This country is so beautiful.
Parts Written By Joe Napora For
Maura Clarke :: Dorothy Kazel
Ita Ford :: Jean Donovan
Raped And Murdered By U. S.
Supported Government Troops
In El Salvador :: December 2, 1980/
The first image
is a flower stock
in the barrel
of a gun.
The last image
is a gun stuck
into the corolla
of a flower.
The priest splits the girls
from the boys. The lecture unfolds
into a boring silliness about the birds
and the bees. And we
to imitate the bees' sting
we pinch the girls
and laugh. At night
at night they turn they turn
their naked bodies to the mirror
and see blue and black violets
blossom on the back of their legs.
We share the secret of what we learn.
We whisper of the stigma:
"a portion of the pistil
of the ovary of a flower
which receives the pollen."
The recurring joke about the pistil.
About pistols. About pistols.
And what to do with them,
The History of December 2
Feast day of St. Bibiana, or Viviana, Virgin & martyr1906, Dec. 2
Born in Hungary
Peter Carl Goldmark
strikes it rich
in the new world. he
invents the long playing
record. The record
is far from perfect.
Like too brittle bones
it easily cracks. Sound skips.
Words repeated without
from Hungarian in this
new American glossary:
1547, Dec. 2, Death of Hernan Cortes
"So it was decided to put Cuahtemoc to torture."We always made fun of explorers and
into the commercial paradise of pornography.
And later the novels of Melville pointing
to how spreading the Word
lead to its breaking.
". . . .and when he was hanged, or was tortured to reveal the treasures of Montezuma. His feet were smeared with oil and exposed many times to the fire, but his torturers gained more infamy than gold."Even young we wondered
And yet. And yet. Even though we knew
with them the missionaries took us
and in some small way redeemed us
from our unspoken privilege.
1980, Dec. 2
"Katun 8 Ahau" Under the trees Under the bushes Under the vines in such misfortune The Book of Chilam Balam of ChumayelThe bodies form
out of the hole.
But it makes an acceptable composition
to the editors of Newsweek
who choose this picture for their centerfold.
No longer dressed in heavy habits
but in white and blue, and one
in a floral shirt, three other nuns
pray at the mounded dirt
the mounded dirt that was
but moments ago the common grave.
A young girl begins to bleed
and begins a journey to live again.
Blossoms into maturity.
Changes more than biology.
Reincarnation is a bloody flower.
Red river to a sea
of recurring infinity.
The boys in their damned anxiety
pull petals and wonder
"she loves me, she loves me not"
at the answer they create.
In their hands what they are
able to violate.
The History of December 2
She was tied to a pillar and whipped with scourges loaded with lead; and so she died. There is though no compelling evidence that St. Bibiana ever existed.1982, Dec. 2
There is an end
but not here. Here
we are in the middle
of an anti-climax
that ends predictably.
In Salt Lake City
the doctors gently
pull from the body of Barney Clark
his failing human heart.
And at the altar
of some machine
not yet imagined
is this scene--
a puffy little bag
of wire and plastic
held above the cavity
of his body, and gibberish
written as a measured litany
confusing Clark and the Tin Man
and the Morman Tabernacle
with the magic castle
in that precious memory
we call the Land of Oz.
1859, Dec. 2
Some eighteen hundred years ago Christ was crucified. This morning perchance, Captain Brown was hung. There are two ends of a chain which is not without its links. He is not "Old Brown" any longer, he is an Angel of Light. --Henry David ThoreauI have no picture of his body
1980, Dec. 2
Not a thing that
outside of time. And
Each ballot for Ronald Reagan changes
into a bullet for El Salvador.
Each bullet also changes
into a dollar for the land owners.
Each bit of land it changes
to profits for the coffee growers.
Each cup of coffee changes
to a nervous fear and frenzy.
And bad nerves change
to bad news.
The news is four
nearly naked bodies
news we elected for them
which changes to:
know, we elected him
good soldier Haig
with his ear to the phone
monitoring wiretaps for Nixon.
Looking for dirt. He said the four nuns
were possibly running guns
or it may be true
were heading for a rendezvous.
We would wonder didn't they feel
anything under that habit?
Were their bodies never hot and wet
with longing turned to sweat?
Our favorite put- down was then
"You're as funny as a pregnant nun."
We would not have dared
to touch them but we drove
our minds wild to penetrate
the many layers of black
folds of cloth. We tried
not to hate ourselves.
We knew we would be
the cause of their dying.
The History of December 2
Because St. Bibiana is represented in her story as having been locked up with mad people, she was widely honored as the patron of the insane.1901, Dec. 2, Patent for first safety razor received by
King Camp Gillette "In the camp and the mountains there was a great deal of terror, the Guard killing entire families. ... In one of the roundups they captured one of my first cousins who was involved with the guerrillas, comrade Oscar Amando Flores."The sky burst open in petals of light
Perhaps some Indians still venerate
your form -- the sun as it renews itself
in the long passage through the night.
Xipe. God of courage and renewal.
Painted red, descending
where after worship the priest
threw the cast-off human skins.
Xipe. That the light
would come again.
Xipe. From the dry bones
of a ritual the scholar reports
"the cult ended on a note
of flower offerings."
"They killed him. They killed this comrade terribly. They skinned him with a 'Gillette' lifted all his skin with a 'Gillette'."my cousin
they loved him not
1804, Dec. 2
At Charenton Asylum (with the authorities)
the popular cure
was to submerge the inmates in tanks of water or
pour vats of water upon their naked bodies
to wash away their madness (the inmates').
It was a secular baptism and the Marquis de Sade
(kinds of baptism and kind authorities).
Are sensibilities violated
if I assume that Sade reconciled himself
to being inundated
with these spurts & splashes
by imagining the change of water into sperm?
where Sade died is no longer
even a memory. Sade remains
as a symbol and a name.
The swollen cock of monstrous size,
the whips, the knives
endless streams of blood, words
in his books that continue to proliferate
with an increased popularity.
According to Sade's biographer
many of the tombs at Charenton were opened
and a Dr. Ramon obtained possession of Sade's skull.
He lent it to a phrenologist who promised
to return it but apparently
"lost it somewhere in America."
1980, Dec. 2
"Prophecies of a New Religion" The Christians came bringing blood-vomit pestilence drought pustule fever This land of misery Devil's gift white crown scab The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel"Jean used to joke
said Sister Rody looking
looking into the cavity
into the cavity and the dried-mud
caked bodies. Like the sisters I remember
she holds a rosary, she repeats
"I guess she was wrong."
We are all wrong
I wonder what I can take
take from the picture of the opened grave
that is a yawning mouth to me
even a laughing mouth to me
but I imagine a stomach
discharging its burden
the burden of the very earth
the earth sickened by the silence
the silence not hovering like a vulture
but shimmering and sun flashes
flashes off the knives, the stilettos,
bayonets and letter openers of the officials
in Salvador and Washington.
Copyrighted to Joe Napora :: April 20,1985
First published by Walter Tisdale's Tatlin Books.
Reprinted in three by three, Larry Smith, editor, Bottom Dog Press, 1988.
These poems sprung from two primary sources, my identification with the four slain churchwomen in El Salvador, and from an informed sense of the Central American native calendrics; the poem's content is altered by the repeat of formal similarities and differences through time. I believe it is a positive, even optimistic poem. While we are intimately time-bound, intervention makes us, much like the Mayan Indian pictured in the glyphs who carries a sack containing the symbol of time, it makes us a year bearer, one who announces the future.
Light and Dust @ Grist Mobile Anthology of Poetry