Three Reels from Guatemala by Janet Rodney

BOMB 9 Spring 1984
009 Spring Summer 1984


They are
shooting people
lined up
against a wall,
backs so close
arms  legs
turn to stone
(the mind
of them

fall down

the noise

on the ground
is not
a thing
you can
turn away

your wound
you die into
& bloom
as each year
when it dies
the whole world
turns to flower


To rewind
the sequence
for just
a moment
they might
come alive
for just
a moment
that (other)
part where

on the mountain
men are running
into gunpoint,
bullets rip
out of flesh
& see they
roll up
off the ground
soldiers clamber
onto a truck
backing around
the bend
looks of terror
women, children
run out to see
who’s there
farmers pick up
their hoes.


What turns
a world
as symptom
acquires substance
in fields
is carried
on men’s backs,
starts at home
breaks off
starts again
a geography lost
on invaders
moves the people
a living
no one
gets paid
after years
the word
in revolution
becomes flesh
& flesh
has silent ways
of getting

“Three Reels from Guatemala” were subsequently published in two books in slightly different form: Orphydice, Salt Works Press, Mississippi, 1986 (a letterpress edition) and in Terminal Colors: Selected Poems: 1974–2005, Talisman House Publishers, Jersey City, New Jersey, 2006.  

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

Three Poems by Leonel Rugama
Susan Meiselas 002

& black like the last time

& if it wasn’t you

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