August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010
War itself is the enemy of the human race. —Howard Zinn
Let las marimbas break open their flower-shaped liberations over Brooklyn & los timbales let them bop across the oceans to the Siberian shtetls of Irkutsk We are singing for Zinn we are marching with Zinn we are sitting for Zinn The dome of lone war Drone guidance systems rises & rotates onto itself Children float over the tabletop & peer at the cross-hatched border-work of America Nothing can stop this. Only one voice remains. It is made of many voices – one sound from the waves Multitudes, that is. Let el guitarrón unfurl its raw fans these hands among the people & the working-class accordions home-grown from San Antonio Polka When we say working-class we speak of those huddled in air-raid shelters When we say air-raid shelters it is the grave of my grandmother bombed In error. Today. Timelessness. We follow Zinn. Cut through lies – one lie, all lies. Capitalism & its consorts of Empire. Let the singers resound Gospel Mariachi Yiddish Rap Tex-Mex & Rock We are singing for Zinn we are marching with Zinn we are sitting with Zinn Still in movement.
—Juan Felipe Herrera, from unpublished manuscript. © 2010
Juan Felipe Herrera recently won the 2008 National Book Critic’s Circle Award for Half of the World in Light (University of Arizona Press), as well as the PEN Beyond Margins Award and the Latino International Award in Poetry. His 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2006 (Citylights) won the PEN USA award and the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles award. He is the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at UC-Riverside.