Speaking of s***hole countries, certain alternative media from the US has distinguished Haiti and Africa primarily; its poets, its narrators, its great minds. However there has been a great absence of one of those s***hole country and its poets.
I speak of El Salvador. This tiny nation, I learned to love it thanks to an emblematic poet of that land. This is about Roque Dalton. Born from an American father and Salvadorian mother. The story is long. There are documents, books, films, archives and memories. This father of the poet was related to cowboys (cuatreros), he had resources with successful business and did not give the young poet his last name until he was seventeen years old.
That being said, he occupied himself in educating his son Roque. Thanks to his father the poet went to the best schools and universities in El Salvador and elsewhere. But little Dalton got “lost” on the way and became a revolutionary. Both in of itself and in literature. What the poet never forgave his father for was abandoning his mother and in some measure, it affected Roque, that part of him, his American blood. Especially since this was the times of Che Guevara, “las guerillas”, Cuban revolution, and the pro-Russia movements…
Many thought that some works of the songwriter Silvio Rodriguez were inspired in Greek literature, but no. the Unicorn (El Unicornio), for example, stated by the very songwriter, was inspired by the poet Roque Dalton.
The story is long, and the Salvadorian presence in the United States is far too visible in Westchester County for example. Not all are Mara Salvatrucha, just not all Dominicans are narcotics traffickers, not all Mexicans are terrorists, narcotics traffickers, or rapists. Not all US presidents are bad for leading an imperialist country.
Honor those who deserve honor, the poet Roque Dalton born in “The Little Flea of America” (el Pulgarcito de America) was a revolutionary, a great poet and a critic of the society that he lived in. Including his country San Salvador (el Pulgarcito de America) and his own political militancy.
I lament not writing this before, because there could spread, like black dots of flea s***, a giant revolution in the United States of America. But for now, I am content with a segment of a prose poem of “tavernas y otros lugares” titled “La opresión y la leche (Anticlímax)” that speaks of the father, land, foods and poisons.
“Me niego a creer en los venenos… ¿Quién de vosotros ha tenido un padre? Sabemos que lo único que va quedando puro es la poesía, la ciega locura de las flores color plata, el humo cilíndrico, la podredumbre fresca de las vertientes infinitas. Una lejanísima tarde, cuando mi padre me ofreciera un vaso de leche y me dijera que debía convencer a mamá para que se dejara de pendejadas, yo tenía la atención puesta en una fotografía de la tapa de Life (entonces no aparecía en colores ni tampoco en español) en la que Winston Churchill parecía ser nuestro católico Papa y bendecía al mundo con palabras humosas de victoria guerrera. El Salvador es un país donde los basiliscos son amables amos de cueva que permanecen siempre con los ojos cerrados en nuestro favor…
Yo me tomé el vaso de leche haciendo el bizco y pensando en una película de Humprey Bogart donde hay más de un envenenamiento y tiembla todo el público. Mi padre le habría ganado a Humprey Bogart cuanta pelea se le hubiera ocurrido…”
Roque Dalton (Tavernas y otros lugares, 83-84)
I refuse to believe in poisons ... Who among you has had a father? We know that the only thing that remains pure is poetry, the blind madness of silver flowers, the cylindrical smoke, the fresh rot of the infinite slopes. One very distant afternoon, when my father offered me a glass of milk and told me that I had to convince Mom to stop her bullshit, I had my attention focused on a photograph of Life's cover (at that time it did not appear in colors or in Spanish) in which Winston Churchill seemed to be our Catholic Pope and blessed the world with smoky words of war victory. El Salvador is a country where basilisks are kind-hearted cave masters who always remain with their eyes closed in our favor ...
I drank my glass of milk and crossed my eyes thinking about a Humprey Bogart movie where there is more than one poisoning and the whole audience trembles. My father would have won Humprey Bogart no matter how much of a fight he would have put up ...
Roque Dalton (Tavernas y otros lugares, 83-84)
But the most contundent is to leave a poem here from Roque Dalton’s “Consejo…”
No olvides nunca
Que los menos fascistas
De entre los fascistas
Do not ever forget
That even the least fascist