Three Poems by Leonel Rugama

BOMB 9 Spring 1984
009 Spring Summer 1984
Susan Meiselas 002

Susan Meiselas, Pope John Paul II celebrates mass in Managua, Nicaragua, March 1983. Magnum Photos.

& black like the last time

& if it wasn’t you
it was a girl that looked like you
but I think it wasn’t you
in spite of your exactly silky hair
the same young cheek
with your rosy statue’s look
and scarcely visible
the pale spark
the smoothness & whiteness of naked shoulders
touching metal
like a cold knife
looking out the first bus windows
& I even think I heard your weary breathing
from there I began to imagine you completely
& to wonder whether it was or wasn’t you
forgetting about the street
& what I was talking about with Mario
& even the business I was going about.

To close eyes
or not see anything even with eyes open
constructing your whole body
with your light green blouse
covering your
(like a breeze swept plain)
& visible
the deep triangle
shaped by tits & chest
tightened by the white straps
of the bra
tied to your back
& with your see-thru skirt
sliding down your hips like water
more part of your body
than your skin tightly
rising from the knees
& if it was or wasn’t you
being with you with the same face
that I saw in the bus window
when the people swayed
as the bus turned the corner
& if it wasn’t you
it was a girl just like you
fixing her hair
like smoothing it with her hand
her arm on the window
fixing the lovely tangles
that the wind had made
& slowly moving her head
up & down
as if delicately coming closer from afar
with the clean line of her lips
                                              “strict the number
                   the link teeth in
                      jaws splendor of
                      molar system”
                                    (Carlos Martinez Rivas)

& the blinking eyes
lost in the rush
but with your air
& black like the last time.

​Susan Meiselas 003

Susan Meiselas, Nicaragua, 1983. Magnum Photos.

The houses were left full of smoke

O country
we have to uproot
the colonels who piss on your walls
hang them on a tree of sharp dew,
violent from the people’s anger

—Otto Rene Castillo—

For the sandinista heroes:

Julio Buitrago Urroz
Alescio Blandon Juarez
Marco Antonio Rivera Berrios
Anibal Castrillo Palma


I saw the holes that the Sherman tank
          made in the houses in the Frixione barrio
                   & then I went to see more holes
                   in another house in Santo Domingo.
& where there were no Sherman holes
          there were Grand Holes
                   or Madzden’s
                              or Browning’s
or who knows what.
The houses were left full of smoke
          & after two hours
                   Genie* yelled on them without a megaphone
                   to surrender
&before, like two hours before
& before, like four hours before
he yelled
              & yelled
                           & yells
To surrender
Meanwhile the tank
and the orders
The Brownings
          the Madzens
                       the M-3’s
                                    the M-1’s
& the wagons
the grenades
          the tear gas bombs …
&the quaking of guardsmen.
Because the heroes never said
                     that they died for their country
but died


Requeint, no

To make you feel
the suffocatingness
of the dry cobblestones of the park
I won’t be able to
but, remember them.

& if the moment
was fresh
(yes, it was breezy)
the bricks damp.
A word
so that I crossed
the pavement alone?
To make you feel
the suffocatingness
of the dry cobblestones of the park
I won’t be able to,
but, remember them.

Translated from the Spanish by Eva Gasteazoro and Harris Schiff.

Eva Gasteazoro was part of a small group that started the Dance Movement in Nicaragua after the Revolution in 1979. Since coming to New York in 1982, she has continued to study and work in dance collectives and participated in the PAN/Spring Caravan Tour of New York State. She is currently dancing with choreographer Nancy Zendora. Her translations of Nicaraguan poetry are done in conjunction with New York poet Harris Schiff.

Harris Schiff is a poet living and working in New York. His book of poems, In the Heart of the Empire, is available from United Artists, New York. He is currently working on a collection of translations of Nicaraguan poetry.

Leonel Rugama is a Nicaraguan poet. He died fighting Somoza’s troops in Managua in 1970 at the age of 20.

Two Poems by Otto René Castillo
Five Poems by Roque Dalton

El Salvador will be a beautiful

8 by Roberto Obregon

For me there is death each instant

Three Poems by Vidaluz Meneses
Margaret Randall 001

The new skirt, the vague gesture

Originally published in

BOMB 9, Spring 1984

Nicolas Echevarria, Pam Yates, art by James Nares and Tom Otterness, writing by Daisy Zamora, Kathy Acker, Glenn O’Brien, and more.

Read the issue
009 Spring Summer 1984