13 October 2010

Voices and Soul

12 October 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Tuesday's Chile, Poetry Editor

I came across a poll recently, showing that working class whites without four year college degrees, back Republican and TeaBircher policies with great majorities. Makes sense then, why we are hearing calls from Republicans and TeaBirchers to dismantle the Department of Education; if an educated voting public votes Democrat, then assure that the voting public is uneducated.

I have been harangued myself by this group, folks I went to high school with and have found me on the world wide web. I remember them as slackers and partiers, cheaters on tests who had no real expectation of a four year college education. They were very reminiscent of the characters in a parody of the movie, Saturday Night Fever on Saturday Night Live in the '70's, where Dan Akroyd happily proclaims in a disco club,

"To be young and stupid with no future, god I love this life!"

I have been accused by these "friends", because of my BA's in History and English, and an MA in American Literature, to have been brainwashed by the Liberal Educational system. They are of the belief that the more educated one is; excepting homeschooling, or attendance at Regent of Liberty Universities, but specifically, educated in public schools and "secular" colleges and universities; the more brainwashed that person. Never mind that I started Catholic School before Vatican II, never mind that one of my history professors at Portland State for example, Basil Dmytryshyn, could hardly be considered liberal.

The terrible ramifications of such an approach is obvious; from the problems of Science, whether it be Physics or Evolution, to the problems of historical revisionism and the..

Problems of Translation: Problems of Language


I turn to my Rand McNally Atlas.   
Europe appears right after the Map of the World.   
All of Italy can be seen page 9.   
Half of Chile page 29.   
I take out my ruler.   
In global perspective Italy   
amounts to less than half an inch.   
Chile measures more than an inch and a quarter   
of an inch.   
Chile is as long as China   
is wide:   
Back to the Atlas:   
Chunk of China page 17.   
All of France page 5: As we say in New York:
Who do France and Italy know   
at Rand McNally?


I see the four mountains in Chile higher   
than any mountain of North America.   
I see Ojos del Salado the highest.   
I see Chile unequivocal as crystal thread.   
I see the Atacama Desert dry in Chile more than the rest   
of the world is dry.   
I see Chile dissolving into water.   
I do not see what keeps the blue land of Chile   
out of blue water.   
I do not see the hand of Pablo Neruda on the blue land.


As the plane flies flat to the trees   
below Brazil   
below Bolivia   
below five thousand miles below   
my Brooklyn windows   
and beside the shifted Pacific waters   
welled away from the Atlantic at Cape Horn   
La Isla Negra that is not an island La   
Isla Negra   
that is not black   
is stone and stone of Chile   
feeding clouds to color   
scale and undertake terrestrial forms   
of everything unspeakable


In your country   
how do you say copper   
for my country?


Blood rising under the Andes and above   
the Andes blood   
spilling down the rock   
corrupted by the amorality   
of so much space   
that leaves such little trace of blood   
rising to the irritated skin the face   
of the confession far   
from home:

I confess I did not resist interrogation.   
I confess that by the next day I was no longer sure
of my identity.   
I confess I knew the hunger.   
I confess I saw the guns.   
I confess I was afraid.   
I confess I did not die.


What you Americans call a boycott   
of the junta?   
Who will that feed?


Not just the message but the sound.


Early morning now and I remember   
corriendo a la madrugada from a different   
English poem,   
I remember from the difficulties of the talk   
an argument   
athwart the wine the dinner and the dancing   
meant to welcome you

you did not understand the commonplace expression   
of my heart:

the truth is in the life

la verdad de la vida

Early morning:
do you say la maƱanita?
But then we lose   
the idea of the sky uncurling to the light:

Early morning and I do not think we lose:   
the rose we left behind   
broken to a glass of water on the table   
at the restaurant stands   
even sweeter   
por la maƱanita

-- June Jordan

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