a.d. winans | poem for roberto vargas and the nicaragua freedom fighters

A 1980’s protest in the Mission District. Poet Roberto Vargas is on the left, Francisco Flores, center, and Alejandro Murgia is on the right.


This poem is for you Roberto. And for Ed “Foots” Lipman too. This poem is for every poet.

Who ever paced the cellblocks
Of San Quentin, Folsom, Attica, and Neil Island
Or fought the people’s struggle in Chile
Cuba or Nicaragua

This poem is for those who walk
The dream of freedom with guerilla visions
In their hearts and eyes

This poem is for those who gave their lifeblood
To wash the streets free of oppression
For those who rest in heroic
And not so heroic graves
In the struggle for human dignity

I sit here in my seventy-fifth year
Thinking of young boys who have fought
The real war
Thinking of grieving mothers and widows
And young women in black suspender belts
And knee high leather boots
With revolutionary roots

Thinking of how the words come too late
And never say enough
Knowing that in the Buddha Temple of life
All things must die
Knowing there is no survival
No tarot cards horoscopes or incantations
To bring back the dead

I walk the midnight supermarket of death
Thinking of Lorca and that long dirt road
Thinking of the execution wall
The hangman’s noose
Ethnic cleansing ovens and genocide
Hearing the gypsy ballad that sings
To the heavens
Knowing there is a strange code
To this language we are addicted too

As Gene Fowler pointed out to me
Evil spelled backwards is live
Being made into a State automated robot is evil
But dying is not evil
For it is in its whole the disintegration
The Bacterial feeding which in turn
Is a live process

And so the fight goes on and must go on
Until every street has been cleared of assassins
Until every newborn is encircled in a poem
Knowing there are secrets in the bones
That cannot be denied or sold out
To the whims of others

Sleep well my departed comrades
Only the flesh is gone
Your strength lives on in those who dared
To reach out and kiss the sun

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