Jack Hirschman: The Gernika Arcane

January 4, 2013

Jack Hirschman, 2007. Photo Janusz Zalewski. CC-BY-SA 3.0.


You’re all feet waiting
to do the saranda
hair-free and shoulders
swaying, laughing

because tomorrow you’ll
have to carry a column
of trays
of sardines on your head
selling them

in the streets and becoming
one of the invisible
and immortal
in the painting

of the explosion that
in essence is what
the people
of the world have been
living ever since

Gernika, were blasted
to smithereens of
bull-gorge, whinneys
of wounded horse,

light-bulb at the heart
of the sun, dead child
dragged through
the travail of his
mother’s wailing

and all is fanged,
flaming, nailed,
screaming. You
didn’t invent
the expression

No Pasarán
but it became
an incendiary cry
in your mouth,
Dolores Ibururri,

Gorri pregnant with flame
—while fascist Franco
barked about how you
needed a “detergent
of blood”.


O zubiuragurakaleagizoniakemakameak
thunderously now with the Indignados,
with the Arab spring,
the autumn Occupy,

the winter molting
resistance, and though
there are only four
remaining of the original
Abraham Lincoln Brigade

there are Brigadistas
in other lands, in their
‘90s and even 100s,
so when the Nazis bombed
you, Gernika,

and you fell through yourself
under the total mobilization
of terrorism as
the first act
of the second World War

in memory of those
three and a half hours
and the hundreds
given death to eat
that afternoon

I who was only
a little boy of 3
that day
and now am an old
man of 78

nevertheless have
been given you,
Dolores Gernika,
and you, Federico,
and you, Ernest,

Milton, Abe,
and César, you,
and you, Jacques,
Langston too
and Pablo, Roque,

Nicolás and Nazim
and Tina also,
and all the Brigades
being born today anew
because the deaths

that look out
of our eyes
are Vivas
and the mourning
that dawns in the depths

of revolution’s
resonance of
is always
the future Presente!


2 Responses to “ Jack Hirschman: The Gernika Arcane ”

  1. Jabez W. Churchill on January 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    A mis queridos republicanos:

    My grandpa’s chronies sent me back,
    back to the caves where they were bivouacked,
    the calloused fingers of Flamencas
    who spread their wounds,
    sewed them up,
    bit their lips,
    and pressed their nails into their buttocks
    so they would not forget.
    I will not forget:
    Euzkadi, cake baked every evening
    to celebrate the dawning of his death,
    whispering “El Valle de Jarama” and Federico,
    our teeth clenched shut, until they bled.
    It is not over!
    !No se les acabo!
    The ground is still not hollowed,
    not even marked,
    where they were buried.
    Fascists and the church,
    !Que puteria!
    It is not over!
    !No se nos acabo!
    Fascist fundamentalists,
    los nuevos republicanos.

  2. nina serrano on January 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Wonderful poems! Gracias.