Three Reels from Guatemala by Janet Rodney

BOMB 9 Spring 1984
009 Spring Summer 1984

       I.

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

fall down

after
the noise
silence

on the ground
pain
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
.
 

       II.

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
backwards
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
surprise
women, children
run out to see
who’s there
farmers pick up
their hoes.
 

       III.

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

“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.  

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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