miniscule word, a pebble, a grain of rice,
but the word flipped the table at the war council,
where the bombardier god had just dealt
the last hand to the god of oil,
and cards with dates of birth and death,
like tiny tombstones, fluttered away.

Sergeant no more, Camilo Mejia walked to jail.
Commanders fed the word coward
to the sniffing microphones of reporters
who repeated obediently: coward.

The cell crowded with faces too, unseen travelers
wandering in from a century of jails:
union organizer, hunger striker, freedom rider,
street corner agitator, conscientious objector.

The God of the weatherbeaten face,
dressed as an inmate steering a mop,
smuggled in the key one day, and Camilo Mejia
walked with him through epiphany's gate.