Ask me anything
“ The great poet Pablo Neruda, whose death was prompted by the treacherous coup, was quoted more than once, in this case to affirm our beautifully poetic “guiding stars” which are “struggle” and “hope”. Has Obama forgotten that Neruda was a Communist, a friend of the Cuban Revolution, a great admirer of Simon Bolivar who is reborn every hundred years, and inspiration for the Heroic Guerrilla Ernesto Guevara? ”
Fidel Castro on Obama’s “Partnership of Equals”
Kosovo Suite. June Jordan & Adrienne Torf. (from the album Collaboration)
"The rains fail to purify the river
The darkness does not slow
the trembling message of the tanks
hundreds of houses on fire and still
the enemies do not seek
the enemies only the ones without water
only the ones without bread”
For those who with our taxes die of torture
What is it like
Is it like
Into a bath
Is it like
Heart to stop
(c)2009 by Alice Walker (from her letter to President Obama regarding torture.)
Problems of Translation: Problems of Language
Dedicated to Myriam Díaz-Diocaretz
by June Jordan
I turn to my Rand McNally Atlas.
Europe appears right after the Map of the World.
All of Italy can be seen page 9.
Half of Chile page 29.
I take out my ruler.
In global perspective Italy
amounts to less than half an inch.
Chile measures more than an inch and a quarter
of an inch.
Chile is as long as China
Back to the Atlas:
Chunk of China page 17.
All of France page 5: As we say in New York:
Who do France and Italy know
at Rand McNally?
I see the four mountains in Chile higher
than any mountain of North America.
I see Ojos del Salado the highest.
I see Chile unequivocal as crystal thread.
I see the Atacama Desert dry in Chile more than the rest
of the world is dry.
I see Chile dissolving into water.
I do not see what keeps the blue land of Chile
out of blue water.
I do not see the hand of Pablo Neruda on the blue land.
As the plane flies flat to the trees
below five thousand miles below
my Brooklyn windows
and beside the shifted Pacific waters
welled away from the Atlantic at Cape Horn
La Isla Negra that is not an island La
that is not black
is stone and stone of Chile
feeding clouds to color
scale and undertake terrestrial forms
of everything unspeakable
In your country
how do you say copper
for my country?
Blood rising under the Andes and above
the Andes blood
spilling down the rock
corrupted by the amorality
of so much space
that leaves such little trace of blood
rising to the irritated skin the face
of the confession far
I confess I did not resist interrogation.
I confess that by the next day I was no longer sure
of my identity.
I confess I knew the hunger.
I confess I saw the guns.
I confess I was afraid.
I confess I did not die.
What you Americans call a boycott
of the junta?
Who will that feed?
Not just the message but the sound.
Early morning now and I remember
corriendo a la madrugada from a different
I remember from the difficulties of the talk
athwart the wine the dinner and the dancing
meant to welcome you
you did not understand the commonplace expression
of my heart:
the truth is in the life
la verdad de la vida
do you say la mañanita?
But then we lose
the idea of the sky uncurling to the light:
Early morning and I do not think we lose:”
the rose we left behind
broken to a glass of water on the table
at the restaurant stands
por la mañanita
June Jordan, “Problems of Translation: Problems of Language” from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The June M. Jordan Literary Trust. Used by permission of The June M. Jordan Literary Trust, www.junejordan.com.
Source: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (2005)
i love those women
& men who fought
not so we wouldn’t have to
but so we would
know how to