Wednesday, October 29, 2014


1. What if I give you back, this land, this heart
this land of sirens, land of gunshots
the adrenaline cocktail that nourishes us.
What if I give you back this addiction to fear,
to death, to Fox News, because for you,
there is no other reality, other than fear itself.

What if the siren was an opera singer
stuck on the high notes of torture
a woman screaming in a dark alley
and yet you did nothing, immobile
and waterboard tears followed you in sleep.

I have heard gunshots late at night
waiting for a rain of bullets falling to earth
to water the gardens, the cemeteries.
I have learned friendly fire, they call it
fire, friendly, fire, fire away.
And what about collateral damage?
Dead is dead is dead is dead.

2. We are haunted by the acrid odor
of woodsmoke and petrochemical chasers.
We call it metaphor, call it simile.
Is it all good for our writing, no?
We make a cocktail for the guerilla & the soldier.
They are both one thing, caught in the cogs
of country and religion and idealism.

I have stood deep in the jungles of enemy territory.
I have stood on both sides of the equation.
Terror, night terrors followed me, they followed,
keeping me close as a shadow, as close as fear.
Terrior. How land shapes us.

There are things I tell no one:
At Lake Atitlán, boys melted into the selva
as we visited the islands of the saints
and he bought me that purple dress of sorrow,
of forgiveness, & a lapis heart made of sky & bone.
Sky & bone & blood & bone.

And in the Petén Jungle we learned the difference
between Uzis & AK-47s. What distant country?
I didn't want to know the difference between weapons,
but it was a matter of life & death. Of survival.

Once I was naive, but the shape of a man's
preferred weapon, & alliances made
in Israel & the USSR defined us as friend or foe.
I hardly knew what Communism was
but in Peru, the Puku Pukara followed us
wherever we went, hammer & sickle
stenciled on sacred stones, in black & red,
and in the act of running from danger,
we ran ever toward trouble.

We were dream swimmers adrift
on a political crest & trough,
the tide carrying us to distant shores
along with the rise and fall of nations,
the fire licking the sun on the intihuacana
licking it into the purity of an ideal.


Our Stories- Creativity, Writing and Storytelling for Educators class at Alameda County Office of Education, Aimee Suzara, instructor

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