Two Poems For Nicaragua

Return to sender (Managua, Nicaragua Postal Service) I

Turn at the corner known as “gallo más gallo”
2 blocks toward the lake, and at Doña Blanquita the Belle’s house
look to the right and up a little
as toward the sky and then lower your gaze to the tree charred
in the earthquake, right there where
Don Francisco props himself up in the window to talk
with Pedro Xavier and that Gloria girl,
at the next house take just three steps,
knock on the door where there’s always a rocker,
and deliver these poems and this letter, please.
And if nobody takes them or the person whose name
is written on the envelope is no longer living,
return to where you came from.
Go slow, looking over your shoulder,
who knows if the address is right,
and perhaps someone will ask you, Mr. Mailman,
who are you looking for to these many hours in this neighborhood
in Managua?


Return to sender (Managua, Nicaragua Postal Service) II

For Pablo Salomone


Pablo, the Argentine guerrilla fighter, made his way with his Uzi,
one afternoon in 1978 or 1979 in Managua,
hotter than blazes,
on a slip of paper he had the address of his contact.
He knew nothing about Managua, only a map, and that
slip of paper with the address of Comandante Gloria,
19, chocolate-colored.
As the young Argentine ran along, crouching between trees and houses,
the address was right there on the slip of paper:

“When you come to the corner of the bar “Los Olvidados, ”
continue on for three blocks, careful with the poet Guillermo’s gate
that can trip you up if you don’t see it,
go on to the right and pass by three yellow houses with grillework,
make no noise when you walk through the ironwork gate
where there are three mango trees
and across from there you’ll see a wall painted red and black
with some bullet holes made by Somoza’s sons of bitches,
on the corner is your contact’s house,
in the window there will be a vase with a single flower
you should whistle the ballad “Nosotros” for a good while.
If the vase disappears, knock on the door three times.”

It’s been several centuries since then. The world travels down a different path.
The whole socialist camp has crumbled. Pablo didn’t die in that
1979 war. He still has that slip of paper of his contact
with Comandante Gloria. He recently visited a different Managua
and looked for that very address.

The house was in the same spot, except that on the wall painted red and black,
with the same Somoza National Guard bullet holes,
there was now a mural with the photo of the self-same comandante Daniel Ortega,
the presidential candidate, backed by Somoza’s party.
The very same dynasty of the Somozas’ who ordered
the killing of that girl while the teen-age Argentine guerrilla
whistled a ballad one blistering hot afternoon.



(Both Poems Translated from Spanish by W. Nick Hill)

by Javier Campos

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