Poem of Love

They who widened the Panama Canal
(and were classified "silver roll" and "gold roll"),
they who repaired the Pacific fleet at California bases,
they who rotted in the jails of Guatemala,
Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua *
for being thieves, smugglers, swindlers, for being hungry,
they always suspicious of everything
("permit me to haul you in as a suspect
for hanging out on corners suspiciously, and furthermore
with the pretentious air of being Salvadorian"),
they who packed the bars and brothels of all the ports
and capitals of the region
("The Blue Cave," "Hot Pants," "Happyland"),
the planters of corn deep in foreign jungles,
the kings of cheap porn,
they who no one knows where they come from,
the best artisans of the world,
they who were stitched by bullets crossing the border,
they who died of malaria
or by the sting of scorpions or yellow fever
in the hell of banana plantations,
the drunkards who cried for the national anthem
under a cyclone of the Pacific or northern snows,
the moochers, the beggars, the dope pushers,
guanaco sons of bitches,
they who hardly made it back,
they who had a little more luck,
the eternally undocumented,
the jack-of-all trades, the hustlers, the gluts,
the first the flash a knife,
the sad, the saddest of all,
my people, my brothers.

*Somoza's era in Nicaragua.

Translated from the Spanish by Zoë Anglesey and Daniel Flores Ascencio.

by Roque Dalton

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