Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Other September 11's

Better late than never, as they say. So here is my ten cents on September 11.

Many things have been said--and have been said better--about September 11. So what can be said that hasn't already been said?

That September 11 should be a reminder to the American people that there exists--have always existed, for centuries now-- other September 11's. Other September 11's, other victims that also perished, turned to fire and ashes and were not reported in the news. Other--more invisible September 11's that could help us--as Americans, as victims of terror and perpetrators of terror--transcended the rhetoric of security and ideology of fear that prevents us from globalizing solidarity and expanding social consciousness.

To this end here is a September 11 poem about another September 11 which will not be in this weeks news by Teresa de Jesus. The poem is from the collection All of a Sudden (1979, Curbstone Press).


Teresa de Jesus is the pen-name of a Chilean poet whose poems were smuggled out of Chile in the aftermath of the September 11, 1973 U.S.-backed coup which overthrew the presidency of the democratically elected Salvador Allende and gave way to military dictatorship. Her poems testify to another September 11, and which gave birth to other horrors, other acts of terrorism.


What is it with these people-swallowing streets
all of a sudden?
They've become cannibal streets
all of a sudden
these straight, commonplace streets
groomed every hour
with the blue cream of an everyday smog.
All of a sudden
the streets at either hand are goons of death,
long ways direct to jail cells.
No one knows if he knows his destination
is his destiny.
All of a sudden
only the street knows
how many guards wait at the corner,
how many policemen in disguise
watch for the one who leaves his house.
All of a sudden
they've become accomplices in crime.
All of a sudden
they've become spies and assassins.
All of a sudden
they eat people with shoes
with i.d. cards
with a snapshot of the sweetheart,
it all disappears down the throat
of this new executioner.
All of a sudden
these same streets, strolling with
mothers with babies,
pregnant woman--
are knitting treacherous webs
and posting an agent at each corner.
All of a sudden
these urbane streets,
start howling
and from the fog
the throats of wolves come out.
All of a sudden
a sly perfect coup
and they swallow the boy,
the girl,
for 15 days,
                  for a month,
                                      for ever