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When the Clouds Caught Smoker’s Cough

ISSUE:  Summer 2021


Por Roque Dalton // Poet // Incarcerated by El Salvador’s military dictatorship and  then executed in 1975 by the People’s Revolutionary Army // Who wrongfully believed he was a spy for the CIA


This life’s so small & // Sweet as a strawberry 

We watched the women play harp in // The hills of grass

Beautiful music // We stretched our ears to hear 

The cloud whispered // Memories can’t be forgotten

How caterpillars weaved silk gloves on our hands

When sentenced to death // We wrote quickly on your napkin 

Scared yes // But never scared of love

Police took us to jail // Threw tornadoes around our room 

We tried to remember the shape of stars

& Just like that an // Earthquake collapsed the cell wall 

Soft wind lifted us up // Like a kite // We were flying

We escaped to Cuba our // Stomach smaller than a tooth

The Cubans trained us for combat // To lead guerilla troops 

We wanted bread for our gente so bad // We stole it

In El Salvador // The illiterate memorized our poetry 

To hear them speak it // Threw a javelin through our chest

Before returning // We took sandpaper to edges of our bone 

We had plastic surgery // Wind whistled through the wound

Gov couldn’t find us with the rebels // Clandestino

There were words // We couldn’t chew // For it would break our jaw 

We couldn’t lose one another // We were all we had



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