Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love Thy Books

The surplus of books we see when we visit Book Sale stores seems to be a formative evidence already of the gradual phasing out (so they say) of those bounded papers. The advent of tablets makes the possibility of their existence closer to reality than ever.

However, if one would just look back into the not-so-distant past, one will hopefully realize their importance to people’s daily living, to people’s conviction, and to people’s aspirations.

Martín Espada’s poetry book entitled “Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands” contains a poem which exhorts a message, a message of recollection, when books were still as subversive as those famed ‘subversive’ personages like Ché Guevara. It is a personal hope that you get to breathe in the essence of the lines.

The King of Books (for Camilo Pérez-Bustillo)

The books traveled with Camilo
everywhere, like wrinkled duendes
whispering advice.
The fortuneteller clawed his palm
and warned him
about ElSlavador,
where the guards
search for books at the border,
plucking at pages
like the pockets of a bearded subversive.

The books were bandits,
bootlegging illicit words
like Che and insurrection.
For the books,
a rifle jabbed in his spine;
for the books,
an elbow pressed against the chin;
for the books,
electrical wires slowly waving,
branches of cruel sparks.

And the captain in camouflage
tied to instuct hm
with a wall-hard smack
and ratonal fascist philosophy;
the guards worked to convince him,
propping him on the cot
with the same interrogation repeated
till morning slipped into the cell
and spread across the floor unnoticed;
the Marines fought to persuade him
by stern quiet in the jeep,
dropping him marooned
without money or books
at the border.

He was not persuaded.
In his apartment books breed,
an infestation of books,
Piling, spilling,
a horde of printed words like grasshoppers
blackening the nightmares
of treasury police and army captains
in El Salvador,
a plague commanded
by Camilo,
the King of Books.

Reference: Espada, Martín. The King of Books in “Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands” Rebelión es el giro de manos del amante), pp. 66 & 68. Curbstone Press, 1st ed. 1990.

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