To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Sunday, January 11, 2015

David Huerta: “Ayotzinapa,” Translation into English by Mark Weiss

[On September 23rd 43 students of the teacher's college in Ayotzinapa, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, were detained by the police on the way to a protest, and handed over to a local drug cartel. They were tortured and killed, their bodies dismembered, dumped in a pit and incinerated. Mexico has been in turmoil since.  

David Huerta is one of Mexico's most important poets. This poem is his reaction. (m.w.)]


We bite the shadow
And in the shadow
The dead appear
As lights and fruit
As beakers of blood
As rocks from the pit
As branches and leaves
Of tender viscera

The hands of the dead
Are drenched in anguish
And twisted gestures
In the shroud of the wind
They bring with them
An insatiable sorrow

This is the land of ditches
Ladies and gentlemen
The land of screams
The land of children in flame
The land of tortured women
The land that barely existed yesterday
And today where it was is forgotten

We are lost between puffs
Of hellish sulphur
And irresistable fires
Our eyes are open
And stuffed
With broken glass

We extend
Our living hands
To the dead and the disappeared
But they back away from us
With a gesture of infinite distance

The bread is burnt
The faces of life are uprooted
And burnt and there are no hands
Nor faces
Nor country

There's just a vibration
Thick with tears
A long howl
Where we have confused
The living with the dead

Whoever reads this must know
That they were cast into the sea of the smoke
Of cities
Like a sign of the broken spirit

Whoever reads this must also know
That in spite of all
The dead have neither gone
Nor been made to disappear

That the spell of the dead
Is in sunrise and spoon
In foot and cornfield
In sketches and river

We gave to this spell
The calm silver
Of the breeze

To our dead
To our youthful dead
We delivered the bread of the sky
The sprig of waters
The splendor of all sadness
The whiteness of our condemnation
The forgetting of the world
And the shattered memory
Of all that live

Now brothers
It's best to be silent
To open one's hands and mind
So as to harvest from the cursed land
The shards of hearts
Of all who are
And all
Who have been

David Huerta
November 2, 2014

[Originally published in Plume online at]

1 comment:

Robin McLachlen said...

Yes. Also on this subject, a great blog post, about a month ago, from Daniel Borzutzky: