THE WARTIME ISSUE
I want to sing of mangoes dangling in bunches,
ripening in branches of massive trees,
swaying in the orchards like sweet grandmothers in a dream.
I want to sing of cashew fruits sparkling red and yellow
shortly before noon under the nurturing sun of the Equator.
I want to sing of bands of parrots dashing the sky
with brightly colored feathers against a canvas of puffy, white clouds.
I want to sing of spider monkeys frolicking among the guavas,
startled by the sudden presence of a curious boy.
I want to sing of bougainvillaeas and crotton bushes
decorating my field of vision as I walk in awe on my way to school.
Instead I sing of soldiers fighting in unwanted battles
among crying children and fearful mothers.
I sing of mental patients begging for mercy
in the streets of wealthy cities.
I sing of workers crossing borders,
braving foul rivers and border patrols
for a better life just beyond the horizon.
I sing of young men, lost in time,
while making time in federal prisons.
Yes, I want to sing, I want to laugh,
but instead I cry out and protest
while the echoes of guavas and spider monkeys
fade in my memory like nostalgic creatures starving for attention.
Carlos Parada is a founding member of ParaEsoLaPalabra (www.pelp.org), a collective that promotes literature, music, and visual arts among the Spanish-speaking communities of the D.C. metropolitan area. He is the first-place recipient of the 2005 Larry Neal award for poetry and has received an artist’s fellowship from the D.C. Commission on the Arts. He resides in Washington, D.C. and is the father of two teen-age daughters.
Published in Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 2006.