Dialogues on the Edge
Dialogue with a Venezuelan
No: I don’t want anything
Not so long as you are starving.
Don’t sing to me of conclusions
Whilst the riots still ring in my ear.
I want to tell you who I am
But how can you hear me over hunger’s fugue?
Get away from me!
The riot police hold us back as we crash against them
Like a wave against a rock for centuries;
One of them smiles as my family dies!
What can I ever do for you?
If they have our food, they are not keeping it!
I am a writer and that’s all I ever wanted to be
Without that I’m as empty as the pits,
But what right do I have to write
If I have nothing to write for?
Don’t bother me, I am busy being eaten by starvation!
Why is your government doing this to you?
Maybe my pen could be the wings that lift you
Into the cloudless minds of your oppressor;
Tell him to go to hell,
Or go alone and I’ll record it,
Then, maybe, I won’t need the girl!
Don’t touch me or come close – the dawn is breaking
And the sun rises to remind me of what I can’t forget;
You want to know my oppressor, look at the sun,
That rises so indiscriminately over the Sisyphean hungry!
The bluest of skies and the translucent seas
In their quotidian I sneak in a few grams of beauty
Maybe it will one day add up: a white line of meaning.
There are distant rivers and streams I exploit
As I daily write my free-verse epitaphs.
If I give you enough beauty,
Will that assuage your hunger?
Is beauty something I can eat or feed to my family?
Is it something I can throw the pigs in power?
Dialogue with a Churequero
I am a rat that no one fears,
A snail with the city’s rubbish as my shell.
My nose is a cemetery of dying smells
Which I am too accustomed to to smell.
Why don’t you run? Anything is better
Than this impossible existence? You have more feelings
Than I could ever possibly have words for.
Our schools are here and our history watches us
From the vulture’s eyes above and our future
Is a dog asleep or dying in the warm stench of midday.
Why is no one angry,
This is a volcano
To hell with everyone! My daughter is going to school
Her uniform the cleanest thing for miles;
I hope she learns a lot but not feel a thing
To be conscious here is to be swallowed up by hate.
Can you ever see the stars when the fumes of the day fade away?
The sky here is as choked up as the rest of us
But the North Star is like a gold nugget in a black mine,
Immovable, glittering and hopeful.
Why hopeful? Because you are happier even than a star?
No: because the star is like us
It does not think, or know anything,
It’s just there, you know, trapped in its path.
And maybe, hell, maybe la Chureca,
Is the only thing on earth that’s normal.
Dialogue in Sun City
There is no humanity here, only its golden vomit;
Sex on death’s door, a woman using a gun’s nuzzle for pleasure,
A fiesta in the cemetery of scum.
I don’t want to live anymore
If this is allowed to happen.
A bullet is hotter than the sun;
That’s all a child needs to know.
I remembered these are human beings and my heart clenched.
I was reminded by their smile – whose sincerity terrified me.
You have your pornography
Your pimped-out passers-by;
We’ve got the real thing here.
We love our women, man,
Without them, how will we ever know
If seeking out pleasure can be so raped
Is it better to be just another animal?
Who are you to tell me what pleasure is?
In the shit-tip of paradise you don’t know what you’re missing!