A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
To the memory of Eduardo Galeano
He built a wall around himself and demanded
that his image be painted on the inside of the wall
looking back so he could imagine the shouts
on the outside were cheers for him,
but something about the teargas seeping into
his bunker made him uncomfortable
so he built another wall around the first,
and another after that to push the shouting
further away, and then yet another.
I will push them into the sea, he thought.
And then he had statues built within the walls–
of himself and other dictators he admired.
But the pigeons covered them with shit
so he had all the pigeons poisoned
and the statues polished to a high sheen.
But the rain and corroding elements of the air
darkened and stained the statues
and he raged against God. He had himself
painted as the new God and was seen waving
a book around that held all his pronouncements
about who should be smitten, who stoned.
But the shouting would not stop
so he brought in his army to suppress them
with bayonets and tanks. But the army
divided into those who would and those
who wouldn’t brutalize the protesters so he
brought in mercenaries faithful only to him
who began swinging their cudgels
and spraying gas. But the shouting didn’t stop
and he began to hear noises, beneath him,
and trembling in the rock strata underneath
the palace. He became afraid.
There was a crack in the floor and a head appeared.
He recognized him as a tyrant famous
for murdering journalists. He said, “Run,
they are coming for you. Run.” And then
another tyrant famous for torturing people in his prisons
emerged from the hole. “Run,” he said, “it is over.”
A third emerged carrying his head under his arm,
“they will take you to the guillotine, run.”
They kept coming till there was no room left
in the dictator’s bunker. They were running out
of air and suffocating: “I can’t breathe,”
he shouted. “I can’t breathe!”
Copyright 2020 Doug Anderson