Lorca

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Lorca

Solidarity screamed out from posters and stamps
that carried snapshots of the dead poet’s face.

We still haven’t found his body.
He said we never would.

They tortured him first, taunted him for being homosexual;
trussed him up; laid him face down; then shot him,
for a joke, in the offending area.

He took a long time to die. When he did,
they dumped his body in some hillside ossuary
above his home town. But first they carved
the bullets out of his corpse,
three from the anal tract,
keeping them as souvenirs.

Next day his followers were put to death.
Waverers were soon convinced by bullets
lodged at the base of another’s skull.

Later that week, Fascists, drunk, laughed
uproarious in their favorite bars.
They dropped the bullets into white wine,
watching the blood trail as it drifted down,
then drank to the re-establishment
of what they now called law and order.

Commentary:

Another Golden Oldie, also from Broken Ghosts (Goose Lane, 1986).  The Spanish poet and playwright, Federico García Lorca (poetic Generation of 1927), predicted the mystery surrounding his own death and the unknown location of his body in a poem from his surrealist collection, Poet in New York. The recent decisions in Spain to open Civil War graves and seek the identity of victims via DNA testing and other more modern means has also led to the controversial reopening of many of the wounds of a Civil War that never really healed in many parts of the country. The Basque problems and the recent troubles in Catalonia bear witness to the continued memories of Civil War and post-Civil War repression.

Christopher Columbus

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Christopher Columbus

leaves foot prints,
wake to his imagined ships,
dark, in the snow,
the unusual snow,
the snow they haven’t seen
in Granada city centre
for forty years.

It settles on roofs,
forms dark ridges
where the sun catches it
and turns it into
wet, dripping snow.

The Alhambra:
a wonderland of stiff,
white starched buildings,
stands out against
the mountain’s mass.

We click our cameras
and say “Just like home!”

We don’t realize
we’re repeating history
for it snowed then,
as it snows now
and Columbus
walked these streets
like any Canadian tourist,

short of breath,
short of cash,
the seams of his boots
letting in the cold,
wet snow,
you know how it is
on Yonge Street,
Main Street,
any street,
any town
in Canada.

And then the miracle:
he’s walking away,
leaving it all behind,
when the messenger
catches up to him and says:

“The war’s over:
there’s money now.
She says ‘Go for it!’
The ships you want,
the dream, the world,
they’re all yours now.”

Christopher Columbus
fell on his back,
flapped his arms,
and created winged shapes:
dream-angels,

white-sailed ships
sailing in the snow.