I Wanted

By Roque Dalton

southend-pier-tereza-stehlikova.jpgSouthend Pier

I wanted to talk about life and all its song-filled
corners I wanted to merge in a torrent of words
dreams and names and what’s never printed
in newspapers the sorrows of the lonely man
surprised by the twists of the rain
I wanted to rescue the naked parables of lovers and lay them
at the foot of a child’s game
working his sweet everyday destruction
I wanted to pronounce the people’s words
the sounds of their anguish
Point out to you where their hearts limp a little
make him who only deserves to be shot in the back
Understand to tell you about my own countries
acquaint you with exile with the great
migrations that opened up all the roads in the world
about the love still dragged along them
along the ditches
to tell you about trains
about the friend who killed himself with another’s knife
about mankind’s history ripped apart
by blindness by the myth of the reefs
about the century my three sons will see end
about the bird’s language and the raging foam
of the great quadruped’s stampede
and I wanted to tell you about the Revolution
about Cuba and the Soviet Union
and about the girl I love because of her eyes
with their tiny storms
and about your lives full of daybreaks still to come
and about people asking: Who saw it? Who told you that?
How can it be done? I got here
before you did
and about all the things in nature
and about the heart and what it witnesses
about the last fingerprint before Armageddon
about the tiny creatures and about tenderness
yes, I wanted to tell you all about it recount
all the stories I know and all that were told to me
or that I learned by living in sorrow’s big house
and the things other poets before me said
and that it was good for you to know about

And I haven’t been able to give you more – poetry’s
closed door –
than my own headless corpse in the sand.

Roque Dalton, the radical Salvadoran poet, thinker and guerrilla, was born in 1935 and executed by the People’s Revolutionary Army of El Salvador, the victim of internal struggles, on 10th May, 1975. This poem is taken from the collection Small Hours of the Night – Selected Poems, published by the pioneering and committed Curbstone Press, the American publisher of Latin American and Latino literature (www.curbstone.org) Image by Tereza Stehlikova.