Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Zero Hour," by Ernesto Cardenal

"ZERO HOUR" by Ernesto Cardenal (Nicaraguan Catholic priest, poet, artist)

Tropical nights in Central America,
with moonlit lagoons and volcanoes
and lights from presidential palaces,
barracks and sad curfew warnings.

"Often while smoking a cigarette
I've decided that a man should die,"
says Ubico smoking a cigarette . . .
In his pink-wedding-cake palace
Ubico has a head cold.

Outside, the people
were dispersed with phosphorous bombs.
San Salvador laden with night and espionage,
with whispers in homes and boardinghouses
and screams in police stations.

CarĂ­as' palace stoned by the people.
A window of his office has been smashed,
and the police have fired upon the people.
And Managua the target of machine guns
from the chocolate-cookie palace
and steel helmets patrolling the streets.

Watchman! What hour is it of the night?
Watchman! What hour is it of the night?

(The rest of the poem can be found at

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