Monday, December 19, 2011

To those who muse about "Spreading Democracy", revisited (Kim Jong-il version)

During an acute famine in the 1990's, starving North Korean refugees--often accompanied by human traffickers--attempted to cross the Tumen River into China; death by freezing was commonplace

And who, while decrying the dictatorial splinter in the collective cornea of yet another palm-tree-lined nation* doing us no harm, all the while ignoring the beam lodged in their own myopic eye; and who, to this day, and despite mounting evidence to the contrary, tell the citizenry that promoting freedom is what they've been doing all this time, even as the blood and treasure belonging to their own people continue to spill unabated while those occupied but not yet dead face an uncertain (but certainly violent) present and future; and who persist, inexplicably and without remorse or fear of reproof, in sanctioning further curtailment of that selfsame freedom with the suspension of habeas corpus and with every presidentially-approved, unconstitutional wiretap and illegal invasion of citizens' privacy, I offer the words of another notable Latin American:


By Pablo Neruda

An odor has remained among the sugarcane:
a mixture of blood and body, a penetrating
petal that brings nausea.
Between the coconut palms the graves are full
of ruined bones, of speechless death-rattles.
The delicate dictator is talking
with top hats, gold braid, and collars.
The tiny palace gleams like a watch
and the rapid laughs with gloves on
cross the corridors at times
and join the dead voices
and the blue mouths freshly buried.
The weeping cannot be seen, like a plant
whose seeds fall endlessly on the earth,
whose large blind leaves grow even without light.
Hatred has grown scale on scale,
blow on blow, in the ghastly water of the swamp,
with a snout full of ooze and silence.

[* Upon learning that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il had died, my thoughts returned to Pablo Neruda's poem, to its vital and crystalline truths and how they live on. I had a similar reaction to the one shared above when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro stepped down in 2008. Plus ça change...]


  1. Beautiful, Deborah.

    But they still don't get it. And won't. Not unless they themselves are hauled off to "indefinite detention." But then, they don't dissent, so they don't have to worry. So what if their brethren do?