Letter to Martín Espada

By Doug Anderson b. 1943 Doug Anderson

Esto no es realismo mágico

Dear Martín:
In Izalco, while Christ waits for Easter
in his glass tomb in the cathedral
a single long note is blown on a trumpet
en el parque central. Los perros flacco
forage at the feet of la gente.   
Los poetas mount the stage in a shower of rose petals
thrown by old ladies.   
The Mayor opens his arms wide.
In the audience are campesinos, hijitos, shopkeepers,
viejos, the town trauma surgeon, and a generous contigent
of la policia con pistolas, escopetas y M16s.
Solamente el volcán duerme esta noche.
Los perros flaccos jump into the big blue garbage cans.   
Martín, you will certainly believe this.   
Each poeta is introduced with a fireworks rocket.
Los perros flaccos jump out of the big blue garbage cans.
Poetas de Argentina, Taiwan, Guatemala, España,   
Peru, Nicaragua, France, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, y
Los Estados Unidas open their mouths.   
Out come pajaros, serpientes, y duendes,   
hombres, mujeres, y alquimistas with flasks of aether;
out come revolutionaries in diapers, ambassadors
in limousines of obsidian, the Virgin in a Madonna T-shirt,   
y los Indios with flutes made of thigh bones
and bombs made of skulls; out come
the dead dictators chained together by ectoplasm
swinging censors that emit the stink of money,
priests with rifles, nuns with giant beasts
whose names are forgotten hidden in the musk
of their habits; out come conquistadores on roller skates,
Moros in black on black motorcycles, Mad Max
with tattoos de los Maras Salvatruche.
When los poetas have finished, there are more fireworks.   
They are swarmed by hijitos, viejos y otros
wanting autographs. Their hands are as soft as their hearts.
Death does not hide here but lives among them dressed in
white lace with earrings rattling on her skull. Life does not hide
here but steps through irony as if it were the vanishing fog.

Doug Anderson, “Letter to Martín Espada” from Cry Wolf. Copyright © 2008 by Doug Anderson. Reprinted by permission of Azul Editions.

Source: Cry Wolf (2008)

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Poet Doug Anderson b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Religion, Christianity, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict, Popular Culture, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

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Poet Doug Anderson grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He served as a combat medic in the Vietnam War, and after Vietnam attended the University of Arizona, where he studied acting. He started writing poetry after he moved to Northampton, Massachusetts, and worked with the poet Jack Gilbert. Anderson has written about his experiences in the Vietnam War in both poetry and nonfiction. He is the author of the poetry collections The . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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