fredag 24. oktober 2008

They say the pen is more powerful than the gun

They say the pen is more powerful than the gun. I'm not so sure, but here's an attempt...

Bang! Bang!!

When I was growing up in a working class suburb of London, things like reading were considered a waste of time, and writing was for sissies. Poetry god forbid was just for poofs. Luckily I managed to get out of all that.

I discovered that reading and writing were not just the privilege of the ruling classes but were also important tools for gaining and transferring knowledge and awareness for the working classes. There were a lot of questions being asked at the time that I was growing up in the late sixties and early seventies: Capitalist exploitation, Imperialism, Racism, Vietnam. Alas we never came up with the answers as the self same questions are still being asked today with small variations on the theme like: Neoliberalism, Neo-colonialism, Iraq.

A lot of people who write poems don't like to explain their contents. They feel that the reader should have the task of putting into them their own personal meanings. But these observations have an inseparable connection with the events and experiences that evoked them. So I will endeavour to give an explanation of the poems as I go along to give them a context that may help to share with you a little of the joy, anger and frustration of over a half century of observing our tormented planet earth.

Literature wise it's pure amateur

We can start with some Latin American themes, the first goes way back to the beginning of the eighties in El Salvador. The time of the death squadrons and massacres. With the return of the Rapid reaction battalion “Atlacatl”, from training in the USA, the oppression in El Salvador became systematic and genocidal.

One of the worst massacres occurred in El Mozote in Morazan, over a thousand people where massacred there and in the surrounding area.

It’s only a few short lines written sitting in the ruins of the church where the children were herded in and butchered. I hope it can convey some of the fear and despair of the time.

EL MOZOTE ¡ NUNCA MAS ! (never again)

The soldiers came,

Many of them,

The brave Atlacatl,

Rapid Reaction Battalion.

Reacting rapidly,

To a Smile,

To a timid, fearful stare,

To a falling tear.

This is the other end of History... El Salvador today.

It's about the results of 16 years of neoliberal development and the breakdown of social fabric!

Pozo Macabro (Macabre well-Makaber brønn)


Sitting in a rocking chair on a colonial porch,

Eating coconut icecream,

And letting my thoughts run free.

The soft tones of a sad salvadoran folk song come drifting gently over from the neighbours radio, Interrupted by the occasional thud of an overripe mango,

Dislodged by the same afternoon breeze that cools my naked torso,

And evaporates the perspiration on my forehead.

Is this Paradise?


A youth of sixteen is standing trial for seventeen sadistic murders,

After the pleasure of watching his victims suffer,

He threw their mutilated bodies into the neighbourhood well,

"El Pozo Macabro" It was christened by the terrified locals.


Two sisters returning from a party with their boyfriends are abducted,

Driven to a deserted roadside,

And made to undress at gunpoint.

After violating them both,

"El Maquina", Laughing,

Shoots the one sister twice through the head,

As she kneels and pleads for her life.

Her sister, Running naked from the horror,

Is cut down by two more shots from the pitiless "Maquina".

Is this Hell?

No! This is the land of the "Saviour",

El Salvador.


"Land of precious things",

At the close of the millennium.

After five hundred years of resistance,

Fifty years of dictatorship,

And twelve years of bloody civil war,

Peace came to El Salvador.

But with 56 000 violent murders since the ink dried on the peace accords,

It is a peace that few cherish.

The silence of my thoughts is interrupted by another thud.

One more overripe mango?

Or the lifeless body of some tortured, anonymous youth,

Announcing its arrival at the bottom of some "Pozo Macabro"?

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