Rock: In Memory of Roque Dalton


May

The month of your birth and death

remind us of our actions

Your voice

has become the vos

“of our five senses”

We remember your poems

like a letter of love arrived on Sunday

that slices a finger

of eagerness to be romanced

with the fine edges of an eloquent but blunt truth

the struggle of a people in arms

whose pages in your books

are marked

by the small cellular print

in the drops of our blood

Born

May 14th 1935

Died

May 10th 1975

Four days before your anniversary

of the greatest day and the saddest day for your mother

It is often said that your own people killed you

“los guanacos hijos de la gran puta”

(self-named the sons of bitches)

we are touched by what you called us

because you will always be one of us

It is often said your own people killed you

with the kiss of those who love you

Some doubted your place and feared your beauty

accusing you of being a bourgeois intellectual

a game still played even now by a distant Diaspora

claiming street credit

by dissing to disparage their compatriots, poets

judged for being educated

in a Jesuit school

sentenced by some jealous fool

who wanted to be as good of a writer as you

I know that’s why you were murdered, not

because some believed you a CIA spy, but

because others wanted the glory and respect given to you

like a river following its course to the Pacific

not understanding that your disappearance

could never make them better writers

So we’ve remained “los tristes mas tristes del mundo”

the saddest of the saddest in the world

playing the same cumbias and marimbas

finding little has changed in the promises of men

and women worked like the cheapest piece

of an assembly line

like a seed dropped and crunched

under a heavy boot

on earth hard as cement

walls we offer

the maras, young waves without their own verses

without bread

no fish

no flor de izote

no cultural front

to transform a country

The largest sector in El Salvador is our youth

they who hold the trump card

killing themselves in desolation

blasting their bodies

with the bite of metal and ink

and a language that imprisons them

as we hand them empty palms or loaded barrels

our own people are destroying

the future armies of the people

the foundation that poetry and art builds

May

The month of your birth and death

Remind us of our actions

To continue a legacy

Born

May 14th 1935

Risen with the voice of a rock

Died

Never.

Never.

***

by Karina Oliva-Alvarado


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