Thursday, May 5, 2011

A slain son, a father's heartbreak and the end of poetry

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

Grief-stricken Mexican poet Javier Sicilia read a poem dedicated to his murdered son last Saturday, and then declared that this would be his last, that “Poetry does not exist in me anymore.”

I understand how he feels, find much in common, remember when the poetry died in my life…and how long it took to come back….

24-year-old Juan Francisco was found in an abandoned car along with six other bodies, their heads, faces, hands and feet bound with tape, suffocated to death under that tape, among the latest victims in the ongoing war that has its foundation in American demand for drugs and the many billions of dollars U.S. citizens are willing to export in order to feed their habits.

These seven are believed to be innocent, “collateral damage” in the incessant violence between the gangs, the cartels, for control of the smuggling routes, and the Mexican government, the battle for the soul of Mexico itself “so far from God, so close to the United States”….

More than 35,000 people have been murdered in Mexico in just the last five years, most often with guns supplied by U.S. gun dealers, and by criminal enterprises nearly entirely funded with U.S. dollars, smuggled back across the border or transferred electronically to offshore tax havens by corrupt American banking officials.

And now there is Mr. Sicilia’s last poem:

El mundo ya no es digno de la palabra
Nos la ahogaron adentro
Como te (asfixiaron),
Como te
desgarraron a ti los pulmones

Y el dolor no se me aparta
sólo queda un mundo
Por el silencio de los justos
Sólo por tu silencio y por mi silencio, Juanelo.

El mundo ya no es digno de la palabra, es mi último poema, no puedo escribir más poesí poesía ya no existe en mi.

The world is no longer worthy of the word
They suffocated it inside us
Like you (they asphyxiated)
Like you
they slashed your lungs
And pain won’t cleave from me
only a world is left
By the silence of the just
Only by your silence and by my silence, Juanelo.

The world is no longer worthy of the word—is my last poem, I can’t write any more poetry...poetry no longer exists in me. (Javier Sicilia)

I understand the grieving poet’s sentiments so well…nearly fifteen years went by following the loss of my children in a Mormon abduction…and more than five years passed after the death of my son Aaron, a death preventable had he received medical care of minimal competence…before I could find my way to the poetry, to the lyrics, to the music once again….

No one knows how long these things take….

No one knows how much time will pass before Mr. Sicilia finds the poetry in his soul once again….

A year ago, I would have been among the first to say, “Never…it will never exist in me again”….

But today I taste the bittersweetness of life with purpose and compassion…I hear songs, melodies, feel the pulse of the drumbeat in my heart…lyrics close to the surface, where tears used to abide…and down the road, perhaps, another poem will rise for Mr. Sicilia, as it has for me….

I greet the day gladly.