Nate Thornton Memorial

March 12, 2011

At the memorial gathering on March 6 in honor of Lincoln vet Nate Thornton, who passed away on January 2, poet and playwrite Angelina Llongueras read her poem in tribute of him:


Real solidarity means taking the same risks

–Ernesto Che Guevara

You’ve known this your whole life, Nathan.
You’ve known it
Because you came from the Utah mountains
To the California beaches
And you reached the compassionate sea
In utter exhaustion,
With hunger and desolation
By your side.

You’ve known it
Because you asked yourself the questions,
The essential, unavoidable questions,
The whys of our collective history of misery.

And in 1934
You joined hands in the waterfront
And claimed with the thunder voice of the many,
What’s yours and mine,
What’s ours
And took it.

And when that first, immensely generous,
Elaborate gesture
Proved insufficient
For the answers you seeked,
Once again
You joined hands with others, with your father,
And travelled through sea and land,
Without a passport
Issued by a country
That did not contemplate  solidarity,
And you  crossed forbidden, ancient  mountains
To offer your life,
Your life,
That most precious gift,
Above any other,
For our sake, for the sake of thousands
For the life of millions
And reached out to a land that was strangely enchanted
Because your heart was a wide forest
Impreganted with the dew of love.

And you fought the monsters,
The abysmal, archetypal monsters
Of torture and greed, of torture
In the name, for the sake, of greed.

And you reached for the sick and the fallen,
And you gave them warmth and hope,
And you taught them skills to defend themselves,
And in the midst of a hoard of accents,
You shared the common language of laughter
Amid the frozen nights
Carpeted by stars
That witnessed the fascist uncontested bombs
Over children and peasants
And their burning smell of decay
With their distant shiny eyes that imprint unforgettable images
to the cornea, that mirror of our soul.
And those stars sharpened your heart,
And turned it into a polished  diamond

Your heart, Nathan, your heart,
So open, so strong, so fragile, so good!
Your heart, your home, my home…

You saw a land that was alive and awake
Where you could partake
Of the joy and the hope for a better way.
You saw a whole body of people that dared to imagine freedom,
And dared to imagine justice,
That set to the task of creating, with their bare working hands,
a way of producing that would be fair for all
That would liberate us all
From servilism and shame,
From submission, corruption and prostitution,
And would put the smile of trust,
The laughter of certitude
On the face of us all.
You saw, awake and embodied in a thousand people,
the collective dream of freedom
And human goodness.

And you saw Hitler’s bombs and Mussolini’s planes
Suffocating, encircling, trapping, sinking  that dream
With the consent and money of the so called democracies,
That set a deadly trap on the good people of Spain,
with the blessings of the whore of Babylon,
The name the Cathars gave to the Catholic church..

Plenty of money and resources given for the continuance of slavery,
In exchange for the blood of the poor,
To forbid them from dreaming.

It was a painful sight to see so many people murdered by the beast of greed
To see such a powerful, joyful, collective dream,  hid  and distorted
And in its place conspiratorial lies that bared the fields,
And cut the tongues, and curtained with a fog of silence
The hopes of the many who could envision a new sun.
Those lies that made of you
And of  those like you:
The hungry
Who came to offer  their life,
The only ones, worldwide, who came to give their blood,
who came to saw their own dream into that primordial dream of justice,
easy prey for the elite birds of nausea.

And you saw the good fighters dripping one by one,
Killed in every corner,
Denied in every country
Dismissed in every newspaper
Erased by every official voice

Every year of your long life.

The silenced, ongoing, genocide of the dispossessed.

It was a painful walk when you said goodbye
Cheered by the good people that would  soon fill
The pits of torture, prison and cancellation
That were already being put in place…

And you never forgot them
And beautifully, ethically, truthfully,
With your devoted atheism,
That was another cry for truth and justice,
Another communion with the forces of light and labour,
you never forgave the pit makers,
the dark beasts lurking in the night of profit
at the cost of people’s  life and soul.

Your heart, Nathan, your heart,
Needed to be turned to diamond to bear such pain…
Your heart, your home, my home…

Victoria o muerte…
And it was muerte,
The death of thousands
Taken from their houses
To be shot anonymously
By butchers in civilian clothes,
Left disjointed on nameless streets;
The slow death of the tortured mothers
Whose children were taken away
By bloody-teethed priests
To be placed in “Christian” fascist homes
With their forbidden identities uprooted;
The pain of the imprisoned, beaten, silenced ones, the missing, the exiles..
So many…

It takes a lot of blood to try to erase the dream of freedom…

For you and yours,  it was the soul’s unbearable pain
that you can be right and lose to the dogs of hatred,
To the well orchestrated global machinery of terror,
Because  the workers’ dream is young
and the old masters are experienced in their mass murder methods..

Your heart, Nathan, your heart, your home, my home…
Your heart steeled and learned
To quiet the cry of the wounded tears
And turn it into action.

When you went back to your land
When you  came back from that hell
And endured  the  global armaggedon
That Spain had confronted first,
You knew.

For the world it was a new phenomenon,
That 50 million slaughter
That changed us all for ever

But you already knew,
Your Spanish lessons, you knew,
What was and is at stake.
And you knew the colossal size of the shadow,
The plague that spreads its wings of sickness
And fills the fields with lifeless bodies
And emptiness and nought.

And you became a torch, a laser
That beamed lucidity and truth
Over the sponsored lies
The unspeakable pacts of silence
The schemes of the genocide…
And your voice turned into a thousand echos
That shouted in that desert of death.

And once the bloodbath had ceased
You had your share of intimidation, invalidation,
Stamped from FBI badges
That yelled, like hungry hyenas
Across the media waves
So your voice would not be heard…

Yet you went to reach the students
And you went to reach the young
And shared their camp fires
Once again, under the wide skies
Carpeted with stars
And you told them the stories of old
So they could discern
What evils lay behind
The speech of the empire.

And they found the collective strength to stop Vietnam.

The defeated, dismissed Lincolns,
Scornfully named “premature anti-fascists”
Were the engine, the tutors,
The teachers, the conscience,
That ignited the rebellion
In the young hearts that could see your own.

And you set yourself to the task
Of travelling to further lands
To bring news of the empire
To your own.
And you set yourself to speak out
To the many and the few
Who had ears and wanted to hear,
Who had eyes and wanted to see,
Who had a heart like yours, and wanted to feel
The smell and taste of truth.

Your heart, Nathan, your heart, your home, my home.
Your heart is now an unbeatable energy
sounding in Cairo, in Lybia, in Iceland, Tunisia,
Like a widening spiral of joy
like a roaring flaming  wave of might and light.

I was born in a time of silence and crushing,
In the chaotic sorrow of that big disaster,
In the decade of fear and paranoia
That preceded the big revolts.
I was born
In the deadliest longest regime of death
Europe had seen
And chosen to ignore.

A regime
That scarred my people
And maimed them
When I was an infant
And their pain was my own.

But your light, as early as that,,
beamed in that house of darkness
And opened holes on that wall of silence
And the stories that you told were also told
To me by people like your own,
And they scared away fear
And let me grow
and be
A young woman
who would also dream
Your same dream.

And much before I met you
You had healed me with your light
You had sculpted little heroes
That march forward to the unknown
Like “el més petit de tots”,
Men who contemplate in wisdom
Human essence so forlorn
Nuclear monkeys
Reading novels
Well forgotten long ago.

When I saw your home, Nathan,
When I saw your heart
I knew it was my home.

Angelina Llongueras
San Francisco, March 2011.