DON ALFONSO CARRANZA MARTIN, 88
—Mi copa está rebosando
In straw hat and tuxedo shirt—camisa de esmoquin,
Don Alfonso dresses for the day. Black slacks and brown
leather belt. He's lost the cufflinks or never had them,
I don't know which, but his flair, su forma de hacer,
arrives in the cuffs, one hanging over his wrist,
one turned back to his elbow.
Don Alfonso Carranza Martin, 88,
en el campomento de los refugiados,
se llama Fe y Esperanza. Don Alfonso
quien perdió su dos hijos en la Guerra Civil,
me dió su mano y saludos, de su camisa
de esmoquin colgando sobre sus manos
sin butones o enlaces. He gives me his story.
—Me levanto a las 7:30.
Tomo café con pan.
Tengo 60 años de trabajar.
Nací en el cantón de San Sebastian.
Don Alfonso lost his two sons in the war.
I put photos of him on the inside cover pages
of my notebook and promise to deliver this poem.
You can see the cuffs dangling
one way or the other, flipfloppinglike government officials. His daughter
in the United States sent him this shirt
he wears everyday. Fe y Esperanza
is the name of the refugee camp
run by the Lutheran Church.
I ride in the pickup with Pastora Abelina Gómez.
I can hear her voice saying Don Alfonso's name
three thousand miles away. I have his portrait
with his leathery face to look at every morning.
Don Alfonso, so tall and skinny.
I hear of his death before I can return.
Don Alfonso wears a white tshirt underneath
his tuxedo shirt. Don Alfonso understands.
He smiles and nods. He answers every question.
Don Alfonso who lost his two sons in the Civil War.
Don Alfonso, remembered in the notebook—
voice, face, story, witness and style,
especialmente estilo—elegancia de personalidad.
July 27, 2005—May 30, 2010
THE PRICE OF CONSCIENCE
A voice comes from the darkness
of the sky as I walk back to the house
after relieving myself. ¿Está en solidaridad
con la Guerra en Iraq?
Are you in solidarity
with the war in Iraq? A soft voice, unseen.
Antonio Ramírez, 60, calls from the scaffolding
on the other side of a wall below a palm tree.
The ex-guerilla combatant works with concrete
blocks before sunrise adding a room
to the house of Juan Carlos Perdonmo
in the repopulated community of Rutilio Grande.
No. Ojalá estoy un luchador por la paz.
Pero, es verdad que yo soy un soldado.
Estuve con los medicos en Viet Nam.
¿Por qué, me preguntaste de la guerra?
Quisiera saber más de la semilla de su pregunta.
Creo que su pregunta es parte de su testigo.
I believe that his question is part of his witness,
and that he comes forward to honor a larger story.
Antonio descends after permitting my camera.
He tells me he couldn't work for ten years
after the armed conflict in El Salvadro, tremors,
that a politician bought him these tools,
and he is the one on the hammock last night
when I arrived. He waited all night to ask his question.
Nuestros heridos son de la misma guerra, I say.
Our wounds come from the same war—I have tremors—
Paises diferente, pero la misma guerra.
With the notebook in the kitchen
while he sings: ¿Puede escribir las palabras
de su canción en mi cuaderno? He takes my pen
and says, We sang this song every day
during the war. It was one of our popular
songs of liberation: Se al soya nuestra roja
vandera abenser o a morir ya maya por la patria
y el mañana sosialista El Pueblo Armado vensera.
He sings the dream of the two little girls.
One daughter is bourgeoisie—burgesas.
One is campesina. He sings in the same quiet voice
that called to me from the scaffolding.
The campesina dreams of bread for her pueblo
to heal the dolor and sickness of her people.
She dreams of work, and better crops.
The rich girl dreams of being a princess.
The poor girl promises to become a guerrilla.
No cuesta para entender la gente.
Cuesta para llevar la conciencia. Having a conscience...
March/April 2006—Memorial Day Weekend, 2010
LISTENING TO JON SOBRINO, WRITING IN MY NOTEBOOK,
WHILE LISTENING, AFTER RETURNING
FROM THE REPOPULATED COMMUNITY OF RUTILIO GRANDE
Birdsong at sunset
turns up the volume
as the solitary speaks—...reformulated for the poor?
Can you see the young man?
Un mundo salvado
Podemos hablar de esto.
The forgotten ones. Believers. Saved from below.
A world redeemed—We can talk about this.
To admire a man who repeats what needs to be repeated.
It couldn't be done
if it weren't for Jon Sobrino
and the few like him,
talking to power,
talking about power,
relentlessly talking, repeating themselves—
los pobres traen salvación—they mirror Christ.
Among us, the question is not
how to do theology 'after' Auschwitz,
but doing it 'in' Auschwitz,
that is, in the midst of a terrifying cross...
It would be so easy to bring flush toilets,
dentists, and doctors, to places like Rutilio Grande.
We need a critical mass.
Yesterday the world from above said, No.
The world from above doesn't have the humanity.
Flowers are important.
No sabemos sus nombres.
We don't know your name
en este mundo de abajo.
God of the life of victims
bringing us into a God different
than the God of thought
Saved from below
saved by your face
we don't even know your name.
The university can't save the world.
The poor teach hope. No one else can.
Y los pobres creen en Dios,
en algo tantos basico.
Participate in the risks
and change your life.
23 March 2006, University of Central America,
19 April 2006, Yakima
28 May 2010
[This poem is a compilation of notes, of visual and aural observations taken in an altered state during some of the time periods listed. Notes are internal and external without citation. Italicized lines, did, but no longer come solely from Sobrino's book, Jesus the Liberator: A Historical-Theological View. jb]
AN EXTRA SET OF EYES:
CONTRADICTION OF THE FROG AND THE POET
—para Alfonso Kijadurías
Contradicción y coherencia : Sapo y Poeta / Frog and Poet
La poesía siempre ha sido el poder y la renovación que desplaza los limites. El amor es su patria, la insumisión su ley, y su lugar está siempre en la anticipación.
—Alfonso Kijadurías, ganador de Premio Nacional de Cultura
[entrevista con Alfonso Kijadurías en el Diario suplemente cultural tres mil #10267 de noviembre 2009]
It's an odd thing to walk with power
when power walks with the poem.
Of a sudden, a newspaper is placed in my hands.
The hands who place them there, says,
Tengo el sentido del poeta.
The poet says, Poetry has always had the power to displace the limits.
Poetry as motherland and fatherland, following poetry's law,
anticipating the world made new.
The government gives the poet a prize
and the poet gives the government a poem about a frog.
The poet discovers a frog hidden in the rocks,
one eye open, one eye closed.
The poet knows that the frog is God.
This is as much a problem for God
as it is for the poet because, fundamentally,
the poet does not want to listen to God.
He'll think he understands
when he doesn't understand a thing.
There you go. Given the power,
the poet knows the laws he's responsible for,
he knows to whom he bows and begs.
Even knowing this, looking at the frog,
he can't quite keep a straight face.
One more thing. What about the power
that put the newspaper in the poet's hands,
hands themselves representing God on earth?
23 May 2010
IN THE KITCHEN
How it happens, happens in its own way.
It has something to do with disinterested search.
My friend brings out an old cassette tape
she's been carrying for twenty years.
She's on a dirt floor in a rain storm in Central America.
The priest says rain relieves daily stress and helps one forget the war.
Above or below, it may not even matter.
It became clear to me I never belonged to anything
from above. I knew
I was the poorest of the poor.
Neediest of the needy.
Believe me, I scoured landscapes.
God surrounded me with expensive knives
and gave me my own poverty—some kind
of joke between the two of us,
and he gave me the ones who would let me do my work.
22 May 2010
OSMÍN PACHECO AND THE PATIO
Union people, that's who we are.
Este es el cantón de San Antonio.
Somos unionistas, Osmín Pacheco says.
We stand in the middle of the soccer game.
Young people playing through us
shouting for the pelota, kicking the wet ball.
In a downpour from the tail of Hurricane Ida.
Teenagers, girls and boys, at joy speed,
hair streaming water, a young woman
in a breakaway.
Esta cancha de fútbol
aquí, era el patio de la hacienda.
¿Qué dice? I ask in disbelief.
This football field, here—
the patio of the hacienda?
Osmín points to the four corners marked by flags.
This soccer field was the patio for the casa grande.
Osmín shows me where helicopters landed.
Rutilio Grande belongs to this community.
He smiles. Sí, sí, sí. Los jovenes nunca jugaron aquí.
The children run through us laughing.
13 noviembre 2009—Cantón de San Antonio—
24 May, 2010, Yakima