FW: Apolitical Intellectuals
jcraven at clark.edu
Sat Mar 8 18:52:17 MST 2003
Sent: 3/7/03 2:57 PM
Subject: Apolitical Intellectuals
Otto Rene Castillo
of my country
will be interrogated
by the simplest
of our people.
They will be asked
what they did
when their nation died out
like a sweet fire
small and alone.
No one will ask them
about their dress,
their long siestas
no one will want to know
about their sterile combats
with "the idea
of the nothing"
no one will care about
their higher financial learning.
They won't be questioned
on Greek mythology,
or regarding their self-disgust
when someone within them
begins to die
the coward's death.
They'll be asked nothing
about their absurd
born in the shadow
of the total life.
On that day
the simple people will come.
Those who had no place
in the books and poems
of the apolitical intellectuals,
but daily delivered
their bread and milk,
their tortillas and eggs,
those who drove their cars,
who cared for their dogs and gardens
and worked for them,
and they'll ask:
"What did you do when the poor
suffered, when tenderness
burned out of them?"
of my sweet country,
you will not be able to answer.
A vulture of silence
will eat your gut.
Your own misery
will pick at your soul.
And you will be mute in your shame.
Otto Rene Castillo, born 1936, was a Guatemalan revolutionary, a
guerrilla fighter, and a poet. Following the 1954 CIA-sponsored coup
that overthrew the democratic Arbenz government, Castillo went into
exile in El Salvador, where he met Roque Dalton and other writers who
helped him publish his early works. When the dictator Armas died in 1957
he returned to Guatemala and in 1959 went to the German Democratic
Republic to study, where he received a Masters degree. Castillo returned
to Guatemala in 1964 and became active in the Workers Party, founded the
Experimental Theater of the Capital City Municipality, and wrote and
published numerous poems. That same year, he was arrested but managed to
escape, going into exile once again, this time in Europe. Later that
year he went back to Guatemala secretly and joined one of the armed
guerilla movements operating in the Zacapa mountains. In 1967, Castillo
and other revolutionary fighters were captured; he, along with his
comrades and some local campesinos, were brutally tortured and then
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